Priorities, purpose and coffee stains: 3 things to know when running a startup

This month, the AZTB Lunch and Learn made its way to Infusionsoft where the company’s vice president of talent Anita Grantham gave an inspiring talk about the reality of owning a startup and down to the nitty-gritty truth of the business.
Before Grantham joined the Infusionsoft team, she was — and still is — a small business owner, struggling to understand the ins and outs of running a business. With her husband as co-owner, Grantham started up Draw 10 Sports Bar and Grill in the heart of the Valley. After experiencing the pain of what it’s like to own a small business, Grantham shared three tips that every entrepreneur should keep in mind when running their startup.

Total run time 27 minutes


In order to successfully start and operate an enterprise, entrepreneurs must be proactive in their mindset, Grantham said.

Anita Grantham, Infusionsoft
Infusionsoft’s Vice President of Talent Anita Grantham

Instead of focusing on the flashy details that only seem important on the surface, entrepreneurs should dig deeper to find the brutal facts that have an impact on the success of their businesses.
“Sometimes as entrepreneurs we are afraid to look at the truth,” Grantham said. “As entrepreneurs, we get trapped by what we feel we have to do for the business all the time.”
Instead of only being driven by what we feel is important, Grantham recommended that entrepreneurs investigate and prioritize the issues that are keeping them up at night and to solve them head-on, one by one instead of trying to multitask.
“It’s a law, just like gravity, that we can only do one thing at a time with excellence,” Grantham said. “The whole era of can you multitask and all those interview questions that we’ve been pelted with have just screwed up our whole world into thinking that we can do everything at once and do everything well. It’s just not true.”


Entrepreneurs should also focus on clearly defining their company’s purpose, Grantham added.
By defining a startup’s purpose, it helps entrepreneurs prioritize and stay clear on what they do and what they don’t do.
“I really encourage you to spend more time with this,” Grantham said. “It’s through defining and articulating a purpose that you are able to set relationships upon.”
The additional benefit of a purpose is that it keeps your goals in alignment with whom you choose to form partnerships with, which helps make your overall experience together less stressful and more enjoyable.

Navigating the Negative

Besides looking at the internal operations of a startup, Grantham also urged entrepreneurs to go directly to their customers for their own two cents.
She cited an experiment with a Scandinavian airline where customers were asked for their opinions about the airline and only focused on the coffee stains — or bad aspects — of their flying experience. This concept of citing the bad and ignoring the good is common with referrals, Grantham added.
Business owners should go to their customers to discover the good and bad of their operation and what improvements are needed, Grantham said, adding that they should not be afraid of these results.
“It’s powerful to look at reviews and interact with your customers and see what they see as your own coffee stains and how that can impact your business,” Grantham said.
By looking at a startup’s own issues through the eyes of most important member of the business — the customers — entrepreneurs can further prioritize the facts from their feelings, which will ultimately help them navigate through the bad aspects of a startup.
Read: 4 elements to making big data decisions for your business