The One Sign Your Startup Will Thrive in 2015
December 7, 2014

The One Sign Your Startup Will Thrive in 2015

by Brian de Haaff

People often complicate life and business is no different. It is our ability to find the essence that matters, regardless of whether we are talking about our careers or the company we work for. The same is true when it comes to figuring out which startups will thrive and which will not survive in 2015.

Have you thought about what the essence of a successful startup is? It is fairly straightforward when you think about it.

I have been thinking about this a lot lately as the CEO of Aha! (visual product roadmap software for product managers). We are growing really fast and quickly adding folks to the team. I think about how a job candidate looks at our business and decides whether to apply. I also wonder what employees of startups or small businesses that are in decline think about their future.

We all want to succeed. Everyone wants to feel like they are making progress — especially those at startups who know that they will be looking for a new job if their company falters.

Unfortunately, most small businesses fail. Half of them will fail within the first year, one study says. Before joining in a small business venture, you should take a hard look at the prospects for the business. Start by figuring out the essence of the place and understanding the leaders who set the tone.

So, how do you know if 2015 will be awesome or atrocious for your startup? The odds are not on your side. There’s one way you can tell before the New Year even begins.

The one sign that your startup will thrive in 2015 is if the CEO or founder is OPEN.

Let me explain what I mean by being open and here is what to look for. An open leader:

Has honest conversations All startups make mistakes on their way to being great. But if leaders are closed and secretive, mistakes are hidden, and worse, feared. Honest conversations start with the sharing of goals, and the transparent assessment of whether the business is on track to achieving them.

Engages customers A business is built on customers and their commitment to your company. An open CEO makes space for customers and what they value most, even if it is different than what he or she originally envisioned. An open CEO values truth over ego.

Makes employees happy An open leader is a collaborative manager. And smart employees want to know that their effort matters, their voices will be heard, and they can help shape the future of the business. Your CEO’s door, if her office even has one, should be physically and metaphorically, open.

Being transparent, authentic, and open is imperative in any relationship, but especially in business. The traditional business model was defined by maintaining careful control and keeping things close to the vest. But now employees want a culture based on openness, where employees feel secure and trust in the leadership.

Great leaders are realistic optimists, who open up their hearts and minds and bring people in.

Now is a great time to assess how open your CEO really is, and whether he is expanding possibilities or shutting you and the company down. Startups need options when they have aspirations but are still growing.

This is why being open will define your company’s success.

How open is your startup?

Brian de Haaff

Brian de Haaff

Brian seeks business and wilderness adventure. He is the co-founder and CEO of Aha! — the world’s #1 product development software — and the author of the bestseller Lovability and The Startup Adventure newsletter. Brian writes and speaks about product and company growth and the journey of pursuing a meaningful life.

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