The Wise Entrepreneur

9 Tips To Make Startups Successful

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Hello there! This time round I would like to consider business startups.

People normally refer to startups to mean any business that is young or has just started operation, or an enterprise designed to create a new product or service, or alternatively search for a scalable business model. These products or services ideally should be those that are believed to be in demand. In terms of years of operation we could consider anything from one to five years, of course this varying depending on several factors. In my opinion, defining startups simply in terms of years of operation is a very generous approach to the definition, as I tend to think that some factors such as new products and services, scalable business model etc. largely override the age factor. Anyway, that is that.

There are other considerations such as size, revenue, growth, profitability, stability and others that we could easily and freely bring into the arena as we try to define and understand what startups are.  You and I could bring in more than enough elements and just make the whole startup idea really a complete startup. That’s not what we want to achieve here. Don’t you agree with me? We would like to bypass these and proceed to the critical things that matter. I mean the top tips for startups, or tips for making a startup successful.  We aim to offer the best entrepreneurship resources and also to make this blog one of the best entrepreneurship blogs in the interest of various stakeholders.

I’m assuming that issues such as your mission and vision, business location, goals and objectives, funding for your startup, business structure, legal structure etc. are assumed well taken care of. This is why I’m going to dwell on secondary issues though within the initial life cycle of your enterprise, but beyond the basics such as arranging financing, planning the structure etc. before you commence operations. I do hope you understand me. Do you? So, what are the tips to make startups successful, or rather, tips to avoid startup failures? What are some of the best pieces of advices for startup entrepreneurs? Let’s take a look now.

