Friday, November 30, 2012

The 3 Pieces of Startup Advice That Actually Matter

I’ll tell you something that no one told me when I started up: somehow, putting up your own shingle also means putting up a sign that you’re open to advice. All sorts of people start offering their words of wisdom — experienced executives, college students, and even people who’ve never actually done anything with that good business idea they won’t tell you about, because you’ll steal it.

While people generally do mean well, their advice often misses the mark. Here are three bits of advice that I’ve received or incorporated that have never led me wrong:

  •     Build from your strengths. In today’s fast-paced and crowded market, being good simply isn’t good enough. Rather than building a business that will have you cap out at “good,” take the time to assess your team’s core capabilities and build from what you can be truly great at. It’ll galvanize your team and your market, and give you early momentum so that you won’t get by merely being good. Every business mistake I’ve made can be traced back to not getting our business out of the comfort zone of our strengths.
  •     Fanatically focus on your customers. Your business really isn’t about you; it’s about how you provide a solution to your customers that is worth paying for. Growth comes from serving more customers better, and the fastest way to get there is to get to know the conversation going on in your customers’ heads. Note: This doesn’t mean that your customer is always right, but it does let you know what your customer needs and values are so that you can determine how and where you’re going to serve them best.