Author: Horia Damian, CEO and Founder Partner of the contact management app Canvy, startup entrepreneur and tech passionate
The startup environment characterizes the current tech business landscape, in a way that fits all company sizes. Small projects found a vessel to carry them towards materialization, midsize businesses adopted this entrepreneurship model in order to expand their reach, and large companies found in startups a thriving environment that they just could not miss. There is an angle for anyone when it comes to startups, but, as with any new tools (or any new game, if you like) one just has to understand and take in the basic rules.
Of course, we always go for the win. Startups are dynamic, fresh and wrapped up in extreme attractiveness, but they are an extremely complex game – they combine, innovation and initiative with strategy and perseverance. My experience as a startup entrepreneur went from the initial plans through (sometimes rough) reality checks and hard readjustments. We are not there yet, not in the full sense, but we get our energy from both from our set goals, as well from the activities itself.
Going from idea to action
What got us started in the first place? There were two things that mattered to us: the confidence that we could run this project (developing a productivity app and making it better than previously existing similar apps) as a whole, and also that our idea had what it takes to succeed, aka the novelty, the value and the right timing – the market was ready for it. Always find the objective way of measuring your plans against the market when launching your startup!
Be your first, but not your foremost customer
The proof is in the pudding – once materialized, we employed our own software product, and we scrutinized it as a third-party would! For example, I use the app we developed daily, not just because it is our product, (out of business reasons), but also because I find it useful for myself. I think that the element of personal involvement is very important, just as much as staying open to the opinions of others is. So I would say: build your product firstly for yourself, make it as close to perfection in terms of what you appreciate, but equally adapt it to integrate the needs and ideas of others into the end result. This way, you aim to deliver a better product than you even dreamed of. You go for plus-perfection.
Prepare for pressure
Do not be afraid of it – pressure comes from all directions. The intensity and the way it impacts your activity are different, depending on the team you are working with. The more you can “delegate” this pressure, the easier it is to take an entrepreneurial initiative, because carrying too much pressure on one person’s shoulders can prove counter-creative.
However, any entrepreneur must be able to take in the pressure generated by the need to achieve the established business goals set for a clear and relatively short time.
Appreciate all your allies
They used to say “is all about the product”. I deeply believe it’s like that. But I also think “it’s all about the team”. If you can count on a team with the right skills, energy and vision, then the product will be the one you aimed for. Whereas for the product – presentation duo, I would not say there is a first and second place, as I rather see a shared first place. Just think of it. You have a good product, but you need to bring it in front of the clients. Yes, there were times when the dictum “If you build it, they will come” worked. Not anymore. Merely creating a good product does not guarantee customer presence. The battle for the relevant audience’s attention and loyalty is essential nowadays. Take this reality in – and prepare to deliver both an excellent product, as well as a great presentation.
Grow with your startup, grow with your team
I understand – now even more than before – that the road to success passes through the valley of humility. As an entrepreneur, your willingness to give up some of your opinions and to adopt the ones that are best for the product is also important. Of course, this ability to accept that the truth is not always your truth is rarely innate. In most of the cases, you acquire it via experience, and it is an educated skill. This process also involves a great openness towards others: colleagues, users, advisors and investors.
Only when giving humility its toll, you stand a chance for success. By avoiding any changes, and by refusing to adapt, the chances are slim. However, when your ambitions and vision morph into a shared vision and a mature understanding of what you can deliver, the success is at the horizon.