7 Great Tips to Have a Successful Startup

Successful Startups

Yes, managing a startup is hard, but you don’t need to make it harder than it is. Others walked the walk before you. These tips gather the wisdom of many successful startup owners. What is that? You can’t come to the stag party? Your vacation is an afternoon nap? You have forgotten your girlfriend’s name? … Read more 7 Great Tips to Have a Successful Startup

7 Ways to Finance Your Startup

You have cleared the first step: you have a great idea. Now you just need to find a lot of money to get it moving and you’ll be on your way to fame and fortune. However, banks have been traditionally reluctant to give loans to startups. Like everybody else, they know that 90% of them … Read more 7 Ways to Finance Your Startup

A Beginner’s Guide to Content Marketing for Startups: 25 Tips for Success

Content marketing has become the lifeblood of online marketing. For the third year in a row, it has been voted the most commercially important digital marketing trend over at Smart Insights, with twice as many votes as big data or marketing automation. Over the decades, Moore’s simple and brilliant law was proven to apply not … Read more A Beginner’s Guide to Content Marketing for Startups: 25 Tips for Success

When Should You Quit Your Startup Idea?

More often than not, startups fail. When you've been working day and night to build something, it hurts to admit that your idea might not be as successful as you thought. It's time to throw in the towel and quit your startup idea.


Issues by Giuseppe Milo (www.pixael.com)
But it's hard. You've invested time and money. You've fallen in love with your startup.

I mean, it can be hard even if you get filthy rich in the process. Richard Branson describes that he had to sell his legendary Virgin Records because he had to save Virgin Atlantic, his airplane company, which was being pushed hard by British Airways. But Virgin Records was his baby.
Richard Branson by D@LY3D
"That’s why, one day in 1992, I found myself running down Ladbroke Grove in London, crying my eyes out, despite the check for $1 billion in my pocket." (Then he goes on to ask startup entrepreneurs whether they are doing their marketing research, using social media, being innovative etc. It's so generic that I can't help thinking Branson should find a better ghostwriter.)

But in all probability, you're the opposite case. It's hard to give up because you took money from investors. Those people believed in you and now you've spent their money and let them down. And it's not just bad because you're feeling guilty, but also because those investors, as well as people they know, will never trust you again. While failure is nothing to be ashamed of, it is not very sexy either.

Anyway, I'm assuming here that you've done your homework and that the startup isn't failing because you're lazy or not dedicated enough. What are the signs that you should quit?

You're keeping your startup afloat with your own savings
Shipwreck of the Peter Iredale by McD22
At a documentary film workshop, I was lucky to listen to a very interesting lecture on filmmaking by Branko Lustig, a famous Hollywood producer. Lustig, who won two Academy Awards for producing Schindler's List and Gladiator, was asked by a workshop member what is the most important thing for a producer. Without missing a beat, he replied: "Never spend your own money."
pd Branko Lustig
I know, you're not a producer and you love your startup enough to sacrifice something to keep it alive. But it's a very dangerous path. Do you have a reserve career? Is there a job that you can take up right away when your money starts growing thin? You need a safety net, otherwise you'll create a world of trouble for yourself and for people around you. Networking is key. If you know a lot of other startup owners, you could move to a promising startup that is similar to yours and let your own sink without having a nervous breakdown.

You haven't achieved any of your milestones
quit your startup idea
Milestones are a great way to keep track of your progress. As the Chinese say, the longest journey begins with a single step. What those milestones are depends on your goals. They could be users, revenue, funding or any number of things.

Since it's very easy to forgive oneself, you shouldn't keep your milestones to yourself. Trumpet them around, especially to investors. It has two benefits: you'll be under a greater pressure to achieve them, and you'll be reminded by someone else when things start going downhill (it's quite possible you won't even notice it yourself).

You don't want all your past effort to be wasted
Concorde, Heathrow 1987 by Phillip Capper
And to save that effort, you're wasting some more. It's called "the sunk cost fallacy". Simply put, you are behaving irrationally from an economic standpoint because you have other things that you consider more important, like your pride.

