The One Thing Great Leaders Always Do
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 are some tips for maintaining a successful startup?” is written by Simon Berg, CEO of Ceros.
Maintaining a startup is a lot more like raising a child than “maintaining” a car or a house. With a machine or building, you can sustain the same inputs (gasoline, oil, paint, nails) and keep seeing the same outputs (a functional vehicle or abode). This approach, however, really doesn’t work in a business context.
As your organization grows and matures, its fundamental challenges, needs, and goals will change drastically. You’ll invest your time, energy, and money differently at each stage. And your definition of success will evolve rapidly, just as it does during the early development of a child.
Ceros is still at the start of its evolution as a company, but here are a few of the things I’ve learned during the early years:
Once you “find the click,” charge ahead fearlessly
Figuring out the right market fit for our product—or “finding the click,” as we called it here at Ceros—was really, really hard. It took a couple of years for our product offering, audience, marketing messaging, and sales process to align in a way that felt right and delivered results. Before we found the click, it was like we were walking around with a big set of keys, poking them into different keyholes. Sometimes a key went in but didn’t turn. Sometimes it turned, but only with a great amount of effort. Sometimes it didn’t go in at all. This process of trial and error was hugely time consuming and took a ton of energy from everyone involved.
Once we found the click, however, we held nothing back. All of our teams rallied around one battle cry and pressed on toward one goal. And so, too, should you. When your mission is clear, there’s no point in proceeding with caution. You’ll learn more, achieve greater things, and grow quickly when you charge ahead fearlessly.
Never rest on your laurels
When you’ve gotten your first taste of success, it’s all too easy to slip into an attitude of complacency. Great leaders always push their teams to pursue change—even when things are going well. If you don’t experiment, keep pushing your organization to try new things, or find different ways to achieve your business’s mission, you’ll never realize your full potential.
If your organization tends to default to routine, here are a few things you can do to stir up change:
- Ask hard questions of your executives, your team members, and yourself.
- Ask for outside opinions on an idea to gain a different perspective.
- Push people to think and act outside of their comfort zones.
- Make a change to your seating arrangement or office layout to mix things up.
Keep finding new angles to tell your story
Part of maintaining success is sharing your successes with other people. When your startup is undergoing rapid changes and achieving big gains on a regular basis, it’s easy to find new stories to tell. At quieter times, however, it can be difficult to think of new angles to share with your audience. As a company, we monitor the news, industry reports, and happenings within the startup community as a whole to see where we can offer a unique perspective on important issues our market cares about. This gives us a forum to tell our story without needing a traditional “news hook” to get our foot in the door.
Run your company responsibly
Any startup can have fantastic ideas, hire smart people, and develop a great culture. If the company is mismanaged, however, it’s unlikely that the business will survive long term. Every time we chat with investors, we’re reminded how important it is to show that your business is product-focused, responsibly run, and smart about cash consumption. To quote the illustrious Stan Lee, “With great power comes great responsibility.” Yoda’s wisdom applies equally to young Jedis and young entrepreneurs.