10 Principles For Surviving Hard Times In Any Startup

Devil-in-business“The devil in the details” is a quote that we have all heard, and clearly applies to startups, where success in the long run is all about execution. But for you as an entrepreneur trying to get started, the devil is really in your mind, where you must prevent drifting, and maintain that confidence, commitment, and passion, to achieve your business dream.

This is highlighted well in the classic book finally published just a few years ago, “Outwitting the Devil,” annotated by Sharon Lechter. It was written way back in 1938, by the famous author of “Think and Grow Rich,” Napoleon Hill. It was too controversial to publish then, due to religious connotations, but still has key lessons for every entrepreneur today.

The premise of the book is an interview with the Devil, where he admits that he dwells in idle minds, and finds it easy to control the minds of drifters. Drifters are people who do little or no thinking for themselves, and allow themselves to be influenced and controlled by other people and circumstances.

In an interview, the Devil confesses that all people need only follow some key principles to outwit him (adapted a bit here for entrepreneurs):

  1. Do your own thinking on all occasions. Pursue your own dreams and your own thinking. Listen to others input, but make your own decisions. For success, entrepreneurs have to overcome any human tendencies toward laziness and indifference, which lead to procrastination and drifting.
  1. Decide what you really want from your business. Set your goal, and create a plan for attaining it. Be willing to sacrifice everything else, if necessary, rather than accept permanent defeat. Drifters chase a business idea for all the wrong reasons, and then give up easily, like get rich quick, or to please someone else.
  1. Analyze temporary defeat, no matter of what nature or cause. Extract from it the seed of an equivalent advantage. In business, it’s commonly accepted that you can learn more from failure than from success, if you choose to learn.
  1. Be willing to give before you receive. Other entrepreneurs and investors will more readily help you, if you have helped them first. In addition, you dramatically increase your odds of success if you learn the business domain first, before you try to lead in it.
  1. Recognize that your brain is a receiving set. Curb your output, and be an active listener, by providing feedback, an optimistic attitude, motivation, and a concern for people. A key part of receiving input is listening to what is not said.
  1. Recognize that your greatest asset is time. This is the only thing except the power of thought which you own outright, and the one thing which can be shaped into whatever material things you want. Budget your time so none of it is wasted.
  1. Recognize that fear generally is a filler. Fear rushes in to occupy the unused portion of your mind. It is only a state of mind, which you can control by filling the space it occupies with confidence and passion in your ability to overcome obstacles.
  1. When you ask for help, do not beg. Take full responsibility, and don’t be the victim. Make sure you earn any help provided, and don’t forget to properly thank your benefactor. In a startup, there is no entitlement to funding, or to a second chance.
  1. Recognize that business is a cruel taskmaster. Either you master it or it masters you. There is no half-way or compromising point. Never accept from a business anything you do not want. You can refuse, in your own mind, to accept it and it will make way for the thing you do want.
  1. Remember that your dominating thoughts attract. To become the master of your destiny, you must learn to control the nature of your dominant, habitual thoughts. By doing so, you will be able to attract into your life anything you choose. Your thoughts create your reality.

I couldn’t help but think that these points are still so relevant today in our own pandemic recovering economy, even though they were written during a comparable challenge over 70 years ago. I guess we all should take comfort in the fact that even though we live in a world of constant change, some things about human nature will always be the same.

Can you outwit the Devil today to succeed in your dream?

Marty Zwilling
Startup Professionals Musings

Sophie Hill on the changing face of retail and surviving 2020

Threads is not your average startup and, really, it’s not a startup anymore. It’s over 10 years old, employs more than 150 people and successfully bridged the Series A gap in Europe closing a round of $ 20 million back in 2018. And so far, it’s surviving 2020. 

COVID-19 has put retail — and the rest of us — on a roller coaster. For some it has minted millions, with captive audiences realizing that they really, really hate that couch and it’s finally time to replace it. For others, like Neiman Marcus, J.C. Penney and J. Crew, it has meant bankruptcy. Bankruptcy filings for 2020 are clocking in at 424, according to S&P Global, and look on track to upset the total filings in 2010. 

Threads finds itself heartily in the black on this one.

“We’ve definitely had a challenging year. When we look at Threads’ business model we’re set up to respond very quickly and we have had a strong year. We’re very much in the luxury sector, we specialize in the luxury clientele and we have not seen a decline in our existing customers,” Threads founder and CEO Sophie Hill explained as she joined us at TechCrunch’s Disrupt 2020 virtual conference.

Despite predicting slower growth, Threads is actually attracting new customers, many of whom have been hesitant to make the jump into digital, proving that the luxury market, and customer, is as robust as ever. “We have seen customers purchasing goods at our higher-value price points, which is actually down to the fact that the stores are closed.” 

While this might be the final nail in the coffin of brick-and-mortar retail, it’s bigger than that.

“People have been forced to go online, who might not have gone there as a first choice. Many people have found it easier than expected and a real lifeline in lockdown. I think that will hugely change trends,” Hill says. With an ever more competitive retail market, what can help brands stand out? 

For Threads, it’s all about the customer. That means meeting them where they are, be it WhatsApp, WeChat, Instagram (though we’ve yet to see the brand appear on TikTok) and delivering a seamless customer experience that centers on two key values: convenience and personalization. Above all, agility breeds resilience. 

Learn what channels are showing high engagement, the discovery process for new platforms poised to take the market and strategies retailers both big and small can use to stay ahead of the curve in the interview below. 

Startups – TechCrunch

Startup Life: Samia Khan of Mélange on taking her fashion platform online and surviving Covid-19 – Prestige Online

Startup Life: Samia Khan of Mélange on taking her fashion platform online and surviving Covid-19  Prestige Online
“startups when:1d” – Google News

How Zoho Doc Scanner is making India go paperless; Lessons from a startup on surviving COVID-19 – YourStory

How Zoho Doc Scanner is making India go paperless; Lessons from a startup on surviving COVID-19  YourStory
“startups when:1d” – Google News

Razorpay CEO explains his ‘surviving to thrive’ strategy — a 3-step process in dealing with the pandemic – Business Insider India

Razorpay CEO explains his ‘surviving to thrive’ strategy — a 3-step process in dealing with the pandemic  Business Insider India
“startups when:1d” – Google News

Surviving the new normal: What to do when a customer asks to see your startup’s financials – VentureBeat

Surviving the new normal: What to do when a customer asks to see your startup’s financials  VentureBeat
“startups when:1d” – Google News