Starting your own venture can be a lot like hurtling down a pothole-filled dirt road--the bumps are unpredictable and take extra effort to overcome. But that doesn't mean that you're on the wrong path. It just means it's wise to heed the advice of those who've already been in the driver's seat, and to use what they've learned to smooth out the ride. Sabrina Peterson, Co-founder and CEO of Pure Growth Organic, is such an expert. Now on her fourth venture, she talked with Inc. and shared the best ways to get through the startup transition.
1. Keep your heart full, your mind clear and your body active.
To keep herself well through the transition process, Peterson says she takes time every day to call three people she loves. She also gets in at least 20 minutes of physical activity, reads before bed and during her commute to clear her head, makes plans with friends to have something to look forward to, and tries to get seven to eight hours of sleep each night.
"You can't sprint a marathon and you can't postpone life or happiness for when you feel like XYZ has happened in your business," Peterson says. "Life is right now."
2. Communicate constantly.
Success, Peterson asserts, isn't linear, and all companies make mistakes. The key is to learn from those errors and to be honest, particularly if the news is bad. "Bring people in," she says. "Get their advice. Don't take on all the stress yourself. [...] The worst thing to do is to not acknowledge issues in the business. If you can do that and put together a go-forward plan, you can maintain and grow confidence in the future of the business." Staying data driven helps.
3. Find the right investors and support professionals.
Peterson considers herself fortunate to have found initial investors among her friends and family. She was also able to get recommendations for her PR firm and attorney from individuals she trusted. These professionals had a helpful attitude and understood that Peterson's company would grow with them. The result? High reliability, strong relationships and manageable costs.
In addition to the right frame of mind, expertise is a must from any professionals you partner with. They can offer thorough answers to any questions you have as you grow your company. But the right partners also recognize that they can learn from you.
"The first day [my supply chain CPG consultant and I] met, he told us we were crazy entrepreneurs and would never be able to launch," Peterson recalls. "[But] when we kept doing the impossible, he started to say it less so. We taught him a bit about being entrepreneurial. He taught us best practices and processes, and [he] helped mentor a young team."
4. Know which metrics to follow.
According to Peterson, depth and velocity is the most important metric you need to watch when you're getting a new venture off the ground. "People vote with their wallets," she says. "Are they buying your product? What is the frequency and repeat? What one to three products are doing 70 percent of the sales velocity? Focus on those and roll those SKUs out in the other channels."
5. Hire with care.
Your best bet for creating stability and a solid, positive work environment is to hire people that can stomach the uncertainty a startup can face. They should be able to roll with the punches and meet adversity head on.
"Startups are great for self-starters, people who can drive the agenda, aren't afraid to be accountable and who are solution oriented," Peterson notes. "[They're] not afraid to fly the plane while they are building it. Look for a good dose of humor and optimism."
Be the tortoise, not the hare.
Even when you follow these tips, it's normal to experience some self-doubt. After all, if your business truly is innovating, you'll naturally be putting yourself in uncharted waters. Don't let that deter you! You don't need to become worth millions overnight. In fact, growing too fast can create exactly the instability you don't want. As long as you are growing slowly and steadily, you'll will the race.