Startup Success is in the Details

The thing about entrepreneurs is that they tend to be dreamers. Risk-takers. Visionaries. All these roles require a macro point of view, one where they can see the finish line and believe—and get their team to believe—that they can make it there.

However, sometimes the hurdles and twists and militant-style execution required to win that race can get lost in the big picture dream. We’ve all heard the saying, “Don’t sweat the small stuff,” but could it be that the details can make or break your startup?

success is in the details for startups

The details can make or break you

Startups move fast and lean. There’s ample opportunity for something to get dropped. While it’s important to keep your business humming, it’s also important to obsess about certain elements: like how much cash you have left to burn; or testing your payments page a few more extra times to make sure people can buy your product; or making sure you have clean client data in the system. These details matter. A mistake in any of these areas, for example, could lead to extremely pricey consequences.

You can’t run from the details.

It’s nice to look away and keep rushing to execute, until the details become a tangled, hot mess. Launch your site and forgot to consider SEO? Hire the wrong person? Forget where all your signed contracts are stored? These things might slide, sort of, if you’re juggling just a few customers and you’re still a small team. But as you grow, it has the potential to explode and be a total time suck.

Customers notice the details.

Ever hear a customer complain that you sent a thoughtful email, or reminded them that it was time to renew their service, remembered their birthday, or followed up on an order? Nope. These actions are triggered by details—and when you get it right, not only do things go well but a lot of people—customers, business partners, even employees—will take note.

Your team cares about the details.

It’s a great experience when you work with someone who is in top of it, comes prepared to meetings, takes notes and remembers action items. The opposite…eh, not so much. Let’s face it, those less-than-sexy project management style details impact everyone’s flow and productivity.

The right details help you stand out.

Events don’t go off without a hitch “just because”; powerful presentations didn’t happen by sheer luck; and the smoothest sales calls don’t happen without thoughtful research. These things take time (and detail!) to be successful. Even a startup’s branding can be made or broken by details.

Take Warby Parker, for example: they chose blue for the color of their logo. But not just any blue. It was the color of the feet of a specific bird that lives in the Galapagos Islands. Co-CEO Neil Blumenthal noted that: “Brands are only powerful if they’re real and authentic,” he said. “Details matter. They create depth, and depth creates authenticity.”

You may not always receive appreciation for the details; people often only notice if things go wrong. But being thanked isn’t the point. Success is.

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