First Year Success – 5 Secrets for a Successful Startup

The first year for a startup is nerve-wracking because it can signal the end of your business or the beginning of something incredible. Only 20% of new companies survive after the first eighteen months, and if you want to make the cut, you need to consider every angle before you open the doors to your new venture. Below are five secrets to ensure you have a successful first year.

1. Brand Yourself Well

Your brand should tell future customers your company’s story in one fluid image. It should encapsulate your values, goals and the unique offerings for your target market. It should also position you within your industry. If successful branding is not your forte, you may want to consider outsourcing this work to the professionals at a brand design agency. They can turn your messy or incomplete brand into a superstar.

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2. Have the Right Team

It is imperative that you put the right people in place from the start because your team can make or break you. Ensure that your team has a stake in the success of the startup by offering them equity.  And don’t be afraid to hire someone who has been a part of a failed startup, their insight can be invaluable. More than anything, make sure that you are honest with future hires and that you are willing to lead by example. Your business is not just you; it is your team as well.

3. Plan for Success

Before you have your first team meeting, take the time to write out three to five measures that will tell you your first year was successful. One metric could be having sufficient funds to pay your team every paycheck for the first year. Another could be breaking even by the eighth month. Whatever means success to you, write it down in big bold letters. Share it with your team and set a reminder in your calendar to review your progress every month.

4. Know Your Critical Path

Now that you have established your goals for the first year, it is imperative to create the critical path to achieve them. If your goal is to pay your team every paycheck, how much funding do you need to have in place each month? How can you ensure that you stay on top of pursuing that amount? Take the time now to create some critical points for your business. Once you have done so, share your critical path with your team not only to get their buy-in on those items but also their perspective.

5. Find a Mentor

Mistakes are going to happen as your roll out your new venture. Thankfully, choosing a mentor to guide you can avoid the most painful and costly errors. Seek out an experienced advisor, ideally an individual in your industry who has successfully launched a startup.

They can be a source of wisdom, a sounding board, and a consoling shoulder as your business progresses through various stages. If no one readily comes to mind, that’s okay. Sometimes the best mentors are found in unexpected places.

You do not have to start your new business alone. Once you have branded your business well, surround yourself with individuals who are invested in the success of your business with the right team and a seasoned mentor.

The Bottom Line

Keep your business on target by creating metrics for success and a critical path to achieve them, and you can make it into that top 20% of new companies that survive the first year!

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