Starting your own business can be daunting. The founder of Preply has a few key tips to lead your company to success.
It’s exciting to start a business. But did you know that roughly 90 percent of them fail?
Before my company Preply became what it is today — a leader in the education technology space with 250 employees and 15,000 tutors spanning 185 countries worldwide — I experienced failure with my first startup, FindGuru.
I’ve learned a lot along the way, from both success and failure. That’s why I’m sharing seven tips that can help you turn your startup into a success story.
Get the right team in place.
You need to have a good balance within the team. Balance means a few different things.
When we first started our company, we had three engineers, two business people and zero product designers. You need the right mix of experience and expertise to get things done efficiently. For example, if your company requires that prototypes be drawn up quickly, you need that designer in the mix. You need to have a full-stack team to succeed. While it’s expensive to have every type of person onboard early on, you can utilize freelance services to fill in the gaps where you need help.
Balance on a team also means shared missions, visions and values. Everyone needs to be on the same page, working towards the same goal. This is crucial to setting a strong foundation and roadmap for the future.
And of course, always look to hire passionate, ambitious and hard-working individuals. People you can trust. If you’re interviewing a lot of different candidates, have a checklist with factors that are critical to your business. Why do they want to work for you? What do they bring to the table?
Choose your investors carefully.
Investment in your company is not just about money. It’s about bringing people on board who have the knowledge and experience your company needs. People who will challenge you; people who will bring valuable perspectives, suggestions and insights. There’s a big difference between good investors and investors who are nice people with money. Once we had the right investors in place, we saw growth at a different pace and became a whole new company.
Prioritize your customer, and earn their trust.
People will support a business they know and trust. Building up a credible reputation amongst your target audience is essential for growth. Be authoritative in your sector and a thought-leader. Make sure you offer great customer service. Listen to their feedback to improve your company. First impressions are critical. Make sure customers have an enjoyable experience from start to finish. Without customers, you don’t have a business. Always keep them front-of-mind, in every aspect of your work.
Setting goals is an essential part of business success. It’s a tried-and-true strategy that has really helped Preply grow. Set goals and use them as ongoing planning tools to ensure you continue to move forward, and ultimately stay ahead of the competition. Refer back to your goals every so often with your team, and if you have succeeded, set new ones.
Stay on top of your finances.
Know your numbers. You must stay on top of your cash flow. Managing money sensibly is critical as it’ll provide you with a clear indication of how your business is performing. If you’re not great with finances, make sure you have someone on board that you can trust to consistently crunch the numbers. How much is coming in? How much is going out? What is our monthly overhead? How much do we need to sell to stay afloat?
Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
If this is your first business, don’t be too stubborn to ask for help from your peers and mentors who may have more experience than you. Speaking to someone with knowledge will help you gain the skills you need to take your business to the next level.
Take care of yourself.
As business owners, we spend a lot of time working around the clock, juggling many different tasks to ensure our company is always moving forward. However, it’s important to take a minute to yourself and reflect on how far you have come. Very often we get stuck in the moment and forget to look at the bigger picture to help celebrate our success to date.
Starting a business is a challenge, but it’s worth it in the long run.
About the Author
Kirill Bigai is an entrepreneur, engineer and CEO of Preply, an online learning platform that connects a global network of learners with 15,000 verified tutors teaching over 50 languages.