5 Universal Truths Of Any Successful Startup

Starting a new business or a new project is tricky, to say the least.  The attractiveness of doing business online is that it’s cheaper than creating something physical, which means the barrier or entry is pretty low.

At the same time, there are really only two ways of starting up – putting in the hours, months and years to learn how to do it all yourself or find someone to do it for you.

There’s still plenty to do – you just don’t need to fund the physical location or the physical product!

In this article, I want to share 5 universal truths that I’ve found in starting any business online…

1) You MUST Solve A Problem

There are generally two types of business ideas: those that solve a problem in a market and those that attempt to educate a market that a problem exists (and then sell something to them).

The latter is much harder to pull off, especially if you don’t have significant funding.

The simplest business is usually the one that:

  • Makes money fast
  • Has a much lower customer acquisition cost

So, before you invest time, resources or money in something – make sure that someone wants it!

The startups that take lots of explanation have a much harder time surviving in the market.  If you’re a fan of the Shark Tank, you know exactly what I mean.  Sometimes, the only hiccup in a business model is that it’s difficult to explain and doesn’t just sell itself sitting on store shelves.

2) Not Every Idea Is A Good One

Think of your business like you would a new relationship.  There’s the dating phase, getting engaged, the honeymoon and then the marriage.

The business that you choose to be in should be something that you know you’ll be interested in for a long time.  Believe me, I’m a big fan of niche markets and I used to do a lot of small affiliate websites, but your attraction will fade over time.

Sticking with one business model for a long time provides lasting benefits in both revenue and your customer’s expectations!

Plus, not all ideas are great ones.  Steve Jobs holds 141 patents.  How many is he remembered for?

In the software world, most ideas are thrown out.  The only ones that are actually implemented are the ones that come up time and time again, which is a model we’ve adopted for TimeSlots.  It’s easy for requests to lead to ‘bloat’ and you end up with products like Microsoft…

They might ‘do’ a lot, but they’re not overly good at any one thing.

If the NEED for your business keeps resurfacing, and you’ve given it sufficient time to cool off in your mind, you’ll be much further ahead when you do run with it!

3) Fail Fast (And Often!)

The most successful businesses in the world are made up of tiny failures.  It’s the nature of selling stuff to human beings.

Fail fast.  It’s the quickest way to figure out what WILL work.

The smartest person in the room isn’t going to know for sure how someone will react when it’s time for them to pull out their credit card, and that’s all there is to it.

In Internet businesses especially, success is based in data and numbers:

  • 100 people see your website.
  • 42 of them convert to a lead.
  • 2% of them buy right away.
  • 3% of them buy within a month.
  • And so on!

What does that mean?!

Well, that 95% of the people who interact with you won’t spend money in the first month!  That’s a troubling statistic for lots of startups, but it’s the truth.

Your numbers need to work for you and what you’re selling in order to grow.  The only way to do that is to FAIL, and figure out some of the ways that it DOESN’T work along the way…

4) You’ll Eventually Need To Sell Something

As a business owner, you’re going to eventually need to sell.  Whether you like selling or not, you’re going to have to at some point!  And to up your sales game, these 15 Characteristics of Successful Sales People will help.

Granted, you might not be selling your services or your products, but you’ll need to convince someone of something eventually!

That might be:

  • Investing in your business or your idea
  • Giving you a chunk of valuable time to help you get started
  • Convincing your spouse that your idea is worth a shot
  • Getting someone to agree to partner on a project with you
  • Organizing a cross-promotion or a mailing to an email list

There are some investors who, as a rule, don’t invest in startups that are headed by just one founder.  Their take on it is that if you can’t convince just one other person to believe in you, why should they?

And we haven’t even gotten to the ‘selling to customers’ part yet!

If you’re running a lean startup, you’ll need to do quite a bit of that as well, whether it’s booking sales calls or setting up a sales video on your website!

5) Start Small

Perhaps the #1 piece of advice I can give you is to start small.  Minimize the scope as much as possible and get stuff done.  Figure out what the ‘Minimum Viable Product’ is that you can go to market with, and start there.

Don’t wait for anything to be perfect, because it never will be.

It’ll take 700% more more time and money to go from 98% done to 100% perfect.  The key is to look at your project in terms of ‘small successes’ and milestones.

When you dig in and see all the little things that are working, it’ll keep you positive and moving in the right direction.  You won’t concentrate on the bad.  Instead, you’ll focus on how to make the bad, better!

When you start small, there isn’t as much to look at so your successes will be epic.

It’s Up To You!

Growing a business online is all about knowing exactly what to do and when to do it.  That’s what Essentials is all about – making sure you have the skills you’ll need to get started.

Click here to watch the Essentials video

In the comments below, make sure to let us know at least one takeaway you got from this post!  I love seeing which points most resonate with people :0)  I’m a nerd like that.


  • Jacqueline Green

    Reply Reply March 30, 2015

    Great read!.

    • Jason Drohn

      Reply Reply March 31, 2015

      Thanks Jacqueline! Much appreciated!

  • 1.1 You must be able to identify who has the problem.
    1.2 You must solve the problem for a relatively small percentage of the perceived cost of the problem.
    1.3 The prospects must be able to afford to pay you to solve the problem.

    • Jason Drohn

      Reply Reply October 7, 2015

      Excellent additions Patrick!!

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