Startup Mixology: The Ingredients You Need to Be Successful in 2014

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The past 25 years has seen the term startup grow in popularity, with general opinion ranging from skeptical, to pessimistic and onto downright doubtful. Startups are inherently optimistic by nature, but in the end, it’s public opinion that decides whether the business will sink or swim. This leads to the question: “what is the difference between a successful startup operation, and an inauspicious one?”

There are many answers to this question, but it really depends on each example. Plenty of startup companies have commenced operation with everything going for them, only to see failure while numerous fledgling startups have flourished thanks in large part to luck.



With all of the contributing factors that can challenge the success of the business, the focus must remain on what a startup can control, or else worrying about outside pressured is pointless.

“Failure is not an outcome, failure is not trying.”

Sara Blakely, the creator of Spanx, was encouraged to fail as a child. Why? Because failure is the best learning experience possible. Think about it: failing teaches you how not to proceed with a particular action or process, while still teaching that failure is not the end of the world. The point is: if you don’t try–out of a fear of failing–then there is no possibility of succeeding.

A skinny kid from Brantford, Ontario, Canada once said “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” He never let the fact that he wasn’t the biggest, strongest or fastest limit him when it came to playing the game of hockey. He relied on a higher level of intelligence, persistence and desire. That is how Wayne Gretzky became the greatest hockey player to have ever played the game, and that is why he is considered to be one of the greatest athletic performers in any sport.

Choose Something You Believe in

Having absolute confidence in the product, and its importance, can serve as as a vital marketing tool. It would be tough to dedicate all of the time necessary for a startup company to succeed, if you didn’t believe in what you were building. There’s no better form of motivation that doing something that you believe really matters.

Hire Passionately

No matter what stage your startup is in, having the right supporting cast is absolutely crucial. While quality employees are often intuitive and quick, what you’re looking for is someone with a passion for the job– someone who will go beyond the call of duty to get their tasks accomplished. Going with your gut is usually a risky move, but if you’re interviewing a group of potential hires, consider which one will stay late on a Friday night, not because they were told to, but because they want to.


Listen to your competitors, listen to your clients. Listen to your employees, and listen to those who say you will fail. Listen not for the sake of listening, but for the opportunity to glean as much information as you can. Listen to what they have to say, but don’t let it define what your company does. Keep that optimism that you first felt when you cultivated the idea for your business, and Set-out to learn as much as humanly possible, and never stop.

Expect the Unexpected

One of the first things businesses should do is plan for what they can’t plan for. Admitting that there are unforeseen problems that will–not may– arise brings a sense of realism to the table.  A moderately successful startup can be crippled by something relatively minor, that they didn’t plan for. You’re not planning to fail, you’re planning to respond effectively to roadblocks, and to be proactive about it.

Target Multiple Niches, but Don’t Overreach

Targeting multiple niches is a form of diversifying that gives your startup a better chance at succeeding early. But it’s easy to overreach. Focusing time, energy, and cash on unattainable goals is certainly optimistic, but those can be applied to realistic areas.

Don’t Mess With Success

There is always the desire to tweak a process in the hopes that it will somehow become more successful than it had previously been. The odds of that happening can’t be good. If your business is lucky enough to achieve a degree of success, take it as a sign that what you are doing is working. Don’t change a thing, until the market mandates that you change what you do, or you fail.

Everyone knows the trials and tribulations of starting a business. People can easily forget failures, but a success story makes a lasting impression. It’s something that is always the goal; no one sets out to fail, but as Ms. Blakely’s father encouraged: failure isn’t the worst thing that can happen, letting it affect your goals is.


Hilary Smith is an online journalist who holds a passion for startup businesses. Through her writing, she is able to help fellow entrepreneurs achieve their dream of running their own business, and dreams of running her own one day as well.