Thursday, November 8, 2012

6 Secrets to a Successful Start-up

How do you know if your company will succeed? Venture capitalists give their perspectives on traits that define the best start-ups.

It's every entrepreneur's most pressing question: Is this company going to make it?

All companies need to have the basics: a solid business model, a viable market, and a brilliant product or service. But the most important-- and unpredictable-- indicator of success is the entrepreneur. Do you have what it takes?

Despite the popularity of 25-year-old Internet entrepreneurs, there’s no one template that guarantees greatness, says Rory O’Driscoll, a managing director with San Francisco-based Scale Venture Partners. "I've seen a 25-year-old serial entrepreneur run great a company and I’ve seen a 45-year-old with no entrepreneurial experience also run a great company," he says. "But there are certainly commonalities between those whose companies are successful."

Here, O’Driscoll and some of his colleagues in the venture capital world share their perspectives on the less tangible elements of start-up success.

1. Be flexible. Always. This encompasses both flexibility in your business goals and personal flexibility, which some entrepreneurs find harder to achieve. Could your company pivot easily if necessary? Could you adjust to new circumstances? More importantly, are you willing to alter your personal start-up dream if it doesn't match reality?

"Most business ideas fail,” says Bryan Roberts, a partner in the Palo Alto-based venture capital firm Venrock. "The successful companies are the ones that can take that initial idea and morph it one, two, or three times into a better version."