Craig Schedler

Managing Director, Cream City Venture Capital

Five Things Successful Startups Have in Common

Topics: Featured.

I'm often asked what it takes to succeed as an entrepreneur. You need a great idea, of course, and you need to secure funding to test the viability of your idea and get the business off the ground. But beyond the obvious, what is it that separates those that succeed from those that fail? As I look at the companies we've invested in, as well as other startups that are making it, their founders have these five things in common:

  • Passion
    I absolutely believe the best companies are driven by passionate founders. If you don't get up every morning with an inherent motivation and passion to solve a problem or make people's lives better in some way, it’s that much more difficult to be successful.
  • Determination
    Launching a startup is hard. If you're fundraising, you're going to get told "no" a lot of the time, but you've got to be willing to push through to the “yes.” You also have to have the determination to stay focused when something goes wrong, and it will — whether it’s a supplier that doesn't deliver, a new competitor that emerges, or a piece of code gets bugs that your team can't fix. There are always going to be issues. It is imperative to have grit, determination and resourcefulness to see things through and make it work.
  • A Willingness to take Risks
    You can't wait until all of your ducks are lined up in a row before moving forward. Reid Hoffman, one of the founders of LinkedIn and an early employee of PayPal, said it best: "Being a founder is like jumping off of a cliff and trying to assemble an airplane on the way down. You take a leap of faith and have to figure it out along the way. That's the reality of entrepreneurship. You’ll never have it all figured out the day you launch your business."
  • The Right People
    Your first few hires can set the path to success - or create a path to real failure. Start by being realistic about what you're good at and what you're not, then hire to supplement your skills. If you're less technical, you want to make sure that your CTO is either your co-founder or an incredibly strong first or second hire. It's also important that your first few hires share your passion and vision for the company.
  • A Mentor
    Being a founder is an incredibly lonely job – that's why having a mentor can be helpful. They don't have to be involved in the day-to-day of your company, but they should be someone who understands what you're going through, can offer advice or will listen when you just need to vent. If you're fortunate enough to have a board of directors, it can be somebody from your board, or it can just be a fellow entrepreneur or trusted advisor in some capacity. Entrepreneurship is an emotional roller coaster; don't take the ride by yourself.

Running a startup is an exciting and challenging journey full of twists and turns. Focusing on something you care about deeply, and having the right attitude, outlook and support will only increase your likelihood of success.

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