Concorde is a famous example. Do you remember that beautiful airplane? Well, at some point during the development, the British and French governments realized it would be a financial disaster. But they had invested so much political capital into the project that they kept funding it anyway.

You're too old
the romanian mob by Jon Rawlinson
This is the cruelest thing to accept. Even more so when you're only 40. You're vigorous and ready for challenges, but there's simply not enough time any more. Can you really afford to waste another ten years? At some point, you need security. Sure, you can always start from scratch. I know several people who changed careers at 60. While age brings experience, however, it does not bring more freshness or innovation, no matter how you look at it. And startups need that badly. While failing with startups before you're 30 is a priceless experience, it can't go on forever.

If your startup hasn't worked out right, maybe it's time to accept that office job. That way, you can build some strong foundations in the form of contacts, money and CV points. Later, if you still feel like it, you can try again, but this time with more confidence.

The saddest picture ever by Ged Carroll
Satan (after Botticelli) by Maxwell Hamilton
Well, that's enough for today. I don't like being the devil's advocate. When someone says "told you so" after I don't succeed, I have a very strong urge to punch that person in the face. And you already have your parents telling you every day that you should accept a 9-to-5 job and stop squeezing blood from turnips. So don't lose heart.

But I won't say "never give up". That's awful advice.

What To Focus On While You Are Building A Startup

Building a startup: startup finance

When you're building a startup, it is important to choose what to focus on first. It's all about big ideas and small budgets. You shouldn't bother with stuff like hierarchies or armchairs. It's a startup, not a corporation. It's people with ideas, maybe just one person with an idea which needs to be realised.

Corporate Express Office Now by Office Now

What you really need is lot of work. But most people are blinded by the illusions of self-importance. They have something to prove. And when you're like that, you start valuing useless stuff. It's very easy to start paying too much attention to the following five things...

Staff

Berry Hard Work by JD Hancock
It must be something in our genes. The long millennia of whip-wielding masters and shackled slaves have imprinted in us the desire to have someone sweating for us. Sure, it's nice to see an office full of people. But if they're not giving it their all, you've failed. If they're not the right experts, you've failed. If they're both hard-working and professional, but you've hired them too soon for them to be useful, you've failed.

But I can't do everything myself, I hear you say. That's what your funding is for: outsourcing. It's hassle-free and much more profitable in the early stages. You can concentrate on getting the work done without worrying about people who work for you. Of course, you must have some...

Money

1-10th oz Gold vs Silver funny-money by Raquel Baranow
...to start with, but not too much. Money is the source of all evil, remember? Too much money makes you lazy. You start buying all sorts of unnecessary and expensive services and equipment. The temptation to get that shiny laptop or that latest piece of software is almost too much to bear. After all, it will help you work better, the devil whispers in your ear.

It's one more piece of baggage that we have taken from our ancestors: belief in magic. Deep down, we hope the jinni from the bottle will do our work for us. Freeware has come a long way. Linux and OpenOffice aren't clunky as they used to be. And there are tons of other free specialized software that might provide just the right amount of help.

Space

Beat the machine that works in your head !!! by zeitfaenger.at
I'm not saying you have to work from home. I'm just saying you don't need to buy an expensive chair, steel desks and giant flat screens. It's cool to think of your startup as a secret base to conquer the world, but it doesn't have to look like a lair of a James Bond villain. Instead of wasting your money on costly furniture, you should use it to lure a genius or launch a great marketing campaign.

And it's not only about furniture. Do you really need an office? A garage will do. It was good enough for Bill Gates. After all, meeting rooms are just a waste of space. Which brings us to the next point...

Meetings

Parachutist Equipment by Program Executive Office Soldier
Meetings are so 20th century. They're just a waste of time nowadays. If you don't hold them, everybody will achieve more and feel less stressed. If a discussion is needed, it's almost always one-on-one, which will be more pleasant during lunch or coffee breaks.

