Five startup mentalities that will help you through your first six months

Starting a new business is an intense mix of excitement and nerves. Entrepreneurs need to work on their own behaviour to have the best chance of success.

This is about personal development. This advice is based on talking to hundreds of entrepreneurs about the challenges they faced and my own experience of launching a business.

1. Be self-aware

We all have our shortcomings. Knowing what they are is crucial to personal development and business success.

Make sure you’re developing a support network inside and outside of the business that can provide perspective. Learn from feedback and try to get better.

Being self-aware is the superstar mentality. It will help you unlock and develop all the other behaviours you need to succeed.

2. Look for balance in your founding team

The most successful startups have really well-balanced teams. This means having the skills needed to build a business in your domain (it’s okay to have gaps if you know how you’re going to fill them).

The team’s personalities should fit well together. Try to talk openly about your goals, ambitions and personal situation at the beginning of your journey.

Diversity will help. This isn’t just about diversity in the sense of ethnicity, age and gender (although we recognise how important this is). It’s about having different perspectives on the problem you’re trying to solve.

Think about how you can ensure the ideas being discussed come from as many viewpoints as possible. If you’re worried, get the team to double-down on customer interviews and self-development, and talk to other entrepreneurs.

3. Work on your communication

You can’t underestimate the value of being able to use language effectively. Being able to express yourself clearly and succinctly is one of the few characteristics that runs through every successful entrepreneur I’ve ever met.

Whether it’s writing one-line emails, holding a room during a tense debate or motivating people, communication is the key that unlocks a company’s potential to grow.

Use a service like Grammarly to help with your writing. Practice public speaking (start by entering The Pitch!). Think about what you say in meetings: drop anything that’s not going to progress the conversation; concede the point and move on if you’ve lost the debate; and make as much space as possible for other people to speak.

4. Never stop learning

An entrepreneur’s role never stops evolving as a company grows. As soon as you figure out what you’re doing the business will change again. There’s no way to cope with this unless you’re learning relentlessly.

We all struggle to find time to do this. Think about developing your own learning routine. There’s no need to look at listicles of how some raw vegetable-eating entrepreneur who wakes up at 5am does it (it’s okay if that’s your speed, but most of them are completely unrealistic).

Instead, think about how you can find space to learn that’s realistic and build habits around that. I use my travelling time to listen to podcasts and Pocket’s listen function to consume articles on the move. 

Attend events as regularly as you can (did we mention entering The Pitch?!). Look out for relationships where you can share advice and tips, whether it’s a more structured mentor or just someone’s desk you can stop by at a co-working space.

5. Have fun

There are going to be ups and downs when you’re starting up. But what’s the point if you don’t enjoy it?

The first six months of a business are a good test of this. You have, to a large extent, control over the type of business you build. The lifestyle you live. Try to get a feel for what works for you and adapt accordingly. This is easier said than done of course.

Celebrate your victories. Enjoy each other’s company. Try to focus on what drove you to start the business in the first place. And look after your physical and mental well-being.

Is there anything you found useful in your first months of starting up? Add a comment below or tweet to @The_Pitch.

Want to meet other entrepreneurs and work on your business? The top 100 startups that enter The Pitch get to go to free boot camps to gain validation from their peers and develop their business. Apply to take part here.

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Chris Goodfellow
Chris is founder and CEO of Inkwell, the company that runs The Pitch. He’s a journalist and editor by trade, and his work has been featured by everyone from The Guardian and The Financial Times to Vice magazine.

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