When you build a house you don’t just pick up a shovel and start digging. The same logic applies to building a company.

You don’t have to have the best, coolest or newest idea to build an incredibly successful company. Unfortunately the stats show that most companies will die before they even had a chance. Why? Because so many just pick up a shovel and start digging.

You will fail if you haven’t got; 1) Differentiator; 2) Strategic Plan and, 3) the most qualified TEAM they can afford.

In your mind you are adding a fourth, I can hear you screaming… “You are missing PASSION. Truth is passion is a given. Young companies are full of passion, dedication and visions of being the next Facebook, Tesla, etc. Passion is an emotion; it is what drives an idea from idle chatter to going concern. Emotions can be fleeting and volatile, they are ego based and consequently are not rational. So, now that we have covered the emotion, let’s move on.

Time and time again I see great companies with awesome products and brilliant services close their doors before their venture ever had a real chance. They have burned through their emotions and their money. Why? Because they didn’t spend time on these key factors:

1) Differentiator
There are as many apps as there are pizza and coffee places; there are as many marketing and ad services as there are apps. Not so long ago consumers choices were limited; most certainly your customers could not quickly access information to find out about the company, product or alternatives. Now customers are armed with the tools and the ability to find the information they need to make an informed decision. So, what makes you different and better than the next guy? Better yet, who is that other guy? Personally, I prefer to do business with the company that is authentic, no bullshit, forget the glossy ads and catch phrases. I want value and it’s a bonus if it’s packaged nicely. The nice thing is value can almost sell itself and stand above the noise.

It takes time to figure out your differentiator. Do your research! Who else is out there fighting for the same dollars/time? Get your ass in gear and do a competitor analysis! Ignorance is not an excuse. There is nothing worse than pitching your idea and the question asked is “What about XYX? Aren’t they doing the same thing?”

Your differentiator will help solidify your value proposition. If you are smart you will figure out where they went wrong and avoid it or.. what they did that was right and build on it.

Strategic Plan
This is not a small thing; it begins and ends with your goal(s). This is your compass, your road map; this is you sitting down and figuring out the fastest, smartest, least expensive way to get from A to B. If you haven’t figure out the pieces of the puzzle, if you don’t have a map of the next year, I mean all of it, trade shows, conferences, people, partners what the hell are you doing? Seriously, flying by the seat of your pants and selling catch phrases can work for a bit but you will fail.

Your team should be part of your plan. Find the best team you can afford. Get creative with how you compensate them. Free doesn’t work. Free doesn’t pay the bills and people will ALWAYS give priority to whatever pays the bills. Your team includes not just the people working everyday; it is the mentors, advisers and partners. Make sure that everyone is willing to dig in and do the work. A great team can accomplish the work of a thousand if everyone is ready to do the work. One last note on building a great team, leave your ego at the door. Learn to listen; you don’t need to talk all the time. The right team they will take your vision and your plan, put it into action and deliver the value that you promised you would deliver.

The good news … if you have been pitching your idea based on passion with no plan you still have a chance to get it right and really do something before your run out of steam and money.