The same applies to clients. They're interested in your work, not your fancy headquarters. Invite them to that cool bar you've discovered in the neighbourhood and you'll leave a much better impression anyway. When you really need to get a lot of people together in a room, the solution is the same as for the employees: outsource. Rent a conference hall somewhere.

Bosses

That's What She Said by Brian Rinker
When you are building a startup, it just another case of putting the cart before the horse. CEO, CFO, CMO, CHRO... Yes, it's nice to be a big shot, lording it over mere mortals. But not when you're a startup with three employees. You won't impress anyone and you'll just end up looking ridiculous. The more power you give to the bosses, the less powerful your startup will be as a whole. In the beginning, all you need is an accountant.

Le Jour ni l'Heure 7592 by Renaud Camus
It's really all about getting rid of one's preconceptions. You don't need much. In fact, you usually don't need almost anything in terms of resources. It's all in the mind. And all of the above can put too much unnecessary weight on your mind if you're not careful.

Building a startup is hard but focusing on important stuff is very crucial on your startup success. Work wisely and effectively to create a successful startup.

Please also share your thoughts on what to prioritise and focus on working.

How To Find Perfect Startup Ideas

Fishing for startup ideas

Are you the guy who nailed the right startup idea and turned a small startup into a big success? Nah. If you were, you wouldn't be here. Let's face it: if you're reading this article, it can mean one of two things: either you tried and failed, or you didn't try at all.

marthas_vineyard_fishing021 by Public Herald

If you failed, good for you! All the successful people failed dozens of times before getting it right. But maybe you're not trying simply because you can't. You watch those startups get filthy rich and think: "hey, I'm smarter than those guys". You might be. But you just can't think of a smart startup idea to save your life.

Stop listening to other people's fish stories. Let's go fishing instead. You'll clear your mind and learn some useful tricks...

Don't choose the spot because of the scenery

You're fishing, aren't you? You're not hiking. Sure, those snow-capped mountains and green meadows behind that lake are a great thing to look at, but shouldn't you check whether there are any fish in the lake before wasting your day?
Varkala Beach by Koshy Koshy
Don't create a product or service and then look for people who want it. If everybody says "it sounds good, I'm sure somebody will use it", it means nobody will use it. No matter how good it sounds, there should be a need beforehand. Look for people who badly need something. It doesn't have to be a big group. You can start in a small niche as long as there's a genuine need for what you are developing.

You see, such people will buy even if your product isn't polished or very attractive. Then you build on that; you spread your net in every direction. Eventually, if your startup idea catches on, you move out of the niche. But you must start with something real.

Use the bait you're familiar with

Everybody's talking about those fancy electronic lures, so you bought one and spent the afternoon waiting in vain. Even if you manage to catch something, you'll never be as good as the fishermen who really know those lures. How about you take out those worms and leeches that you're so familiar with? They might not look like much, but they work.
startup ideas
When you aren't inspired, look at your area of expertise. Did you ever wish somebody would invent a particular thing that would make your job easier? Did you hear others say the same thing? That might be it. As Gandhi said: "Be the change you wish to see in the world." Startup ideas are hidden in the complaints of people around you.

If you're an expert in a subject and have some free time, study a very different subject that interests you. The chances of stumbling upon an original startup idea will grow exponentially. Cross-pollinating can produce extraordinary results. And it never hurts to learn something new.

There must be a reason why everyone fishes over there

You take one look at the forest of fishing rods on Lake Popular and decide you'll be smarter than everybody else. So you move to a deserted lake and wait and wait and wait...
startup idea
In all probability, you're not a genius. You won't have an incredibly original and lucrative idea that nobody ever thought of. What usually happens is this: you think of an idea and get discouraged right away because you're sure somebody else already thought of it. Just in case, you google the idea. Yes, just as you thought: other people are providing services similar to your idea.

But don't give up just yet. Is there an aspect of that idea that you've figured out better than they have? Check your potential users. If the competition missed a crucial aspect of the product or service that the customers need, and you nailed it, you have your customer base.

