As startup entrepreneurs, we work hard to get into healthy habits that will help our business and profits grow. It’s not uncommon to put 60, 80 or even more hours in during a typical work week. As your business grows, funding often opens up opportunities for you to begin delegating tasks more efficiently and you may be able to hire people to help lighten your load.
If you’ve ever gone through the process of starting a business, you know what I mean. Wasn’t it a fantastic feeling when you were able to hire someone just for marketing? When you hired your first assistant?
I remember reaching the point at which we were able to hire an experienced CEO, which had been part of the plan from day one. It marked a huge moment in my company’s history, but also meant a great deal to me personally. It meant that I knew my company was in good hands and poised for greater growth, even while I was freed up to focus on the areas which I knew I could have the greatest impact.
But it’s easy to become complacent once you experience that first bit of success and to let things slide. The lessons you’re learning right now are going to serve your business incredibly well for years—and hopefully decades—to come. This means that you need to carry on your awesome startup habits that made you successful. Keeping these seven habits for life can help your business thrive for years to come.
1. Stay Super-Involved in Your Industry
I started blogging and reading industry publications voraciously out of necessity. In WordStream’s early days, I was almost entirely responsible for marketing my startup. I still take at least an hour each day to read relevant blogs and engage industry people on Twitter and other social channels, etc. A great deal of my time is spent researching, speaking and writing. Why? Because those lean days taught me to live and breathe my industry, which has always served me incredibly well.
2. Don’t Pay Yourself Too Much
In your earliest days, it really pays to put every available penny back into the growth of your business. You have to feed the beast if you want to succeed. In fact, I was the lowest paid person among my first ten hires. Even Warren Buffett, who ranks among the world’s wealthiest people, pays himself an annual salary of just $100,000.
3. Surround Yourself with Quality People
In your early startup days, you had to choose your hires very carefully; the right engineer is worth 20 who aren’t. As your business grows, you’ll probably have an HR department to aid in the process of finding and retaining the right people, but you’ll most certainly have a say in those who work closest to you. Don’t settle. Keeping a few quality people close—those you can trust, who make you more efficient and effective—is key to your success at every level.
4. Take Time to Re-energize
Running a business can be stressful and challenging even during the best of times, so you don’t want to be tired or sick. Make sure you eat and sleep well, exercise and enjoy some downtime. Let your team carry the load for a while, and take a vacation. You’ll feel better and your business will ultimately benefit.
5. Give Yourself Permission to Make Mistakes
Conjuring a business from thin air is risky, and there are sure to be failures along with the successes. Even as the successes begin to outnumber the failures, every business needs to take risks now and again. If you fail it’s okay. The important part is to learn from your mistakes to ensure future success.
6. Stay in Stealth Mode
In early-stage startups, stealth mode can help protect your innovations from prying competitors’ eyes. You don’t have to remain secretive in the extreme, but you may opt not to follow the current trend of complete openness, either. Holding your cards a little closer to your chest can serve you well, especially in industries where technology and innovations evolve rapidly.
7. Ignore Consensus When the Situation Calls for It
Startups succeed because their founders are doing something counterintuitive, unique or even outlandish. If your data or experience tells you to stick with it even when everyone is saying “No,” trust your gut and go with it.
You’ve worked hard to get where you are today. If you maintain the habits that got you there, the future will be bright. Believe in yourself, believe in your vision, and it will be much easier to get other people to believe in it too. Stay focused on the reasons you started in the first place and you can enjoy continued success into the future.
If you’re looking to surround yourself with quality people, then check out this video to see how one business owner goes about hiring the right people for his company.