Starting a business can be scary, but it can also be an exhilarating experience. I've launched my own small businesses over my career, as well as consulted with others to get their ventures up and running. I have found from working with thousands of businesses over time is that what separates success from failure often comes down to three key things: purpose, people, and technology.
Yes, there are many other factors at play like adequate funding, a solid business plan, old-fashioned hard work, and a bit of luck. Yet, purpose, people, and technology help create a solid foundation from which to launch and grow almost any business. Here is why each one is so crucial to getting your business off the ground.
1. Know your purpose.
The first question you should ask yourself before starting a business, is "why do I want to do this?" Your business should be based on a specific desire or passion you have to create something special. It's not about making money or earning a living, because odds are you won't be profitable at first. You need to know your "why" to keep you fulfilled and focused during those inevitable long and taxing hours in the beginning.
So honestly ask yourself, "What keeps me motivated and excited to wake up each day and take my business into the world?" Our purpose should be something greater than ourselves. Our business should impact others and the world. Remember, if you are not passionate about why you do business, no one else will be.
Need more guidance on how to find your "why"? Simon Sinek shares a powerful model on how to uncover the "why" in your business in his well-known TED Talk on "How great leaders inspire action."
2. Find the "right" people.
Yes, you want the best employees with a strong work ethic and experience, but you also need people who believe in your company's mission and share your passion for the type of work you do. When workers are invested in a business's mission and values, they are more loyal and engaged. For instance, Patagonia boasts one of the lowest turnover rates, according to Fortune, and highest employee happiness levels because their workers share the company's mission to inspire more people to interact with the outdoors while protecting the environment.
To find the best people that complement your business's purpose, you need a clear vision of who a prospective employee is -- what they love do in their free time, their past work experience and daily work habits, and how they interact with customers and colleagues. Often, businesses have trouble matching this image with potential employees so they turn to online worksheets for help such as Kinesis's My Dream Employee worksheet or a similar one on Recruiter.com to help small business owners hire the right first employee.
Even if you find a great person, but don't have an open position, consider creating a role for them. This wise approach to building your business's dream team comes from the book Good to Great by Jim Collins. This way you already have the people you will eventually need on board. Remember: The "right" people will almost always trump the best qualified, and without the right support team in place, your business can fail even if you are good at what you do.
3. Set up the proper technology.
Many businesses may think that initial technology is just about covering the basics. But it's important to set up the right tech for your startup based on short-term needs and long-term growth.
For instance, cloud-based technology is important, so you and your team can work from anywhere. As technology has improved, I have found that potential clients, employees, and contractors could come from anywhere--down the street and across the country. When I have worked with multi-location companies or franchises, they have needed to set up cloud-based accounting and office document software to ensure that people can effectively access the same materials and work together from different locations. They have also set up tools such as Slack and Zoom video conferencing and provided web cams to foster stronger personal connections and relationships both internally among employees and externally with customers.
This kind of thought-out tech may be implemented at different stages at first, but by thinking long-term at the start of a company, business owners can create the proper infrastructure framework for future growth.
Launching a business is one of the most daring, yet rewarding adventures anyone can ever undertake. But it takes more than hard work and commitment, it takes thorough planning and thoughtful determination of why you do what you do, who you do it with, and how you deliver it. Defining your purpose, creating the right team, and investing in proper technology infrastructure, can help set you up for success.