As an entrepreneur, you might envision yourself working from home, helping to groom others who are passionate about your project, or making a certain amount of money and living the American dream. Then, there are the entrepreneurs who dream about creating an empire, a legacy, working until their last breath and then passing the business off to a loved one.
These are the entrepreneurs who want to build longevity into their startup. Working towards a startup that lasts is what will give you stability and create options down the road. In other words, longevity should be a goal for every entrepreneur.
Entrepreneurs are also big risk takers, which is the enemy of longevity. I have been battling startup longevity my whole life. The first company that had any success only lasted 10 months. We built it for nine months and it sold 42 days later. Success, right? It was all right, but it wasn’t built to last. Six months later it was shut down by the company that purchased us. This was a big blow to my ego, so I started studying and learning what it takes to build a real startup that lasts.
Creating longevity includes four “ways of doing business” that you should consider adopting.
1. Document, Document, Document
No matter how small or big your operation, you need to document (in writing!) every aspect of it. This means any partnerships formed, agreements made, operational decisions and customer service strategies in addition to your financials. Write it down. Keeping it in your head isn’t an option.
I made a huge mistake by not documenting things in the past, and it hurt me. I ended up getting kicked out of a company that I started. With my company that was successful, I documented everything. Building longevity into your startup means that you and other key people will be there for the long term.
2. Remember That Timing is Everything
There’s going to be one key moment just for you. It’s kind of like putting your house up for sale. It might be the best house in the city, but you can make more and move it faster if you wait for the right moment. Look out for beacons, like when similar industries start growing or there’s a big demand for what you have to offer.
Companies that are in it for the long haul plan accordingly. They wait for the best moment and take it.
3. Put Employees First
Your employees actually come first, right alongside your customers. They might be risk takers like you, but it’s easy to make them feel taken advantage of. This is partly what your SOP does, since employees who know what they’re doing are more likely to feel motivated. Celebrate their milestones, treat them with the golden rule and you’ll enjoy loyalty.
Our team is the most important part of my business, and even more importantly, my life. I’m with them every day. I like putting every employee and their needs above my own. As the boss, there may be months where you don’t get a paycheck and they do. By putting your employees first you’re in turn putting your company first. Founders who put their companies first are building for long-term success. Your employees will stick around longer and work harder, thus putting your company in a much better position to survive for years to come.
4. Spend Money on Quality
It’s great when you score a bargain, especially in the early days, but when quality counts you have to pony up the cash. Cutting corners can lead to subpar quality. If spending more on materials will lead to a better end product, your customers deserve that.
I remember in the early days of our product we cut corners, as most startups do to be scrappy and get it done. But it ended up costing us 10x more in the long run; we had to redo everything. Quality is something that company leaders learn over time. Entrepreneurs in it for the long haul learn to alway focus on quality.
You don’t want to be just a name in the one-hit wonder startup list, yet many are. It’s easy to get sucked up into that limelight and then get lost. Longevity breeds stability, and that’s something few startups have.
Peter Daisyme is the co-founder of Palo Alto, California-based Hosting Inc, a company specializing in helping businesses with hosting their website for free, for life.
Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched BusinessCollective, a free virtual mentorship program.