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10 Tips for Startup Founders

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I have personally known Kelly Waters for over 10 years, I have watched him grow 101ways from the ground upwards, learned some things from him along the way and I would really like to share his thoughts with my network. If you don’t know of them already be sure to check 101ways out, they are awesome! 

It’s been an incredible couple of years for 101 Ways, growing from just me to a consultancy business with over 70 people in 18 months – soon to be 100 people and expanding internationally!

So I thought it would be helpful to share some tips on what I think it has taken to do this, along with some tips on things to watch out for or think about.  In no particular order…


  1. Experience/Expertise – in my case I didn’t start my business until later in my career, meaning I had many years to build up expertise first.  If you are earlier in your career, pick something you’re interested in and become obsessed about being an expert in it!
  2. Network – some people say “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know”.  Actively network with and help people when you don’t want anything in return.  It will pay off in the long run.
  3. Personal brand/reputation – it’s not much use being an expert in something if no-one knows it.  Talk at events, write a blog, post on social media channels, comment on forums. Be an active contributor to your community and contribute real value not sales posts, so you are giving back and building your public profile at the same time.
  4. Time – make sure you are ready to spend a HUGE amount of your time on your business.  Your own business will eat up all the time you can give.  If you have a young family or lots of other commitments, think twice and maybe do it later.
  5. Team – build a great team around you that are better than you, especially in the areas where you are not as strong or less interested. The team around you will make or break your business.
  6. Cash – create a business model that is cash positive or watch your cashflow like a hawk!  Cashflow problems can destroy even successful businesses.  Work out the cashflow model of when cash comes in and goes out and be ready to monitor this very carefully.  Put a backup plan in place in case you need it.
  7. Culture & Brand – go through the process of knowing who and what you want to be and what you want to be known for.  Be deliberate about the culture you want to create from the outset, as it’s hard to change it later.
  8. USP (unique selling points) – try to be clear about why you are different to others and why people should buy from you.  If you aren’t really offering anything truly unique, at least try to be clear about what you will be better at and why.
  9. People – look after people first and foremost – staff and customers – because business in the end is about people doing business with people they trust. Be honest, compassionate, caring and kind.  Help people to achieve their goals and overcome their problems.
  10. Keep calm and keep smiling – there will always be problems and things that are frustrating or stressful when starting or growing a business.  Try to keep smiling and sort the problems out as quickly and painlessly as you can.  Don’t let your frustrations create a stressful environment for others – find a different outlet for your stress.

I’m sure there are others, but I have a long-standing obsession with lists of 10