5 Critical Startup Lessons from DoNotRent.com CEO, Mike Cerny

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Mike Cerny, CEO and founder of the startup DoNotRent.com, a national apartment review and ratings website based in Chicago, knows the challenges of building a company from the ground up. He has faced the typical trials startup founders face, including gaining traction as a self-funded bootstrapped company and competing with well-established brands with large marketing budgets.

So, what are some actions you can take not to get discouraged along the way while dealing with these challenges? New entrepreneurs, listen up—because if you’re in the early stages of a startup, you won’t want to miss these five pieces of crucial advice. Save yourself some future headaches while you grow your company. Here are some words of wisdom from Mike Cerny, given the experiences he’s had and lessons he’s learned while developing DoNotRent.com:

1. Share your idea.

Don’t start your business without an advisor, and don’t think your business idea is so secretive that you can’t share the idea or concept unless someone signs an NDA. Chances are, you’re not the only person with the idea—and I have learned that most advisors and entrepreneurs you come into contact with are trustworthy and want to see you succeed.

2. Take your time.

You can’t rush into financial decisions. As much as you want to turn your concept or idea into a reality immediately, you will always save a significant amount of money if you continue to search for a more affordable alternative or a cheaper vendor. Obtain multiple quotes from vendors and never settle. Frugality is key because I have found that nine out of 10 times, you will exceed your budget—especially if you need to make immediate improvements or changes.

3. Build your team.

Build your team before you go into production. I made the mistake of going at it alone in the beginning, and I am still in the process of adding additional members to the team.

4. Get creative.

All startups face challenges; some are small and others are very painful. There is a solution to every challenge, and the solution doesn’t have to be increased spending. Get creative, learn from your highs and lows, then adapt. A majority of startups fail because founders get bored or don’t push through the hard moments to stay the course.

5. Make connections.

Before starting DoNotRent.com, I wish I networked and made relationships with successful entrepreneurs, startups, and investors in order to gain insight into the challenges ahead. I started the site by myself and could have avoided a lot of roadblocks if I had help in the beginning.

My final piece of advice is this: Discuss your business venture and network with as many entrepreneurs as possible who are experts in your niche. Build a team before launching your business and find creative ways to reach your goals without spending a lot.

For more information on Mike Cerny and his social networking apartment review site, visit www.donotrent.com.