It doesn't matter how big the market is. In fact, the bigger, the better. After all, if you start in a big market with strong competition, it means there's big demand. In such a context, even a small improvement can bring big money.

That fish just might be delicious
Coho Spawning on the Salmon River by Bureau of Land Management Oregon and Washington
Don't throw that ugly bastard back into the water. It's grown so big precisely because nobody wanted it. You catch fish to eat them, not to admire them.

Good ideas can be unattractive.

Of course you'd rather do something that doesn't involve accounting or legal disclaimers or other annoying real-world issues. But many ideas are shunned by startups precisely because of such baggage.

Great opportunities stand in plain sight but aren't taken because people are afraid of them or hate dealing with them. Nobody wants to touch garbage. But Tony Soprano made millions on it. OK, I'm not saying you should get a startup mafia going, but you will get your hands dirty if you work seriously on any startup.

You can't fish in an aquarium

So close and yet so far...
Kuroshio Sea - 2nd largest aquarium tank in the world by Jon Rawlinson
Reading stories about successful people isn't enough to have a bright startup idea, you know. Put your fishing boots, go out there and develop a killer instinct to have a successful startup.

10 Startup Animals – Which One Are You?

It's a jungle out there. Hungry predators roam the canyons of Wall Street. Lumbering herbivores graze on the meadows of electricity and commodities. Night creatures prowl the forests of venture capital. Parasites lurk in the undergrowth of patents. Which animal is the totem of your startup? And do you have what it takes to survive? What is your startup animal?

Bee the Startup Animal
We start with the nicest of them all: the busy bee that flies from flower to flower, keeping nature alive and giving us the nectar of the gods.
Bee at Rock Meadow Reservation by Bill Damon
This is the startup with a good cause. Its founder wants to make other people's lives easier or improve society or help the world in some way. Perry "KickStarter" Chen is a good example. Such people are often more motivated than other entrepreneurs, since they know they're doing a good thing. Besides, the media are usually eager to publicize their cause. And if the startup makes some money along the way, all the better.

Pig the Startup Animal
Pig is one of the most intelligent animals. Why should it work when it can just get fed and grow? It gets slaughtered in the end, but hey, it's been a good life.
farm walk by debs-eye
It's easy and cheap to make a web product these days. You know you can reach a huge market with a modest investment. Even getting venture capital is an unnecessary hassle. You just package a sexy idea and put it on KickStarter. You get money with no strings attached, so you can grow at your own pace. And when the time is right, your startup is slaughtered by a big corporation and you put millions in your pocket. You won't make history, but it paid off royally.

Toad the Startup Animal
Many toads bury themselves in the ground to hibernate. Why should they move and toil when it's so warm and cozy in the earth? Leave them alone and they're satisfied.
Toad hunkered down by Dave Huth
These startups might be the happiest ones. A guy who likes to play electric guitar opens an electric guitar shop. He spends money on his hobby anyway, so why not turn it into a business? So what if his only clients are his friends and guitar geeks? He gets to do what he loves.

As long as you take care not to spend more than you earn and not to neglect your other sources of income and your family, you'll have a very nice business. More often than not, it won't grow or be very profitable, but you can't have it all, can you?

Bear the Startup Animal
The bear doesn't let anyone else in the forest push it around. While strong and proud, this loner is not above rooting through garbage for food.
Bears! by SteFou!
These startups know they're smart and think they should do everything themselves. They will take no bullshit from anyone. They're hard working, but can be annoying and totally inflexible. Venture capital is a dirty word for them, as they'd have to surrender some of their cherished freedom. Life can be very hard for them, but they never regret it as they can't imagine living any other way.

