A recipe for startup and early
growth success
Rob Wilmot
Ingredients
decisiveness, determination, savvy, tenacity,
self-confidence, focus, visibility, resilience, passion,
care, d...
Decisiveness
A good decision may or may not lead to success.
A bad decision is a learning experience.
Not making a decisio...
Determination
When you’ve decided to do something, don’t let anything stop you.
Try, try, and try again.
Potential custome...
Savvy
Everything in life is a negotiation. You’ll come across lots of different
characters as you progress in your venture...
Tenacity
Hold on to the core belief of what your venture is about and your
values.
Don’t be discouraged if success is not ...
Self-belief
Have confidence in your own abilities and judgment. Trust your gut
instinct – it’s usually right!
People will ...
Self-awareness
Establish and acknowledge what you're good at as well as what
you're not. You can learn new skills to fill ...
Self-confidence
People will warm to you when to you talk enthusiastically and openly
about your products or services.
Show...
Focus
There will always be an opportunity to sell something a little bit
different to your existing products and services,...
Visibility
You can have a killer product or service but you’ll lose competitive
advantage or get lost in the market noise ...
Resilience
You're going to face rejection, disappointment, intractable obstacle
and fatigue along the way. This is where m...
Passion
Don’t hold yourself back or reign in your enthusiasm for what you do.
Let your passion for the market and your pro...
Care
Caring about the quality of your products and services and – most
importantly – the customer experience is the differ...
Diplomacy
This is an art you really must master. Especially as it seems that the
larger the client the greater the need fo...
Drive
The ability to keep going and to motivate others around you to go
with you towards a common goal (make your goal eve...
Ambition
You've got to have ambition for your venture. What are you aiming
for? What is your goal? Are you looking to buil...
Insight
Use every opportunity to find out what your potential customers
need and how you can improve your offering to enco...
Inner-strength
This is not about having a belligerent attitude that you're always
right, but the ability to continually lo...
Humility
Admit when you’re wrong. Don’t hesitate to do this. If necessary
apologise, but always adapt and move on. This is...
Trust
You'll never be able to grow unless you can delegate and delegation
requires trust. This is one of the biggest reaso...
Networks
Networking is king, but the key is to network in the right places with
the right people. Saying that, it’s good t...
Reality
Optimism is vital to building a business, but don’t fall into the trap of
becoming delusional. Be realistic about ...
Receptiveness
Being single minded about your goals is often seen as the most
positive trait of an entrepreneur.
However li...
Faith
Faith in what you’re doing… faith in why you’re doing it… faith in your
team… faith in yourself… faith in your produ...
Love
When you love what you do this comes through as enthusiasm.
Enthusiasm is infectious to your team, your existing and ...
Integrity
Your word should always be your bond. Integrity creates trust,
and trust creates goodwill. Goodwill leads to rep...
Generosity
Be generous with your time and knowledge. An important factor in
the growth of a business is delegation. You'll...
Hunger
You need to want it to win it! No half measures! You need full
commitment to your goals; a single mindedness to mak...
Health
You’ll be working very hard to make your venture a success and
expecting the same from your team. But you should no...
Humour
Especially when you’re in early start up mode it’s easy to take
everything incredibly seriously.
Never lose your se...
Persistence
If at first you don’t succeed try, try, and try again. This isn’t a
platitude. You’ll always encounter set-bac...
Agility
Big oaks get blown down in the wind. Reeds bend but don’t break.
Be a reed. Adapt, bend to the conditions, and rol...
Enjoyment
One of the main reasons that people start their own business is that
they no longer enjoy working for someone el...
Support
You’ll be able to run hard for a while based on the adrenalin
associated with starting up a new venture. But soone...
Motivation
What gets you out bed in the morning is what motivates you. Such
things as being the best you can be, wanting t...
Courage
Sometimes you have to say no to customers! It’s counterintuitive but
often necessary. Especially when you’ve done ...
Time
You’ll never, ever have enough of it. And there’ll always be more
demands on your time than you can humanly deal with...
Resolve
The ability to come to a decision or determine direction is critical to
the forward momentum of your venture. What...
