Unicorn on hilltop
Unicorn on hilltop Lucy von Held/Getty Images/Blend Images
Commentary

What Entrepreneurs Need to Stop Doing Right Now

May 28, 2017

The Entrepreneur Insiders network is an online community where the most thoughtful and influential people in America’s startup scene contribute answers to timely questions about entrepreneurship and careers. Today’s answer to the question, “What should budding entrepreneurs know about building a business?” is written by Warren Webster, president and CEO of Coveteur.

Building a business is one of the most exciting, rewarding, and frustrating experiences you can have. If you’re serious about leaving your stable job and paycheck to start or join an entrepreneurial venture, here are some valuable pieces of advice:

Conquer your fear

If you’re a smart, rational person, dropping a decent-paying job at a stable company to risk it all on an unproven business could sound like a really bad idea. It is incredibly easy to talk yourself out of it, and that’s where most entrepreneurial dreams die.

In the end, you have to take a leap of faith. Of course, do your homework and look at the market and competition. But eventually you need to jump and not look back.

Don’t go it alone

Whether they are co-founders, key managers, advisors, or board members, you will need help from the beginning. Having people at your side who share your passion and bring complementary skills can make the business exponentially more successful, and a whole lot more fun. Choose them wisely.

Forget the unicorns

Sure, there are valuable lessons to be learned from companies that raised millions, IPO’ed, and made billions for investors. But there’s a lot more to learn from the incremental successes of businesses in your competitive set—including the ones that failed. Try to understand what worked and didn’t work for them, rather than measure yourself against what are really one-in-a-billion success stories.

Persistence pays off

There will be times you will think to yourself, “This isn’t working.” You’re chasing that first big sale and hearing a lot of no’s. Investors aren’t signing on. The product is on its fourth iteration and still needs work.

These are the moments of truth. Every successful entrepreneur I’ve ever met has said, without question, that pushing through these times—sometimes for years—is what ultimately led them to a big win.

Invest in your culture

Ten years ago I was told I needed work on our company culture. I thought that meant buying everyone lunch, hosting more happy hours, and putting a foosball table in the office. What I’ve learned since is that the best thing you can do to build a great culture is to create an environment and structure that allows every employee to be heard, empowers them to act on their ideas, removes barriers and bureaucracy, and rewards success.

Hire great people who are on board with the vision, give them the tools they need and a path to move forward personally, and they'll be right beside you as you claw your way to success. (Of course, free food and happy hours still help.)

Don’t spend it just because you have it

A friend of mine who built a billion-dollar clothing brand from scratch gave me sound advice: Just because you have the money doesn’t mean you should spend it. This seems fairly obvious, but you’d be surprised by how many young companies burn through their cash unnecessarily. Training yourself and your team to come in under budget consistently will pay dividends down the road, and free up cash to invest in bigger ideas.

Most of all: Learn every day, ask for advice, trust your instincts, and have fun with it. Your business will be a reflection of you. If you're determined to make it a success, the chances are it will be.

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