Launching a startup isn’t easy. It’s a financial and emotional risk that few are willing to take and requires you to live much of your life balancing the line between failure and success. Obstacles along this line can bring you to the precipice of relinquishment, but overcoming these obstacles can bestow great satisfaction and encouragement.
Sometimes it’s not enough – as an entrepreneur investing your savings and time into your dream – to tell yourself that everything is going to be all right. Sometimes, you need to hear it from someone who has been there before.
I spoke with six startup CEOs at different stages in their careers and they shared with me the best piece of entrepreneurial advice they had ever received and told me how it directly affected their business.
“There’s Nothing Sexy About Overhead”
I love that line. It means there is no great honor in having many people on the payroll, or spending loads of dollars on paid advertising. Cash is King. Keep your monthly spending as low as possible so that you can stay in business as long as possible, while you figure out how to penetrate the competitive tech market with your startup’s innovative solution.
Paul Ruderman, UpdateZen
As entrepreneurs, it is natural for our minds to continuously innovate, producing new initiatives and extensions to our products or services. This very process is critical to our success. However, this constant creative process sometimes creates fragmentation, you end up spinning tasks. The best advice I’ve received is to continue being creative but to also follow through and complete the good ideas already on the task list. Growth will result.
Robert Sturt, NetworkUnion
My mother always taught me to “focus, focus, focus.” There is a real risk to splitting your attention, especially when you clearly know what it will take to bring your business to the next level. For our company, that means saying “no,” and ruthlessly prioritizing our customer experience and driving awareness for our brand. Things that don’t further our business aren’t important right now – such as having a glitzy office.
Preet Anand, Bluelight
“Always Have Backup Funds”
The best piece of advice I have received is from venture capitalist Tim Draper, when he said that an entrepreneur should never run out of money. With this advice in mind, I always try to make sure that we always have separate funds for unforeseen situations and emergencies.
Raman Shrivastava, Fyne
“Efficiency Over Appearance”
From my days at Google I learned that you can be serious without wearing a suit. I find it very difficult to be creative in a suit and tie. Although there are times when it is important to dress the part when meeting with specific clients, a vast majority of the time we dress in jeans and t-shirts. This has proven to be very successful for our continued growth and culture.
Dan Daugherty, Remotely
“Combine Technology With Distribution”
In the late ‘90s, I was at a company that I had co-founded, and Jim Schwartz from Accel Ventures was on our board. His advice, which I’ve always kept in my mind for future startups and investments, was that the successful companies that he invested in figured out how to combine technology innovation with distribution and channel innovation. Having both simultaneously, he said, was a ticket to success. Considering the success that Accel has had over the years, this has proven to be good advice.
Brad Kayton, 1WorldOnline