Friday, July 20, 2012

3 vital tips for startup success


July 20, 2012  |  8:30am EDT

by John Harthorne, Young Entrepeneur Council

Image representing Dharmesh Shah as depicted i...
Image by Dharmesh Shah via CrunchBase
Advice is crucial to entrepreneurial success—it keeps businesses flexible and entrepreneurs humble. Throughout my career, I’ve made sure to stay open to advice, even (and especially) after tasting success.

Earlier this year, I heard an excellent keynote delivered by Dharmesh Shah, chief technology officer and founder of Hubspot. … The following is a combination of my own collection of advice and some of what Dharmesh told a crowd back in March.

1. Don’t fall in love with your plan or product. Instead, do fall in love with the problem you’re solving and the people you’re impacting. … Seek out advice and mentorship early, listen, and then adjust your plan and product to better address your customers and the problem your product aims to solve. As Dharmesh said, “It’s not about making the best camera. It’s about making the next generation of photographers.”

Image representing Tim O'Reilly as depicted in...
Image via CrunchBase
2. Your goal is not to beat the competitors, but to make an impact. It’s easy to forget that … if you beat everyone else in your field, your company does not necessarily win. The companies that do win, however, are companies that make the biggest impact. … Therefore, go for the gold by thinking bigger rather than focusing on conquering and dominating the competition. … Tim O’Reilly wrote, “Pursue something so important that even if you fail, the world is better off with you having tried.” Remembering the potential impact of your project will keep you working through the night, which is what it takes to succeed.

3. Nobody ever regrets taking the leap. … Though I do think it’s a good idea to create some sort of safety net as a backup plan—I paid off some student loans before diving in completely—you must be fully committed to your own startup. No one will take a risk on you if you don’t take that risk on yourself. Quit your day job and start living and breathing your startup. It’s scary to take risks, but the leap—in fact, many leaps—is what it takes to inspire people to join your team, invest in your idea, and help you launch your company.

John Harthorne, Founder & CEO MassChallenge, P...
John Harthorne, Founder & CEO MassChallenge, Priyanka Bakaya ,PK Clean Chief Executive Officer and Founder, Marcia Fournier, Ph.D. Founder & CEO of BioArray Therapeutics and Governor Deval Patrick (Photo credit: Office of Governor Patrick)
John Harthorne is the founder and CEO of MassChallenge, a startup accelerator and competition designed to catalyze a startup renaissance by connecting high-impact startups from around the world with the resources they need to launch and succeed.

The Young Entrepreneur Council is an invite-only nonprofit organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. The YEC recently published #FixYoungAmerica: How to Rebuild Our Economy and Put Young Americans Back to Work (for Good), a book of more than 30 proven solutions to help end youth unemployment.
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