the forgotten secrets to startup success

The Forgotten Secrets To Startup Success

Is it just me, or is there an overwhelming amount of literature for startups on the ‘secrets to success’?

In life, in business, and particularly in the hyped up startup scene, everyone has a different opinion on what will make or break you.

Entrepreneurial ‘success secrets’ are everywhere!

If you read as much of this stuff as I do, you’re probably familiar with tropes like:

  • “A startup’s idea is its ticket to success above all else”
  • “Your team will make or break your startup regardless of how revolutionary your idea”
  • “A great idea and a great team won’t go far without funding. Getting investors is the secret to success”

Don’t get me wrong, these are all very real indicators of success, and I talk about them all the time!

You won’t go far in your startup journey without a fantastic team, a groundbreaking idea, and investors that open doors for you.

But today, I want to talk about 2 less frequently talked about success secrets that get swept under the rug amidst all the chatter about tech unicorns and ‘disruption’.

The forgotten secrets to startup success

Here they are:

  1. High performance
  2. Effectiveness

Why does no one talk about these, even though they are utterly integral to the success of any and every entrepreneur?

I’m glad you asked! I have a theory…

Compared to other ‘success secrets’ they’re not as easily actionable.

Put simply, it’s hard to become high performing and effective.

It’s hard to get things done, develop good habits and take full responsibility for everything in your life.

It’s not as simple as: “Yo sauce, the secret is getting investors. Now here’s a pitch deck and a list of pitching resources to help you get ’em.”

By the way, if you do want to learn how to pitch to get rich, make sure youdownload our investment pitching kit…

Ahem, back to high performance and effectiveness!

How do you practice high performance and effectiveness?

A lot of people forget that nearly anything can be accomplished with hard work.

I don’t know anyone who succeeded at anything worthwhile without working hard, and not only that, but working hard at being high performing and effective.

One of my favourite quotes that sums up this philosophy is “Doing things is not the same as getting things done”.

To see maximum results and make concrete progress in your startup, you need to actually get things done!

Here are my 4 secrets for practicing high performance and effectiveness in your startup journey.

1. Focus on ‘The One Thing’

“What’s the ONE Thing you can do such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary?” — Gary Keller

This is something I think of whenever I’m overwhelmed by a massive to do list which never seems to get any shorter.

Sound familiar?

Instead of working even longer hours with diminishing productivity levels, focus on the one critical task that will make the most difference in your day.

“Being selective — doing less — is the path of the productive. Focus on the important few and ignore the rest. Lack of time is actually lack of priorities.” — Tim Ferris

Sounds simple, right? Do less and achieve more.

Simple to say, but incredibly difficult to get your head around.

It’s called the 80/20 principle: A SMALL percentage of what you do leads to a LARGE percentage of the results you get.

For example:

  • 20% of your habits usually result in 80% of your success
  • 20% of your investments usually account for 80% of your returns
  • 20% of your customers make up 80% of total sales
  • 20% of your product/service offering account for 80% of your income

The numbers aren’t really important, but the principle behind it is.

Finding the 80/20 ratios is crucial for maximising your performance.

Every day, look at your to do list and identify the ONE thing on it that will have the biggest impact on your results.

Then, give that your undivided attention. Multitasking is for chumps.

2. Adopt an athlete mentality

Professional athletes are probably the greatest examples of rigorous self discipline in their craft.

To be at peak physical condition every day, athletes carefully monitor and control what they eat, how and when they exercise and their general lifestyle choices.

You need to take this mentality with you into work every day.

Give your body and mind the fuel they need to keep you agile throughout the day, otherwise you’ll burn out from sheer stress and exhaustion.

You’ll also do real damage to your business. Here are some ways low performance and energy can impact you:

  • Making bad decisions
  • How much you actually get done in the day
  • How you speak to your team and customers
  • The quality of work you produce

Step 1: Eat more real food

“Most people eat like crap so their performance is crap.

When you eat like an athlete you’ll perform like an athlete.” — Me (I said that)

Eat plant-based foods that are a natural and lasting source of energy and prevent sickness.

Limit toxins like coffee and alcohol that make you feel good for an hour and then plummet you into lethargy.

