What you need to know to get your business past those early struggles

While starting a business seems appealing to many people, the harsh reality is that less than half of businesses survive in the first five years, let alone experience growth. In 2009, I founded Teza Technologies in Chicago and since then we’ve opened three additional offices in New York City, London and Austin, Texas, and increased our staff significantly. We’ve built a team that includes widely recognized experts in quantitative trading that has allowed the company to continue to grow. Along the way, we’ve maintained a strong culture that is conducive to collaboration, growth and innovation.

While spearheading our ongoing expansion, I’ve accumulated a few key lessons that would apply to any industry.

Passion is imperative

Business leaders face innumerable setbacks when trying to get their firm off the ground. There are many times when throwing in the towel would seem to be the easiest path. That’s why a startup company will only succeed if its leaders truly have a passion for the industry they are in and the company that they are building. That passion is what will enable them to persevere and overcome obstacles to achieve success.

Stay confident in good times and bad

I can’t overstate the power of positive thinking when building a successful business. The critical blend for an executive is to set ambitious, bar-raising standards while maintaining realistic expectations and an optimistic outlook. The New York Times recently published research detailing the benefits of this approach. When leaders exude confidence and positive energy, employees stay calm, motivated and focused, and naturally this has a positive impact on the company’s bottom line. Gallup research has shown that work units scoring in the top half on employee engagement nearly doubled their odds of success compared with those in the bottom half.

Support people first

Employees are the most important part of a company’s success or failure. I’ve written previously about why recruitment should play second fiddle to retention, because talented people are hard to find and even harder to replace.

Do the right thing

Even though the most pressing priorities for a budding business seem to be bare necessities like keeping the lights on, identifying and communicating your ethical standards is equally important at the very outset. It is these core values that will guide both leaders and team members in making the right decisions and doing the right thing, even when it’s not easy or popular to do so.

Successful leaders are ambitious, which can seem to conflict with patience. It’s important, however, to be forward-looking, and remember that sometimes you have to sacrifice short-term wins to position your firm for long-term growth. ●

Misha Malyshev is the founder and CEO at Teza Technologies