Bacteria the Startup Animal
Yuck, right? But when you consider their ability to multiply and thrive in any environment, nothing comes even close to bacteria.
Coxiella burnetii Bacteria by NIAID
I'm talking about franchises here. Yeah, I know, you have to make a major investment, you're not being original and you have to keep paying the guy who came up with the idea. Not very sexy. On the other hand, somebody else has already tested the model and it works. Your chances of failure are very low and you could make lots of money the easy way. It's a great way to get acquainted with the startup world if you have no experience and some funds.

Cat the Startup Animal
It may not be the smartest animal around, but it has the looks and style. They purr like the sweetest devils, but they can forget their owners in the blink of an eye.
Untitled by L. Whittaker
The founders of these startups are people with a background. They're not doing too bad even without the startup, as they're usually insiders in a business. For them, it's not what you know but who you know. They don't have the persistence of most of the other animals. When things start to go downhill, they'll pull out without a second thought. These cool operators know that life is too varied to be wasted on a single project.

Hamster the Startup Animal
As the hamster spins its exercise wheel, who knows what's going on in the critter's head? Maybe it has big plans for the future. But one thing is certain: it won't get out of the cage.
Roborovski Hamster by cdrussorusso
Like it or not, most startups belong to this category. It's questionable whether they should be called startups at all. They provide small-scale services without thinking of how to make them original or more profitable. They are the people who sell you groceries, design your web page, paint your house, repair your washing machine or cut your hair.

Yes, they are nicer than big businesses. And many of them work hard. But, sadly, they don't have any ambition or vision, so they barely make ends meet. They won't invest much energy or money into growth. There's a good chance that one of your parents is like that. Don't follow in their footsteps. Spending the rest of your life spinning a wheel in a cage shouldn't be a career goal.

Ant the Startup Animal
An anthill is a perfect community. Everyone knows what they're doing and they're great at it. The ants would rule the world if they didn't concentrate on carrying breadcrumbs.
Size Zero... Perfect Shape by Yogendra Joshi
This is usually a technological startup. They are young, well-educated people who know a lot about specialized stuff and think that's enough to make it big. They have enough passion to create new and original products, but not enough common sense to realize marketing research has some value after all. They think clients come naturally if you're a great guy. In the end, they usually give up and get hired by a tech giant. Sure, one of them might turn into the next Bill Gates. But somehow we doubt it.

Whale the Startup Animal
That hulking mass frolicking in the ocean looks very impressive and even fearsome. But it's harmless and much more vulnerable than it looks. It takes only a few harpoons to take this giant down.
Breaching Humpback Whale by Gregory "Slobirdr" Smith
Are you the CEO of a big firm who thinks this startup stuff doesn't apply to you? Think again. The startup way of thinking is increasingly being adopted by large corporations. Their existence has been more and more precarious, as their very size makes them fragile. As Alan Greenspan said: "If they're too big to fail, they're too big." Cutting costs isn't cutting it any more. Innovation is the key, and you'd better get into a startup frame of mind if you don't want to become the biggest carcass on the market.

Scarab the Startup Animal
These little guys roll their ball of dung with only one goal: to make it bigger.
Dung Beetle by Pete
They are the most famous startups of them all. It's what every smart Silicon Valley kid dreams of and that's why they hoard venture capital. And they'll need lots of it. Mark "Facebook" Zuckerberg is the obvious example here, but Google and Twitter are in the same club.

These people think big. They're not into it to labor for their daily bread, but to push a company as far as it can go before making an IPO and earning billions. Along the way, these gamblers need others like them, who will invest into their wild schemes to make them grow quickly. It's all about scale.

Hey, I'm not rolling shit here, I hear you cry. But let me remind you that the scarab was the most sacred animal in ancient Egypt. His rolling ball was seen as the image of the golden sun moving across the sky. Turning dung into gold: isn't that the alchemy that all the entrepreneurs are looking for?

Obviously, the last animal is the most successful of them all in terms of money and fame. But, as you may have noticed from my descriptions, I believe character is crucial. You can change your approaches and strategies, but you can't change who you are. It's my firm conviction that nothing is more important than feeling good about what you do. In other words, it's better to be a satisfied ant than a miserable scarab.

