10 Habits That Will Make Your Startup More Successful

Success doesn’t happen to you. It happens because of you.

Success in most cases isn’t random. It isn’t something that just happens to you. It is something that happens because of you.

The way you influence your work and life. The practises and beliefs you put in place. These are all factors that can determine whether you will be successful or not.

Simply put — if you develop the right habits, you will greatly increase your chances of success and below are 10 of them you can start developing right now.


1. Avoid The Toxic Jobs / Clients

Should you take on every job you are offered?

No.

Always think about the bigger picture. Is the vision of the project something you will be proud of? Something that you will be happy to stand by? It is suitable for your portfolio, and your startup’s overall brand?

If the answer to any of those questions is no, you should think long and hard about whether or not this is the job for your startup.

The same goes with clients.

You might notice it at the first point of contact. The first email sent. The first face to face meeting. It might be their tone. It could be their non verbal communication. It could be their verbal communication. Maybe they showed up late and don’t seem to appreciate your work or your time.

Any of these signals can leave a sour taste, and can instantly set off the alarm bells.

Beware of taking on work from someone that doesn’t gel with you, because when the project gets going and stress increases, so will the tension and problems between you and the client. No project is easy when relations strain.

When considering jobs and clients, you must always consider the business you are building for the future.

So don’t forget to ask yourself if the client in front of you is truly right for the business you want to build and if you can see yourself working together well into the future.

The most successful businesses are built on repeat business and word of mouth. Keep this in mind and go into every project with the aim of future relationships, and if the fit ain’t right, walk away.


2. Take On Difficult Challenges

Many startups shoehorn themselves into a restricted role. They limit what they do, or can’t do, based on their vision of what they ‘are’.

We don’t do that.

We can’t do that.

We don’t want to do that.

That isn’t ‘us’.

Sometimes it’s playing safe. Other times it protecting the ego. Other times it’s just laziness. In the end, these startups won’t grow. They won’t develop. And they will most likely fail.

To ensure you, and your business, develop and grow, you have to take on challenges that throw you out of your depth.

In that chaotic environment of the new and unknown, you will find yourself. Your business will find new passions, new beliefs and new strengths.

Take on as many roles, projects and challenges that are new to you as you can. It will force you to adapt. Put yourself in uncomfortable environments. Take on wild jobs or clients that push you to your very limits.

It will open you and your team up to new directions, new ideas and new beliefs.

Combine these three things together and your team will emerge victorious and you will grow because of it.


3. Work The Hours That Work For You

I like working Sunday mornings.

Yeah, I just said that.

I hate the ‘day of rest’. I feel super productive on the weekend mornings, and usually get a lot done.

I also find 8–10am, and early afternoons are peak working hours. Why? I have no idea. But that is what works for me, my body, and my mind. That is when I feel the creative juices ‘flowing’.

You need to find the working hours that suit you.

Ignore the self help bullshit.

Don’t get up at 3am every morning, unless you are really sure it works for you.

Don’t force yourself to work 20 hour days, unless you are really confident it suits your working mentality.

The shortened work day has actually been trialled in Sweden, to genuine success.

If you find that a 4 or 6 hour days mean you actually get more done in a day, then you are a)one of the lucky ones, and b) absolutely entitled to do so.

The magic of a startup is regaining control of the work structure, and dictating your own work ‘life’.

Use this to your advantage. Don’t follow the crowd. Don’t work long days just because Gary Vee told you you are a fucking loser because you don’t.

Find and develop your own structure, and watch your business blossom.


4. Make Decisions For The Long Term, Not The Short Term

When you found a startup, you are in it for the long run, right?

So act like it.

If you consistently base your decisions around ‘the now’, you will inevitably come unstuck further down the line. Make decisions that will benefit your business not just today, but for the weeks and months to come.

Strategise. Plan ahead.

Where do you want your business to be at the end of year 1?

How many clients, or projects, do you wish to have?

Break down these goals into manageable tasks, and decision-making can be done with a clear focus, and long term plan. Review these day by day, month by month, year by year, adjusting as and when required.

“Remember to dream big, think long-term, achieve on a daily basis, and take baby steps. That is the key to long-term success.”
— Robert Kiyosaki

5. Be Motivated By The Right Things

A startup that forgets or neglects to focus on putting the best foundations down, right at the start, is on shaky ground from day 1.

