I’ve been building businesses for a long time. In fact, I started my first business during my sophomore year of college, selling thermoplastics to manufacturing companies (I have a Materials Engineering degree). Some of the companies I’ve been a part of have been quite successful, while others haven’t achieved what I’d hoped they could at the onset. 

Those successes and failures have taught me many lessons -- about identifying new ideas, choosing partners, my ideal role and more. Not every lesson has been easily or quickly learned, but they’ve all added up significantly for me. And I’ve used them to put together a simple framework that allows me to give new ventures the greatest chance of success.

Getting my Hands Dirty

Looking at my history, I’ve learned that most of my success has been realized from companies I’ve actively been involved with, at least in their early stages. This isn’t an ego driven observation; I’ve also learned through the years that I am not best at running a business day-to-day.

My strengths lie in recognizing talent, putting together a team, and, in the early stages of a start-up, providing guidance and direction based on what has worked for me (or not) over time.

It isn’t magic. It’s a hard-earned education gained by working in the trenches to build and grow a startup. But I’ve found that I am most comfortable with those things that have worked for me over time -- thought patterns and business methods I can believe in and can teach with conviction to those who embark on a business venture with me. It’s one of many ways to grow a business, but it’s my way.

Identifying What’s Important

As a startup or business founder you’re faced with thousands of interests competing for your attention. Yet, in the early stages it’s critical to focus only on the most important if you want to succeed. For me, this comes down to three factors:

  • Leadership
  • Structure
  • Culture

In my next piece, I’ll go into greater depth on each of these and discuss how they, together, form a framework essential to the success of a startup.