Growing Up – 8 observations I’ve learned from going 0 to 1 million in a startup

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Find your core user(s) 

Whether you’re building enterprise software or a consumer app, your core user/early adopters will be your ultimate customer, this will be the foundation you build your idea off of. Your absolute top priority has to be finding that user that understands it’s early software and is signing up for the potential of what your idea can evolve to. Our first client and core user, Asco Aerospace, was found by pitching the idea at a school event, we developed an extremely close relationship that allowed us to receive constant feedback and use Asco as a platform to continually improve the system,  

Creating initial Revenue will seem like a daunting task 

 Once you have at least built a minimum viable product that is market ready, the initial fear will kick in on how generate revenue, I once attended a startup conference and met a company in the same space that was generating 20K a month in revenue, while we were generating $100 a month. At that point, 20K seemed like a near impossible task. At every beginning point of a start-up’s life cycle, you will experience this fear and it will take all the courage you have to overcome this mental block. 

The early stage is the most magical 

 the truth is, you will constantly face stress, tension, resistance, and pressure from the day you pronounce you’re building a startup. It’s when the seed you have planted is about to breakthrough the soil. It’s been said that a start-up is incredibly fun and stressful at the same time. However, at the early stage you have unlimited agility, unbridled creativity, and infinite possibilities to build your vision. The act of taking a step towards building something unique, building an idea from its embryonic state to being able to touch and interact with in the real world will be more fulfilling than any success you have from this point on. Be comfortable with the unknown, this is the realm that really allows you to live in the moment and experience the true magic, mystery, infinite possibilities of life. This is the time when “Luck” happens by randomness, intention, creativity, and inspiration all working synchronously.   

Team is the life and death of a start-up 

I’m sure you have ubiquitously read that team is an important factor of a startup whether it is through other blogs, articles, or even investors grilling you on your team. Team is always accentuated because it is the absolute most imperative task you will take on in a start-up. Team is everything, especially early on, when they will be the closest people you spend countless hours with. Building the right team doesn’t mean accumulating experience but also chemistry, personality, habits, and personal intentions are important factors. One poisonous team member can create a negative ripple effect far greater than a positive one. One example is we brought on someone for a marketing position, he was a diligent and focused worker but his negative attitude can be felt by the entire team. After two weeks, the negative attitude caught wildfire and the entire culture and environment shifted. Another great example is the 13,000 factory workers at the Zuffenhausen site for Porsche. After Porsche announced the Mission E concept car, an all-electric car with the intention to be sold to the masses, the factory workers who will be producing this car agreed to take a pay cut in order to greenlight the car into production. This allowed Porsche to save hundreds of millions of dollars in order to upgrade the factory and employees even agreed to work more hours. It’s perfect example of how a team must work together to achieve a goal that’s bigger than themselves.  

Inbound Marketing is extremely powerful 

Starting off with 0 sign-ups a month to getting hundreds is a surreal experience for a start-up. The most important thing I learned is you need to make a web presence, it’s not about having a “salespeople” making calls or knocking on doors. In order to grow efficiently and as fast a possible is to direct traffic to your website. We hired a young marketer with minimal experience but had the right creative chemistry and the “growth hacker” mentality. Some of his initiatives was to revamp the entire blog and produce quality content.   

Growth and Change can happen at a breakneck speed 

It’s eccentric to see how fast a start-up’s culture, environment, and team can change as you start to establish as a company. When you start generating revenue, creating an online presence, and gaining investors on board, dramatic shifts begin to happen from the inner core to the lithosphere of the start-up. This is the phase of growing-up, voices that were once prominent will be diluted, the music that was once the driving sound of the office is overtaken by silence, and accountability has increased. It’s the natural evolution of building a company, you now need to have scalable processes, key metrics, and every idea needs to be validated by data. It is important to find a balance of a dynamic, positive culture and creating a productive work environment, if either shifts to one extreme then there will be critical problems to the health of the company.   

Processes are key, strive to build a machine 

When you first begin to build a product, you will introduce very raw practices and hack it together. This methodology works, and I personally believe it is the absolute best way to learn and grow your startup. Consider it your block of stone before you sculpt it into your own Michelangelo’s David. Essentially, as you grow, you want to take raw processes and refine them into an automated machine. This will not only significantly increase efficiency, but also enable you to project and measure growth.  

Innovation and product  

One rule that should always be set in stone is never compromise the product. Live, breathe, eat, sleep your product. This is your masterpiece, your work of art you want the world to share and interact with. Have a balance of your curating your own experience and listening to your userbase to create the absolute best product. Build the best product in your industry and people will take notice. Research, analyze, observe the best and make it even better.

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