6 Crazy Rules for Startups

By Okeke Vincent Chidozie

The truth is, 99% of the time, startups fail… sadly, this may be traced to a reason or the other, like lack of finance, inexperience, incompetency, fear of the unknown and other factors that may be associated with the brand or the startup but these mere facts are not enough to wither your success if you really want to succeed, including finance. Lack of finance may not be the yardstick for your failure if you toil the path of success carefully, abiding by the rules.

Carefully, and from various experience, I have put together the 6 Crazy Rules for Startups. These rules are crazy and unconventional. They are very comprehensive and cover many unimaginable angles but if you live by them as a startup, they will guide you and see you to success.

  1. Know why you are there: Many startups are founded because of lack of jobs, poor salaries and also because they saw Zuckerberg, Larry Page, Dangote and Adenuga. Well, something may drive you but whatever it is, be sure you are there for the right reason.

You must remember, what works for Mr A may not work Mr B. Importantly, you must have a clear vision on why you are there, and in most cases, this boils down to solving a problem. You must learn to be a problem solver, and unluckily or luckily if I may say, there are many problems.

You must realize today, that being successful may not only or always result in financial gains, but having fulfilment after accomplishment, this is a true path of success. In most cases, having passion for what you do may yield better results and that is the true concept of business.

  1. Know what it takes and be Strategic: In whatever you do, you must know what is required. However, this shouldn’t deter you but it is very important you know the requirements or consequences of your actions and decisions, it helps in the planning process.

Thus, you must learn to be a strategic business person in all you do. You must learn to know when to strike and when not to strike, be cautious of every single action you take. These things are very important, it is akin to a planning process, you must have a structured one, and don’t be too principled. You must learn to make a twist whenever need be, and learn to throw off the bow lines if you need to.

Strategic planners barely fail, because in the process ab initio, they have studied carefully the ripples resulting from every single action they are taking, and will learn to make necessary adjustments.

This covers all areas of your business, including hiring process, marketing, sourcing for investors, launching, modus operandi, name it!

  1. Don’t Fear the Unknown: This may seem strange, but remains a crucial factor for startups. In most cases when startups fail, this is the cause. No one has said you can’t write Bill Gate a mail for business partnership, so why have you concluded it was unrealistic or he would decline?

This thus remains a mystery, when at some point you become scared, you become reluctant, you become weak physically and in spirit, you become pessimistic, who has said your startup can’t worth a trillion US Dollar in few months? Who has told you he wouldn’t give you his call card if you ask? Forget about failing, only think about succeeding, you must be minded, for when you are, how you appear, how you request, and you communicate, commands positive results, these things are psychological.

Sometimes, this goes to an extent, you may have strange instincts, like; why not take a good paying job and forget about this whole thing? Is it worth the stress? In what year or century will I get there? What if I fail? This is unrealistic, can I really do it? When you begin to have such strange instincts, know you’re almost there, and you must press harder.

  1. Give the best, be Competent, and Reliable: Multinational and other large corporations have neglected doing businesses with startups. Most reasons being associated with lack of quality, incompetency, and unreliability. Well, someone needs to prove them wrong, this has got to change, and it should start by you. You must create the best, make a difference is what you have created.

When developing a product or offering a service, always remember that mediocrity is not an option. Don’t assume you’re small and you should do it in a small way. Don’t get greedy but don’t manage, always go for the best. Sometimes, the difference between good quality and bad quality is your taste, and not necessarily the cost because when you look at these things carefully, you’ll realize that quality is usually cheaper, though not immediately. People want the best and you must be ready to give them the best to be successful.

  1. Trust People: Yes, there is this conventional saying “trust no one”, but that may be a wrong advice for you as a startup. You may never succeed if you don’t trust someone. Where business is concerned, you should and must learn to trust someone. However, in trusting, you must learn to trust in spirit and in wisdom, you must learn to know who is trustworthy and who is not. This on its own is a learning curve, and a skill if I am to say.

Knowing who to trust and who not to trust, and even how to commit people to being trustworthy can sometimes require some technique, researches, endorsements, skills, instincts, recommendations, information, to mention but a few. Above all, you must open your mind to trusting someone. You never know, you may open the door and opportunities to success.

  1. Dream, be focused and ready: You must a big picture, through this you can attract investors and potential partners. No one wants to associate with a brand that has only short term goals. As the day unfolds, you should discover better ways to improve your startup, make every day count, fill the loop holes, this is very important.

As a startup, you must learn to dream, and be ambitious, for from such, inspirations come, innovations come and strategies are revealed.

Success can be overwhelming, you can be carried away if care is not taken. It doesn’t knock or inform you when it’s coming, When it comes and you are not ready or unprepared, it may just pass by within a short while.

Sometimes, you get more than what you bargained for, and you must be ready to accept that. To be successful, you must ply the path of success, set the foundation and hope it. If these things are not in place, it may be another talk shop.

“Without leaps of imagination, or dreaming, we lose the excitement of possibilities. Dreaming, after all, is a form of planning.” – Gloria Steinem.

These rules may seem crazy, but are quite important for every startup. If followed carefully, they will lead you to success.


Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Tech Africa.

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