Business Advice

Keep quiet and don’t believe the fairytales: Four tips for building a million-dollar business

Dominic Powell /

“What separates a bankrupt startup from a million-dollar business?”

This is the question entrepreneur and Hostt co-founder Peter Daisyme asked in a recent column for Entrepreneur, providing first-hand insights into what it takes to swing the needle from bankrupt to booming.

Daisyme co-founded website hosting business Hostt in 2014, but before that, he was the co-founder of Pixloo, a real-estate startup that was famously acquired for $US10 million after operating for just 42 days.

Generally, Daisyme believes the reason many businesses end up flopping because of misaligned expectations, saying fledling business owners “are unprepared for the long, hard journey ahead”.

“Most startup founders have no idea what it takes to build a marginally successful business, much less a million-dollar one,” Daisyme writes.

Get a grasp on what it takes with these four tips for building a million dollar business.

1. Keep quiet

Daisyme draws on the advice of Stealth Performance Communications chairman Quiane Crews, who once advised him competitors “can’t stop what they can’t see”.

“A common mistake entrepreneurs make is that we get so excited about an idea or business venture we have, and we start sharing our vision with people around us and close to us. The bad part about that is not everyone is meant to know your vision,” Crews told Daisyme.

“I learned that I shouldn’t tell people my next move if I haven’t made it yet. If people don’t know what you’re doing, they can’t distract you or get in the way of your goal.”

2. Keep focused

Daisyme says overnight success stories only happen “in fairytales”, and with that in mind, entrepreneurs should strive to keep focused if they’re determined to achieve their goal.

“The reality of building a company, especially a successful one, is not what you see in the movies. The day-to-day life is much more in the weeds. You will be sending emails. Pulling all-nighters. Doing whatever it takes to get the job done,” Daisyme says.

“The hardest part is staying focused. There are infinite opportunities out there for you to take your talents and explore. You have to learn to say no to most things.”

Saying no to opportunities is a must for early stage entrepreneurs, believes Daisyme, as your time as a startup founder is incredibly valuable.

“You have 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to get the most out of your company. Everyone is competing against you. If you are serious about growth, you must be cognizant of how you spend your time, and focus on what really matters,” he says.

3. Keep taking feedback

Taking feedback constructively while still growing a company can be a tough ask, says Daisyme, but there are two main things to keep in mind when taking feedback on board. First, he says to “disassociate your personal feelings from the feedback you receive”, and secondly, ensure that the truth wins out.

“By stagnating or dismissing the feedback they receive, founders often hinder the truth; they imbue their own personal bias into the decision-making process. But for those businesses to be successful, the truth must win,” he says.

“As founder, you must do whatever it takes to remove bias from your system so that you are always making decisions as cleanly and “bias-free” as possible.”

4. Keep adapting

“Building a startup is a lot like a rollercoaster. For every up, there are likely three-to-four downs,” Daisyme says.

“There will come a day where everything looks bad. Your employees will want to quit. Your investors will want their money back. And, it is at this moment where the best founders shine. They adapt. They are obsessed with problems, not solutions, and are able to take out all bias and make the right decisions.”

“To build a successful company, you must be able to change. In a world changing so quickly, founders and their companies unable to adapt to change will fall far behind.”

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Dominic Powell

Dominic is the features and profiles editor at SmartCompany.

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