Space
Sometimes you get so wrapped up running hard in one direction that
you end up taking the wrong path up a blind alley...
Gratitude
Thank people at every opportunity.
Customers: There’s nothing like thanking them for their business –
when you w...
Serendipity
Ask anyone who works or has worked with me what my favourite
phrase is and they’ll tell you it’s “serendipity ...
I’ve been fortunate to have spent the last 20 years immersed in
startups, early growth, investment and funding (including ...
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A recipe for startup and early growth success

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Startups often fail. This presentation is a simple list and description of ingredients based on my experiences (success and failures) from the last 20 years working in startups, early growth, investment and trade sale. This presentation forms the basis or my speaking events on the subject.

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  • I quit working at shoprite and now I make $35h - $80h...how? I'm working online! My work didn't exactly make me happy so I decided to take a chance on something new… after 4 years it was so hard to quit my day job but now I couldn't be happier. Heres what I do, fly38. ℂom
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A recipe for startup and early growth success

  1. A recipe for startup and early growth success Rob Wilmot
  2. Ingredients decisiveness, determination, savvy, tenacity, self-confidence, focus, visibility, resilience, passion, care, diplomacy, drive, ambition, insight, self-awareness, self-belief, inner-strength, humility, trust, networks, reality, receptiveness, faith, love, integrity, generosity, hunger, health, humour, persistence, agility, enjoyment, support, motivation, courage, time, resolve, space, gratitude and serendipity. Twitter @robwilmot Linkedin LinkedIn.com/in/robwilmot
  3. Decisiveness A good decision may or may not lead to success. A bad decision is a learning experience. Not making a decision can kill or at best stifle growth. Failure is the absence of decisiveness. Twitter @robwilmot Linkedin LinkedIn.com/in/robwilmot
  4. Determination When you’ve decided to do something, don’t let anything stop you. Try, try, and try again. Potential customers like to see determination. If you have staff, your determination will rub off on them. Twitter @robwilmot Linkedin LinkedIn.com/in/robwilmot
  5. Savvy Everything in life is a negotiation. You’ll come across lots of different characters as you progress in your venture. Some of them will be tricky and cunning, out to get the best deal for them not you – win-lose, not win-win. Being savvy means evaluating opportunities, assessing them quickly, effectively and practically to get you to the right position in a negotiation (which should be a win-win where possible). Twitter @robwilmot Linkedin LinkedIn.com/in/robwilmot
  6. Tenacity Hold on to the core belief of what your venture is about and your values. Don’t be discouraged if success is not instant. Be firm in the value of your product or service. Never let go of a potential customer until you've exhausted every avenue of persuasion. Tenacity and determination go hand-in-hand. Twitter @robwilmot Linkedin LinkedIn.com/in/robwilmot
  7. Self-belief Have confidence in your own abilities and judgment. Trust your gut instinct – it’s usually right! People will try and put you down and convince you that your business venture will never work. This is often due to them consciously (or subconsciously) wanting you to fail, as it validates their life choices in not having had the courage to quit their day job and follow their dream like you did. Twitter @robwilmot Linkedin LinkedIn.com/in/robwilmot
  8. Self-awareness Establish and acknowledge what you're good at as well as what you're not. You can learn new skills to fill the gaps or surround yourself with those with skills that complement yours. Either way, you need to cover your blind spots. Twitter @robwilmot Linkedin LinkedIn.com/in/robwilmot
  9. Self-confidence People will warm to you when to you talk enthusiastically and openly about your products or services. Showing self-confidence to those around you makes them more confident in you and themselves. … And yes, smiling really does work! Twitter @robwilmot Linkedin LinkedIn.com/in/robwilmot
  10. Focus There will always be an opportunity to sell something a little bit different to your existing products and services, and there’s always a new market-place opening up somewhere. How many times have you heard a potential customer say ‘it’s nearly right for us, but can you just…?’ It’s usually easier and more profitable to sell a standardised service or product than to bend to each and every potential customer’s demands. You can still develop new products and services and look at new market places but you should plan for this based on structured opportunity analysis and not shoot from the hip. Twitter @robwilmot Linkedin LinkedIn.com/in/robwilmot
