Saturday, January 14, 2017

5 Tips From A 27-Year-Old Swedish CEO Who Took His Startup From Nothing To Nasdaq In Less Than A Year

Via Business Insider:

Erik Gatenholm is the CEO of CELLINK. Founded 2016, it's the first bioink company in the world and a maker of 3D bioprinters that print biological tissue. During the last year CELLINK and its founders received more than 10 different innovation and entrepreneurship awards. Erik agreed to share some of the things he learnt on the journey from just starting up to Nasdaq.

In January of 2016, I founded the startup CELLINK together with Hector Martinez. By November we were listed on Nasdaq and had gone from two employees to 16. To say that I've learnt a lot during this journey is an understatement. Here are five pieces of advice for entrepreneurs like myself, that I wish someone had told me a year ago:

1. Be transparent with your New Year's resolutions.

Every company sets goals at the start of the new year, but for a startup this is crucial to paving the way for success. I not only promise myself I will achieve certain goals but I promise my team as well. The more people who know what you wish to achieve, the more help you will get along the way. It’s important to build a work environment that encourages thinking big. Running a startup is a team effort, every helping hand counts. It’s important to be transparent with your vision not only for yourself but for the entire company. Working together towards a common goal in order to fulfill your promises will make the journey a much better ride.

2. Keep up the momentum.

If you've ever worked in a startup, you know that means long hours for weeks on end. As a founder, this will undoubtedly mean that your company becomes your life. You will eat, sleep and breathe your startup. It’s easy to burn out and lose sight of your goals.

To avoid this happening - for both you and your team - set up weekly goals and take some time to bond as a team. I found that taking the time to connect not only strengthened our personal relationship but made for a better work environment.

Whether it’s having lunch once a week together or taking a coffee break to clear your mind for 30 minutes, it’s important to take a step back and get refueled with positive energy. If you feel like you’re working with friends the momentum will come naturally.

3. Stay active on Social Media.

There are so many tasks associated with running a startup that staying on top of your social media presence tends to end up on the backburner more often than you would like. In the beginning, the founders end up doing all the work, from accounting to social media, themselves. If you don’t have time to run your social media, find someone else to do the job. Regardless of whether or not your customers will come from social media, it’s important to have an online presence. That being said, don’t over do it. Research shows that less is more. According to Facebook statistics, companies who post once or twice a day get 73% more comments and 32% more likes than those who post numerous times.

If you’re going to create a social media presence, be consistent. Keeping your channels up to date not only helps with brand engagement but helps shape your overall image. Remember, out of sight means out of mind in the world of branding. If you want to stay in the game, you have to be present.

4. It’s okay to say no.

When you’re running a startup, you often find that several people are trying to pull you in many different directions at once - An investor is telling you one thing while your board member is telling you another. In the beginning this happens more frequently and delays your decision making process.

Operating a startup comes with a mountain of challenges. Do yourself a favor and get used to Jim Camp’s favorite word: 'no'. The less you try to please everyone, the less stressed out you will be. While it’s important to be gracious and consider everyone’s advice, it’s always okay to take a stand on what you feel is important and keep yourself on the path toward success.

5. Be humble but celebrate your achievements.

Working with a startup is like being on a rollercoaster. You have your ups and you have your downs. When you have those shining moments it’s 100% okay to celebrate them. You don’t have to break out the champagne, but something as simple as reflecting with your team on how you reached that point and why it’s important is not only acceptable, it's necessary.

Not all achievements need to be showcased to the world - it’s vital to not boast. Stay humble yet proud so that the feeling of fulfillment can stay within you when you hit one of those inevitable downs.

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