5 Ways to Learn from Successful Startups

Many first-time startup creators face the same realization — they know little to nothing about making a successful startup. That can be devastating because a startup is more likely to fail than to succeed. It is easy to get disheartened when facing that reality. But does it mean you should give up on your ideas and choose a different path in life? Of course, it doesn’t.

Your lack of knowledge is a disadvantage. So how do you remove it? You learn new things and make sure you are equipped with tools for dealing with the problems that lay ahead. Studying successful startups can help, as long as you know how to do it.

Entrepreneur reading a book

Read Up on Startups for Inspiration

The first couple of years of starting a startup are trying times. Most entrepreneurs will agree that creating and developing a startup is difficult. And the reward for all the hard work comes with a delay. You will have to operate on mettle alone, at least for a while. Staying inspired and motivated will be a major concern.

You will not be the only entrepreneur having a hard time growing a startup. If you dive into the startup culture, you will find many stories of the difficult early years. You will also find out how the successful startups got through them. Even if you can’t apply other startups’ solutions to your problems, you can still draw inspiration and motivation from their stories.

Business mentoring

Find a Mentor or Someone to Look Up to

People who started successful startups possess a wealth of valuable knowledge. You should find an entrepreneur you find especially inspiring and read up on them as much as you can. Learn what makes them tick, how they deal with hardships, and how they bring their ideas to fruition.

But you can learn even more if you look beyond the obvious. Charles Phillips, the CEO of Infor, has a well-documented love of basketball and jazz. One is a sport, and the other is a music genre. But they have at least one thing in common. Both rely on the players’ ability to function as a tight team while still being able to go out on their own and improvise. Can you see a lesson in there, one that would be very useful for your startup’s staffing strategy?

Analyzing business stats

Look at Statistics and Studies

You will often read how only one in every ten startups survives its fifth birthday. You can easily find loads of other statistics and results of surveys about startups. They can be very valuable if you mine them for insights, even if you are not the type of person who likes to deal with lots of numbers.

Using statistics, studies, and surveys is complementary to reading accounts of startup successes. It is the other side of the coin. If stories are used to inspire and motivate you, reports give you the benefits of methodical analysis. You shouldn’t skip any valuable resource on your way to creating a successful startup.

Company culture

Learn about Their Company Culture

Company culture is an important component of every successful startup. It works the other way around, as well. Company culture can run your startup into the ground like nothing else. Imagine having to work at a fledgling startup with all the accompanying problems and a workplace culture rife with abuse. Would you hang around for a long time?

You should find ways to make your company culture more motivating and collaborative. Different startups achieve this in different ways. Some like to motivate by emphasizing competitiveness at the expense of collaboration. Others make it more about the whole than the individual. Startups can also look for ways to find a middle ground. You should look carefully at what former and current employees have to say about the company culture at their startups. Mine their comments for ideas you can implement.

Startup owners holding sign
Image Credit: Northern Ireland Executive/Flickr

Find Points of Difference

Differentiation is often the thing that can make or break a startup. A startup that is able to separate from the pack will be more visible. In the world of business, visibility is a good thing — a business will fail if no one knows it exists.

Let’s take Infor as an example. The company differentiated itself from its competitors by offering products to niche markets. Their main differentiator is they offer custom-made products for the needs of businesses that operate in particular niches. That is a powerful differentiator, and one of the main reasons Infor went from being a startup to being a successful company.

You should not fool yourself into thinking that creating a startup is easy. It is not. However, if you adopt the right kind of attitude, there is no reason why you could not test your business ideas on the market. One of the lessons you will learn by studying successful startups is that failure can be a good thing, as long as you take it as an opportunity to learn.