So stop thinking about the paycheck for a moment. Forget about your competition. Stop thinking about the quickest route to the top.

Think growth. Think reputation. Think trust. Think brand loyalty. Think purpose. Think bigger.

Be motivated to bring change to people’s lives, to create things that bring happiness to people. Realise people’s dreams. Realise your own dreams.

Having the right motivations will make your business relatable to consumers and clients.

These achievements are far more rewarding than any paycheck can be.

“Do what you love and the money will follow.”
— Marsha Sinetar

6. Take More Tea Breaks

Someone famous once said ‘the best things happen over a cup of tea’.

Or maybe it was just a marketing ploy.

Or maybe I just made it up.

Regardless, it is some of the best advice I can give a startup.

There isn’t enough hours in the day to get everything done, so there is no point in forcing yourself, and others, to work till you drop. The quality of your output will only decrease and decrease.

So take tea breaks, and take them often!

It is in those more calming moments, during the chatter or discussion, or the peace and quiet, that your brain clogs start to turn again.

You start to refocus on your work. Everything becomes clearer. Solutions to problems suddenly appear out of nowhere.

Tea breaks are great for a team too. Team bonding is vital to the success of your startup, as the stronger the team, the more chance you will overcome the adversity that meets you along the way.

And lets be honest, is there anything better than a cup of tea and a chocolate biscuit?


7. Make Mistakes, And Be Proud Of Them

Starting a startup is a dive at the deep end.

The learning curve is a steep one. In many cases, it doesn’t come with a guide book. There isn’t an instruction manual for success.

So it begs the question; how can you learn, if you have never made a mistake? What understanding of things do you really have, when you have never had to work through an error?

Being correct isn’t even the important part.

It is the understanding of the process. The methods. The formulae. Usually this is done through testing, prototyping and trial and error.

There are so many things to learn from fucking up.

Mistakes, and the solutions to them, will improve your confidence. Mistakes will help you to help others. They prepare you better each time for the next mistake. They reveal things you have missed, and in turn, new ways to approach things.

Mistakes should be part of the growth and development of both you, and your startup.

So fail as many times as required and be proud of it!

“You don’t learn to walk by following rules. You learn by doing, and by falling over.” 
 — Richard Branson

8. Always Strive For Improvement

Nothing in life is perfect.

Everything could be improved in some way.

So don’t think for a second your startup is perfect.

Always strive for more. Always strive for better. Always strive for improvements, across the board. Refine your work process and practise. What areas can be improved?

Refine your strategy and vision. Where is it lacking? Do you have a more clearer path now?

Refine your branding and marketing. Is it working? Are you targeting the right market? Are you connecting with your audience?

Everything can be improved. And that is a great thing. It means your work can always be elevated.

So strive for it.

“Strive for continuous improvement, instead of perfection.”
— Kim Collins

9. Use Your Support Network

It is ok to need a shoulder to cry on. Really. In fact, it is a requirement.

Don’t take friends and family for granted. Don’t let the startup fracture any relationships with those closest to you. You need a support network around you.

Everyone’s will be different. But whatever people you choose to surround yourself with, make sure they support your business, support what you are trying to achieve, and understand the problems and issues you are facing along the way.

Don’t keep all your problems contained, because they will fester like weeds until they are out of control.

Use your network to get advice and help. Family, friends, colleagues, strangers, other businesses — the more the merrier.

10. Blow Off Some Steam!

Sometimes shit hits the fan.

Sometimes things get so overwhelming it pushes you beyond your breaking point.

You know what helps?

Letting it out!

Scream the clients name in a mishmash of profanities and insults. Shout at your work. Let it know how much it is driving you mad. Let it know you will conquer it. Give something a good kick or punch. It will feel brilliant (at the time).

It is so important to vent. If you let it build up it, it clouds your thinking. Stifles your creativity. Stops you from thinking straight.

And all of those will just make you angrier if you let it.

What a truly vicious circle.

*Disclaimer* Please note, the client should not be present when being lambasted and called all sorts of words your mum would be ashamed of.


Good habits, means good business.

Start forming better ones today, and you and your business will never look back.

(Thanks to Danny Forest and Michael Thompson for the feedback.)