Oh, and cigarettes — They’ll just kill you.

Step 2: Give your brain food too

Start the day with a morning routine that helps you mentally prepare for the day ahead.

That might be reading, meditation, exercise, writing…Whatever gets your mind clear and your heart inspired.

Anyone can get up even 10 minutes earlier to make time for this!

You get back 10 times what you put into this simple activity, trust me. (80/20 rule, holla).

Don’t do stupid things like pull all nighters, buy fast food because you don’t have time to eat anything nutritious, or refuse to take breaks.

These are ingredients to a disgusting dish called BURNOUT.

Once you start thinking and acting like an athlete, you”ll maximise your results, save time and produce work that is the highest quality you can possibly produce.

3. Stop making excuses. Just stop.

Excuses are the enemy of effectiveness!

They encourage complacency, poor performance and just generally set you up for future failure.

” Never complain, never explain.” — Brian Tracy

Let’s break that down (get ready for some tough love)…

Never complain

Even if something goes wrong that is totally out of your control (and that’s rare in itself!) there is no use complaining.

Can you think of any time that complaining actually got you anywhere?

The only argument for complaining I can think of is as an instant stress reliever. If this truly helps you de-stress, then go for it.

Just complain once as soon as something bad happens, and then accept it.

Don’t dwell on it, and don’t keep talking about it. It’s boring and negative.

Your next move is to take actionable steps to resolve the problem.

Never explain

If you’ve failed at something, or something hasn’t worked the way you hoped it would, don’t have an explanation ready for why it happened.

It doesn’t matter whose fault it was or what should have happened if everything were constant.

Newsflash: Nothing is ever constant!

Explanations are just another word for excuses, and they mostly serve to justify poor performance.

Instead, learn to accept full responsibility for everything that happens in your life.

It can help to have someone hold you accountable to the promises and goals you make for yourself.

In summary, be conscious of how often you complain and explain, and make an effort to cut back.

You’ll soon break the habit and you won’t even think about it!

4. Act outside the box

“It isn’t enough to think outside the box. Thinking is passive. Get used to acting outside the box.” — Tim Ferris

You’re not going to make waves with a ‘me too’ product or mentality.

Of course, there is merit to looking to the leaders in your industry for best practices you can apply to your business, and characteristics you can emulate.

Learning from other people’s successes and failures is a natural, strategic method of self-improvement.

But you aren’t going to realise success by copying their exact moves. You need to innovate, disrupt and challenge.

The ability to think and act outside the box is in essence a form of adaptation.

You acknowledge your own limitations (the borders of the box) and adapt constantly to broaden the box more and more.

The ability to adapt is a key ingredient to the success of a startup.

Pivoting, re-positioning, restructuring…Whatever you want to call it, they all come from assessing where your startup currently is and acknowledging that something needs to change.

Thou Shalt Not Lack The Ability To Pivot.

That’s one of my 10 Fatal Commandments of building a startup.

Approach problems from different angles to ensure you’re practicing creative problem solving and hard, critical reasoning.

Don’t just take for granted the answers that come first to you.

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • WHY do we always do this like this?
  • Is there a reason why we haven’t tried this another way?
  • What would happen if we did something different?

It sounds like a cliche (and maybe it is) but the further you push your limits, the more you’ll come to realise there actually aren’t any.

Well, there you have it!

High performance and effectiveness. These are the forgotten secrets to success that will actually have the biggest impact on your startup’s growth.

If you make a conscious effort to start practicing these 4 things right now, you’ll see noticeable improvements in the quantity and quality of work you produce.

Where to go next

5 Steps To Becoming a Key Person Of Influence In Your Startup Niche

5 Lessons Every Startup Entrepreneur Must Learn

How To Harness The Power Of Google And Become A Learning Machine

10 Fatal Commandments Of Building A Startup

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Logan Merrick is the co-founder and Director of Buzinga, as well as one of Australia's most recognised entrepreneurs, keynote speakers, investors and mentors. His writing on startups, technology and mobile marketing has been featured in The Australian, Business Insider, Startup Smart, Smart Company, and more.