  11. Visibility You can have a killer product or service but you’ll lose competitive advantage or get lost in the market noise unless you get yourself out there! • Networking (in the right places) • A good website (doesn’t have to cost the earth) • Word of mouth, including social media (which is really just word of mouth with technology) • Happy customers: Customer referrals are invariably the best route to new business • Public relations and marketing. But make sure you build in measurement of results. Twitter @robwilmot Linkedin LinkedIn.com/in/robwilmot
  12. Resilience You're going to face rejection, disappointment, intractable obstacle and fatigue along the way. This is where mental resilience is important. You've got to be able to pick yourself up, bounce back and carry on - even in the face of that 4.30 am can’t sleep despair (trust me I’ve been there). Remember • It’s always darkest before the dawn • Success isn’t final, failure isn’t fatal Twitter @robwilmot Linkedin LinkedIn.com/in/robwilmot
  13. Passion Don’t hold yourself back or reign in your enthusiasm for what you do. Let your passion for the market and your products and services shine through. Passion is infectious and there’s nothing like it for closing a deal. Twitter @robwilmot Linkedin LinkedIn.com/in/robwilmot
  14. Care Caring about the quality of your products and services and – most importantly – the customer experience is the difference between being average and excellent; break even and profitability; success or failure. You also need to care for your employees, suppliers, and market influencers (including bloggers and social network leaders). Take care of you. You need to be physically healthy to be on the best of form. Take it from someone who neglected their health for far too long. Eating late and not doing enough exercise so you can stay at your desk does not make you a hero and will damage your venture in the medium to long term. Twitter @robwilmot Linkedin LinkedIn.com/in/robwilmot
  15. Diplomacy This is an art you really must master. Especially as it seems that the larger the client the greater the need for diplomacy due to hierarchies of management, diversity of departments, and complexity of priorities. You need to bring your emotional intelligence - the ability to empathise. Finding solutions to individual needs and requirements in order to build relationships is a key skill you need to acquire in order to navigate selling into and servicing bigger companies. Twitter @robwilmot Linkedin LinkedIn.com/in/robwilmot
  16. Drive The ability to keep going and to motivate others around you to go with you towards a common goal (make your goal everyone’s goal). You need to also understand that some people naturally move at different speeds and this is a good thing. Slow and considered is sometimes as good as fast and dynamic – especially where financial or legal details are involved. You need the right mix of fast and slow pace in your team to maximise success. Twitter @robwilmot Linkedin LinkedIn.com/in/robwilmot
  17. Ambition You've got to have ambition for your venture. What are you aiming for? What is your goal? Are you looking to build a lifestyle business that only depends on you, or a larger venture which requires more diverse skills and people to get you where you want to go? Establishing your ambition in your own mind allows you to then set goals and plan how you'll achieve them. Sharing your ambition with your team helps crystalise the mission for everyone. Twitter @robwilmot Linkedin LinkedIn.com/in/robwilmot
  18. Insight Use every opportunity to find out what your potential customers need and how you can improve your offering to encourage customer loyalty, as well as new business. This should be an ever evolving process as customer expectations change with advancements in technology and cultural shifts. Simply asking existing customers what you can do to make your offering even better can give you unexpected insights which – if implemented – often leads to increased revenue and profitability. Social networking is becoming a wonderful channel for market insights, because of immediacy and reach. Embrace it. Twitter @robwilmot Linkedin LinkedIn.com/in/robwilmot
  19. Inner-strength This is not about having a belligerent attitude that you're always right, but the ability to continually look inside and ask the honest, difficult questions about how you're performing and how you can improve to make yourself and your venture stronger. It’s also about the ability to accept evidence based external criticism and suggestions, and the willingness to adapt, even when it might initially appear counter-intuitive. Equally though, inner-strength gives you the power to stand up for what you truly believe in. Twitter @robwilmot Linkedin LinkedIn.com/in/robwilmot
