Mar 12

7 Success Tips Startups Should Not Follow

Recently I received a link to an article suggesting I should re-blog it in our blog Shoestring Advice for Technology Startups. I’m not going to re-blog it or link to it as it frustrated me! It was typical of information being regurgitated on the internet that really isn’t helpful to startups. In fact I would go so far as to say I believe it is harmful to startups. I believe the information leads startups down the wrong path and causing them to focus on the wrong things and thus waste their most valuable resource, their time. Cash is king, but you can’t buy time.

It was your typical startup’s 7 points to success type article. I’m not going to go into detail about what the article said, but I shall share the 7 points. The article was saying that startups should focus on the following 7 things in order to achieve success:

  1. Create a clear vision
  2. Define a clear mission
  3. Must have passion in the vision
  4. Must be well financed
  5. The startup must assemble the very best team
  6. Write a great business plan
  7. The vision (idea) must be unique

You might be confused at this point, wondering why these things are so bad. It’s not that they’re bad or wrong in general, but for a startup they are time wasters and misleading. So what I’m going to do for you now is translate these items into reality, i.e., from a startup perspective I’m going to provide some clarity:

  1. Clear vision
    A vision is not bad or wrong, you just don’t need it in order to start your business. The idea is all you need as all visions start from an idea anyway. If the idea is good the vision will come. If the idea is bad, there’s no need to waste time on a vision for it.
  2. Clear mission
    Same as the vision. How you implement your idea is your mission, so again don’t kill yourself over trying to define your mission statement, just do what you have to do to move your idea forward.
  3. Passion
    I agree you need passion, but it doesn’t have to be for the idea, i.e., you just need some driving force to help you bring your idea to market. There’s nothing wrong in having a passion to be successful. Does Richard Branson, the world’s most successful entrepreneur, have passion for all of his 400+ companies? Actually having passion for your idea can be detrimental…see Your Baby Might Actually Be Ugly. Time To Pivot?
  4. Well financed
    Very few successful startups began well financed. If you believe this has to be the case you’ll never get your idea off the drawing board. Also, to raise money you have to have skin in the game, i.e., your own money invested. See What you should know before approaching investors.
  5. Assemble the very best team
    This one I find particularly annoying, because as a startup you don’t have a business, time or money sufficient to find the best people. Overtime you will hope to attract the best people you can find, but not at the beginning. At the beginning you’re pretty much alone and the best you can hope for is to bring anyone on board that can help you get to the next level. If they’re good enough to keep around through the next level then that’s a bonus.
  6. Write a great business plan
    This is such as waste of time for a startup, just write enough of a plan to move you forward. Your best plan is an action plan. However, for further details on this topic see Should you write a business plan – Part 1? and Should you write a business plan – Part 2?, also see Free On-Line One Page Business Plan Tool)
  7. Your vision (idea) must be unique
    This is a borderline item, plus unique isn’t all its made out to be. If your idea is unique, this is a benefit and a curse. It’s a benefit in that you have no competition, but a curse because YOU have to prove to the world that your unique idea is so great that people will pay for it. As long as your idea is different enough to stand out, it doesn’t have to be unique. After all, Facebook wasn’t really “unique”, nor was the Google search engine when it came out…it was just a little bit better.

As a startup I understand where you’re coming from. You have an idea, but really have no idea how to bring it to market. So you’re in the mode of reading anything you can lay your eyes on in order to transition onto the super highway of entrepreneurism as quickly and painlessly as possible. This is why I’ve written this blog. Hopefully I’ve helped you to identify the articles to avoid as you come across them or at least not take too seriously.


This article may not be reproduced in whole or part without including the name of the author (James Naylor) and an acknowledgement of the fact the article was originally published in Shoestring Advice for Technology Startups (http://www.KENOVATech.com/blog). Any other use of this material is unauthorized and is a violation of law.”


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