Starting your own business is exciting and empowering! It can also be anxiety-provoking, especially if you’re running short on entrepreneurial mentoring and support. One of the most beneficial things that small business owners can do when launching and growing their startup is network and learn from each other, especially from those who have been successful.
Whether you’re not sure what to focus on first, are stuck in a rut, or don’t know how to move forward, it can be quite inspiring to learn from entrepreneurs who were successful in their startup launch.
What can you learn from the most successful startups that once had a Day One? What are their most useful tips for business newbies, and how can you apply them to your startup? I’ve compiled 7 helpful pieces of advice that new startups can learn from, straight from the most successful startup owners themselves:
- Zappos and the Business of “Holacracy”
Clothing and shoe giant Zappos has succeeded by embracing the concept of Holacracy, or replacing top-down management with flatter “circles”, in which employees make decisions about how to best do their job. Within this boss-free, non-hierarchal environment, Zappos hopes to empower employees to think like entrepreneurs, allowing them to delve deeper into decision making and thus be more excited and accountable during their workday.
Think this might be a big undertaking? Zappos has 1,500 employees, much more than your startup, I’d suppose! Thus, holacracy is possible whether you have two employees or 2,000. Besides, startups need employees who will self-organize, because in most cases, the founder has neither the time nor the skills to motivate growth properly. This is what makes the Zappos model a no-brainer. A startup won’t flourish efficiently without these types of people anyway, so why not allow them to work in a way that suits them best? Resources are slim in startup mode, so the best and happiest employees really count.
2. Uber and Ultimate Growth Hacking
High-growth ride-sharing app Uber has had its series of speed bumps, so they’re a perfect case study for a brand new startup to learn from. Their challenges and media attention have come hand in hand with quick acceleration and innovation.
Amidst the turbulence, hard work, and most importantly, differentiating factors like real-time driver monitoring and a clean, easy-to-use app interface, have provided a solution for disenfranchised taxi passengers. By seizing on opportunity in a tired market and refusing to let go, Uber has crushed many city mandates trying to force Uber out of business.
3. Kayak and Solid Thought Leadership
Travel company Kayak knew they’d be paddling upstream in a crowded destination search industry — so they put together, along with the needed cash, a board of solidified, past experts from successful sites like Expedia and Travelocity to check their work and bolster their reputation.
Once they were cemented as thought leaders in the industry, touting the expertise behind the name and comprehensive search features, they penned a deal with AOL that cemented their place in the market.
4. Spanx and Zero Fear of Oops
Spanx founder Sara Blakely became the youngest self-made billionaire in America by filling a seemingly obvious void in the women’s undergarment industry. Too obvious for some? We’ll never know, because Sara got there first, but this entrepreneur’s daily challenges with clothing, coupled with a positive attitude and zero fear of mistakes, catapulted her to success — and without the absence of fear, she may not have ever thought her “ordinary” idea could become so extraordinary.
5. Virgin’s Richard Branson and a Focus on Passion
Although the data and numbers are important (like P&L!), it’s just as crucial for startup owners to focus on the passion that birthed the startup idea. Business owners who move away from this may wonder why they even started all the hard work and long hours in the first place.
Passion should never take a backseat, according to Virgin founder and entrepreneurial mogul Richard Branson. Instead of setting out to create a business empire, Branson recommends focusing on creating something meaningful and making a difference. Once that’s settled, the success will take care of itself.
6. Five Guys — It’s the Product, Not the Frills
Five Guys CEO Jerry Murrell didn’t find startup success until his four sons were in their 20s, but since launching hamburger giant Five Guys Burgers N’ Fries, he’s capitalized big on food quality — and the imagery and implications surrounding it.
His biggest goal is for his customers to know that his company is putting all of its money into the food — not the décor (red and white tiles are the frilliest of details), not a mascot, nothing but the actual product and the people who make it.
7. Poshly and the Power of Data
Poshly Inc. Founder and CEO Doreen Bloch loves data, and has made it the cornerstone of her beauty company, Poshly. In a digital environment driven by analytics, she has learned that her customers love more knowledge, too, and now, instead of countless, exhausting decisions about which shampoos, face washes, or skin creams to buy, they can answer online questionnaires that allow them to anonymously share information about their personal care needs in exchange for product giveaways that are customized to their skin or hair type.
To double dip on her offerings, Bloch allows brands to purchase the data she’s aggregated on how consumers use her products. An extra bonus — anonymity makes it easier for consumers to share their issues on conditions they may not usually speak up about — like dandruff or acne.
How to Apply these 7 Successful Startup Tips
When creating, launching, and growing your startup business, like these entrepreneurs, make sure you know why you’re starting your company and who makes it tick. As the minute details like employee scheduling, client strategy meetings, and bills set in, never forget about the people and ideas that make your startup possible.
With a crucial understanding of what you’re doing, why you’re doing it, and how you’ll continue to make a difference, you’ll be able to deliver on your promise, market your promise effectively, and create a winning startup brand.
Written by Damian Samolej