It's a well known 'fact' that 50% of startups fail within the first couple of years.
Here at Flubit.com, it's now our fourth year and during this time we've managed to secure £9m funding, which has allowed us to grow, improve our technology platform, bring on partners, on board hundreds of merchants and increase our customer base.
It's been a hugely enjoyable journey, albeit a bit bumpy from time to time, but we've learnt an incredible amount that I thought I'd share in this blog.
Do you know why most startups fail in the first year? Because it usually takes longer than a year to build real traction and create a successful business, something many entrepreneurs totally underestimate. They either run out of steam or money or both; or they may lack the focus and commitment to see it through.
Starting a new business is not a nine to five job. It takes a tremendous commitment from the founder(s), and the team in general, to make it through the ups and downs during those first couple of years. And speaking from experience, you must overcome many roadblocks and hurdles as you go from initial idea to side project to full-time gig to a thriving company (ideally!).
One of the most common mistakes is people thinking that within a few months you'll be up and running as a going concern, bringing on new customers or clients and making money. Unfortunately, this is very unlikely to happen; not impossible, but unlikely.
Instead, assume it will take at least five times as long as you think and take the slow and steady approach. Be flexible, capitalise on any opportunity you can, have a plan and try to progress to achieving your vision every day. It'll feel like an eternity but you will get there. The first year is all about launching your business, listening to customers, refining your proposition, pitching to investors and building your team.
My top survival tips are:
• Cash IS king. It sounds basic but the only reason your business will fail is if you run out of money. You need a really good handle on your financials and metrics, ensure you have access to up to date financial reports at all times and really understand where your revenue is going to be coming from each month to keep fueling the business.
• Team building. Focus on quality over quantity. Employ people who share the passion and believe in your vision. Make sure each and every employee is smart, passionate, has integrity and fits the company culture. Oh, and make sure you, the CEO, are involved in each hire, especially in the early days.
• Upgrading the team. It may sounds harsh but no one is irreplaceable. Don't waste any time worrying about someone leaving the company; instead wish them well and then quickly get into finding a replacement. Equally, never forget the value of who perform well and stay loyal. Finding good people is tough so make sure that they feel valued and appreciated. Also, get rid of the non-believers. Unless a person is behind you, it'll never work out.
• Executing the plan. You need to have a strategy and plan in place to give everyone in the business a clear steer as to what you collectively need to deliver and achieve. You need to make sure everyone knows their role and what is expected of them. However things are going to change so you also need to be flexible and be ready to change everything if a new opportunity presents itself.
• Working with investors. Make sure you keep your investors up to date on progress. Investors generally don't like surprises so share the good and bad news as and when it happens. Most investors are successful business people in their own right so use their knowledge and expertise.
Starting Flubit with my co-Founder Adel Louertatani was one of the best moves I've ever made. There have been some difficult times and I work some crazy hours but I've loved every minute of it and couldn't see myself doing anything else.
My advice is if you have a good business idea and are passionate about it then give it a go. It may only have a 50% chance of success but you'll regret it more if you don't at least try!
If you any questions or need any advice please feel free to contact me and I'll do my very best to help - @bertie_stephens