Startups seem glamorous and fun to the outside world, but the truth is they can be tedious and extremely exhausting. While we do not claim to know it all, there are a few lessons that have been learned along the way…
- Have a plan in advance. A startup requires you to make difficult decisions based on time and capital. You do not always have time to think through every decision and possible consequence when the issues arise. The only way to guarantee you will make the best decision possible when the time comes is to have a plan in advance and not to second guess that plan in the moment. Plans must be flexible enough to change at a moment’s notice but strong enough to weather the short term setbacks and delays that occur in startups.
- Focus on your customer’s experience. The best way to differentiate your brand and improve your service is to stay focused on the customer’s experience. Map out the entire company from the experience of the customer. The map should start at the first encounter with the company, go through the sales process, onboarding process, support process and the eventual end of the customer relationship. Having a map will ensure you work on the company from the standpoint of the customer, which in turn will improve your service or product over time. Remember almost every customer will eventually leave so do not become sensitive about losing customers or dependent on the cash flow of any one customer.
- Learn to say no. Sales are difficult in the beginning because there is often little to no brand recognition, and you are defining your company so it can be difficult to tell a lead no. Do not take on work that the company can do, but is not what the company does. These projects will always drag on too long, distract you from the real work of the company and cause confusion for the brand with that customer. There is no value in a customer review or recommendation for work that is not the primary focus of the company. If you learn to say no early it will help you improve your brand and stay focused.
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