25 Keys to a Startup’s Success

Today we’re discussing 25 keys to startup success because only 10% of startups succeed overall and that means 90% of startups fail. Moreover, 75% of venture-backed startups fail. Therefore, knowing both how to start a startup and the factors that play into startup success are important things to know.

While failure is due to a variety of factors, we’re covering the intangible reasons why startups succeed and what success is built upon. That’s because half of the battle in towards startup success comes from individual contributions which come from behaviors and mindset. That’s why this subject is so important.

This post is split into three sections:

  1. The first section talks about five keys to an individual’s success and why that matters in the overall context of startup success.
  2. 10 behaviors to enhance an individual founder’s ability to make a successful startup
  3. 10 mindsets and philosophies for a founding team to abide by


What is Startup Success?

Startup success is not just achieved by creating a product or service that fills a need from your target customer. It’s not just about growth hacking.

Startup success is not achieved merely by getting funded from venture capitalists.  It’s not about how much money you raise.

Rather, startup success is having a sustainable, cash-flow positive, and profitable startup which fills a need and has a large user base of people who love the product or service so much that they will stay customers for years to come. That’s when you know your startup has been successful. But it takes a while to get there.


What is startup success dependent on?

Having a successful startup is dependent on the team as a whole.

However, there’s a reason why venture capitalists base their investment decisions on a team’s capability and their track record just as much as they do on the startup’s product or service and its traction and the business model.

Venture capitalists recognize that teams comprised of people with previous successes in other startups are much more likely to succeed.

Those previous startup founders have showed they can perform. Their ability to repeat that performance is what they’re betting on, and it makes them better candidates to receive funding from them.

Let’s get more granular (specific) to get to the root of high performing teams and why they do so well.

High performing teams are made up of individuals. Yes, that’s right – each individual plays a big part in why a team will or won’t perform well.


The 5 Keys to Individual Success

In order for individuals to perform well within their startups, there are five keys to an individual’s success.

1) Have the skills to perform the work

2) Put in the work and do it efficiently. Time management is crucial.

3) Have the right mindsets which includes a very positive attitude (I discuss the rest of the mindsets later in this post)

4) Communicate effectively with their teammates

5) Maintain good health and improve health. Exercise is vital to help founders with stress relief, perform with maximum productivity (it improves cognitive function), provides increased positivity (from the endorphins), and promotes a well-functioning body. Nutrition is very important. We’re all affected by what we eat — good or bad. Getting enough sleep is incredibly important to having good health physically and mentally, as well.

Essentially, each person needs to have their selves together to form a high-performing team.

If one person in the team is not performing well, then the entire team suffers because someone has to either take up more slack or things just don’t get done that need to get done.

The team can either support that person by helping that person get better at whatever it is or do nothing and risk fracturing the team. Providing encouragement and showing belief in them will be very important.

You often hear about startup founders who are “crushing it.” Right?

However, while each person usually has a solid team behind them, their behaviors are the reason behind why they are experiencing startup success.

Some of the keys are from your behaviors, so that’s what we’ll go into next.


10 Behaviors to Enhance Individual Success and Therefore Startup Success

1) Wake up early in the morning to get a head start. The earlier you wake up, the more things you can get done.

2) Look inward to your habits to find what is stopping you from achieving a goal of yours

3) Consistency. Be consistent in your activities. This is true for every field of work.

4) Plan! Create scheduled planning sessions so you can plan your daily and weekly calendar out in advance.

5) Set goals and make steady progress to achieve them by reverse engineering what you have to do to get to your goal(s).

6) Be laser-focused on the most important tasks to be productive. Have good time management. Do one thing at a time. (multi-tasking kills time management)

7) Always be learning. Schedule time each day to learn and implement what you’ve learned.

8) Exercise daily and get enough sleep so that you can be healthy and energetic without letting your body waste away from working at your desk all day.

9) Hold yourself accountable and responsible for your successes and failures and actively reflect on how to do better.

10) Strive to do your best at everything you do. You don’t have to be perfect but we all have to do quality work.

Startups are a grind. and they’re very difficult. They will test your resolve. So mentally, you have to take on several mindsets and philosophies to get yourself through the struggles to come out on top.


How Behavioral Modifications Increase Startup Success Rates

While mindset is important to establish a foundation from which behaviors are rooted, thinking doesn’t make things happen. Behaviors do.

It’s how you take action.

So for a brief exercise, take a moment to think about what the most important things are that you need to do both in your life and in your startup and write them down.

Then think about what you do in both your daily life and in the building or growing of your startup and write them down.

Are you wasting time on unnecessary things or are you executing the most necessary tasks?

Are you doing things out of order?

Can you improve on your behaviors?

Probably yes. Right?  Don’t feel bad.  Most of us can improve in some way.

Just do your best to become your best self and you will become happier with your work and life overall.

I will be the first to admit that I don’t have every single part of my behaviors under control. But I know what I need to improve upon and I’m actively working on them and improving my behaviors.

However, I have the resolve to win in my own life, and that means helping you win in your life through StartupDevKit, too. 🙂

Therefore, as the last part of this post, you’ll discover these mindsets and philosophies and see what it takes to be a top-performer in your startup.


10 Mindsets and Philosophies for Startup Success

1) Courage to push through the things that make you uncomfortable.

2) Motivation to change and maximize your behaviors.

