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Need-to-Knows for Start-Ups
June 27, 2017


U.S. entrepreneurs with a few years of successful growth answer the question, “What do you wish you knew when you began your business?”

No One is Good at Everything

“There will always be tasks that you don’t have the skills to complete, and it’s okay to outsource those. It’s better to spend some money on an accountant than to try to learn payroll.” – Liam Martin, Staff.com, an online staffing agency connecting employers and employees.

Organization Is Key

“As we become a larger company, we are realizing how chaotic it is to manage all the paperwork. I never like to delete stuff in case we need it in the future. Nevertheless, it became severely overwhelming and made us inefficient, so we decided to invest in … a high-speed scanner, and interns to help us organize and digitize everything. It was worth the time and money.” – Derek Capo, Next Step China, a Miami-based firm that offers affordable and flexible programs in China for students, professionals and government officials.

People Talk a Big Game

“You learn to filter through the “talkers” and the “doers” so you end up working with people who are exceptionally good at what they do.” – Danny Wong, Blank Label, a Boston-based online men’s apparel company.

Write Down Reliable Processes

“You start up with so much energy, so many ideas and endless possibilities. You quickly maneuver and start to grow.… However, nobody told me how incredibly important it is to implement reliable and repeatable processes. You should write everything down and take note when something goes well.” – Arjun Arora, ReTargeter, a display advertising platform specializing in audience targeting and retargeting.

The Vision Will Change

“My co-founder and I started with a very strong, clear vision of what we wanted our business to become. That vision shifted over time as new opportunities arose.… Initially, I resisted changing course because I felt like we were giving up on our vision. But eventually, I realized we were creating a better, much bigger business than we originally imagined.” – Martina Welke, Zealyst, a Seattle-based networking service that hosts customized events and facilitates connections

Lead From Love

“Once I discovered how to lead from a place of love and gratitude, the landscape of (my company) changed. We started attracting a higher caliber of clientele, our quality improved, our processes improved and overall our company was infused with more joy.” — Corey Blake, Round Table Companies, a business consultancy in Evanston, Illinois.

Work Smart, Not Hard

“In the beginning, I thought I was being effective by simply working 80 hours a week. That couldn’t be further from the truth. The adept startup owner should instead focus on ways to get things done effectively in a shorter period of time.” — Andrew Schrage, Money Crashers Personal Finance, a Chicago-based online site that teaches individuals about credit and debt, investing, education, real estate, insurance, spending, and more.

Clients Don’t Always Pay on Time

“If you work with clients, it’s not a question of if they will pay late, but a question of when. Create a cash buffer as soon as humanly possible so you’re not left scrambling when a check comes late [payment is behind schedule] or gets lost in the mail [disappears in the post].”– Allie Siarto, Fare Oak, a Michigan-based online women’s fashion store.

People Are Complex Creatures

“The bulk of your time with an early startup is focused on building your team and supporting them to be great. That means you are part recruiter, part coach, part psychiatrist and part referee. But if you love helping people be great, it’s an awesome experience.”– Eric Koester, Data Collateral, Inc., a Washington-based business consultancy.

For more information and tips for your professional development, visit the YLAI Network’s Tools & Resources page. You can also take a free online course through YLAI Empowers.

Adapted from an article published online by The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched StartupCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.

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