There are plenty of startups in the world, yet there are plenty that fail.

In fact, 90% of all startups fail.

So what does it take to succeed as an entrepreneur? What is the roadmap to get into the elite 10%?

Top 15 ways to plan for startup success

Erica Nicole, Founder and Editor of YFS Magazine, interviewed 50 successful startup founders and shared the startup wisdom in her book titled “50 Ways to Plan for Small Business Success”. Here are the Top 15 ways to help you plan for startup success.

1. Establish your personal brand

Christine Kirk, CEO & Founder at Social Muse Communications

“As you serve your clients and customers, do not forget the importance of developing a brand voice of your own. Every entrepreneur should have up-to-date and ongoing social media presence that is professional, informative, and focused on showcasing the entrepreneur’s work. Think of your social networks as your digital resume. What do they say about you?”

2. Establish goals

Bryan Angelo, President at Empowered Media Group (acquired in February 2015)

Establish specific short-term goals to act as an outline for your future success, i.e. looking to increase sales by the end of next quarter or to develop additional revenue streams with your current clients, mark these goals on your calendar. Outline your annual goals and routinely stay on top of them. When you have a blueprint to refer back to you are more likely to achieve what you have set out to do.

3. Focus on results

Kimberly Bordonaro, President at Kimberly Bordonaro Personal Branding

“Too many entrepreneurs lose control of their time to interruptions and menial tasks that are not focused on results. Create a daily to-do list that includes five priority items. Plan your schedule to complete those tasks. Include 15-minute breaks throughout the day to check email or attend to issues of lower priority. This should be your most important productivity habit this year.”

4. Hang out with the right people

Vasavi Kumar, Founder at Vasavi Kumar Coaching

“Spend your time and energy with people who are committed to pushing the human race forward. Be very selective not only about the kind of people you want in your professional network, but also about the kind of client base you want to develop.”

5. Keep taking calculated risks

Vasavi Kumar, Founder at Vasavi Kumar Coaching

“Either go big or go home. This is your chance to make a difference on the planet to possibly change someone’s life and to thrive personally. There is no room for mediocrity. You have what it takes. You are going to be faced with self day. The bigger the game you are playing in business, the bigger the risk. Acknowledge this and keep moving.”

6. Make your business fundable

Bill Clark, President & Founder at Micro Ventures Marketplace

“More often than not, you must raise capital from outside investors to take your operation to the next level. Before you ask people to invest, make sure your business is fundable and sustainable. Investors are always looking for opportunities that line up with their risk and return profiles in the near and long term. Make sure your business is geared appropriately with respect to both.”

7. Invest in your team

Chris Myers, CEO & Co-Founder at Bode Tree

“Build loyalty from your most important asset – your team. Find ways to invest in your employees and cultivate their talents. This does not necessarily mean monetary rewards. Take interest in things that inspire them. Find ways for your team to grow alongside the company. Research indicates that recognition and personal engagement play a much greater role than money when it comes to determining an employee’s happiness with his or her employer, Now is your time to become the boss that they could not imagine leaving.”

8. Keep your goals close to you and your team

Kenny Nguyen, Founder & CEO at Big Fish Presentations

“We have found great success by placing our top five goals in the main room of our office, By keeping our goals close to us (pretty much in our faces!), we have been able to focus and are less likely to yield to distractions. By sharing your company’s goals, every team member knows how they can play their part in hitting the marks and, ultimately, in working as a cohesive unit. Keep your goals close to your team. Remind them that everyone plays a part in the company’s success. Moreover, do not forget to celebrate the wins.”

9. Know your competitors and your market

Bryan Angelo, President at Empowered Media Group

“If you notice that your competitors are a bit too comfortable with their market position, look for new growth opportunities and work twice as hard to gain an upper hand. Know what your market wants. Conduct market research using social media networks and stay up-to-date with industry trends through blogs that cover your market. Always try to stay ahead of the game, because the moment you miss an opportunity, you miss a lot of potential sales.”

10. Live outside the box

Tony Gaskins, CEO & Founder at Gaskins Productions

“It is not enough to think outside the box, you must also live outside the box. Do not try to just reach those on Earth. Make what you are doing so appealing that a visiting alien would want to support you.”

11. Set clear content marketing goals and milestones

Lindsey Donner, Co-Founder at Well Versed Creative

“Today, many small businesses hear content marketing and mistake it for a silver bullet. But, a silver bullet for what? Hiring a writer, a team, or anagency to produce business content is useless if there is no end target. Who is your target market? Will you leverage content to drive traffic, educate leads, or simply grow brand reputation? What metrics will you use to define success?”

12. Leverage the power of social media

Chelsea Krost, Founder at The Chelsea Krost Show

“Social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and LinkedIn are incredible networking tools that can help promote your business and expand your following. These social networking sites can attract consumers, other brands, and influential people that can help you build a significantly stronger brand. Social media is not going away any time soon, the time is now to start building a social media presence.”

13. Spoil your best customers

Tara Gentile, Lab Director & Co-Founder at Kick Start Labs

“You know those customers who are always first in line to buy your new product or first to walk through the doors of your promotional events? Or possibly you have a group of clients that always deliver kind and constructive feedback? Those customers should be at the forefront of your mind when you are dreaming up future initiatives. Let your top customers know that they are the ‘‘center of your business universe’’ and how much you truly appreciate their partnership. Provide personalized attention by offering special gifts, a phone call, access to beta tests, or an exclusive sneak peek at new offerings.”

14. Acquire customer testimonials

Nina Kaufman, Esq., CEO & Founder at Kaufman Law PLLC

“Gather testimonials from happy customers and clients to help hone what is working well in your business. Explore all facets of how you acquired and served those happy clients and look to replicate and scale the experience. Not only will you develop solid business systems, but you may also maximize profits and minimize breach of contract lawsuits. And, it is great PR to boot!”

15. Cut early and cut deep

Kenny Nguyen, Founder & CEO at Big Fish Presentations

“Address business problems immediately, The longer you take to deal with problems, the worse they tend to become. Generally, things you do not want to address need the most attention. By developing solutions in the early stages, you will prevent future headaches, emotionally-charged decisions (such as firing key team members), and unnecessary pressure.”

I hope these bits of startup advice equipped you with the baseline knowledge and inspiration you need to create your success business plan. How do you find these tips? What is the best startup advice that you have ever received? Let me know what you think by leaving a comment below.

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