(BPT) - Despite disruptions over the last year, the number of entrepreneurs launching startups hit record highs in 2020. In the U.S., vision, passion, grit and a startup-friendly environment have resulted in the world's highest number of startups.
If you're one of the millions feeling the pull to start your own company, your timing couldn't be better. The proliferation of connected devices, the worldwide shift to remote and hybrid work models and the rapid pace of technological innovation are just a few of the factors bringing exciting opportunities for new products and services.
'The shift to global entrepreneurship has underscored something I've believed for a long time, that you can start up a company anywhere,' said Brad Feld, managing director at tech investment firm, Foundry Group. 'People are finally realizing that tech hubs, while great, are by no means a critical element to startup success. Today's visionaries can launch tomorrow's unicorn from their kitchen table. The tech, tools and people are already out there - it's just a process of leveraging those resources to make it work for you, wherever you are.'
Below are tips to keep in mind if you're one of the many innovators ready to make the startup jump.
1) Surround yourself with the right people
Having the right people in place can be the difference between success and failure. It's hard enough for founders, who've lost countless hours of sleep and invested their life savings, to entrust their vision to others, but there's no other way to grow. Personal recommendations and connections are useful, but not always available. Job sites like Indeed allow employers to screen potential hires with supplementary assessment tests to help determine a candidate's strengths in critical areas like writing, customer service and technical ability. Once you've selected a handful of candidates, be sure to ask questions that can help you gauge their excitement about your vision and how they would make that vision a reality.
Will Herman, serial entrepreneur, angel investor, corporate director and startup mentor said, 'The commitment you must make is to embody specific roles and responsibilities, including operational and cultural leadership, vision and direction, and especially, building a great extended team.'
2) Use the experience of others
The five-year success rate of startups looms around 50%, but there are many people you've never met who are ready to help you succeed. The internet is full of information, advice and tips from seasoned founders, instantly available and often free. Consider a mentorship organization for support, research what accelerator programs like Y Combinator and Techstars offer, read interviews or listen to podcasts with industry leaders, and make use of the resources available through the U.S. Small Business Administration, designed to support startups with information, access to capital and connections.
The Startup Playbook offers insight and expertise from those who successfully launched multiple companies and walks you through lessons they learned the hard way. Do More Faster explores key issues that first-time entrepreneurs encounter and offers proven advice from successful entrepreneurs who have worked with the Techstars accelerator.
3) Put the right tools in place
Today's entrepreneurs face virtually no technological barriers to entry. Software programs can be accessed through the cloud no matter where you are, eliminating the need to download applications onto computers bound to one physical office. Zoom and collaboration tools like Slack and Microsoft Teams make communication simple. JumpCloud's directory platform offers a single login to securely connect employees to any file, application, network or IT resource they might need - and it lets non-technical people manage their IT with ease without breaking the bank. Myriad applications can capture and analyze valuable information like market data, how potential competitors are positioning themselves, and vital insights about how effective your social media, lead generation or marketing programs are - all of which can help recalibrate your business model.
If you've identified a clear market need or created a product or service you know will have a big impact, it might be the perfect time for you to pursue that dream. As David Cohen of Techstars said, 'Having worked with over 2,000 companies, hard work, brilliance and innovation has been a constant for startups. What's new is the instant availability of elements that can significantly impact a company's trajectory - expert advice, easy-to-use and inexpensive software, and a truly global network of talent to pick from. While launching a startup is for the hearty, the amount of support for those who push on despite the odds has never been more robust.'
With access to the right people and advice, and the tech tools to make your journey easy, you can be set up to succeed and scale.