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A: What are the best habits to have in order to grow your business quickly? How do these habits help young entrepreneurs?
- Janice Sheilah
Q: I’ll start by acknowledging that if there were a truly simple formula for growing a business rapidly, everyone would be doing it and we wouldn’t see such a high failure rate in the world of startups.
The reality is that being able to scale your startup means that at a minimum you’ve found product-market fit. This implies that you’ve done an enormous amount of customer development and iteration of your product offering based on this feedback loop. It also implies that your business model and unit economics are sound and that you have a team that is capable of executing on every aspect of this high-wire act that is a startup. All of this takes a lot of time and cannot be rushed.
Here’s a breakdown of the best six habits and approaches that optimize the potential for good outcomes for entrepreneurs:
1. Focus your vision. Decide that your company’s fundamental mission is to serve the actual needs of your customers/users and not what you “think” they want.
2. Embrace the customer-development process. Remember that it is a never-ending cycle of speaking with, listening to and adapting to the evolving needs of your customers. It takes time, energy and passion and that is why so few people are willing to do it.
3. Pursue a lean approach. This lean approach will ensure that your startup is uniquely able to respond and pivot its product offering as you pinpoint customer needs.
4. Obsess over your customers. It’s important to be fanatical about customer acquisition costs, lifetime value of customers, unit-economics and the cash needs of your business so you can ensure that you have the funds you need to survive and thrive as a business.
5. Recruit a top-notch team. Do everything you possibly can to partner with and/or hire absolutely extraordinary people that are passionate about your business. Find missionaries, not mercenaries.
6. Know the basics. They include building your network, developing domain expertise, finding a mentor, leveraging social media and meeting investors.
I would reiterate that there are really no shortcuts, and that rushing through or ignoring these building blocks is often the root of failure. Getting to product-market fit takes enormous work, patience and perseverance, and, once you’re there, you can really focus on scaling the business by implementing your marketing and customer-acquisition plans in earnest. In the end, if you’ve chosen a big market -- and your customers love your product -- you will grow.
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The author is an Entrepreneur contributor. The opinions expressed are those of the writer.
Dave Lerner is a serial entrepreneur, angel investor, blogger and host of Venture Studio, an online interview show in which he talks with entrepreneurs, investors, founders and other members of the flourishing New York entrepreneurial ecosystem and beyond.
Follow him on twitter: @davelerner