As emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence, blockchain, and the Internet of Things evolve at lightning speed, accelerating the digital disruption of nearly every industry, 2018 will be an ideal time to position your startup for the next phase of growth. Here are five tips for going big with your startup next year:
Go from founder to CEO. It's time to get even more serious about setting and communicating the vision, keeping you and your team focused on the most important things. One word of advice here: Delegate.
Founders are accustomed to doing most everything themselves; CEOs understand that they must hand off a range of duties in order to focus on the bigger picture-putting their business in rapid growth mode and a position of sustainable market leadership.
Start storytelling. With the rise of social media and other digital platforms, we have more outlets than ever before to get out our story. But most founders aren't telling; they're selling.
Storytelling isn't new. It's hardwired into our brains since the beginning of time. It's crucial that you formulate and articulate your unique story. Find the human element, make a connection to your target audience, and communicate how your company will deliver value and make a difference in the world. More times than not, that story is less about facts and figures and more about reaching people on a personal or emotional level.
As Virgin founder Sir Richard Branson once said
: "Entrepreneurs who make a difference are, in effect, professional storytellers. If you want to succeed as an entrepreneur, you also have to be a storyteller." Find your story and your voice.
Cultivate an adaptive, holistic culture. Your culture is your brand. Don't ever forsake it. But nothing is permanent-everything evolves.
Don't assume that your open office floor plan and your beanbag chairs, ping-pong tables, and free food have checked the culture box. Many of today's employees value flexibility, as well as creative and reflective environments where they can thrive and grow.
Employees also want to know that you have their best interests at heart. Show that you're investing in them by offering personal development opportunities and wellness programs. Establish a charity (or two) to support, and weave it into the fabric of your culture.
The talent war is heating up. Your culture goes a long way in recruiting and retaining top people. If you don't invest in an enduring and adaptive culture, dysfunction and low morale will set in, leading to failure.
Make partnerships a priority. As the digital revolution transforms entire industries-from healthcare to education to transportation to financial services-startups must rely on partnerships to build their credibility, grow their customer bases and revenues, and extend their momentum.
Quoting an old African proverb, "If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together."
Find the right work-life balance. I know that oft-repeated advice runs counter to the entrepreneur ethos of 18-hour workdays and seven-day workweeks, and that dedication and tenacity are essential for success. But so is spending time spent with family and friends, as well as setting aside time for reading, exercise, reflection, mindfulness, and giving back.
Be deliberate about finding your right balance. You'll operate at a higher level mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
Reggie Bradford is Oracle's senior vice president of Startup Ecosystem and Accelerator. He is also a serial entrepreneur, having previously served as the founder and CEO of Vitrue, as well as in executive management positions at Tandberg Television, N2 Broadband, and WebMD.