There are things that every startup needs no matter what field it operates in or what business it is pursuing.
Sounding Boards – Every startup should have multitudes of sounding boards that provide feedback on your idea and help you refine it and continuously improve it. Almost guaranteed that a startup’s initial idea will need to do several revamps before it turns into the idea that the startup actually wanted. It’s hard to fall into a trap of loving your idea so much that it is very difficult to accept criticism and improve based upon it, but having multiple sounding boards and listening to it will make your startup stronger!
Tangible Goals - The goals you set for your startup need to be tangible. If you start off with setting your goal as, “I’m going to change the face of business as we know it”, it will become very difficult to gauge your success in the short to medium term. Set goals as number of users, amount of sales, conversion metrics, press acknowledgment, etc. Make sure to set goals that can be measured and seen.
Ambition - This one is pretty self explanatory. You cannot become a startup entrepreneur without having endless amounts of ambition and drive. The ambition and drive need to be directed toward the startup idea as there will be many obstacles along the way that can only be overcome by your passion for the business.
Reasonable Expectations - This is similar to the Tangible Goals, but make sure that your expectations of what your startup can achieve are within reasonable bounds. While you set tangible goals, make sure these goals are also achievable. A million users in one month may be achievable, but it is not a reasonable goal to set for your business. Set high goals that are difficult to achieve, not impossible.
Tabula Rasa (Blank Slate) - For the time being when you are establishing your startup, assume that everything you knew was wrong and start with a fresh slate. This goes for corporate types who have spent a majority of their careers doing things a certain way (including myself) and are starting a new business. Student CEOs will probably have less of this problem, but for all startup CEOs, please do not forget to begin with a blank slate.
Unflinching - Amidst all the difficulties and the skepticism you will most likely face, you alone have to be unflinching and unwavering. You are the voice of your company and if you cannot support it all the way who can?
Passion - You have to love the idea. Drive is not enough on a standalone basis. You should be thinking about it day and night, because it is your creation and at times it should be keeping you up at night.
There are probably some things here that don’t sound all that pleasant or even explicitly difficult, but at the end of the road, as all successful entrepreneurs know, it will be well worth it and pay off in the long run.
By Sang Lee