The most successful entrepreneurs have faced the same challenges that startups are grappling with today. There are lessons learned that can help anyone who is starting a business. Here, we offer a dozen of the best business tips from the entrepreneurs behind the big ideas in 'Trep Talk -- from picking a market to executing on your idea, plus how to determine whether you're really creating a viable business.
Best Startup Tips from 'Trep Talk
"Don't be afraid to fail. My dad encouraged us to fail. Growing up, he would ask us what we failed at that week. If we didn't have something, he would be disappointed. It changed my mindset at an early age that failure is not the outcome, failure is not trying. "
"You need space to try things and create. It takes a long time to recalibrate if you let people pull at you all the time. A lot of stress comes from reacting to stuff. You have to keep a certain guard [up], if you're a creative person. "
"Many [business] people focus on what is static, black and white. Yet great algorithms can be rewritten. A business process can be defined better. A business model can be copied. But the speed of execution is dynamic within you and can never be copied. When you have an idea, figure out the pieces you need quickly, go to market, believe in it, and continue to iterate."
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"Get everything in writing, especially with business partners. When you're starting out, things can be quite friendly and exciting, but people's memory can change due to money. Obviously, better to have a lawyer do it, but at least have some written recollection that you are partners, who's responsible for what, and how much money each of you put in."
"You have a viable business only if your product is either better or cheaper than the alternatives. If it's not one or the other, you might make some money at first, but it's not a sustainable business."
"Be true to yourself. If you follow that principle, a lot of decisions are actually pretty easy."
"Pick a good market. The idea for approaching that market may change, but find a meaty problem to solve. You can try to attack it a bunch of different ways. Don't be too narrow."
"Something worth doing might take a while, so really flesh out the potential of the business and be honest about whether it's worth doing. If it's not a $100 million company in five years, maybe it'll take 10 or 15 years. If you're doing something that has a universal, timeless need, then you need to think of the company in a timeless way."
"Don't spend money until you have money. When we used to put candy in our media kits, I would go to the Duane Reade store the day after Easter because the candy was on sale. Of course, it's important to spend on certain things in the beginning. You need good servers but you don't need Aeron desk chairs."
"What I learned from Rockefeller that's off-the-hook important is: You need to know exactly where you stand in a business at all times. Measure everything, because everything that is measured and watched improves."
"The joy is in the getting there. The beginning years of starting your business, the camaraderie when you're in the pit together, are the best years of your life. So rather than being so focused on when you get big and powerful, if you can just get the juice out of that… don't miss it."
"A good idea is not enough. Business aren't just about ideas, businesses are about execution. Don't get too enamored with your own idea. Other people are going to have that same idea or something similar. You have to build a better team to execute it. You're only human, nobody has all the skills required to make a business work. [Ask yourself] what people are required to make it work for this idea, for this business?"
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