9 Rules for a Successful Startup

Success, freedom, and independence are three words that are transforming the business landscape of today. But, as empowering as these words are, they can also be misleading.
Most entrepreneurs launch their startups thinking that they will make a lot of money, but most of them don’t succeed, since 75% of startups fail.

So, is there a way to avoid this and ensure the success of your startup? Although there is no one recipe for a successful business, the most successful entrepreneurs follow the same number of practices.

1. Passion Comes First

If you are in it just for the money, you won’t make it very far. You need to aim higher than that. The first step to starting a successful company is building upon something you believe in.

If you don’t have a tenacious passion for what you do, you may come across the first big hurdle—and you can expect a lot of hurdles. Know why you have launched your business and keep your heart in it.

You will need to put in more than 40 hours of work each week if you want your startup to succeed. You will need to work around the clock, and you will need to push yourself to the limit. If you don’t have passion to fuel you, you may burn out quickly.

2. Commit to Excellence

If you want to achieve mediocrity and nothing more, you can settle for less or average, sure. But, the greatest startups are the ones that are driven by ideas and purposes that are usually beyond comprehension to the average Joe.

In the world of today, entrepreneurs collectively create amazing companies, services, and products. When you are launching a product or service, don’t aim for it to be just an improvement on the next best thing. Make it radically different and better.

Don’t put limits on how far you can go. To reach success, always commit to doing the best you can do. You need to decide right now that you will build something radically better, and you need to dig deep.

3. Prepare to be Copied, and Prepare to Copy

Okay, this doesn’t mean you should turn a blind eye to copyright infringement. But, if you have a great idea and it takes off, you can rest assured that others will copy it.

You need to adopt a system of “continuous innovation” in order to survive the competition from the upstart little guys as well as much larger players in the market.

And just as they will be studying you to see what they can steal from you, you should do the same with them. Most businesses focus on their own products and services and the immediate road ahead. But myopia can be detrimental to your business.

After all, you wouldn’t have a “market” if others hadn’t been down that road already. Not only do you need to learn from the failures of your competitors, but you should also learn from their successes.

If you want to beat your competitors, you need to study their customer acquisition strategy, content plan, keywords, and messaging. Don’t be above borrowing and building upon a great idea that someone else came up with.

4. Build Up Reserves of Money

You will make some mistakes, and you will experience some bad luck. Preparing for this is easier said than done, but you must try your best.

Most startups don’t have tons of cash sitting around, and that probably goes for yours as well. So, don’t waste money—run as lean as you possibly can. Always try to save some money for rainy days. Having a war chest of reserve funds will help you endure bad luck along the way.

Until you come up with your secret formula to success, your goal is to stay alive. Find a way to achieve your goals on a small budget.

You need to count your cents. This means no fancy full-color brochures, no fancy company cars, and no fancy offices.

There is plenty of new technology that will help you save money on business expenses, so be sure to use them. You can use such online resources to find deals on flight tickets, find the cheapest gas stations, compare business phone systems cost , and compare energy prices. Blowing your funds is the easiest way to kill your company, so be sure to budget.

5.Don’t Give Up Control and Don’t Compromise on the Big Things

The lure of high-growth has led many entrepreneurs to give up control to venture capitalists. You risk losing the vision and the culture of your business if you relinquish control.
You may be forced to compromise on the big things, such as your core values, purpose, and vision, if you let someone else take the wheel. Even though you will need to raise capital somehow, do your best to remain in the driver’s seat.

Now, you can compromise on the “little things.” To execute your purpose, you may need to be flexible when it comes to your services, products, and value propositions.

Some entrepreneurs ignore their customers and partners when they are trying to tell them something. But your company may fail if you don’t “bend to the market”.

6. SWOT Yourself

An honest SWOT (strength, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) analysis can go a long way. This concept may be 50 years old, but it still works. It is a great way to sift out interesting gaps in strategy.

You can unify priorities across all of your departments by exploring each gap. To make it comprehensible, use SWOT analysis templates to showcase your findings; don’t file away the results somewhere in a drawer. Instead, post the results somewhere where everyone in the company will be able to see them.

7. Work Only With Principals

Use principals only when outsourcing UX design, web design, content creation, photography, etc. Remember, you need to be careful with how you spend your money. It may seem like hiring a big-name agency for your early-stage startup will deliver great ROI, but that won’t necessarily be the case.

Chances are, if you go with a large company when you want to outsource something, they’ll assign their junior players to the project—not the name on the door.

You probably don’t have the bandwidth or the time to train or mentor them, and nor should you. You can easily request to work with the principals when you hire small, expert companies.

8. Don’t Obsess About Building Your Culture

You should invest some effort into building your company culture, but don’t obsess about it. When you consider the big picture, it’s just eye candy. Perks such as pets at work, lunchtime neck massages, and free ice cream are just stuff of the startup-of-the-month.

You’ll be able to attract many candidates with such benefits, for sure, but you should only offer them if they are genuinely a part of your startup’s DNA and your own values. Focus on your business and let your office manager work on instituting your company culture goals.

9. Fire Employees Faster

Hiring mistakes are a normal part of entrepreneurship. Sometimes it’s an awful fit that somehow landed the job, or it’s a good person who you hired too early.

Mistakes happen, especially when you are just a nimble startup. Fixing a mistake is more important than pondering why you made them. The sooner you sever your ties with your mis-hire, the sooner the rest of the company can move on from the mistake.


Don’t let the grim statistics worry you. The main reasons startups fail isn’t because of bad luck, bad economy, or merciless competition—it-s because people give up. So, refusing to throw in the towel is the single most effective thing you can do for your business.

Michael has been working in marketing for almost a decade and has worked with a huge range of clients, which has made him knowledgeable on many different subjects. He has recently rediscovered a passion for writing and hopes to make it a daily habit. You can read more of Michael’s work at Qeedle.