A fool thinks himself to be wise, but a wise man knows himself to be a fool. Listen, and take note!

If you’re a fledgling science or technology entrepreneur, starting your own company will be one of the most daunting things you’ll ever do. Whether it’s burning ambition, necessity, or the fact that entrepreneurship is hardwired into your DNA, being one of the brave that takes this leap will be life changing. 

Being a new kid on the block can be overwhelming, and you will meet people who will want to give you their hard-earned advice: the successful and the not so successful! Picking your way through what’s good and what’s not is no mean feat, so we decided to speak to Catalyst mentor Phil Sharpe for some wise words. He’s identified four common characteristics of successful businesses – those areas which often distinguish the wise from the fools!

1. Team – In a new business, it all comes down to the people and particularly the leader. In order to run a successful team, a leader needs to be creative, logical, passionate and able to be compelling and articulate. However, you also need to recognise that you can’t do everything on your own so it’s critical to get the right people around you. 

2. Diligence – Leave no stone unturned – ensure you have looked at your business from every angle and worked out what your strengths and weaknesses are. It’s good to ask others here and take on board criticism. A lot of people who are naturally passionate about their startup seem to take criticism very personally, but actually it can be really powerful stuff. Just by recognising that somebody else has got a different angle on your business – an angle you could never have because you haven’t got the same experience of life – could be vital. It’s important to turn negative criticism around and exploit it.

3. Luck – You can make your own luck, and you can ignore it when it turns up and presents itself. So, being aware of opportunities worth taking is certainly part of starting out. A great book on being a successful startup has been written by Randy Komisar. He talks about how the basics of business have been written 100 times – the business plan, the value proposition, etc – but he thinks that all this is only about 30% of business. The other 70% is luck. 

4. Perseverance – If you think you can put something off until tomorrow that can be done today, then don’t even think about starting a business! To run a thriving startup, you must be able to persevere against adversity, because you’re going to get a lot of that!  Alex Rovira and Fernando Trias de Bes, authors of the book ‘Good Luck: Create the Conditions for Success in Life & Business’ write that: “Creators of good luck don’t give up or postpone. When a problem or situation arises, they act immediately to either solve it without delay, delegate, or forget about it.”

Wise words indeed – thanks Phil! We think these are great tips for anyone starting a new business. If you would like to benefit from further advice like this to help propel your science or technology startup, why not apply to the Catalyst Centre? Applications are open now and close on the 31st of May. Could this be your first lucky break…?!