  20. Humility Admit when you’re wrong. Don’t hesitate to do this. If necessary apologise, but always adapt and move on. This is not a sign of weakness but of integrity, and you’ll be respected for this. We all make mistakes. What is unforgivable is if we do nothing about them and the situation continues to degrade. Or even worse, you repeat mistakes without learning from them. Remember in business reputation is everything! Twitter @robwilmot Linkedin LinkedIn.com/in/robwilmot
  21. Trust You'll never be able to grow unless you can delegate and delegation requires trust. This is one of the biggest reasons for startup failure. You can’t do everything yourself, but you need to accept that there will be some mistakes made by those you delegate to. The key here is to maintain your trust and help correct these mistakes to mitigate them happening again. Your customers need to be able to trust you. Always aim to be transparent and open in all that you do in business. If you say you'll deliver on a date – deliver on it. Twitter @robwilmot Linkedin LinkedIn.com/in/robwilmot
  22. Networks Networking is king, but the key is to network in the right places with the right people. Saying that, it’s good to throw in a couple of wildcards – events which you might not normally go to – as serendipity can often bring wonderfully unexpected results. Don’t be that guy. The one who treats every encounter as a speed dating session. Networking is about listening just as much as talking. Learn just enough about someone to legitimately exchange cards and then follow-up the next day with more detail of products, services and interests. Use a blended approach of offline and online networking. Social networking tools such as LinkedIn and Twitter are a natural fit. Twitter @robwilmot Linkedin LinkedIn.com/in/robwilmot
  23. Reality Optimism is vital to building a business, but don’t fall into the trap of becoming delusional. Be realistic about objectives and targets. These can and should be a stretch, but inflating projected revenues or profitability can be have a disastrous effect on the health of your venture. You can’t reinvest revenues in growth or seek investment if your income doesn’t come anywhere near what you've forecasted. Get real! Twitter @robwilmot Linkedin LinkedIn.com/in/robwilmot
  24. Receptiveness Being single minded about your goals is often seen as the most positive trait of an entrepreneur. However listening to what your team, your customers and your market place as a whole are saying will allow you to adapt and build on your success. Being receptive is not a sign of weakness, it’s a great strength. Bloody mindedness will only get you so far. Twitter @robwilmot Linkedin LinkedIn.com/in/robwilmot
  25. Faith Faith in what you’re doing… faith in why you’re doing it… faith in your team… faith in yourself… faith in your product and services… faith in your customers. You gotta have faith! … but it’s better if it’s not blind faith. Plan, execute, review, adapt: keep it real. Twitter @robwilmot Linkedin LinkedIn.com/in/robwilmot
  26. Love When you love what you do this comes through as enthusiasm. Enthusiasm is infectious to your team, your existing and your potential customers. Love will get you out of bed in the morning, even when things are difficult or tight; it will give you the energy to work the seemingly endless hours that you need to prime and feed a hungry startup. But don’t forget to show love for family and friends equally or more! Their love will bolster your strength and resolve to succeed, even in the darkest of times. Twitter @robwilmot Linkedin LinkedIn.com/in/robwilmot
  27. Integrity Your word should always be your bond. Integrity creates trust, and trust creates goodwill. Goodwill leads to repeat and new business. Deliver what you say you'll do, by the when you said you would, and for the price agreed. Pay your creditors on time or be honest and make further arrangement with them. With a lack of integrity you might get away with shady dealings for a while, but eventually you’ll get busted and you'll fail. It’s as simple as that. Twitter @robwilmot Linkedin LinkedIn.com/in/robwilmot
  28. Generosity Be generous with your time and knowledge. An important factor in the growth of a business is delegation. You'll need to invest time and effort, often beyond the average working hours. Also be generous in sharing success. Ensure that your team know about wins and their integral part in these. Conversely spend time working with your team to learn collectively about why you might have lost or not won a piece of business. If necessary, admit if you're wrong, adapt, and move on in a positive light. Help other startups with your time and insights. It helps you maintain perspective. Twitter @robwilmot Linkedin LinkedIn.com/in/robwilmot