3) Resilience to withstand the naysayers, the no’s you’ll receive, and the challenges you’ll have to overcome. Have that determination and resilience to keep trucking through during the difficulties and improve yourself and your startup on a daily basis. Obstacles will inevitably occur. They’re not bad omens. They’re facts of life. Accept them and maintain your determination to win over your challenges!

4) Resourcefulness to find out ways to make things work. This could even be asking someone for help if the situation calls for it.

5) Positivity with the belief that things will work out in the end with hard work and the right intent.

6) Mindfulness to support yourself and be aware of how you’re thinking and behaving. Remember your end-goal(s).

7) Focus to get the most important things done.

8) Be open-minded and not egotistical because having an open mind about new ideas is crucial to being a great team player and a great leader.

9) Value Creation. You have to remember that startups are about adding value in people’s lives. That’s why we create solutions which solve problems that people are experiencing. You must be doing your startup for the right reasons. Not fame or wealth, but for value creation. As you continually add value in people’s lives, things will progress for your startup and your life.

10) No Complacency. Never be complacent. The moment you become complacent in your situation is the moment your personal progress goes to a full-stop.



High performing teams are made of individuals so for each team to reach their peak, then each individual must be at their best.

It doesn’t matter if you’re just starting out or if you’re actively working to grow your startup. These 25 keys apply to every phase in startups and all areas in life.

Ultimately, success starts in our minds and in our actions. We can be the protagonists in our own lives rather than expecting other people to get us where we want to be.

These behaviors and mindsets are the keys to you and your startup’s success.

If you’d like to learn more insightful philosophies to help you live the best life you can live, then I encourage you to check out 17 Quotes to Help Entrepreneurs Tackle Any Problem

Are you more informed about startup success now?  Are there other keys to startup success that you have found? Let us know in the comments below!

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Carl Potak

About Carl Potak

Carl is the Founder and CEO of StartupDevKit, a membership-based online startup incubator and accelerator.


Carl is a serial founder and has been building and growing startups since 2007. He’s been a founder, marketer, political campaign manager and consultant, startup consultant, marketing director, WordPress website creator, and a senior technical technical recruiter for a Fortune 500 recruiting firm.

In 2007, Carl started his first startup, EduDating, a dating website for students and alumni, but it unfortunately failed because the technical requirements were too great to get it off the ground then. This experience gave way to his next startup called HireTicket, a video interviewing platform, but he could not continue after his co-founder stole all of their seed money. He then went to work as a technical recruiter and shattered the firm's growth records. He wanted to continue working on startups and simultaneously started working with CoFoundersLab, the leading platform for startup founders to find other startup founders. There, he was doing social media marketing, strategy, and sales part time. After CoFoundersLab was acquired for the first time, he and the founding team left. Carl went on to become the director of marketing for the fintech startup OnTrajectory, a retirement and life planning tool. Carl consulted for other various startups and and then left OnTrajectory to start StartupDevKit.

Carl has a certification in Inbound Marketing from HubSpot Academy, a certification in Google Analytics from Google, and earned his Bachelor's Degree from Binghamton University (SUNY) in Political Science with a minor in sociology.

As a young adult, Carl achieved Eagle Scout rank in the Boy Scouts and went to college for political science and graduated from Binghamton University for his major. He worked on several high-profile campaigns in New York throughout college and after he graduated in 2008. In addition, he created and led a top-ranked tournament-winning Counter-Strike team throughout college called Performance. Carl left it once he began his last semester of college in 2008 when he decided to start his first startup, EduDating.


Aside from his passion for business, Carl enjoys hiking mountains, playing drums with his band of talented friends and family, hanging with friends and family, listening to music, politics, Magic: The Gathering, watching and following the Yankees, Marvel and DC movies and shows, and going to museums among other things.

Carl's Role in Building StartupDevKit

Most recently, Carl built StartupDevKit's Startup Incubator Platform almost entirely on his own -- with hundreds (growing to thousands) of awesome curated and original startup resources that empower founders worldwide. The platform helps people anywhere from the idea-validation stage to recently funded startups in the growth-stage. In addition, the platform currently consists of 19 verticals and about 100 subcategories.

Carl has written all of the site's blog content thus far (over 30 mostly long-form articles on startups and marketing) which has helped over 15,000 startups. StartupDevKit ranks highly among some of the other most regarded accelerators and startup blogs on Google and has several #1 listings on Google. The content he's written is used by university entrepreneurship programs, cited all over the startup industry, and even other accelerators.

Startup Survival Secrets, the book

Carl is the author of the book Startup Survival Secrets, a book he's been writing which is about the top 20 reasons why startups fail, the root causes for each of those reasons, how to prevent them, and what to do instead. He started the writing process for the book in late 2016 and aims to have it done in the first quarter of 2020.

Being that 95-99% of startup accelerator applicants don’t get accepted and 90% of startups fail overall, Carl developed both the platform and wrote the book to help the worldwide startup community so that people have greater access to resources and wisdom for startups.

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4 Responses to “25 Keys to a Startup’s Success

  • Aaron Vick
    5 months ago

    A truly great blog, love the information you provided on startup success factors!

  • Very informative blog! I hope that people who are planning to start a business will keep these 25 keys to startup success in mind. Following the above tips will surely help you reach the success that have always envisioned and you deserve. Thank you for sharing!

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