by Asif Khan, CEO of Caremerge
Successful startups most always don’t happen overnight. It takes time, patience and hard work to navigate the ups and downs of starting a new business. It is important, however, to minimize mistakes early on so that you can continue to shape and grow your startup into a successful business.
Having taken stock of my own hard-earned lessons, here are 5 tips on how to minimize typical startup missteps:
1. There’s no I in Team.
It’s been said the strength of the team is each individual member, but the strength of each member is the team. Finding the right people at the right time takes time, energy, patience and serendipity. When you’ve put together the right team, you’ll have a group of extraordinary people working together toward a common vision using their individual skills, talents and experience.
2. Skin in the Game.
You’ve got a great idea, it’s gained some traction and resulted in interest from various people willing to take a risk and come on board. Chances are, you’re excited because a few short months ago, you couldn’t get anyone to collaborate, much less join the team, but now that you’ve got buzz, how do you gauge their commitment? It may seem counterintuitive but the best way to measure their commitment to your mission is to ask them to invest within the company for equity. You’ll see their true motivation and guarantee their investment goes beyond money to include their expertise, which is often as important as funding, if not more.
3. Network with a Purpose.
One of the best and easiest ways to find like-minded people is to have a lot of conversations with purpose, i.e. a goal defining what you want to extract from this person. I don’t know what the definition of networking is, but I can tell you I have a lot of conversations with substance and purpose to suss out people I want to keep in contact with. Many of our employees came to us by way of candid conversations we had at conferences, round tables and other interactions. As you establish relationships, you’ll know if a person you’re talking to is a good fit for the company now, down the road, or never.
4. Sales Rules.
Don’t let anyone undersell the importance of a strong sales leader and team members. The common belief has always been that a corporate sales leader with proven experience will take you to the promise land. Don’t fall prey to that assumption. Corporate Sales isn’t always a good fit because the environments are disparate; goals, timelines and expectations vary wildly between the two. Startups move faster, they fail faster and get up and go faster – often, corporate sales leaders can’t keep up. By the time you realize it’s a bad fit, you’ve lost months of potential revenue stream development.
Instead, take the time to compose a nimble, agile sales team that has worked in the industry you’re looking to penetrate, understands the fluctuating nature of a startup and is willing to do the dirty work: segment the market, make cold calls, automate sales and implement a sales process that is unique to your company and product. A startup sales team should have people that view sales as an ongoing learning process they can take advantage of.
5. Culture Fit.
Startups are intense, mission driven microcosms. Find team members willing to roll up their sleeves and get dirty. People are puzzle pieces, they fit together in order to create the big picture. A bad fit goes beyond an employee and their immediate supervisor, it can encompass an entire company, hinder growth and block employee engagement with the mission. Resumes are important but the final decision-maker should be whether or not the candidate and their experience is a right fit for the company vision. Will this candidate be with you for the long haul? Even without skin in the game, do they relate to the mission? Do they *get* what you’re trying to do? If not, move on. The right candidate is out there and you’ll find them.
Asif Khan founded Caremerge in 2012 and recently received multi-million dollars in funding, Asif Khan has over 20 years of experience in technology. Before leaving GE Healthcare in late 2010 to start Caremerge, Asif was responsible for a portfolio of healthcare products generating $140 million annually with over 3000 customers (Hospitals and large centers) worldwide.