Five Rules for Startups

rocket-failureStarting a company is often the most important decision you'll ever make in your life. You're going against all odds and entering a phase where you'll work harder than you ever have before. Money will initially be slow and social life will be non-existent. You put everything into the startup and the chances of failing are quite high. Below are some quick tips that may help reduce the chances of failing early on.

*1) Don't start a company unless it's an obsession. *

A startup will devour your life. You'll live and breathe it. The last thing you want is being stuck with a company you're not passionate about. You have to be in love with it. You have to be in it for the long-term and for the right motives. If your goal is to make "quick" money and exit, then it's not an obsession.

2) Sales cure all

Sales are the cheapest form of financing. Startups spend far too much time worrying about other functions in the business. Initially, sales should be your number one priority. Know how your company will make money and how you will actually make sales. Don't assume customers will automatically come to you simply because you have the fanciest product in the market. That thinking will take you to the startup graveyard.

*3) Know your strengths, hire your weaknesses. *

Know your startup's core competencies and build your team accordingly. What are some of the most important functions of your business that will make or break it? If you're lacking strength in any one of them, hire a rockstar and most importantly, pay him or her a rockstar salary or equity. Don't treat them like an employee and pay them cheaply.

4) Keep it flat

Don't create marketing or finance departments in your startups, that's for big corporations to do. Keep your organization flat and open. Keep everyone in tune with what's going on and keep up the energy. There is nothing private in a startup. If you have managers reporting to managers in a startup, you'll increase your chances of hitting the graveyard.

5) Don't spread yourself thin.

It's natural to get carried away when you start seeing results. After your first sale, your goal should be get the second, third and the thousandth sale, not to start thinking about expansion. Initially, it's extremely important to be tunnel visioned and focus on one revenue stream. Establish a strong sales cycle and prove your business model before thinking about other revenue streams or geographical expansion.