5 Tips for Startups: From Co-founder to CEO

cofounder-ceo

Homerun Nievera, Negosentro |  If you are starting up a startup (even though I hate writing that phrase, I somehow can’t help myself), you already know the odds are stacked up against you. You realize you will face failure every step of the way, that you are more likely to fail than to succeed, and that failure is inevitably just another way to success.

In a world where new companies are sprouting like mushrooms, and everyone seems to have the next big idea, it can be difficult to know where to start, and what to focus on. As someone who has gone through the hassle, the push and pull, the late night phone calls, the dread and the intoxicating taste of success, let me give you a few tips on how to go from being just another cofounder of just another startup to becoming the CEO of a thriving small, and later medium-sized business.

Research is king

Just like marketers love to shout about content being king, CEOs love to say that research is king, and the one and only ruler of the kingdom of success. If done right early on, research can get the ball rolling for you and plant the first seeds of your future company. If you do it not well enough, or not enough in general, you may run into an obstacle you could have foreseen in time, had you done it properly.

By doing research, I mean research everything – from the market you are targeting, to your buyer personas, to the best marketing tactics, to your competition, to their products, to their marketing tactics, to success stories and stories of failure. Everything. You need to arm yourself in knowledge if you are to make it big.

Mind the paperwork

When you are looking into company registration, you need to make sure you trust the right people to do it for you. This is especially true of all legal matters, and more importantly – your taxes. Find a reliable accountant or team who can handle everything for you. Don’t do it yourself, unless you are an accountant, a lawyer, or have years of similar experience under your belt. One mistake can cost you dear here, and setting the right foundations is crucial.

Growth hacking

When you craft your initial business plan, make sure you also craft a growth plan. Not just for the initial stages, for the whole shebang. If your product is a success, and we hope it is, you will need to have a set plan in place for growing your team, your production, your expenses, and your revenues. Don’t leave it up to chance. If you get the ball rolling right, you will need to grow soon, and not knowing how you will do that can cost you dearly. Plan for the wildest success, in case it does hit you.

Tools of the trade

Whichever industry you work in, make sure you utilize all the tools that can help you give your best. Find reliable project management apps, something to help you keep track of expenses, your ROI, your marketing campaigns. Don’t use spreadsheets like nothing better has ever been invented. With the advent of the IT industry, there is now an app for everything, and you can work on the go, stay on top of things, and not using all these benefits to your advantage would simply be foolish in the digital age.

Set up an HR department

To be honest, this has been the hardest lesson to learn. You need to have a hiring model in place as soon as you can. While early on there will be just a few of you, you will be working all hours, doing all sorts of tasks, once you hit the next stage, you will need to hire smart. If someone is underperforming in a team of five is not quite like having a slacker in a team of fifty. Set clear milestones for onboarding – once you reach this number of customers, you will need to broaden the team. Once you have this many hits, you will need to hire an expert. Outsource what you can, if need be, but don’t either trap the few of you in working on everything at once, and don’t wait for things to hit the fan to grow.

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