  29. Hunger You need to want it to win it! No half measures! You need full commitment to your goals; a single mindedness to make your product the best in the marketplace, the best in customer service – killer quality! Hunger should motivate you to hunt down every opportunity, every potential sale, every chance to up-sell or cross sell until the last ounce of your strength is gone. Dramatic, but you get my drift. Twitter @robwilmot Linkedin LinkedIn.com/in/robwilmot
  30. Health You’ll be working very hard to make your venture a success and expecting the same from your team. But you should not underestimate the need to look after yourself and encourage the people around you to do the same. The biggest risk you have is burnout. You and your team need to get regular sleep, eat a balanced diet, do some exercise and spend quality time with your friends and loved ones. You’re not a hero by staying in the office until 10pm every evening. You’ll become less and less productive the less downtime you take. Twitter @robwilmot Linkedin LinkedIn.com/in/robwilmot
  31. Humour Especially when you’re in early start up mode it’s easy to take everything incredibly seriously. Never lose your sense of humour. Smile a lot - it really does make other people smile. Laugh out loud. It makes you and those around you happy and more productive. Smiling and laughter are the best antidotes to pressure and stress. Twitter @robwilmot Linkedin LinkedIn.com/in/robwilmot
  32. Persistence If at first you don’t succeed try, try, and try again. This isn’t a platitude. You’ll always encounter set-backs such as resistance and pushback from potential customers. The key to bouncing back and winning is to find the right approach for each situation and keep trying different things until something works. You’ll learn from this persistence, and success will come quicker each time you apply this new knowledge. My daughter Grace taught me an important lesson when she was only six years old. I was having trouble with a problem and she could see I was on the brink of giving up when she quite sincerely said “Don’t give up daddy, we’ll find a way or well make one” She was quoting Hannibal! Twitter @robwilmot Linkedin LinkedIn.com/in/robwilmot
  33. Agility Big oaks get blown down in the wind. Reeds bend but don’t break. Be a reed. Adapt, bend to the conditions, and roll with the punches. Be agile. The advantage you've got as a startup is that you can make an instant decision and execute it on the spot. This is a significant advantage over your larger more complex competitors who have many layers of management, decision making processes and politics to overcome before any change can be made. A startup is like a taxi that can turn on a sixpence. Larger corporates are like supertankers that takes six miles to change direction. Seize the advantage of agility. Twitter @robwilmot Linkedin LinkedIn.com/in/robwilmot
  34. Enjoyment One of the main reasons that people start their own business is that they no longer enjoy working for someone else and want the freedom to do things their own way. Enjoy this freedom and celebrate every success along the way. Moments I’ve really enjoyed and you should too are: • Making the first sale • Breaking even • Building a great team and seeing others flourish • Making a profit for the first time • Closing a funding / investment round / IPO • Selling up and moving on to the next venture. Twitter @robwilmot Linkedin LinkedIn.com/in/robwilmot
  35. Support You’ll be able to run hard for a while based on the adrenalin associated with starting up a new venture. But sooner or later you’ll crash and burn without support. Startups eat into your family life, but your family are your greatest support and release. Be honest about the amount of time you’ll need to work and commit to ‘quality time’ where you switch off from business and focus on enjoying being with your family. Get professional support. Accept what your weak points are and outsource or hire the skills you need to fill the gaps. This will let you focus on what you’re good at and give your venture the highest chance of success. Twitter @robwilmot Linkedin LinkedIn.com/in/robwilmot
  36. Motivation What gets you out bed in the morning is what motivates you. Such things as being the best you can be, wanting to provide a better life for you and your family, wanting to be rich, own a sports car or a yacht. We’re all motivated by different things. The key to a great startup or growing company is to have a common goal as the key motivator such as providing the best product in the marketplace. But also every startup will eventually need a mix of different people with diverse motivations e.g. you’ll need people who really love the thrill of selling, those who get a buzz from giving excellent customer care and those who like to ‘make’ the stuff you sell. You need a melting pot of motivations to create a great company. Twitter @robwilmot Linkedin LinkedIn.com/in/robwilmot
