Focus on a real customer need
When I talk about customer need, it may be to pinpoint a problem, it may be a desire, it may be an unarticulated need.
However, it doesn’t have to always be a pain point.
But I think it’s really important to articulate who exactly is the end customer.
It could be an end user, it could be a business owner, or it could be B2B, but what is the customer need that you are fulfilling?
What is the problem that you are solving or the benefit that you are giving?
I feel that entrepreneurs often start with something they are excited about but the company doesn’t always stay true to a customer need or stay focused on the original mission.
It’s also really helpful if, ideally, the mission is something that is personal to the entrepreneur.
If it is something that the entrepreneur has experienced or knows of in an intimate way it can really help.
Finding a solution to a customer need gives a lot of energy to the organization.
It focuses the company and helps an entrepreneur make the right sort of choices over time.
If it’s something that has been personally experienced by the entrepreneur, either a benefit or pain, then they can translate that through the enduring period of the company and its growth.
Be passionate and optimistic
How do you maintain your passion for the idea and the business and how do you reflect the optimism in good times and bad?
I say this because the entrepreneur will be the soul of the company for a long time.
Not only is his or her every action or move translated into how the organization feels, but as we all know, especially in new ideas of business, there are absolutely bound to be ups and downs.
If the entrepreneur can keep the customer need they are solving in mind and is able to translate that personal experience they have had, that can make it real for the team and for the external stakeholders as to why this company exists.
Even in tough times.
There are challenges of course but you have to have the confidence and reflect the optimism about why you can get through them.
I think that by the very definition or nature of entrepreneurship, you have to be an optimistic person who can see how the world can be better tomorrow than it is today.
That sense of energy is critical.
Choose the right people for the right stage of the company
I’ve seen a lot of entrepreneurs get this wrong in the past.
You need to be thoughtful about who the right people are for the each stage of the company or the business you are building.
I’ve seen numerous occurrences where CEOs either hire overly qualified people too early or keep the people who were right at the stage when it was a 10 man company for too long.
I have seen people who can translate from operating within a large company to a 5 man startup or vice-versa but I think it’s important to be thoughtful about it because the same people who got you to point A may not be the right people to get you to point B.
In some ways you may end up feeling a misguided sense of loyalty because a set of people work brilliantly to take a company to a particular point.
Recognizing that effort and being thoughtful about it is crucial but so is knowing that different stages require different skills and different kinds of people.