Make lots of money is not a rule nor a reality of startup success. Let’s get that out of the way immediately. Reality is hard work, long hours, slow motion, no paycheck, black coffee and more hard work result in potential success. Be prepared if you choose to take this ride. This is your last warning.

  1. Starting a business is Hard Work. Be it a restaurant, a real estate office, a hair stylist or a technology app. If you choose the latter you need to have a few specific skill sets to begin and they all include long hours. The skills are;
    1. Research – you have to know your competition, know your industry facts, know the facts for your financial assumptions and much more. When asked a question, you need an answer. If someone else does that research, you don’t have the answer when you need it in front of a potential investor.
    2. Patience – you are guaranteed to not get along with everyone and certainly not to agree with everyone. You need patience. When you run out of it, leave the room, the office, the city, the country. You have to restore that patience battery because there’s nothing worse than an impatient entrepreneur except dog crap on your shoe.
    3. Communication – the art of communication is actually based on the ability to listen. You can’t listen while you are talking, so be sure to keep your responses to questions and statements short – others want to talk, be engaged, share enthusiasm, poke a hole in your idea or just plain ask to go to the bathroom. Let them do it. They will listen to what you say more.
  2. You need an articulate pitch or story. Sure, you’re a great person but only your parents will listen to you drone on and on about your great idea. Prepare a statement of your concept or product and have two lines to back it up in layman’s terms. Simple is always safe. These few statements have to be so easily understood that your audience quickly gets the concept and can ask a question, become enthusiastic or let you know they are not interested. If you have a tough time with putting a few sentences together contact a professional storyteller to help you with an engaging story about your project.
  3. Take care of your self. This is about Personal Branding. You are your company’s image until that app is launched or doors open. Potential users, potential employees, potential customers and potential investors see you. You have to exude health, confidence and enthusiasm without being cocky(even when you are ready to throw in the towel). Then you become attractive to associate with. The more successful an appearance you provide the more success you will create around you. No one cares about your shitt y day.
  4. Seek advice frequently. You are the expert of your mission – the startup. You think you have all the answers but you really don’t. When you seek advice you actually are giving others an opportunity to be involved in your success. Even more, people enjoy being thanked for the good idea or advice. You’ll find you often get some interesting and useful ideas or advice when you ask questions. When you do this with your advisors, employees, investors and consultants, you get incredible buy in and viral word of mouth.
  5. Have Humility and Lead By Example. These two concepts are intimately related. If you’re starting a new business, you’re pretty darn smart. Don’t put that on display. Ever. You need to be humble yet intelligent. This will rub off on your team and how those around you act/react. If you are a smarty pants, you’ll create an atmosphere of smarty pants. You don’t want that since a successful team can’t survive with everyone being smarter than their partners or associates.
  6. Write things down. Even when they don’t count. You will get bombarded with info, how do you save it all? Write it down, type it on your iPad (a Princeton/UCLA study says writing is better for memory than typing), have a Moleskin handy. Number one, people with whom you speak will feel complimented that they said something important enough for you to write down (and you could be writing ‘this person is boring’ but they’ll be impressed!). Number two, you have it for reference – “do you remember on Tuesday when we discussed…” – put the date on the note you are writing. Number three is that scientific evidence supports the theory that you will remember more of what you hear and write down then if you just listen.
  7. Nothing happens fast. Your journey is a long one results aren’t instantaneous. One VC partner recently looked at a crowd of startup geeks and said, ‘Give it four years before you consider success or bust.’ Yes, there was a collective gasp! Pandora took almost four years and virtual bankruptcy before being funded. This is not for the weak-kneed!

Bottom line…be prepared to work. After all, WORK is the ‘other’ four-letter word!


April, 2016

Todd Aaronson, Founder, Plink, , and a partner at Storypowered

A storyteller by nature, a revenue repairman by trade and a founder by passion.