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 Chris Savage, co-founder and CEO of Wistia.
Where do we start? That was the first question that my co-founder and I asked ourselves when we first started Wistia. We had dreams and aspirations, and we were motivated to start a company that we knew could be great. But despite knowing what we wanted, there was no way of knowing how, or if, we’d ever get there.
Back then, our days were difficult and full of unexpected challenges, but we were able to find peace of mind by maintaining long-term thinking. Staying positive, determined, and persistent was way more feasible with the long game in mind.
Every entrepreneur views success differently. Our vision of success was building a profitable, efficient company, a strong brand, and an amazing customer experience.
Here’s what we’ve learned during our journey:
Pick a team you can work with
It always takes longer to build a product, company, or team than you think it will. Over the 11 years that we’ve been building Wistia, we’ve had about a thousand surprising roadblocks crop up—servers unexpectedly crashing, partners disappearing, cars breaking down, flights being cancelled—you name it, it happened.
As you start to weather these setbacks, it becomes super clear that you need your team to be your company’s backbone. The secret isn’t to spring through roadblocks, but instead, to work with your team to move around them. It will often take much longer to resolve these problems than you think, which is why it’s so important that you find people who are versatile, and that you’d be happy to work with for a long, long time.
You need people you can trust to lean on in the most trying of times—people who aren’t afraid of bringing fresh, or even contrary, perspectives to the table. But, picking a team can be daunting. How well do you really know them? Will they be a good fit? Do you really get along with them?
Step back and look at the big picture. It’s easy to assume that the candidate with the most relevant experience is the best candidate for the job, but that’s not always the case in the long run. If all goes as planned, you’ll be spending a lot of time with these people over the years as your business grows. And chances are, if you’re not thrilled about working with them from the start, it’ll be even more painful when the going gets rough.
Find small problems in big markets
When you first get started, look for a niche that you can own that’s part of a larger market shift or problem. It’s normal to want to solve as many problems as you can, but you can’t grow a business that way. You need a home base, and a starting point that you can then build a story around.
Instead of trying to solve everyone’s needs at once, pick a specific problem area to work in. If the market is big enough, the opportunity to solve those niches’ challenges will present themselves when it’s appropriate, and you can then expand the niches you’re focused on from a more dominant position. A company stands out when it has a unique, effective business focus. Without one, you’re just another startup.
Following your passion is good advice, especially if you have the chance to do so when your appetite for risk is high. But passion is limited if you can’t find traction. In the early days of almost every new business, you need to gauge whether or not you’re actually gaining traction.
Make time to celebrate the little wins, however trivial, as those small triumphs will serve as motivation to keep going when times are tough. After all, the world’s greatest wonders were built over time by smart people who found ways of continuing to work together. If you knew you were going to work on your business for the next 10 years, what would you do differently today?