Entrepreneurs stay in startup mode way too long. Keeping a small business in startup mode requires you to stand on the brake. If you keep telling people you're "just a startup," you will never take actions for real growth.
It's time to move from startup to grown up mode and from planning to doing. In two years, you want to look back at your startup phase as an important part of your thriving business' history. You want to say,"I remember when I was sitting on my floor packing boxes myself. Now I employ over 100 people." This is the mindset to move towards and here are five ways to do it:
1. Delegate. When you're in startup phase, you are handling everything. To become a going concern you have to start investing in people to do tasks you can no longer do. Three quarters of all small businesses have zero employees, which underscores the resistance people have to delegating. You have to grow your business. It is a misnomer to think people cost money. A lack of production and failure to grow your business costs far more.
2. Pick your battles. Don't get wrapped up for a week deciding on a logo when it ultimately doesn't matter. Your brand will evolve as your business evolves, so your logo is likely to change. There are more important things to obsess over -- gaining customers and making money. When you are hunting big game, don't swat mosquitoes.
3. Get attention. The single biggest problem every startup has is becoming known. Your most important task is to get attention for you and your company. It's the gateway to every dollar you raise. Muhammed Ali told the world he was the greatest long before anyone knew him. He got attention and infuriated people. But he proved himself, which turned criticism into world admiration. Get attention. Get critics. Then get admiration.
4. Change your pitch. Instead of saying "I own a small web design company," say "I own a web design company like none other that guarantees your company increased sales." Notice the difference? The first makes you seem small and insignificant. It makes no claim. The second makes you seem unique, confident and capable of being a money maker. Know how to pitch yourself and your business. Be ready to quickly explain what your company does that is better, faster and of value to the marketplace. Then, make big claims to the world.
5. Create urgency. If you start a business venture without setting specific timelines for action and achievements, you will be stuck forever with excuses. One of the biggest mistakes I have made in business was not operating with enough urgency. Being an entrepreneur is a marathon activity with lots of sprints. Win a lot of little races and you will provide your people and company with momentum. We recently shot a television show at my office and I told the editing staff that I wanted rough cuts in half the time they thought necessary. Then I called everyday for a progress update. This pressure to perform doesn't lead to inferior products; it get products to be finished. Urgency is key to getting things done.
Remember: Your vision is not improved by staying in startup mode. It's time to accelerate and become a going concern that is grabbing market share from the other bigger more established players. It used to be the big who ate the small. Today, it is the fast who eat the slow.