by Kirill Bigai, cofounder and CEO of Preply
Starting a business is not for the faint of heart. It’s a rollercoaster ride filled with many ups and downs, twists and turns. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to being an entrepreneur. Everyone comes to the table with different skillsets, personalities and goals. There’s no manual, no instructions for success.
This can all feel overwhelming, especially in the early stages of launching a business. But through my experience, I’ve found that there are five key habits that entrepreneurs must incorporate into their daily lives if they want to succeed.
1. Hire the right people, in the right role, at the right time.
When starting a business, you must be smart about hiring. It’s a big expense but crucial for growth. Think about what gaps currently exist within your team and how you can fill them. The best teams are balanced — comprised of individuals with different backgrounds, skillsets and expertise. If you’re a group of engineers, product designers and developers, you might be lacking marketing, sales or creative experts. Once you know who’s missing, rank them in order of priority based on your current business needs. When possible, hire the most seasoned person possible; that’s when you’ll see the most ROI.
2. Choose investors who provide more than just capital.
Bringing investors on board isn’t just about getting an injection of cash. It’s also about mentorship and partnership. You want guidance from people who have “walked the walk.” Investors should be passionate about your business and have previous experience in your industry. Can your investors introduce you to the right people? Can they help steer the company in the right direction? Think of them like co-pilots on a plane: you know the final destination, but there several flight paths to get there. Who do you want by your side to navigate this journey with you?
3. Create new milestones to keep you on track.
Running your own business doesn’t come with a “How To” manual. You will be forced to constantly pivot as you navigate both challenges and opportunities. The best way to stay on track, minimize distractions and keep your eye on the prize is to set new milestones every couple of months. This will help you stay focused and motivated as you work towards these goals. Once you’ve accomplished them, create new benchmarks. In doing so, you will create your own roadmap for success.
4. Get fanatical about your finances (and the story behind the numbers).
Numbers are more than just that – in the world of business, they tell a story. Is your company thriving, coasting or floundering? Even if you’re not a “finance person,” you must get comfortable with things like profit/loss statements. Beyond the basics, you need to be curious, ask the right questions and use data to guide your decisions. Where are we excelling and where are we falling short? The more comfortable you become with analyzing numbers and the story they’re telling, the better off you’ll be in the end.
5. Prioritize your mental and physical health.
Starting a business can leave you feeling physically, mentally and emotionally drained. I know this from firsthand experienced. You must learn how to create a separation between your professional and personal lives. You must prioritize incorporating a healthy diet and exercise into your day. And you must make time for your friends and family. Plan vacations. Talk with a therapist. Be spontaneous. Break out of your routine. Make those doctors appointments. In order to perform your best, you must take care of your health from all angles. Take good care of yourself and the rest will follow.
Kirill Bigai is the co-founder and CEO of Preply, an online learning platform, connecting a global network of hundreds of thousands of learners with over 40,000 bookable tutors teaching over 50 languages. Under Bigai’s leadership, the company has raised almost USD $50 million since inception from some of the world’s most reputable investors with revenues quadrupling in the last year alone.