Five Things that You Can Learn from the Most Profitable Start-ups in History
Small businesses and start-ups are the engine of Singapore’s economy and continue to be the source of jobs, innovation, and growth in the economy.
Thanks to their critical importance to Singaporean society, many of us wonder what their secrets to success are. Is it their employees? Their technology? Their marketing? And how can we replicate this explosive success in our own businesses?
Instead of speculating about the answers to these questions, we created the following guide that summarizes five key lessons that we can learn from start-ups and small businesses. As you’ll notice from reading this guide, the beauty of these lessons is that they apply to all areas of life, not just entrepreneurship.
Lesson 1: Recruit the Best Talent & Never Stop Investing in Them
Companies don’t change the world, people do. Consequently, the best start-ups always focus on recruiting the best team members and getting rid of those that are a poor fit for the company.
While some start-ups think that having the best technology, gadgets, marketing, or infrastructure is the key to success, the most profitable start-ups understand that the only way to become and remain successful is to invest as much as possible in their employees.
Thankfully, Singaporean companies have an advantage over their peers in other countries. This is because all employees in Singapore possessing an Employment Pass, Work Pass, Permanent Residency or Singaporean Citizenship are required to pay the monthly Skills Development Levy (SDL). This encourages businesses to invest in their employees and train them to learn new skills, all Singaporean registered companies are eligible to receive a government grant to send their employees to training. This is an incredible opportunity to invest in the continuous growth of your employees.
Lesson 2: Take Action & Stop Overanalysing Things
Many entrepreneurs conduct extremely rigorous research to ensure that their ideas will be a success before they launch their products or services. But while their attention to detail is admirable, it is often driven by their fear of failure and this never-ending analysis often delays the launch and may have caused lost opportunities.
On the contrary, the most successful start-ups focus on taking action and getting as much feedback from their customers as they can. They create something called a Minimum Viable Product (MVP), which is the cheapest and simplest version of their prototype that they can give to customers so that they can learn what works and what doesn’t work.
Alternatively, focus groups and customer surveys are also great methods to gather valuable customer input on your up and coming product. During this stage, feedback is vital in developing a successful product.
Lesson 3: Be a Scientist & Keep Testing Your Ideas
When you hear the word “scientist”, you probably visualise men and women working on explosive chemicals in laboratories while wearing white lab coats and safety coats. Here’s a statement that might surprise you though: entrepreneurs are some of the brightest scientists in the world. Like scientists, entrepreneurs are constantly experimenting with their ideas and testing them to see if their products and services solve their customers’ problems. The best business ideas are those that either provide a solution to a problem or those fill a gap in the market.
This brings us to our next important lesson from successful start-ups. Namely, successful start-ups are not afraid to immediately discard ideas that aren’t working in favour of those that their customers tell them that they do want.
This means that highly successful entrepreneurs are, somewhat paradoxically, not too emotionally attached to their ideas. Their businesses are not their identities, which makes it easy for them to quickly move on from unsuccessful “experiments” and try other ideas that might work.
Treat your business as an experiment and see yourself as a scientist. There’s a good chance that adopting this mentality will take your business to the next level.
Lesson 4: Always Empower Your Customers
If your employees are your most important internal assets, your customers are your most important external asset. Successful entrepreneurs don’t see their customers are sources of revenue to harvest as much as they can, but rather as key informants that give them feedback about the products and services that they should be making.
This means that successful start-ups do everything in their power to empower their customers and give them more control over the final products. From creating quality content for them to offering personalised products and services, the key to success is to give your customers the power to customise and create exactly what they want, when they want it. This allows your business to appear flexible and appeal to large audiences.
Lesson 5: Fundraising Is Not a Competition
For better or for worse, many start-up founders are obsessed with raising money for their companies. They read reports about other start-ups raising thousands, millions, and even hundreds of millions of dollars for their companies and wonder why they aren’t doing the same.
Unfortunately, this mentality of “keeping up with the Joneses” is a waste of time that harms your start-up more than it helps it. Instead, the most profitable start-ups first establish clear goals about why they’re raising money, exactly what they need it for, and, most importantly, how it will move the needle for their customers and their businesses. Your vision and mission plan can be recorded in a business plan and/or business budget to encourage your employees and yourself to have a common goal to work toward. Fundraising is not a competition, and the goal is not to raise more money than your competitors. The lesson here is that your actions should always be a result of internal standards and motivations rather than reactions to external stimuli. Don’t just do things because everybody else is doing them. If you do, you’ll lose sight of key metrics that actually matter, like the impact you’re making with your work or the lives that you’re changing through your business.
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Despite the difficulty and remarkable challenges of starting a business, many entrepreneurs have successfully done it and continue to be in charge of thriving start-ups.
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