Start Up 101: Basics for Any Founder, New Business or Company Team

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Join The Innovation Garage at Maker Faire at The Henry Ford in Detroit, this Saturday July 25th 2015 for our StartUp 101 Workshop. We’re excited to be spending some time with the Maker Faire community and The Henry Ford attendees by sharing what we’ve learned to help set your early stage startup on a path to success.canstockphoto22213897-2 copy

Having spent much of our time in startup, nonprofit, and large corporate organizations over the last twenty years, we’ve come to understand some very simple, but often overlooked basics when it comes to getting an idea, company, or team within the larger organization off the ground.

These lessons are remarkably basic, but can be very challenging to have the discipline to stick to when you first start-up.  Always remember, that your overall mission is to make your company or team successful and sustainable, and most often that means cash flow first, then focus on profits next.

Here are some basic learnings to share as you figure out your story:

1) What? 

What does your company or team do? What is the mission and vision of the company or team? What products or services will you provide and to whom? Who is the customer?

2) Why?

Why do you do what you do? People will understand the what you do very quickly. They really want to know the why.  It is most likely that they will remember the why of your company, offering or team more than the what. So know your story about why. Why you started your company and the difference you want to make in your products, your customer’s lives and the world. When you pitch to customers, investors or others, make sure you include the WHY.

3) How?

Problem – Make sure you can identify and clearly communicate to your customers the problem that your offering is solving.

Promise – It’s the benefit promise of what the offering will do, or the problem it will solve. Don’t focus on the features as much as the benefit for the customer.

Proof – How will your solution solve the problem for your customer? Prove this will real test data, testimonials or demos to show how it delivers on the benefit promise.

Sell – Focus on how to sell to generate cash flow. Cash flow is the life blood of the start-up. Cash flow first, then profits after that.

Pivot – Learn in small steps and pivot as you go.

You must have a genuine passion. Know What you do and most importantly, Why you do it. Whatever it is. It must be an energy source for you personally. It must get you up in the morning, and if you are not working on it, in someway every day, something just doesn’t feel quite right.

You are not as dependent as you might think on “gurus” to be successful. Seek their advice, read and learn from them. Absolutely. Always. But if you believe your only chance of success in the world resides in the hands of the group you are pitching to, and that group has the ultimate control of the success of your idea or your company’s destiny, you will fail. We’ve seen many a budding entrepreneur lose a competition, become totally despondent, then think their journey is over and they are done. Don’t do that. Use the failure as an opportunity to learn, grow and pivot.

Find people you know, respect, and trust. Someone that has successfully launched a company or successful entrepreneur and ask them to help you and offer some insight. 99% of those you ask will share some of what they know.

Be flexible. The idea for the product or service might need to change. Be open to that. Your company growth can be very organic and build out over time, and it never comes out exactly as you think it would. Flex and mold the idea and/or your company as you learn.

Don’t be afraid of the pivot. You came up with this great idea for this business or service. If it doesn’t work you can change it, shape shift it as you learn, and yes, even come up with another idea. You were smart and brave enough to come up with the first idea, we’re absolutely certain there is another idea you have.

Remember, these are very common challenges. The situation is most likely the same if you are the craftsman founder of a just starting company, a non-profit looking to expand your scale and reach, or the brave intrapreneur working in the large corporation  by going against the grain to introduce new concepts not seen before.

The journey to get to your destination never takes the exact path you think it will and it never happens as fast as you would like it to. Remember that the journey is the destination.

Problem. Promise. Proof. Sell. Pivot.


If you would like to learn more about WHAT, WHY, and HOW with any of these questions, we are happy to share what we have learned, and what we do in our own business and with our clients to keep focused on long term growth.

Reach out to us for a lunch and learn, a 4 hour express session, or a 1 to 1.5 Day Executive Program.

We will share the high-level process, methods, and can prove with REAL data, what companies need to do to create the culture to innovate with platforms and systems to enable long term growth.

About The Innovation Garage

The Innovation Garage is a business Innovation Firm driving long-term growth of companies and non-profits, from start-up to the fortune 1000.

If you’d like to learn to more about our approach to innovation education and building business innovation operating systems for our clients contact us here.

You can also learn more, request real world deployment case studies or schedule a demo of WHAT, WHY, & HOW.

Check out our website To See Our Schedule for Upcoming Education Programs.

One response to “Start Up 101: Basics for Any Founder, New Business or Company Team

  1. Pingback: The Power of The Prototype – Seven Steps to Success | THE INNOVATION GARAGE®·

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