The dream of running a successful business is almost never accomplished on your first try. But we know that’s never stopped small business owners from preserving and continuing to strive towards a workable idea. My Co-founder and I have been there, made mistakes, and learned some valuable business lessons. With this blog, we strive to provide small business owners with all the assistance and knowledge possible to make running their business easier and more successful. Without further adieu, here are the 3 most important lessons we’ve learned from launching and running our company, Funding Gates.
1. Talk to Your Customers.
My Co-founder and I have iterated through four business models over the course of two years until we arrived at an opportunity that solved a critical need. We were enamored with our first couple of business models because we thought we came up with something truly unique, but in fact there wasn’t much demand for the products. Only after extensively interviewing small businesses owners did we craft the perfect solution- the app of their dreams (more on the best ways to interview and assess customer feedback)! Had we talked with customers early on, we could have hit upon our current, winning idea much earlier. We continue to apply this business lesson as we build out new features and services off of our original app.
2. Carefully Build & Construct A Team.
I use these verbs because they most accurately convey the importance of carefully considering each and every team member you bring on, for a unified and cohesive fit. You must build a highly functioning and talented team just as you would a beautiful and efficient building- with lots of planning and consideration for the big picture. At the beginning, we hired very quickly because we wanted to move forward quickly. We made hiring mistakes that ended up costing the company a lot of time and lost resources. High turn over is one of the most wasteful expenses a business can have, and something you can very nearly completely prevent. Now, we interview hundreds of candidates for each position. We believe one of the best business lessons is to emphasize recruiting as one of the most important aspects at your startup. With the right team and the right culture you can conquer the world.
3. Do not take no for an answer.
Building a company that is the market-maker and disrupts an industry requires persistence. As GE recently depicted in their Ideas Are Scary ad, it’s almost certain that with a brand new idea 99% of the world will think you’re crazy and reject your idea outright. As the creator of this new idea, you have to truly believe that what you’re doing is the right thing. Convincing others to take the leap and look at the world in a contrarian and non-intuitive way is hard, and definitely requires a thick skin. We were so glad we stuck it out when, after 10 “no”s, we finally heard “yes”. That one yes is all you need, and you never know when you’re just one or two pitches away. The important thing is to keep pitching. Do not take a few people’s “no”s (or the “no”s of many people) as a sign that you idea will not work, or that it is not a good idea. So long as you have talked to your customers and found a need, your idea is a good and worthwhile idea. Now we have mail flowing in, thanking us for making a product that greatly helps small business owners. Your company will best all of its competitors if you persevere through, while the others give up.
I hope you find these business lessons helpful. We would love to hear about some of the most important lessons that you all have learned from running your businesses. Leave them in the comments!