Over the years, several mentors have given me some great advice, advice that has really helped me on this journey as an entrepreneur. In this post I will share 3 pivotal ones that have had a definitive effect on my journey.
1. Only work with or hire A+ players: One of the reasons I struggled in my earlier ventures was my inability to partner the right people. I was connecting with people who were like me, or shared similar competencies. This resulted in an inability to effectively execute plans because there was always some critical skill set that was missing on the team to help us achieve our goals. I did some extensive research on partnerships, it resulted in my ideal 8 characteristics checklist. Since then, I have had much greater success. Getting the best to work with you on a startup is challenging. However, if you want to succeed in your venture, this has got to be the main focus of your startup efforts. I firmly believe that a strong team is far superior than coming up with the next big idea/concept.
2. Product to market as soon as possible: Startups are all about speed. At this very moment you can be sure that all around the world there are multiple teams working on the same business model as you. The deciding factor between success or not, is the ability to show your product to prospects and illicit feedback as quickly as possible. This is vital to ensure that iterations take place at a faster clip, and the product meets the demands and expectations of the target customer. Sitting on your idea, spending time perfecting it, is the fastest way to burn through all your startup funds. You are then placed in an extremely vulnerable situation, since customers do not really need/want what you have spent all that time and money perfecting. Rapid prototyping is essential for success.
3. In the end it is all about cash flow: Without revenue, a startup can literally count the days it will take them to reach the dead pool. The concept of building first and then figuring out how to monetize later, may work for companies who have the ability to raise millions of dollars, for the rest of us working on extremely limited budgets, this is a mistake. Misappropriation of funds leads to product delays, layoffs, low morale and essentially, failure. If you have inventory cycles, figure out ways to optimize them, if you use several vendors for your product development, find ways to extend credit terms, if you sell big ticket items, devise smaller offerings to complement them etc. Models of recurring revenue streams create stability and take a massive load off business shoulders. From the day you launch your business, the focus has to be on how to start generating revenue with what you have right now. I wrote a related post a while back on 5 tips for better cash flow management.
What has been the best piece of advice you have been given as an entrepreneur? I look forward to hearing from you.