6 Startup Lessons for Building a Business

We’ve learned a lot and continue to learn as we build our business acumen. In the spirit of modern mentorship—the focal point of the Kanguru project—we have provided some startup lessons learned over the years. As you may not know (though “many of you” might actually know since you’re likely family members), prior to starting Kanguru, the KG Team worked on an eCommerce startup. Over the years of running two startups, having two MBAs between us, years of mentorship, attending conferences and meetups, listening to business and tech podcasts, speaking with experienced advisors and everything in between—some common themes have stuck around.

Ruthlessly prioritize

We learned, often the hard way, that we need to prioritize as a startup. We have a small team, working day jobs so time is really our number one enemy. If you’re part of a team, or a solopreneur, you need to constantly focus on what is core to your business. If something is not core to your business, add it to your backlog and get to it when you can; if it never gets off of your backlog, scrap it. What Matters Most? Ruthlessly Prioritize

Your way is not the only way

Even though we are speaking on startup lessons, this is a good adage to live by regardless of the setting. We all have a bias, we all carry certain prejudices, and we all have an opinion; relying solely on your point of view can (and will) lead you astray. We are not implying that you should be a push-over or that your opinion holds no weight, we are simply advocating that you look outside of your own knowledge: trust in your team, and trust in data.

You can’t give what you don’t have

As startup owners, we are too often victims to this concept. We want to do everything we can to make our business succeed and think we can do it all by ourselves. Even if we ruthlessly prioritize, there are still times where we simply took on too much work and it negatively impacted the quality of our work. We needed to be honest with ourselves and our team. Push yourself, but respect your limits. Wasting Time? Apply Maximum Effort Efficiently

Apply maximum effort efficiently

This is a twist on the common bit of advice to “work smarter, not harder”. The thing with running a startup is we had to work smarter, and we had to work harder. So what do you do? We’ve found there are lots of times where front-loading time to research a problem, rather than just diving in, saved us a ton of time in the long run. Work your ass off, but make the best use of your time. If you can automate or semi-automate a process, pay a few bucks for some software or help or A/B test a process. Again, remember that time is your number one enemy.

Don’t BULLSHIT!

Another life lesson that can easily be applied to the business world. Whoever you deal with, be it Co-Founders, vendors, clients, mentors, or investors, remember that negative news spreads fast. You do not want to be known as someone who over promises and under delivers, or someone that is not trustworthy. We all have great ideas that can change the world, so it really comes down to you. Do people trust you, do they believe that their money, their time, or their effort is going to back someone with integrity?

You win some, you learn some

We make many mistakes as we grow, and we learn through them all. There is no silver bullet to running a successful startup, so expect you are going to make mistakes on a regular basis. Take time to understand what went wrong, apply those learnings to your roadmap, and move on. The sheer fact that you are a startup founder means you are taking risks and dreaming big so it is inevitable that you will take a wrong turn. Each of those errors is a learning experience that will save you in the future.

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