Success often is about being incredibly lucky. But then luck often comes to those who are the most prepared.
For entrepreneurs starting young, building a globally recognized brand might be a measure of success. For others, it might be building a company that helps change lives around the world by making some service affordable.
Some entrepreneurs like to build ‘first-of-its-kind’ tools and services. One of the keys to success as an entrepreneur is to be an early mover. The other way to build an enduringly great company is to have some competitive advantage so that competitors are always kept at bay.
A ‘moat’ in Warren Buffett’s famous phrasing.
There is no shortage of startup niches – health and fitness, beauty and wellness, advanced manufacturing and robotics are all witnessing scorching growth rates and new entrants.
There is no shortage of funding for innovative startup ideas. Venture capital firms are spending billions, as Statista notes.
However, not all entrepreneurs are successful and the young ones are prone to more errors than the experienced ones.
While age is considered an advantage for young entrepreneurs, t also becomes a disadvantage once you start counting experience as an asset to build a successful business.
It is why youngsters must be smart about the moves they make while building their business.
Here are the 10 business tips for young entrepreneurs to grow their business:
business courses available online or offline cannot teach you to take risks. However, the reality is – Success won’t ever visit you without you taking risks.
All successful business people have taken risks. It was risky to try to sell books online when Amazon did it. Jeff Bezos left a high-paying Wall St to plunge into the unknown. It was an enormously risky venture and Bezos himself realized the risk inherent in it when he told his early investors that there was a 75 per cent chance that Amazon would fail.
Startup statistics show that people are most eager to work in startups in areas such as data storage, fintech, cannabis, and industrial safety. The number one startup on a list compiled by LinkedIn is Snowflake.
These days, technology is changing at an ever-accelerating pace. If you want to build a company that leverages some new or emerging technology, you have to do it fast before others do it. Facebook succeeded because it was one of the first companies to build a social network who did it well. Bill Gates left Harvard to start Microsoft because he realized the urgency of his entrepreneurial vision. Steve Jobs was an early mover into personal computers.
Whether it’s a vision to ‘put a computer on every desktop’ like Microsoft had or a vision to change the way a business is done. Having a vision is definitely an indicator of the seriousness of purpose behind any entrepreneur’s business idea. Amazon wanted to be the best in customer service in the world. Google’s vision was to put the entire world’s knowledge at our fingertips.
Such overarching visions help drive businesses towards success. Salesforce, Palantir and Cloudflare are some of the newer rock star companies who have a definite vision.
Hire Great People
Steve Jobs always wanted to be in a room full of people who are smarter than him. Confident people want to be surrounded by intelligent people. Mediocre people want to be surrounded by people who are not so smart.
Google acquires leading-edge AI companies just to obtain the talent in them. Facebook’s acquisitions are mostly to develop talent. Brilliant, talented and innovative people are rare.
SpaceX’s success is in no small measure due to the scores of smart people working in it. Elon Musk’s success is built on the many talented people working in Tesla.
Out of the top 10 companies, Snowflake, Dosist, Samsara, DoorDash, Brex, Good American, Robinhood and Nuro are headquartered in California. Only Peloton Interactive and Compass are headquartered in New York.
Amazon is an excellent example of a customer-centric company. Bezos famously has his email in the public domain so that any customer can reach out to him regarding any product or service issues.
Not every company has to deal with customers like Amazon. Still, every company can hone its relation with its client or customer in a manner that satisfies the client or customer by meeting their expectations. NASA hired SpaceX to do a job –launch some stuff and then some astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS).
Now, SpaceX has fulfilled that customer goal or client requirement with the successful launch of the four-person crew to the ISS.
Enduring companies are responsive to the needs of customers and the needs of the times. They change to meet new business challenges.
Apple and Microsoft are great examples of companies that have lasted four decades and are among the most valuable companies in the world today.
They have not become irrelevant. Apple is innovating in products and coming out with products that customers want. Microsoft has changed with the times and is targeting its software towards individuals and enterprises in such a way that it can differentiate itself from the free alternatives.
Watchmakers and wristwatch brands can stay relevant by producing smartwatches. Traditional automakers need to make the transition from internal combustion engines to electric vehicles.
