How to Survive as a Startup Entrepreneur

Thousands of new businesses are launched every day, half of which will not make it in the first 4 years, says The Washington Post. To survive as a startup entrepreneur and defy the odds, one must be ready for war. A great idea alone will not cut it in today’s startup crazed society.  So, what separates the successful entrepreneurs, who remain in business for decades, from the rest?


9 Ways To Survive As A Startup Entrepreneur


Have Self-Belief

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Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook and self-made billionaire has shared his many secrets to success over the years. One of the subjects he covers often is the fact that to make it as an entrepreneur you must believe in yourself and what you are doing 110%. Put it this way, if you don’t believe in yourself or your mission, why would anyone else?

“What ever the mind of man can conceive and believe, it can achieve.” Napoleon Hill



 Take Risks

“If you’re prepared and you know what it takes, it’s not a risk. You just have to figure out how to get there. There is always a way to get there.” Mark Cuban

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Think about that quote for a second. The most successful entrepreneurs of today didn’t get where they are by playing it safe. When Elon Musk started SpaceX he had no idea about the aerospace business, he took nearly all his earnings from selling PayPal and sank it into his new company, which at the time had no revenues to speak of. In 2014 SpaceX had over $4 billion in revenues. If you are looking to have extraordinary success, be ready to take extraordinary risks.




Provide Value

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The most successful startups today solve a problem or save consumers money, better yet, they do both. Take Uber, who Business Insider showed is on track to generate over $27 million per day! When college dropout Travis Kalanick started Uber in 2009 he had the idea to change the way society catches a ride. Not only did he improve on the old concept of hailing a cab, he made it more affordable (in most cases) and created jobs for thousands in the process. Not every business will have this powerful trifecta, however you can provide value in other ways, such as:

 Provide helpful information on your business sector

  • Give free advice
  • Use your influence to help others

If you can find a way to help your consumer, they will likely return the favor when they need what it is your company is offering.



Understand You Can’t Do It All

Often times brand new entrepreneurs are afraid to say no, they don’t want to turn down anyone who might be a potential customer. However some of the most successful entrepreneurs have learned to say no when the customer does not fit the ideal mold. To understand this, you must first identify your target audience. Let’s say you are starting a new fitness center targeting women age 30-50 (That’s your target audience). If a 27 year old male walks into your facility on the first day of business, not knowing what you are all about, you can see why this would be best to send him down the road to another gym.  For one, he would feel out of place when months later the gym was filled with middle age women, and two, your target audience may not want a young man around when they are working out. This is often the appeal of niche places of these sorts. Turning down a customer is not always easy and must be done with care. Here is a great article to help with this process “7 Ways to tell your customer no“.



Never Give Up

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James Dyson spent 15 years and created 5,127 prototypes before taking the DC01 to market, today he has a net-worth of over $3 billion.

“There are countless times an inventor can give up on an idea. By the time I made my 15th prototype, my third child was born. By 2,627, my wife and I were really counting our pennies. By 3,727, my wife was giving art lessons for some extra cash. These were tough times, but each failure brought me closer to solving the problem.” James Dyson

 To make it as an entrepreneur you must embrace your failures, you can read more about this in “Inherit 7 Habits of Insanely Successful People“. You will not always strike gold on your first attempt and hopefully it does not take you 5,127 times, as it did for James Dyson. No matter what happens, don’t ever give up on your dreams!



Listen Before Speaking

As a new startup, your most valuable asset is a paying customer. Take the time to talk to your current paying customers and find out what brought them to your business and how you can improve upon it. This also applies when coming in contact with potential new customers. Find out what they want, listen to your customers needs and then let them know how your business goes about solving problems they are having, From 5 Things You Must Know Before Selling:

  1. What the customer wants
  2. What is your customer’s pain
  3. Customer Budget
  4. Who makes the decision
  5. Time frame for the purchase

When you listen to your customer before selling them anything, it shows that you care about what they have to say and you come off more genuine. You will also be able to gain valuable insights into exactly what you can do to improve your business and increase growth in the future.



Know What You’re After

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Setting goals and keeping laser-like vision set on these goals is by far one of the most important keys to your success as an entrepreneur. Steve Jobs will go down in history as one of the most visionary and dedicated entrepreneurs of our time.

“We tend to focus much more. People think focus means saying yes to the thing you’ve got to focus on. But that’s not what it means at all. It means saying no to the hundred other good ideas. You have to pick carefully.” Steve Jobs

In your journey to success as an entrepreneur you can’t let minuscule decisions change the vision for your company. If your goal is to create the best product of it’s kind, don’t sacrifice quality for a few dollars on a piece of the puzzle. For more on the power of goals, see, “Goals – One Step To Rise Above The Competition“.



Hire Slow, Fire Fast

When the time comes to hire your first employee, choose wisely. The average cost to hire and train an employee is up to 1.5x their annual salary. According to Business Insider, bad hires have cost Zappos nearly $100 million. The importance of hiring slow and firing fast go beyond just money. One bad apple can create negativity throughout your company. The most successful entrepreneurs are careful and concise in their hiring process and rely on instinct to know when it’s time to expedite the process to fire someone. As you start to grow, the success of your business will come down to hiring the right employees, take your time and make sure you find the right person for each key position in your company. A few extra weeks in selecting the perfect candidate can save you a ton of money and headaches in the long run.



Pursue Passion Not Money

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If you think the keys to a new Ferrari or a huge house on the ocean will make you happy, you have got it all backwards. If your only reason to chase entrepreneurship is to make more money, I can guarantee that you will fail. If you are always focused on money, your customers, employees and friends will pick up on this. No one wants to support a money greedy individual who will stop at nothing to make a buck.

“Success is doing what you want to do, when you want, where you want, with whom you want, as much as you want.” Anthony Robbins

You have a dream, chase that, if you can figure out how to make money doing it, you will achieve true happiness.


Do you have what it takes to make it past year five or how about year ten as an entrepreneur? If you set out to do or you are already doing the above, you’re well on your way to success as a startup entrepreneur.


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  1. +maersk54 March 13, 2015
    • Chris Nowak March 13, 2015

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