"Why does my startup company suck?"

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Our response: so what! Sure, you hear about "overnight" success stories on CNBC, Forbes, Fortune, Business Week, and the rest of 'em. Yet, when those guys weren't watching, something else was going on: Those "overnight success" companies had been plowing the fields all along -- working their butts off before anybody cared. A big-business "guru" would term them as "sucky" -- but folks, we use a different perspective:

We affectionately call it the "sucky" stage.

Companies never become great overnight. Study any great business, and you'll see calculated growth during its beginnings. They started with one key customer, then gradually but surely and smartly expanded their customer base.

Just starting a company?

Use this sweet three-step approach inspired by those great companies. It's the "sucky" stage that you might be experiencing:
  1. Start out sucking, but conserve cash.

    No, you won't land on the cover of Forbes tomorrow for your "great" idea. So, forget landing the "perfect idea" before you start your company. A perfectionist attitude kills you from ever doing anything. Instead, do what we do at Trizzy: embrace that you suck. That mindset drives you to produce something, anything. When you're feeling lower than Paris Hilton's biophysics test scores, you have nowhere to go but up. You'll be like the underdog that's gunning for Goliath and has nothing to lose. The mindset tells you that failure's okay -- and helps you learn, and improve. Failure (a.k.a. sucking), as our philosophy goes, is the only way to breakthrough success. And in the process: Keep cash close to your booty as humanly possible as you progress to the next stage. Without it, you can't survive.
  2. Get one customer, know that you still stuck, but still: conserve cash.

    Truth is, to keep yourself afloat, you better be providing value to somebody. Otherwise, why be in business? (Also, another truth: there's a 99.99999% chance somebody needs your expertise; so be on the lookout.) When you do find a customer, know this: you won't provide the "perfect" service to your customer. You'll make mistakes. Who cares? Deal with it, embrace it, and learn from it. You'll be much better next time. And the next. And so on. Michael Jordan became an astronomical success because he embraced failure every step of the way toward his six rings. Without that mindset that says failure's needed, you won't ever succeed. Cash tight: check! Next.
  3. Expand from that one customer. Embrace your sucky-ness. Conserve cash.

    (Cash should almost be tattooed to your behind by now.) If you're providing a somewhat memorable experience to your first customer (and s/he's not suing your butt), you'll probably get a good referral. Don't just expect one, however: ask for one. If none exists at the moment, leave some business cards. More than likely, you'll receive a good referral in the near-future. Usually, you'll receive more than one. In the meantime, improve. The whole "we-still-suck" attitude drives you to do just that -- and will further solidify your infrastructure to serve two more customers -- then four -- then 20 -- then 400 -- then a gazillion. (Then you'll land on the cover of Forbes for your "overnight" success story. Blah.)

Folks, that's the secret to starting a great business.

Build your customer base exponentially by embracing your sucky-ness as a sign to improve constantly during each phase of your rock star business. Walmart, Starbucks, Apple, Microsoft all started out in the same stage. They used that mindset as a fuel for improvement to serve a crazy number of customers. If you feel your startup's sucking right now, it's all good: Google, HP, IBM, and Wells Fargo went through the same stages as you are now.

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Posted on July 18

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