Business environments can change – whether because of changing customer preferences or because of sudden, unexpected events such as the Covid19 pandemic.
Fashion brands are bearing the brunt of all the ‘stay at home’ stuff happening all across the world. Other companies have benefited from the wholesale transition to remote work and remote classrooms for school and college kids.
Companies can gain customer loyalty by exceeding expectations. Google has become the synonym for ‘search’ by meeting and exceeding our expectations.
We mostly get the result that we are trying to find. We get the answers to our queries. And occasionally we learn more than we expected to.
That’s what Google does with its constant innovations to search such as the answer box style results or the carousel style results and the Knowledge Graph and so forth.
Amazon has done the same with its return policy. It has earned customer loyalty by assuring them that they can return any products they find to be unsatisfactory.
This level of customer service went way beyond what was the existing customer experience in online purchases. Amazon has set the bar so high that it has forced its competitors also to change and offer similar levels of customer service and ‘no-questions-asked’ returns policies.
Learn From Competitors
No company operates in a silo. Usually, there are tons of direct competitors.
No company does everything well. There are usually particular companies who are great at a specific aspect of something. Companies will be smart to learn from such direct competitors or other companies in other businesses.
Apple learned from fashion brands in designing its Apple Stores. It has transformed how customers learn to use an electronics product – earlier; we used to have to depend on the Product Manual; now, we can get a trained person to teach us how to use it.
Such personalization of service is going to be a winner for companies and not just for Apple. For entrepreneurs entering into business, you need to be aware of the failure rates of companies in your niche or vertical. The failure rate varies from vertical to vertical.
So, entrepreneurs will need to be alive to such aspects of starting a business.
Innovate Like Crazy
Clayton Christensen was the high priest of innovation. He is said to have been the guru for the likes of Andy Grove of Intel. It is a matter of debate if Christensen’s thesis truly stands for all the companies he has cited in his influential books.
But clearly, innovation is a winning idea for most companies working in most business verticals now.
Whether it’s technology companies – Google, Facebook, Twitter, Microsoft – or consumer products companies – Apple, Samsung, Sony, Xiaomi – or even airlines or healthcare companies, innovation is essential for survival.
In the old days, coal producers or steel makers managed to stay on top of their business for decades as the technology was mostly static. Even automakers such as Ford and General Motors managed to do quite well for decades without much of innovation. But now the ground realities have shifted; even steelmakers and automakers are innovating.
Entrepreneurs starting new businesses will need to be alive to this reality. Startups fail more often than they succeed. Nine out of 10 startups fail and seventy-five percent VC-backed startups also fail.
Aim For Positive Social Impact
Companies operate within societies and they are impacted by the broader currents in the societies in which they operate.
Societies will usually thrive when there is social cohesion rather than social strife. Companies probably cannot prosper if they promote hatred and division.
This is not something that affects most companies, as most companies are not influential enough to have a significant, society-wide impact. But entrepreneurs can undoubtedly keep in mind the need to make a positive difference to the society in which they operate.
Apple, under Tim Cook, has taken leadership in the sustainable use of resources – from recycling to transitioning to renewable sources of energy – and all companies can aim to move in such positive directions.
Perhaps there is no magic wand that will ensure success for entrepreneurs. If there were such a secret, then everyone would become a successful entrepreneur.
Like noted at the beginning of this blog, luck and chance play its part. Bill Gates was at the right place at the right time with access to a university computer in his adolescence. Steve Jobs dropped out of Reed College and instead learned about typography.
It all helped him, but he could connect the dots looking back, as he said.
Entrepreneurs, while being hard-headed and being aware of startup failure rates, ultimately have to follow their passion, take risks, and let the chips fall where they may.
Having said that, as a young entrepreneur – to be successful you must have a learning mindset and challenge yourself, have a North Star, a role model, some core principles, and keep going without blaming others when the going gets tough.
About the Author
Jasmeet is a founder of Lessons at Startup – A blog where he shares entrepreneurial stories. He specialises in Digital Marketing and Content Writing. He is addicted to Google News, Netflix, Good Coffee and Quora ☺.