5 Things I Wish I Knew Before Founding My Own Company

It's nearly impossible to know everything before starting a company, but here are five essentials I wish I knew before founding my own.

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By Cyrus Claffey

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

When establishing a startup, you're bound to run into obstacles that seem insurmountable. After all, starting your own company is no easy task. You'll be faced with constant challenges that test your resolve and ultimately determine the success of your business.

When founding my own company, there were many times I was disappointed at the lack of progress or the problems arising. Fortunately, I learned how to deal with tough situations appropriately and how to build a successful company. All it took was time and a willingness to learn and grow from my mistakes.

However, no one should go into founding a company blindly. As I said, there's plenty I wish I'd known before establishing my own. Here are five things I'd tell myself before building my business that I know will help future entrepreneurs:

Related: 8 Things You Need to Know Before Starting a Business

1. Own up to your mistakes

Taking responsibility for your mistakes — especially critical ones — is hard. However, when you own up to and examine your missteps, you can make better, smarter decisions the next time.

Above all, don't push the blame for your mistakes onto others. Doing so will create unnecessary tension and ultimately divide the team. When leaders take ownership of their mistakes, they cultivate a trustworthy culture of teammates who take their responsibilities seriously.

As a leader, you can't ask more from your employees than responsibility and respect. Those are two driving forces that will propel your company forward. So, own up to your mistakes in order to better your entire team.

2. Expect things to require more resources than anticipated

With countless hours of planning put into the launch of many startups, it's surprising how often things go haywire. Startups can experience a variety of unforeseen events (e.g., labor shortages, pandemics, wars). Regardless of the conflict, you should always expect to need more resources than previously planned.

For example, bringing a product to market may require more time than you initially strategized because the slowed supply chain impacts material delivery. Or maybe your product requires more capital than previously projected because the cost of certain materials has risen due to inflation.

No matter the event, you should always be prepared for money, time or material shortages. By expecting it, you can better prepare your team and company to pivot toward a solution if necessary.

3. Consider customer service as an integral part of your company

Early on in a company's life, customer service is often overlooked because of a lack of resources. But don't underestimate the power of great customer service. It should be defined as listening to your customers' issues, acknowledging them and providing an effective solution.

If you can give early customers a superb experience, they'll remain customers for life. In turn, you'll build a brand that future customers rely on and love. Not to mention, word-of-mouth marketing is an excellent bonus — it's free and offers some of the best brand recognition you can build as a company.

4. Check your ego at the door

As the founder of a company, the best thing you can do is drop your ego. Why? Most importantly, an ego dilutes the pool of available candidates when recruiting. Revealing a strong or combative ego during an interview causes the good candidates to decline your offer — or even revoke their application before hearing your hiring decision.

As a result, you're left with a team that isn't as good as it could be. Be sure to let go of your pride when recruiting a team early. When you have a successful core team, you'll have a successful company.

Related: 10 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Starting Your Entrepreneurial Journey

5. Build an experienced team

It may go without saying that you should build an experienced team from the start. However, many startups suffer from nepotism, hiring team members because they're friends or family rather than based on experience. Some founders also simply lack recruiting experience and end up hiring unqualified team members.

Additionally, the team members you hire should fit into the culture you want to cultivate. Find diverse-minded people who are doers and take ownership of their work. Doing so will help grow your company and propel it into a successful startup with a team of synergized individuals.

While these five tips will help you navigate your startup early on, they don't cover everything you need to know. In fact, you'll have many opportunities to learn from your own experiences and mistakes along the way. Only then will you better prepare yourself, your team and your company for a successful future.

Cyrus Claffey

Entrepreneur Leadership Network Contributor

Founder of ButterflyMX

Cyrus Claffey is the founder of ButterflyMX, a proptech company focused on smartphone-enabled property access. Claffey has been developing and implementing real estate technologies for more than 15 years. He currently works with some of the largest names in multifamily and CRE.

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