How to run a #successful #start-up

Establishing a start-up of any kind isn’t easy and managing it is an altogether daunting task. Here are a few tips to lead a new venture competitively.


A vital quality for successful entrepreneurs, leadership skills are important while being at the helm of a start-up. It is niche since holding the reins of a new venture entails effectively managing employees who leave the allure of big organisations to work in a different environment and take up opportunities that wouldn’t usually come their way.

Shubhra Bhardwaj, CEO, founder and director, Ferriswheel (an event management firm) says that styles of leadership change depending upon the size of the company and its employee base.Talking about the distinguishing features of a start-up, he says, “The driving force behind a successful start-up is thinking out-of-the-box. The environment in such a company is also homegrown and informal as opposed to a large company where employees are bound by well laid out codes of conduct.”

According to Andrew Warren Smith, managing director, DDI India, the largest issue confronting start-ups is the risk of failure. “With a 90% failure rate amongst start-ups, leaders must be aware that the odds are stacked against them. Large corporates thrive by maintaining their status quo repeating successes of the past and leveraging scale to remain competitive. Hence, it is important for leaders to back their desire to succeed with innovations that can not only disrupt the status quo, but also carve a niche for the organisation.”

He elaborates further saying that leadership in start-ups goes beyond merely possessing entrepreneurial and commercial skills and has to be coupled with a strong execution capability. “Entrepreneurs today must identify market opportunities and implement robust and sustainable plans that can quickly and efficiently capitalise on these factors.”


An essential quality of a good business leader is to instill a sense of confidence among his her employees. This is especially important in start-ups where individuals are constantly trying to prove their mettle in newer ways.A little pat on their backs can surely help them go a long way.

Says Swapnil Kamat, founder, CEO and chief trainer at Work Better, an executive education and training firm, “Irrespective of the size of an organisation there are a few things that help improve employee morale. Acknowledging their contributions towards the growth of the company, appreciation of the efforts put in and updating them about the progress of the firm are some of the ways to keep them going.”

“As a start-up leader, it’s quite stimulating for me to be around my team whenever difficult situations arise. This brings a lot of positive energy and a sense of oneness to work. One thing that keeps me as well as my team motivated is ongoing communication -addressing work issues, discussing matters and giving honest feedback to each other,” expresses Bhardwaj.


As a start-up leader, it is important to be observant of your people, understand their aspirations and give them timely feedback all year round in order to get the most out of them. It is also important to let your employees know that subject matter experts are as important and vital to an organisation as senior ranking managers, in charge of handling teams of employees.

Secondly, a start-up leader needs to play an active part in helping each team member understand their strengths, weaknesses and what the organisation expects from them.


Be resilient and always on the look-out Leaders of start-ups need to be passionate and ambitious, display high-levels of energy and initiative. Typically dissatisfied with the status quo, they must be competitive and reluctant to take no for an answer. They must also be good at identifying opportunities for new products, services and markets Be confident and engaging Such leaders convey a simple, vivid picture of the organisation’s vision and goal and generate energy and enthusiasm that can invoke passion among employ ees to work towards a common goal Be ready to take risks Leaders of start-ups need to recognise risks and pursue actions that have acceptable levels of risk.

They need to proactively build and align stakeholders, capabilities, and resources for getting things done quickly. They must also be flexible to adapt to change and mend the work environment accordingly Be self-aware and receptive Start-up leaders need to be aware of their impact on others, seek input, be receptive to feed back and take action to improve themselves based such feedback Have a solid vision Your vision of the company is vital and must be backed with conviction. The ultimate test however, is instilling it among employees and encouraging them to put in their best effort towards the company.


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