Opinions expressed by businessman the collaborators are theirs.
I’ll never forget the moment I saw my company’s bank account dwindle to just $5,000. No matter how much you believe in your startup’s mission, there’s something cold and hard about a ledger that can make you question every decision that led up to that moment.
Luckily, I have a different perspective today. My company’s revenue increased 20x between 2019 and 2021, and I am confident that we will continue this positive trajectory.
But that was far from a given when I started this journey 10 years ago. And if I had only looked to items like our bank account to propel me, I probably wouldn’t have made it through the dark times.
Over the past decade, my team and I have learned hard lessons and made difficult sacrifices. And during that time, I’ve come to understand that there are four elements that separate those who are risk-averse and shy away from uncomfortable situations, and those who eventually become successful startup leaders: passion, ability to pivot, persistence and patience. .
Related: How to successfully scale your business
1. Passion for the long term
Those steeped in the world of startups know well the need for passion when starting a business. But scaling a company is another matter entirely. It takes an immense amount of time and effort, and you may not see the results of your hard work instantly. This is the point where many entrepreneurs feel their fire going out, but it’s just when they need it most.
Without passion, it’s impossible to stay inspired and motivate your team. In those moments when you feel it’s waning, it’s important to rekindle the passion you originally had when you started your business and maintain confidence in its eventual success. Review the back-of-the-napkin sketches that got you going in the early days and take a moment to appreciate how far you’ve come (even if you’re not exactly where you thought you’d be). The journey is as meaningful as the end goal and your passion is what will fuel you along this journey.
2. Pivoting power
I had my fair share of unexpected twists and turns after founding Georama in 2012. I had envisioned it as a travel planning startup, but a couple of years later, we shifted our focus to virtual travel. Then, in 2018, I realized that we needed to pivot again to take advantage of the opportunities presented by the consumer insights space. None of these changes were easy or even obvious, but the ability to execute them spelled the difference between success and failure.
Many times, an idea requires several iterations before it becomes a successful business. Georama evolved into my current company, QualSights, an immersive insights platform that enables Fortune 500 brands to efficiently generate deep, authentic intelligence about consumer behavior to assist with product innovation and renewal . Staying open to pivoting to meet market demand was key to this successful transition, and I’m grateful to have the right team to help me make these changes work in the real world.
Related: 5 pitfalls to avoid when growing (or scaling) a business
3. Persistence in the face of “no”
The word “no” is a common element in the lives of entrepreneurs, but it’s another experience that changes significantly when you go from startup to scale. When I first launched, I was constantly reminded that when one door closes, another one opens. It was this optimism and tenacity that gave me the energy to keep going. But as the “us”s start to mount in your rearview mirror, it’s important to learn to let them go and treat each opportunity to ask for support as a whole new one.
He was always willing to offer elevator pitches, sometimes during actual elevator rides, to potential investors. I made it my personal mission to locate key people at industry conferences so I could explain the value of my company. On one such occasion, I ran into someone at an industry event. I saw him heading for the elevator and made a split second decision to join him. That 30-second conversation changed the future of my business for the better. If I had dwelled on all the “no’s” I had heard up to that point, I wouldn’t have had the persistence I needed to take a leap of faith in that elevator. It’s important not to let rejection define your path, and remember that once you hear your first “yes,” others will begin to follow.
Related: This three-pronged approach will help you scale your business to new heights
4. Patience offers perspective
Passion and patience often have trouble coexisting, and that was certainly the case for me. I’ve always believed in myself and had a passion for our product, but I found myself impatient and frustrated in the early days of my entrepreneurial journey because I felt like it was taking a long time to gain traction.
Looking back, I now see that everything happened exactly as it should have. I had to wait for this level of success to understand that nothing is worth having easily. The patience I developed over the years also taught me to enjoy the journey and celebrate the small victories along the way. Time is something that few startups have, but sometimes a little extra space and patience is the key to understanding what needs to be done to scale successfully.
Ultimately, scaling a company requires strategic focus, hard work and dedication. However, if you keep the four Ps in mind and surround yourself with people who have the same work ethic and passion as you, there’s no reason you can’t make the transition from scrappy startup to successful company.