This kind of goes without saying, but of course you need a good idea with a clear vision of who your target customers will be.

“You have to be burning with an idea, or a problem, or a wrong that you want to right. If you’re not passionate enough from the start, you’ll never stick it out,” Steve Jobs has said.

I’m reminded of the scene in the Steve Jobs movie where he threw away the Walkman and the idea for the iPod was born. The evolution of that good idea has been amazing.

Passionate leadership with a clear, powerful vision that permeates throughout the entire organization.

Belief in the vision and leadership of the company is perhaps the most important thing for any startup. Without it you really don’t have much of a chance at success.

Leadership must be passionate with a “never say die” attitude where creative problem solving prevails over emotionally-driven drama.

W.I.N (What’s Important Now)

Great startups have a clear understanding of priorities and tasks to be completed in the present to make the future vision come true. They never get too far ahead of themselves or too far behind. They focus on results-oriented activities that will incrementally bring the business to the next level.

“The most important things for startups to do is to focus. Because there’s so many things you could be doing. One of them is the most important. You should be doing that. And not any of the others,” said Paul Graham, founding partner of Y Combinator.

A good idea will fall by the wayside if the implementation of said idea is weak.

Company Culture that Creates Productivity

Creating a company from the ground up is one of the most difficult things anybody will ever choose to do. Having a team that will go to the wall for the vision is vitally important for success.

FYI – while fun, having a ping pong table and keg of beer in your break room is not culture. Culture is how employees interact with each other and clients within the business environment. The ping pong table and keg might be a reward for positive results after the business has proven that the culture is deserving and responsible enough for this type of reward.

In the beginning, the team you hire should not have a worker bee, nine-to-five mentality. The company vision and culture should be clearly expressed from the get go, and it should be made clear that you are not looking for employees whose only interest is a pay check and a set number of hours. You are looking for team members that want to achieve greatness and understand the value of hard work, patience and persistence. 

For a positive, productive culture to be created, each team member must have a clear understanding of how their personal goals fit with the vision of the company. This helps to create a positive, productive culture where team members equate company success to personal success.

Company culture must include effective communication, mutual accountability and mutual respect. If these three principles are in practice by all team member you will have a positive culture that is ripe success!

Life is What Happens While You’re Making Plans

There is one absolute in any start up: there will be challenges that require the company to be nimble and flexible. Great startups are quick to adapt to any challenge, and have a clear understanding of how these changes are necessary to obtain the overall vision of the company.

Understanding the Long-term Value of a Customer

As a startup, you are usually taking market share and/or clients away from your competition. Keeping those clients for a lifetime should be your goal.

Client attrition should be tracked frequently, and if the percentage is over five percent (you’re losing five percent of your clients) you need to find out why and fix it ASAP.

“Always deliver more than expected,” said Larry Page, co-founder of Google.

Good luck. Oh yeah, it doesn’t hurt to be a bit lucky as well. Remember, luck is where preparation meets opportunity. You will be surprised at how many new opportunities will come your way if you follow all of the above best practices.

You will be surprised that when you have a clear vision and unshakable belief, good things will just happen. It is amazing how people with a clear vision and unshakeable belief are so lucky.

Why do you think that is?


Jon Flatt is the CEO of KERV Interactive, which produces award-winning interactive video technology that is revolutionizing visual storytelling for brands and advertisers. Before KERV, he was CEO and founder of Red McCombs Media, which was acquired by LIN Media.

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