7 must-haves for startups


If you are starting up your business, or if you are in the process of growing your business to a new level, then you know that there is plenty of advice available on the internet. You’ll find articles, videos, tips, tricks and approaches that won’t necessarily help you – they’ll overwhelm you.

You see, advice is free to give but hard to take. So I’m going to kick this article off by saying that the first must-have for a startup is a great big FILTER. Start by filtering out all the noise – you need clarity and focus.

Here are another seven must-haves:

  1. A rose by any other name: You need to come up with a name for your business. Many entrepreneurs skimp on a name, thinking that the most important aspect is the product or service that you are bringing to market. Don’t fall into this trap. A great business requires a command of the details, and one of the most important details is the name you choose. Make sure you put in the effort, spend the money and carry out the due diligence to ensure you capture the right name, and therefore the attention of your customers.
  2. Hang out your shingle: Once you have the name, hang out your shingle. Let people know where you are, what you do, and what you stand for. The most common way of doing this is to put up a website or to write a company blog. If you have the budget, put a neon sign up on top of your building. If your business wants to make a mark on the world, start by announcing to the world where you are.
  3. Get some customers: The best source of funding for your business comes from selling to your customers. It not only comes with no strings attached, it validates that your idea for a business is worth something to someone else.
  4. Innovate versus spend: After you make a few sales, it can be easy to get carried away and start spending. But before you do this, think again. Rather than buying what you need, think about how you can use innovation to achieve the same outcome. This will help build the culture of your business and will foster resilience when times get tougher.
  5. Don’t dodge your customers: Once you have some customers, it’s important not to avoid them. Many entrepreneurs will push customers to a website, but that keeps them at arm’s length. In the early stages of your business, you want to have input, feedback and support from your customers, and the best way to do this is face-to-face. For the introverts amongst you, check out Networking 101.
  6. Don’t dodge your family: We all want success – but it’s important to remember why you are doing what you are doing. Don’t let the “busyness” of your startup be an excuse for dodging your family. Find ways to bring family and friends into the mix of your business, and your personal and professional life will be the better for it.
  7. Trust your ideas: It can be easy to think that the one big idea will drive your startup forward. This is rarely the case. You will need to have hundreds, if not thousands, of small ideas to create success. Trust in your ability to generate new ideas and expect the same from your teams.


Gavin Heaton | Servant of Chaos

  • Gavin,

    great thoughts here and these are things we as business owners deal with day in, day out.

    You touched on an attribute in the opening paragraph that I personally think is very important: focus. And more importantly I mean “focus on your strengths.” I find that some business owners (me included) can lose focus and start to wander off track into unproductive areas. I think you have to have a clear idea of what actions/efforts get results and stick to those. I know we hear about it everywhere but the old 80/20 rule is even more relevant in business.

    Secondly, I think anyone who is considering or involved in a start up should have a concise “plan to scale”. Running a small business is great but it’s important to have at least a visual map of how you will handle the growth. It’s far easier if you have a pre-planned idea of what infrastructure is required to ensure a smooth transition into a larger entity.

    These are just some of my thoughts and I’m sure that we are both missing out on some gems. Maybe someone will read these and thanks us later!


  • Great advice, Gavin. I wish I’d had this list when I started out in business for myself!

    Point 3 on getting customers is especially relevant, especially in those early days when one may be inclined to focus on the trappings not the business itself. I recall a story of a guy who had just left a big firm and set up in business for himself. He bumped into an old family friend, a very successful businessman, who asked him what he was doing. Our man told the family friend he had just started his new business and was just off to buy some office furniture. The family friend said, “Son, I’ve been in business a long time and I never sold anything to a desk.”