What’s New in New York for Startups

It's no wonder that the liveliest startups can be found in The City That Never Sleeps. Having secured its spot among the top startup environments in 2015, New York City is the place to go if you want to be inspired to start something yourself.


Times Square in Fisheye by m01229
Requests for funding are the most revealing info for the startup hotspots of the world. When the data for the second quarter of 2015 came in, some results were a foregone conclusion. Like the fact that the United States is still the undisputed startup empire: American startups accounted for 62.5% of global funding applications. In the dust cloud behind the American SUV, ringing their bicycle bells, there are India (6.9%), France (4.5%) and Canada (4.5%). (The dark horse to look out for? Australia. Tiny, but with a 108% increase.)

OK, that's nothing new. What's new is that New York is the hot startup city this year. When we first heard of Silicon Alley, it sounded like a ridiculous copy of the West Coast miracle. Nobody's laughing now. New York City has a whopping 4% lead in funding requests over Californian startups. Ranked second on the 2015 Startup Genome list of top startup ecosystems, it might be the best environment for up-and-coming entrepreneurs.

So what's new in New York? Let's take a look at some of the promising Big Apple startups that made a name for themselves in 2015.

Harry’s
Diamond Bay Barber Shop by zzclef
It's a classical case of "why haven't I thought of that". In other words, a great startup idea. I mean, is there a man alive who hasn't been horrified by the astronomic prices of razors? Well, these guys decided to do something about it. As they say on their funny "about us" page: "By selling directly to you online, we're able to shave away the excess." They raised $75 million this year, with all the males of the planet rooting for them.

MOGUL
woman by Vladimir Pustovit - edit
After a male-only startup, it's only fair to present this interesting women-oriented startup. MOGUL is a global platform with trendy content for women. The idea is for women to learn from one another, since they can upvote or downvote its videos, articles and discussions, promoting the contents they like. Its founder and CEO Tiffany Pham is definitely someone to look up to: she learned Ruby on Rails and coded the first version of MOGUL herself.

Flatiron Health
Medical-Surgical Operative Photography by Phalinn Ooi - edit
It was in 2014 that Flatiron Health announced it would fight cancer with big data. This health care tech startup is a cloud platform collecting data from cancer clinics all over the world. This summer it joined forces with another startup, Guardant Health, which created a new and efficient method of screening for cancer in blood. By next year, they'll have a joint platform and start negotiating with the pharmaceutical industry. With 14 million people in the world diagnosed for cancer each year, they have a steady customer base.

Zeel
Massage by Nick Webb
Like Harry's, this is a simple but powerful idea: massages on demand. You can go online and book a licensed massage therapist whenever you like (except between 10:30 PM and 8 AM). Since their services are mostly required in the evening, they stay on the safe side: you must identify yourself and you can't pick therapists based on their looks. At least you can choose whether you prefer them to be male or female.

Reserve
Need a glass by Mohamed Aymen Bettaieb
This year, the dining reservation company has bought three other startups making reservation apps, guest management tools and dinner check splitting apps. It's not surprising they're building muscle, since there is cutthroat competition in the segment of dining reservation apps. The "dining concierge", as they call themselves, or the "Uber for restaurants", as others call them since they were the first startup to come out of Uber's Expa studio, might introduce a whole new way of eating at restaurants, especially at fancier places. For example, guests can bid for tables, offering to pay more than the menu prices.

Electric Objects
Scattered Light at Northern Spark by Tony Webster
After a successful Kickstarter campaign, 23-inch high-definition screens have been shipped to buyers. They are digital canvases that work like a picture frame, displaying internet art in high resolution. The screens are controlled by a web app that lets you choose images online. It's another idea that resulted from an actual need of its creator: Electric Objects' CEO Jake Levine wanted to have customized and changeable works of art on the walls of his apartment, so he found a way to realize his wish.

Well, who knows? Maybe none of them will be around in 2016. But they are only a tiny fraction of the vibrant startup scene in New York City.