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What Every Startup Can Learn from Silicon Valley Success Stories
by Rieva Lesonsky
April 29, 2022
Brainstorming in a startup office

Wouldn’t it be great if your startup could be as successful as Silicon Valley legends like Facebook or Google? Many experts have tried to figure out what’s the “secret sauce” that makes Silicon Valley such fertile ground for startups.

You may not be located in Silicon Valley—but there are some things you can do to share in its “secret sauce”:

1. Go where the startup resources are.

Startup financing is one of the things every new business owner looks for, and Silicon Valley offers plenty of sources. The area is a hotbed of venture capital firms, making it easy to rub shoulders with potential investors.

The takeaway: While you may not bump into VCs at the coffee shop, you can find financing sources in most places. You’ll just have to dig a little harder to identify them and get on their radar.

2. It’s about the talent.

Employees are key to success for every small business. Silicon Valley employers have plenty of employees to choose from because of the plethora of colleges and universities in the area turning out highly educated grads. In addition, the Valley’s tech success stories offer an environment where employees who do well can reap rich rewards. But beyond the potential financial payoffs, tech workers flock to Silicon Valley for the opportunity to challenge themselves by working on game-changing products and services.

The takeaway: When choosing your business location, look for a place that’s got plenty of the types of employees you need. Then provide them with the chance to make a difference at your business by giving them meaningful work. Reward employees with competitive pay and benefits and build relationships that encourage employee loyalty.  

3. Innovation drives success.

Successful Silicon Valley companies are passionate about innovation, whether it’s a new business idea, a new product launch, or a new way to deliver a service. They know there’s always a way to improve—and they’re not afraid to fail while trying. They believe “perfect is the enemy of good.”

The takeaway: You may not have a world-changing idea like a search engine, but you can still make innovation one of your company’s core values. Show employees, you value innovation by rewarding new ideas (even if they don’t work out) and giving people a chance to fail.

4. Know your customers.

In Silicon Valley, you’re only as good as your last idea. That’s why successful tech businesses stay in close touch with their customers. They also stay on top of industry trends so they can get ahead of the “next big thing.”

The takeaway: Survey your customers often, connect with them on social media and talk to them to see what they want. Customers are the foundation of your success, so let them lead the way to your business’s next step.

5. Startups need each other.

The hothouse environment of Silicon Valley spurs competition. Startup entrepreneurs closely watch what others are doing and learn quickly from their mistakes. All of the competition helps motivate startup business owners to continually improve.

The takeaway: Connecting with other business owners both in and out of your industry can expose you to new ideas that can help your startup succeed. Keep a close eye on your competition if you hope to beat them.

Another place to get valuable feedback is from your SCORE mentor. Connect with a mentor online or in your community to get free help and advice.

About the author
Rieva Lesonsky
Rieva Lesonsky is president and CEO of GrowBiz Media, a custom content and media company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship, and the blog
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