You might have recognized the name Brian Chesky from the Forbes list of billionaires but the co-founder of AirBnb keeps a surprisingly low profile. Now that’s not to say Chesky is not Uber successful and knowledgeable in the business world but rather that he tends to speak a lot more humbly than most billionaires in a similar situation.
Having co-founded Air BNB back in 2008,. Chesky was part of a team that rolled out the peer to peer home and room rental website to more than 80,000 cities around the world. What’s more, Air BNB is available in over 180 countries and has more than 300 million registered users.
What does this mean for you?
Well, as far as advice goes for startups and entrepreneurs, Airbnb’s Brian Chesky is one of the best places to start. With that said, here are five of Chesky’s rules for success in 2019:
1. Start Small and Go Easy on the Marketing Budget
When Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia first started out, the Air BnB CEO said that they managed to keep things rolling by staying frugal and subsidizing costs for marketing. One way of doing this was to go out and take as many photographs of properties as they could and keep doing so until it was “painful”. When this got a little too much, Chesky said that they hired part-time photographers and manage their workload using spreadsheets. However, even when this got too much, they decided to hire their first intern.
What’s more, Air BnB needed both buyers and sellers to make the platform work. For this reasons, it’s well known that he went out on the street and went about doing PR from one door to the next in order to get people signed up.
Needless to say, they worked hard to keep marketing costs to a minimum and only increased expenses when it was absolutely necessary. When asked about his advice for startups, Chesky pointed out that it all starts and ends with small yet consistent steps.
Takeaway – Avoid expenses as much as possible in the beginning and subsidize these expenses with hard work.
2. Personally Test the Product or Service before Marketing
As with many of the most successful entrepreneurs, Chesky emphasizes the importance of personally testing the product or service. After all, if you don’t like it, how can you expect anyone else to like it when you start the marketing campaign? It’s very sound advice according to the CEO, for too many marketing campaigns fail and the reason for this failure is often due to lack of testing the product or service.
In fact, Chesky tells a story about the beginning of Air BnB when himself and Joe purchased an air mattress for their apartment. Although this was far from ideal, it was still a means of getting the job done. As you can see, Chesky is a man who gives advice based on personal experience and most often, this is highly practical advice which usually screams something along the lines of “just do it”.
At the same time, there is caution in his words and Chesky is clearly urging startups and entrepreneurs to perform their due diligence before putting any money into marketing what they do.
Takeaway – Personally test the product or service to make sure it’s up to scratch.
3. Role Models Can Define the Path to Success
Sam Altman is the president of Y Combinator and serial entrepreneur with an impressive investment track record. Altman was one of Brian Chesky’s role models and someone who had a very significant influence on his perseverance with Air BnB. Although Chesky never got to meet Altman at the time, he continued to follow his work online and found inspiration at every turn.
For this reason, Chesky says that having a role model is crucial for thinking big and if entrepreneurs can aim at the same heights as these influencers, this can define a lot more about the path ahead.
Takeaway – If you can define your role models, you can also define how far you are willing to strive for your goals.
4. Use a Small Community for Better Feedback
Speaking recently at a New York University, the Air BnB CEO said that one of the best pieces of advice he ever received was that it’s better to have a handful of people who love what you do than millions who simply know what you do. In other words, if you have 100 people that love your company, they will usually tell another ten people who might tell another and so on.
What’s more, Chesky also said it’s easier to get accurate feedback from a small group while interacting with a smaller number of people is obviously a lot less time-consuming.
Takeaway – Focus on creating a small community of loyal followers.
5. Think of a Problem Before Coming Up with a Solution
Chesky said that Air BnB was hugely successful because it solved a clear problem in the rental industry. As if that’s not enough, it provided an added bonus and extra income to people who had properties that were doing little more than sitting idle.
With this in mind, he says that startups and entrepreneurs should always make sure that they have a solution for a specific problem. That is to say, it’s a bad idea to think up a product or service and then go about trying to find a problem to which this solution can be applied. It’s simple advice but often echoed by other entrepreneurs including the founder of Tesla, Elon Musk.
Takeaway – Always make sure that the product or service solves a clear problem.
Whether he hides from the limelight more than other serial entrepreneurs or not, Brian Chesky has certainly proven his worthiness of success through endless graft and perseverance. Indeed, startups and entrepreneurs could do far worse than take advice on board from the humble CEO of Air BnB.