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4 Best Practices to Avoid Startup Failure

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The forces of failure are constantly working against you as an entrepreneur. It takes a strong will and an unrelenting purpose to find ways in which your startup can sustain success and avoid becoming yet another statistic on the “10 business practices to avoid” list (which just may be the title of a future article).


Related: Don't Want to Screw Up Your Startup? Follow These 7 Rules.

To mitigate the chances of failure, here are four startup best practices to help you along:

1. Maximize your resources.

In this day and age, obtaining information isn’t the challenge -- it’s sifting through the endless streams of data, insights and email exchanges that soak up more time than the analyses themselves. There are myriad online tools available for entrepreneurs (nothing better than, of course) such as Startup{ery and Efactor that serve as consortiums for best practices.

Meanwhile, trying to navigate the rough waters of information overload wastes precious time. Pick your battles wisely. Know when you need to tackle an issue and when it makes more sense to delegate. Building a better business with outsourcing tools such as Amberly or Zapier is a great way to keep the grind wheel churning when your energy reserves are low.

2. Leverage your network.

There are five types of people in your network: family, friends, uppers, downers and influencers. Family and friends speak for themselves, and may also serve as mentors or role models.

Uppers is a term for generally positive people -- they’re not strategists and they don’t execute well but they love life and have fun sitting in the dark. Their evil twins, however, are downers, who are the human toxins that act as social hand grenades because of their negativity.

Related: 5 Fundamentals Successful Entrepreneurs Build Into Their Strategy

Finally, there are influencers. This latter group is key because they are the ones who can connect you with others and others to you. Remember also that everybody is a mix of the aforementioned types. Nobody is just an influencer or just a friend -- everybody knows something worthwhile. The key is to know when to leverage the right people at the right time.

3. Build a learning culture.

Culture is a product of the people, processes and systems that define the company’s name and all that it stands for. You don’t change a culture without changing behavior, and you only change behavior at scale through the systems and processes that guide the company’s daily execution.

In his book, The Lean Startup: How Today's Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses, author Eric Ries highlights how “startup success can be engineered by following the right process, which means it can be learned, which means it can be taught.”

The only bridge to startup sustainability is how willing you are -- as a leader and a company -- to adapt to changes in the environment. Success or failure is only determined by where you stop.

4. Have an MVP.

No, not an individual. A minimum viable product is the least amount of product or service you can bring to market while achieving two objectives: maximizing value to the customer and minimizing costs.

Good judgment only comes from experience, and experience typically comes from bad judgment. The toughest lessons to learn are usually the most costly in terms of resources and capital, so the best practice for you is the one that keeps your business unique.

Related: The 5 Pillars, or 'Fingers,' of Successful Entrepreneurship

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