Start up success: learning from the best in business

When launching a new business, it is often easy to forget that success is the exception, not the rule. Young businesses can sink, swim – or in exceptional cases, fly.

There are many reasons for start up failure, from lack of product market to misguided marketing efforts.

More importantly, though, successful startups share common characteristics – so it is possible to plan for success. All empires start small and, if you’re ambitious, it can be useful to learn from the greats.

1. Use technology to achieve your goals

From automating your workforce to simply streamlining finances with smart check technology, the digital age is a gift to entrepreneurs – if you use it wisely.

Richard Branson, owner of the Virgin empire, agrees:

“My advice to aspiring entrepreneurs thinking of starting their own business is: start small but always think big,” Branson told CNBC.

“Technology also has allowed companies to think bigger than just selling to their local community and puts the world at their fingertips.

“It’s never been a better time to be an entrepreneur — opportunities are getting bigger as the world is getting smaller.”

Branson launched his career by establishing a youth-culture magazine at the tender age of 16. The business magnate funded his teen magazine efforts by launching a mail-order record company on the side – and Virgin Records was born.

2. Hire people better than you

Facebook’s founding father Mark Zuckerberg is worth a reported $73.7 billion. With one of the most recognisable brands on earth, he is an expert at rapidly scaling from start up to empire.

As your start up begins to grow, you’ll need to hire – so hire smart. Zuckerberg uses one simple test when deciding on who to hire:

“You should never hire someone to work for you unless you would work for them in an alternate universe,” Zuckerberg told Reich Hoffman in his podcast Masters of Scale.

“Which doesn’t mean that you should give them your job, but if the tables were turned and you were looking for a job, would you be comfortable with working for this person?

“And I basically think that if the answer to that question is no, then you’re doing something expedient but you’re not doing something as well as you can on that.”

Once you’ve hired the best employees in the game, make sure they stay rewarded and motivated by investing in incentives.

3. Use stability to your advantage

As the founder of Amazon, Jeff Bezos is one of the most successful entrepreneurs in the world. He reminds the ambitious business leaders of tomorrow to focus on stability for a business that lasts.

“I very frequently get the question: ‘What’s going to change in the next 10 years?’ And that is a very interesting question; it’s a very common one.” Bezos tells venture capitalist Bill Gurley.

“I almost never get the question: ‘What’s not going to change in the next 10 years?’ And I submit to you that that second question is actually the more important of the two – because you can build a business strategy around the things that are stable in time.”

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