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December 20, 2013

The Secret of Successful Start-Ups

Everyone who runs a start-up — or any other business for that matter — wants to make their business successful, while some are willing to settle for simply attaining profitability.

Wouldn’t you rather take it a step further and become the next big thing?

Wouldn’t you rather be the start-up that everyone is talking about and create a huge buzz within your market, while attracting lots of attention and, more importantly, investors?

In this post, I’m going to share with you the big secret that the co-founder of Twitter has attributed to his success. I’ll follow this up with some other important points that you need to remember in order to not just get your start-up off the ground, but also give it a fighting chance to get it to where you want it to be.

The big secret

The majority of start-up founders and entrepreneurs seem to be always looking to create a business that is entirely unique, and I can see why.

Fortunately, there is another way that will allow you to take the spotlight away from your competitors, and in most cases it’s easier than creating a fresh idea.

It’s the ‘secret’ Ev Williams, the co-founder of Twitter, has attributed to the social network’s success.

When you think about it, it’s actually really simple.

Here it is: take what already works, then simply make it better and easier to use.

This is exactly what Ev did with Twitter and Blogger.

‘We often think the Internet enables you to do new things. But people just want to do the same things they’ve always done.’ 

— Ev Williams

Some may say this doesn’t do much for innovation, but I would disagree.

A large portion of ideas and innovations that take hold over the Internet end up dying off at some stage, without being explored further or given the time to work.

Other innovations that don’t take off are instantly discarded, despite how much potential they may have.

I think there is a lot of room for more ideas and innovations to be developed further — at least a lot further than they are at the moment.

Securing funds

There’s one pivotal fact — your start-up needs money to get off the ground, but do you really want to start giving away a percentage of your business early on?

Not all entrepreneurs want to do this (at least not straight away) and I don’t blame them.

That’s why one of the most popular sources of funding for start-ups is money that the founders or co-founders put in themselves.

There are some other options for funding that you can find here.

There is another start-up that has been getting a lot of attention from the media recently, especially on sites like

I’ve always found entrepreneur stories extremely inspiring, and one of the most inspiring that I have seen this year is how Shane Snow, the co-founder of Contently, went from 48 cents in his bank to being on track to generate more than $1 million in revenue.

This is inspiring stuff: 

Growth hacking your way to success

The term ‘growth hacker’ is relatively new. In fact, it only came into existence in 2010 thanks to Sean Ellis.

‘A growth hacker is a person whose true north is growth’
Sean Ellis

Recruitment for start-ups is much more difficult than it is in an established business for a number of reasons; part of this is down to funding, but also because what you often have to hire a replacement for yourself.

When you are the founder or co-founder of a start-up, this is just not so easy to do — ‘growth hacking’ is essentially a term that describes the person you would be looking to hire to replace you, so you can focus on other things or simply get more done.

Growth hacking is quite a large topic in itself, but if you’re looking to hone your skills or just get a grasp of how you can become a growth hacker yourself, I recommend taking a look at this advanced guide by Neil Patel and Bronson Taylor.

A few more things to remember

Running a start-up is quite different to running an established business, so there are a few things you need to remember:

  • Be passionate – You can’t force this, so if you aren’t passionate about your start-up then maybe it isn’t right for you.
  • Be flexible — There is more of a ‘fluid’ nature to running a start-up, which is just the nature of the beast.
  • Be patient — There are a few sayings that are important to remember: ‘Rome wasn’t built in a day’ and ‘the darkest hour is just before the dawn,’ for example. Success takes time and, as Shane Snow from Contently has proved, the event that makes everything fall into place may be just around the corner.
  • Be aware of your limitations — We all have our limits, we’re only human after all, but it’s important to understand exactly what those limits are.
  • Value your customers — too many businesses forget that customers are their bread and butter; seek out feedback proactively and take action on it.

Your ultimate goal should always be to ensure that you are working on your business and not working in your business.

Running a start-up will usually require that you do a bit of both initially, but you will see better results as soon as you can focus on working on your business.


I don’t think I have ever heard anyone say running a start-up and making it a success was easy. It takes time, patience, effort and passion to drive forward.

I’m a believer that passion is a huge part of this and it’s important to love what you do and do what you love.

You need to ask yourself: “Am I in this for the long haul?”


Rebecca Price is a marketing specialist currently working for Davpack. Rebecca's specialty is helping businesses become more visible online.