By Sweta Patel, founder of Silicon Valley Startup Marketing
Many entrepreneurs who are looking to build successful startups are incredibly talented and intelligent, but they are missing the key ingredients that have the potential to turn their startups that no one cares about into startups that are bound for success. It all starts with the team and the culture. And that’s not all. If you’re looking to raise money from investors, it is also about being the best in your industry.
As a founder and an advisor to many of the top incubators around the world, I'd like to share my winning experience. Here are a few things to keep in mind when building your startup. When you want to scale up, this strong foundation will make it much more feasible.
Seek support through a co-founder and team.
Building a startup isn’t easy and there are many stages involved in growing a large-scale business. This requires a lot of informative decision making that can’t be done by a single person. The startup is going to have its ups and downs -- so having a team and co-founder to navigate through that is incredibly important.
Finding a co-founder is much like dating. You can’t just pick them up at a nightclub and hope they will be the one for you. I recommend using websites like CoFoundersLab, AngelList and even LinkedIn to vet potential founders who would be a good fit for your business.
The same due diligence is required when building out the rest of your team. I learned how to take it slow during the interview process until I was able to build a relationship with candidates and see their true colors. It is more about chemistry than it is about finding someone who is simply knowledgeable. You want them to be able to work through the difficult times that come with a scaling business.
Focus on tools, not location.
Many startups believe they have to be in Silicon Valley to live out their dream and build a sustainable company. This is simply not true. There are many investors in Silicon Valley, without a doubt, but at the end of the day, nobody cares where you are located. If you are building the best product or service in your industry, then you will be sought after. Investors will literally come knocking on your door. For example, many successful startups such as Hootsuite, Vidyard, Influitive and others are located outside of Silicon Valley.
It is all about building a strong technical infrastructure and automating the rest of your business. Invest in the tools that will help your company scale, not the location. It is my belief that location has always hindered founders who aren’t being honest with themselves about whether they are really the best at what they do.
Put on your ‘people glasses.’
After working with over 200 startups, I have noticed that many startup CEOs are brilliant but lack the skills it takes to really understand their team members. Whether they need glasses or not, putting on people glasses is about seeing things they currently aren’t seeing to prevent new issues from occurring. Some tangible ways founders can see the perspectives of their team members is by simply getting involved and listening to them about their career and personal goals.
I once worked with a company where the founder asked every team member to have a side hustle before joining. He had a separate channel in Slack where everyone could discuss their side hustle. This was a way for them to bond, but it also helped team members plan for the future and always have something to fall back on.
Founders can support their team members’ pursuit of their goals by allowing them to be more open about them. It doesn’t have to be about your company all the time. When you focus on building a company that focuses on their team, everyone wins. People glasses allow CEOs to focus on providing team members with the resources and flexibility they need to succeed.
This is the year to take your startup from failing to winning. You don’t have to be in Silicon Valley to achieve that. Success is possible when you focus on your tools and your team.
Sweta Patel is a growth advisor at 500 Startups, Plug and Play Tech Center and Techstars. She is a best-selling author and member of The Oracles. SVStartupMarketing.com