5 Top Tips for Running a Startup

Dec. 3, 2015

Two years ago I had a lightbulb moment and decided to start my own business. I came across a problem that I was passionate about solving and set about finding a solution. However it hasn’t all been plain sailing and I’ve learnt a lot since starting out.

Here are my 5 top tips for running a startup:

1. Save some money before leaving your job and accept that you’ll have to cut back on spending.

It seems like an obvious tip but when I started Enswarm two years ago I definitely thought I’d be earning more money than I am now, and it can be a real shock to the system when it comes to just how little you’ll be earning when you first start out.

In your head your offering is great, it makes perfect sense and you can’t think of a reason why people wouldn’t want to pay you money for it. And while this may be true, unfortunately no one else will agree. And why would they? They don’t know you, your product, or what you can do for them.

Until people understand your offering they won’t part with their cash, and this process takes time. This is why it is not only important to start saving some money before you leave your job but to also then get your head around the mental adjustment of not being able to spend as freely as before and the fact that you need to cut back while you’re still finding some initial clients.

2. Sign up to the online accounting software that your accountant uses



When I first started out I was trying to do my books on Excel because I didn’t want to pay for a cloud based solution. However it was a false economy because it took about a day out of every month just to do the books.

You are much better off finding a proper solution such as Quickbooks. I use Quickbooks because that’s what my accountant uses and it makes my life so much easier. It can be integrated with other apps such as Receipt Bank – which allows you to just take pictures of receipts – and Trip Catcher – which is an easy way to record mileage.

Not only are these great apps that are easy to use, the main upside is that they get me back a day a month and when running a startup time is your most important commodity.

3. Listen to podcasts



As a startup people will always tell you to read books but I can tell you now that you won’t have time. Podcasts are a great and time-efficient way to educate yourself on what is going on in the business world.

My favourites:

This week in Startups
Jason Calacanis is unashamedly ‘Alpha Brooklyn American’ which can feel a bit over the top to Europeans. Get over it. He has got his finger on the pulse of the San Francisco/Silicon Valley startup scene and his twice weekly podcasts, comprising 1 interview and 1 news, will give you a real insight into how they think in Silicon Valley.

App Business Podcast

The App Business Podcast is a popular podcast covering mobile app news and topics for entrepreneurs and mobile app marketers, publishers, designers and developers. Really useful and can provide great insight if you’re building any form of app.

Wired Podcast

This podcast is based around technology, gadgets, science, and culture and offers news on startups and general happenings in tech.

TED Radio Hour

Not necessarily about startups but it is great for ideas and generally just good for the soul. Perfect to unwind with after a busy day, of which you’ll have plenty!

4. Subscribe to Wired Magazine



Wired is a magazine that was founded in 1993 and has US and UK editions. It reports on how emerging technologies affect culture, the economy, and politics. It has an audience of over 3 million people and is widely regarded as the go-to publication for tech news.

If you’re building a successful startup, you’ll need to aim to get in to Wired at some point so it is important to read the articles, understand what others are doing, and get an idea of what is going on in tech.

5. Read these 3 books

Ok so earlier I mentioned that you won’t have time to read books, however you need to find time for these 3! These three books have had the biggest impact on my life and my understanding of creating and running a business.

The Exponential Organization – By Salim Ismail

Exponential Organization

Exponential Organization

Dissects what it takes to build an organisation that can achieve a 10x performance improvement over it’s peers in the same space.

The 5 dysfunctions of a team – By Patrick Lencioni

Five Dysfunctions

Five Dysfunctions

An easy read using a fable to describe the turn around of a failing team. The best summary of what it takes to develop good teamwork I have ever seen. Simple rules, very effective.

The Lean Startup – By Eric Ries

Lean Startup

The Lean Startup

Pretty much the startup bible…

So those are my 5 top tips for startups and are all things that I wish someone had told me before I started out. Let me know what you think and be sure to share your top tips in the comments.