The 3 A’s to Startup Success


Every project I work on, whether it’s my own, a clients, or a students I try and infuse them with a few guiding principles that I call the 3 A’s to startup success:

1. Agility
2. Actionability
3. Appreciation

Simple, right? The ideas may seem glaringly obvious but far too often they are missed as people forget there is a difference in the approaches of traditional business and a startup venture.

Be Agile: You’re a startup and that means, if you are doing it right, you are seconds away from being crushed by corporate cash or slammed with legal backlash. You can’t do business in your sector the same way the giants are doing it, they have the money and the power to beat you every time – what makes you valuable is that you are disrupting this marketplace and doing it in a way no one ever has, you’ve identified a problem in the industry and you are fixing that. But you are lean, a small organization, work processes that are only ever half formulated and a change in direction doesn’t come from a board of directors after a lengthy debate, it comes from you; and this is where you’re true power lies. As that problem evolves, as giants strike down, you can duck, you can dodge you can change your outlook take a new path, add a new feature. You are agile and because of this a large corporation can never keep up, even if they knock you back a step you’ve taken two forward before they can even reload.

Be Actionable: Being actionable is a bit more complex of a concept, it not only suggests that you should be constantly taking action, getting out in the world and just doing – but also that you should always have the means to take action. The concept comes from my background in marketing analytics where we translated data (general statistics) into ‘actionable data’, that is data that tells us specific enough information that we can take action because of it. For your startup you should always make sure you have the information, cashflow, and resources to always be taking action and never find yourself dead in the water.

Be Appreciative: You need to always be appreciative of your customer. They are the most important thing too you and should always be put first. Many startups make the mistake of their developmental aims being focused on the money, when what they need to be focused on is creating a better user experience. When you give a flawless user experience the cash will come. Users are happy to help support you in order to secure an experience they enjoy. Ensure the user is the center of your startup universe and you’ll have a bright future ahead.

As long as you follow the 3 A’s of Startup Success you’ll be on the right path to sustainable business growth!

The chinese version of this article is set to launch June 18th – check out for more of our content in chinese!

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