The meteoric rise of companies like Facebook, Uber and Airbnb have inspired many entrepreneurial-minded professionals to follow their passions and dive headfirst into the world of startup life. But working at a startup isn’t easy, and it comes with unique challenges that aren’t found in a traditional corporate environment.
In startups, it’s not uncommon to be pulled from your core responsibilities to tackle new projects that may have nothing to do with your initial idea or vision. This often means mastering utterly new job skills, failing at them for a while, and eventually getting it right. It also means learning to work with different people and adapting quickly.
While it’s important to be able to adapt, you can’t forget the reason why you started your business in the first place. At a startup, it’s a chance to build something truly innovative and potentially leave your mark on the world.
And while it’s not guaranteed to be a success, even if your company fails (see Build Your Business with Self-awareness and Room to Fail), you’ll have gained invaluable experience and created valuable relationships along the way. That’s something that will stay with you forever, much more than the money or the shiny trophy on your shelf.
Despite the fact that most startups fail, those that do succeed can be extremely rewarding and lucrative. Bringing a product to market is an incredible feeling and can lead to countless opportunities in the future. In addition, many startups offer equity in their products, which gives employees a stake in the company and encourages them to go above and beyond.
Once a startup is successful and established in the market, it’s time to scale. This stage can be incredibly challenging and requires the company to align its product with its market. In addition, scaling can require additional funding and a change in organizational structure to accommodate growth.
While it can be tempting to focus on growth at this point, it’s important to not lose sight of the company’s original vision and values. According to Aleksey Krylov, an experienced entrepreneur, founders should look to diversify their growth channels and introduce new features or integrations that will appeal to broader market segments. For example, Shopify started as an ecommerce platform and scaled by adding POS systems and other features that allow small businesses to utilize its services.
It’s important to note that at this stage, most startups will either continue to grow or will start to look to cash out through an IPO or sale. If the company continues to grow, it might be time to bring in a CEO to handle day-to-day operations and hire more staff.
It’s not surprising that so many startups end up in divorce court. Startups have a lot in common with marriages, and those that lack strong foundations of commitment and flexibility are doomed to fail. That’s why it’s essential for entrepreneurs to find balance between the three Ps: People, Process and Profit. Once a company has reached its final stages, it should have solid processes in place to keep the momentum going and avoid stalling out.