What critical success factors in business growth are under-emphasized for entrepreneurs?
Whether due to recession-related layoffs, lockdown’s drastic effects on our relationships with our work, or a multitude of other factors, more Americans are founding their own business ventures than ever. According to statistics collected by Digital.com, nearly a third of those quitting their jobs are doing so to start their own business. For many new founders, the choice is driven by a desire to pursue an idea they are passionate about.
Finding the Way: The Entrepreneur’s Tale is a new work of business fiction by “Cap Treeger,” which provides actionable insights for anyone from aspiring founders to experienced veterans of the business world. A serial entrepreneur, Treeger (a pen name) has founded or co-founded a number of companies in fields ranging from computer hardware to construction. He has directly invested in over one hundred early-stage startups, mentored hundreds of others, and served on several dozen boards.
There is no single roadmap to success, but Treeger offers a wealth of wisdom to help budding entrepreneurs position themselves and their businesses to grow, scale, and enjoy outsized success. Following the story of a young entrepreneur, Treeger highlights five hard-learned and under-appreciated lessons that will serve any founder, in any market, in any field:
Clearly articulate and understand your purpose, constraints and goals
Articulating the right goals as an individual and an entrepreneur requires a complete and honest understanding of not only what you want to accomplish, but also your starting point: Who are you and where are you going?
The WAYAWAYG™ (Who Are You And Where Are You Going) exercise is an exercise for the entrepreneur and for the business. Ask yourself where you want to be both professionally and personally in 5, 10, 15 years. What do you want your day-to-day to look like? Your finances? Your relationships?
Arming yourself with a clearly articulated understanding of your values, priorities, and aspirations allows you to ground each decision in a concrete understanding of your purpose.
Understand what your customer is really buying
Often what your customer really needs or wants is deeper and less obvious than what it may seem on the surface.
Your new business may be selling a shirt, sandwiches, landscaping, or enterprise software. In a world where lives are busy and complicated, patrons may go with the easiest solution. Yet their underlying needs — desire for security or validation, fear, or perhaps trust that your product will make them look good in their own company — inform their purchasing decisions as well. Look deeper to build an understanding of the essential, hidden needs of your customers. Those needs will define the business that you are really in.
Find the right customer-driven business model
The right business model can both mitigate risk and foster the likelihood that you will be at the right place at the right time.
Finding a truly customer-driven model will drive solutions that customers will prove themselves willing to pay for. The right business model will reduce risk and open opportunities to innovate in the right way, at the right time. And if done right, you might engender greater loyalty from your customers.
Truly engage with your customers and they will become everything from sales references, to business partners and funders. Often, the best business models are built on customers’ money. By minimizing obligated overhead and implementing an incremental model, you can develop a low-risk, sustainable cost structure.
Integrate the right people and resources
Be intentional from the beginning about bringing together the ingredients that will set you up for success. Ensure that your resources fit how you see your company evolving: from first hires, to the mentor relationships you choose to foster, to the time and resources you make accessible to your employees:
- Hire to establish culture early, rather than trying to repair it later.
- Over-compensating key hires can minimize costly turnover and expensive mistakes.
- Rather than finding just any accountant and attorney, engage a great fit with experience in startups and the technologies or solutions you are developing.
- Foster relationships with value-add investors whose values line up with yours.
When building something great, you must first ensure that the tools in your toolbox are best suited for the job.
Alignment and a clear sense of purpose and understanding can be empowering. Each of the above elements should be complementary and synergistic. If every stakeholder – internal and external – understands their role and contribution, they will collaborate better. Aligned incentives and measurement will facilitate trust, confidence and security.
Everything from accountability in cost structure to better hiring practices can help foster alignment in understanding of the business, model, purpose, and where each fit into the bigger picture.
The road to founding a successful venture can be tolling. Cap Treeger not only offers insight into the minds of successful entrepreneurs based on his own experience but that of his mentors. Finding the Way promises to accompany you through the ups and downs of your own journey!
Written by Jon Hutson.
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