  37. Courage Sometimes you have to say no to customers! It’s counterintuitive but often necessary. Especially when you’ve done everything possible to service their requirements. I’ve even let customers go because their expectations no longer match those of my company. This isn’t bravado, it’s just good business sense. This lets you focus on the customer relationships that are working. Courage can be to acknowledge that you’ve made a mistake with staff that aren’t working out for you and move them on. Courage can also be turning away a potential buyer of your business because you haven’t finished building the value in your venture. Twitter @robwilmot Linkedin LinkedIn.com/in/robwilmot
  38. Time You’ll never, ever have enough of it. And there’ll always be more demands on your time than you can humanly deal with. The key here is prioritisation and delegation. Assess what only you can do, then delegate the rest as soon as possible by hiring or outsourcing. If you’re operating in a new niche, it won’t stay niche for long. If you want to get a first mover advantage, or even just be in the upper quartile, you need to do things in parallel rather than serial. It’s about multiplying time by having multiple people working on multiple vectors. This is the only way that you’ll be able to keep a competitive advantage. Twitter @robwilmot Linkedin LinkedIn.com/in/robwilmot
  39. Resolve The ability to come to a decision or determine direction is critical to the forward momentum of your venture. What are you going to do and how are you going to get there? As you grow, what parts of your offering aren’t working and what should you do different to maintain for forward momentum? Resolve is also important to the morale and motivation of your team. In World War II there was a saying by troops about their superiors. “He wasn’t a bad officer because he made bad decisions, he was a bad officer because he made no decisions”. So don’t prevaricate, vacillate or procrastinate. Get some resolve. Twitter @robwilmot Linkedin LinkedIn.com/in/robwilmot
  40. Space Sometimes you get so wrapped up running hard in one direction that you end up taking the wrong path up a blind alley. You need to make time to give yourself ‘head space’, an environment and allocation of dedicated time to sit and just ‘think’ about your position and direction to see if there might be a better way of going about things. You might come to the conclusion that you're actually on the right track, but you can now progress with confidence. You also need to give your team space to get on with the job you hired them to do. Continually looking over their shoulder second guessing and micromanaging them creates a dependency culture and has a negative impact on morale. Twitter @robwilmot Linkedin LinkedIn.com/in/robwilmot
  41. Gratitude Thank people at every opportunity. Customers: There’s nothing like thanking them for their business – when you win it, on their renewal of contract, at Christmas. Just do it. People like to be appreciated and this goes a long way. Your team: When someone does a good job acknowledge it openly within the team. If done sincerely you’ll fill them with pride. It’s highly motivational and great for the morale of your team. Suppliers and partners: Thank them even if it’s just for delivering on time. They’ll be more likely to go the extra mile when you need something last minute or out of the ordinary in the future. Twitter @robwilmot Linkedin LinkedIn.com/in/robwilmot
  42. Serendipity Ask anyone who works or has worked with me what my favourite phrase is and they’ll tell you it’s “serendipity is a wonderful thing”. Depending on what dictionary you look at it can mean “happy accident” or “pleasant surprise”. But for me it’s not a luck thing, it’s a culmination of doing all or some of the things I’ve written about in the preceding slides to be ready to respond positively to any opportunity or misfortune. My grandfather was a footballer and he gave me this great pearl of wisdom. He said that he was the highest goal scorer not because he was lucky, but because he developed a knack of putting himself in the right space at the right time to make the best of any pass. Twitter @robwilmot Linkedin LinkedIn.com/in/robwilmot
  43. I’ve been fortunate to have spent the last 20 years immersed in startups, early growth, investment and funding (including IPO) and trade sales. Some have been spectacular and game changing, others have failed. But most have been nicely in the middle ground of success. However, every venture I’ve been involved with has taught me valuable lessons to take into the next one. I’ve got a lot of satisfaction by sharing my experience with fledgling entrepreneurs through direct one-to-one and speaking engagements and I’ve written this presentation to hopefully inspire others. You can check me out on LinkedIn: Linkedin.com/in/robwilmot and follow me on Twitter: Twitter.com/robwilmot My current ventures: bcsAgency www.bcsagency.com , rob@bcsagency.com Crowdicity www.crowdicity.com , rob.wilmot@crowdicity.com About Rob Wilmot

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