  • Keep on modifying your plans along the way. One very important thing about startups is that they are normally learning zones. The best drawn business plans for startups can fail very dramatically during implementation. This forms the basis of my tip number one to make a startup successful. Modify your plans as you go along with your implementation Mr. Entrepreneur. Be flexible. Adapt. Don’t be static, with your plans cast in stone. Be prepared to ditch your initial script. The most successful startups are those that are always going back to the drawing board to review and redraw their plans based on new and changing situations they find when they commence business operations. You might end up with something not pretty much what you started with, or where you intended to go, or what you intended to do, but you will end up with success other than failure. You might make new discoveries. Don’t burn your time and resources for nothing. Ok?
  • Experiment and validate your learning. Quickly following my point above that startups are learning zones, there are always experiments going on. These experiments could be about the products or services, way of delivery, organization chart, staffing, how teams work within the enterprise to deliver value, and so on and so on. I have no idea what experiments will occur in your enterprises but I guess you have a good clue. My point is this. Never be afraid to experiment. Never be uncomfortable with the unknown because a startup demands you to be comfortable with the unknown. Are you with me? Come on my dear entrepreneur. Do everything and anything – of course with common sense and wisdom and not just anything and everything without serious thinking. The issue is that you can’t normally claim to be very wise in a startup as you are learning along the way. And beyond just experimenting, please try and validate your learning always. I mean check and recheck to confirm important learning points that matter in guiding the changes in your enterprise towards success over the coming years. Don’t blame anybody if you are the type of entrepreneur who keeps on burning your fingers because you never learn from experience. Do you understand me?
  • Understand that revenues and profits only make sense initially when the business model is known and understood. Now, there are two scenarios here. There are startups that are replicas of other businesses that have already tested and defined business models, operating structures and guidelines etc. I know that some people will argue with me here as to whether these should be defined as startups, simply because they are replicas. My opinion is that in some sense they are startups. Additionally, we can’t say that replicating something guarantees that everything will go the way they went earlier. More so, being a new entity this should qualify it to be a startup in one way or the other. On the other side, there are enterprises that are entirely green-field. In other words, they are into entirely new products and services, zones that no one has ever even dreamt of. These are not very common, and indeed require entrepreneurs with a lot of determination and also some good money to throw into research etc. I hope you are following me. Are you? So, my tip here to make that startup successful is that for the second category of startups, those that are into entirely new products and services, initially using revenues and profits as yardsticks or performance measures might not make sense. Why? Because the business model and other facts are not properly known and understood. In this case, Mr Entrepreneur, you might consider using other parameters to assess your progress and performance. Don’t you agree with me? You might over-penalize yourself if you use the wrong measures. If however, you are replicating known business models then you can comfortably use revenue and profit figures as measures, of course, still making some allowance for some learning areas or things that might not work just as they did in the old enterprise you are replicating. Ok. Let’s move on now.
  • Get good teams and people to support you, and don’t be afraid to reorganize. My dear Entrepreneur, though we all know that human capital (more modern approach instead of human resource) is vital at every stage of an enterprise, the startup stage is probably more critical. Not many employees fit the bill here, in the first instance. The people that you need here are people with some unique qualities such as resilience, ability to think outside the box, problem solving, multitasking, flexibility etc. My tip to help make your startup successful here is that first of all, never be a loner. You can only be successful with people. Surround yourself with good people and teams as you struggle with that startup. Secondly, engage the type of staffs that have what it takes to operate well in a startup environment. Not every person you see out there is comfortable working in a startup. Some will run away before you know it. Don’t you think so? Thirdly, don’t be afraid to reorganize your team. You can fire and hire as the need may be, to sail your startup ship towards safety and success. Fourthly, you have got to know when you need to let go yourself. You might be the type that wants to do and control everything, and this might make you a startup forever. Please don’t do that. Learn to delegate and assign early enough and release yourself for more strategic roles.   
  • If the business idea or model is a failure then it’s good to fail quickly and move on. By the way, failure is not entirely a bad word or thing, as long as it’s not very catastrophic. Additionally, it’s not bad if you can use it as a learning point and rise on your feet and proceed to success. If you dared to find out the history of many very successful enterprises you see today, I strongly believe that you will hear many stories of failures before success came in. So, Mr. Entrepreneur, my startup tip is this. If you must fail in your startup, please fail in a cost effective way and quickly. Fail forward and immediately get up on your feet, roll your sleeves with braveness, put on a stern face and start working again with some wisdom this time round. This reminds me of one incidence many years ago when I fell from a bike I was riding in a place no one would expect me to fall. I had to make the best use of the situation and proceed with minimum damage to my reputation. You wouldn’t want to build a reputation of falling down anywhere and anyhow. Do you? Don’t cry too much. Come on. You are meant to be successful, and you can’t allow failure to drag you down. It’s a painful idea but you can’t tie your life to failure. You are much more precious than the money or capital you have lost. Ok? Some failures result from major oversights in terms of revenue generation, costs, market assumptions etc. Carry out post-mortems if things don’t work out well. If you can’t avoid failure, fail quickly and in a cost effective way and then move on. I do hope I’m communicating.
  • Understand your market and also showcase your products and services. Again, regarding the market you are operating in and your competitors; don’t waste your time fighting the big boys in the market. Focus on building your enterprise instead of engaging in silly wars. Produce value and show it rather than talking endlessly about it. Please note that you might only discover a great product or service you can offer to the market way down the road of business adventure. What you think is great initially might be scrap in the market. If you make a useless product that’s up to you. Design and delivery of products and services are important.
  • Decision making is very vital. Now, decision making in the situation of startups is also very critical and you have got to weight your decisions carefully. This is similar to the situation of a business undergoing rapid growth and expansion. Just like the situation of a plane taking off or approaching landing. There is need for focus and attention to whosoever is guiding or is in charge of the whole project. You can’t afford to mess up things. This is another important tip to make your startup successful. You might shoot back and tell me that decision making is vital in all circumstances. I agree entirely. You will probably understand this well when you have in your hands some hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars at stake in that startup. Possibly this might wake you up to some sobriety if there is a possibility of losing that kind of money. Isn’t it? Decision situations differ my friend and you have to see things in the right context.
  • Network to learn and share ideas. Entrepreneur, there is a lot of value in networking and sharing ideas with other startups in the same industry. Of course, don’t be so daft to think that everyone will be very willing to help you, and give you the best advice. Ok? You have got to be as harmless as a dove but wiser than the serpent. Crosscheck facts before you blindly take and follow someone’s advice and find yourself in more dangerous water than you were before. Additionally, many countries these days have some form of enterprise development services that can be very valuable. I know some people hate government projects with a passion. Don’t rubbish everything. There might be a silver lining in some things. Make use of every resource and opportunity that comes along the way. After all, the success of your startup is key on the agenda, and sometimes you might have to dine with people you don’t even like, for the sake of progress.
  • Keep the passion and energy on always. Oh yes! Passion and energy! These are words that are very important for every entrepreneur. I’m talking about that ingredient that keeps you awake at odd hours of the night. That ingredient that makes you wake up early and walk during the day accomplishing things with a sprint in your feet. The enthusiasm that fuels and drives execution to get things moving. Understand that you are building a business and not just finding a quick-fix approach to making some cheap money. I mean business. This is another vital tip to make a startup successful. It is one of the best pieces of advice I would give to any startup entrepreneur. Get me right here. I’m not saying that you need to sleep and become very lazy when your enterprise has passed the startup phase. Ok? I know some brains have the potential of turning things down upside and upside down. I’m simply saying that you need extra doses of passion and energy at the startup level, before that enterprise stabilizes and you can reasonably see everything flowing well. Mr. Entrepreneur, kindly take this advice seriously for your own sake.

It’s pretty good now. I guess I have given some of the best startup tips that you won’t easily find anywhere. My goal is to make you a successful entrepreneur, if you like. If you don’t like then don’t waste time reading this blog. That is why this blog platform is intended to be one of the best entrepreneurship blogs, with the best possible entrepreneurship resources. Don’t you agree with me? I’m passionate about having more successful enterprises globally in the interest of humanity. When I talk about humanity don’t think I’m neglecting enterprises that cater for needs of non-humans!

It’s time for me to go now. With all respect and best wishes,

Kind regards,

The Wise Entrepreneur

Picture of Clayton W. L. Mwaka

Clayton W. L. Mwaka

Clayton W. L. Mwaka, a Ugandan chartered accountant and motivational speaker with 24 years of diverse experience, specializes in business administration, international consultancy, and lecturing. He advocates for personal empowerment through balanced living, qualitative leadership, and paradigm shifts, aiming to unlock individual potential globally.

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