As a 24-year-old entrepreneur behind several fast-growing startups with multiple employees, I've encountered many struggles and roadblocks that I've had to overcome over the past few years.
Phone calls with small companies looking to grow their business are part of my daily routine, and surprisingly, many of their struggles are tantamount to my own.
Here is some of my advice that applies to any young startup or entrepreneur aiming for success.
Momentum is everything.
Most of my projects have excited me so much that I decided not to sleep that night, and instead, put on a cup of coffee to work up wireframes and process flows for a new project.
Momentum is what drives entrepreneurs, and letting an idea go stale or be pushed to the back burner could subconsciously de-prioritize the project, which in most cases, means it will never see the light of day.
This isn't to say you should hop on an idea as soon as you think of one that seems great (sometimes it's good to sleep on an idea for a day or two to see if it still sounds good to you), but you should stay excited and focused.
Don't worry if it's been done before.
So there are other companies like yours; that's fine. You just have to make it clear why you're different, newer, and better.
You'd be surprised how many startups have had the wind taken out of their sails once they've heard that their idea for a company or service already exists. Some of my (and my colleague's) most successful projects were in heavily saturated markets, but we were able to succeed.
There are lots of ways to stand out, but the best way is to put yourself in your customer's shoes. What are they looking for? What would they appreciate seeing in a business and how can you really impress them?
By doing something your competitors aren't doing and taking great care of your customers, you'll be surprised how fast word of your company will spread.
Don't be lazy, put in the work.
It pains me to see how many startups won't even start working until they secure funding for their company.
The truth is, your company or idea won't secure funding until you've proven to investors that your business model works, and that you have the ability to work hard.
There's plenty of time to accelerate growth when you already have companies generating a healthy cash flow, but when you're first starting out, it's time to roll up your sleeves and do things the hard way.
Finding like-minded entrepreneurs and professionals will do wonders for your motivation and productivity; who doesn't like some healthy competition? Having people more successful than you as friends will quickly accelerate your business knowledge and will help you gain important connections in your industry.
Network with other businesses that interest you, and be kind to those that reach out to you.
Hire when it hurts.
Okay, I stole this one from David Hansson's quote from the book by 37 Signals called "Rework", but it's one that has saved my business.
Handing work off to somebody else in the early stages of my company didn't even cross my mind, but it will get to a point where you're struggling just to maintain your daily responsibilities. This is when it's time to hire.
Conversely, a critical mistake businesses make is hiring too early, which is why you should focus on cash flow and only hire when you are reaching your breaking point. Automating and streamlining certain aspects of your businesses will ensure that daily operations are running as smoothly and efficiently as possible with employees who are all pulling their own weight.
Assuming there are other companies like yours out there and you have some healthy competition, you have some catching up to do. Set tasks for yourself daily and always have something on your plate.
Some of the best free promotion you can get is from the internet, which is why you should already have a Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+, Instagram, and Pinterest, at the very least.
Lastly, learn what your competitors are doing, and develop a strategy to do it better, while maintaining the voice and personality of your brand.
If you ask almost any business owner, the most difficult part of growing a company is in the startup years. Know that you're not alone, and get good at jumping over the many hurdles that are headed your way.