Top 12 tips for startups


‘Be honest about what you’re not good at, and accept the competencies you don’t have,’ David McLean advises entrepreneurs. ‘Find the people who have those competencies, and then get out of the way.’

David McLean, CEO of HUBBED, shares this tip and eleven more for business founders at the beginning of their journey.

David McLean’s top 12 tips for startups

David McLean has worn many hats. Now, he is an entrepreneur, a business founder and CEO of one of the Australian Business Growth Fund’s investee companies. He has also been a global retail and marketing leader at Microsoft, a business analyst and in his words, a ‘poor accountant’.

After 14 years in a stable, fulfilling job at Microsoft, David was inspired to reawaken a dormant dream of his, to start his own company – and so HUBBED was born. HUBBED is a technology company that enables a network of pick up and drop off parcel locations for e-commerce companies.

A decade since HUBBED first began, after riding the waves of startup life, David is now sailing smoother waters – and has 12 top tips for other business founders to help them weather their own storms:

1. Get a good lawyer
‘Set a strong foundation before you start building. Startups need the right foundations in place from the outset to protect their business. The right legal advice can make or break a business before their journey has even begun.’

2. See point number 1!
‘Just to emphasise – make sure you get a good lawyer!’

3. Put your team first
‘Your team is part of your strong foundation. As a business leader, always put them first – and make sure they are putting the business first.’

4. Be honest about what you’re not good at
‘Be honest about what you’re not good at, and accept the competencies you don’t have. Then find people who have those competencies and get out of their way.’

5. Always be mindful about why you started the business
David’s vision was to transform the sustainability of last mile delivery – and over ten years later, his passion is still evident.

It’s this vision that drives David, and he advised other business owners to remember theirs too.

‘Always be mindful about why you started the business, and if it’s just money, stop.’

6. Engage with businesses that move at the same pace as you
Working with businesses that move at your pace is important, David explained, as it can be disruptive and cause you to stagnate when you aren’t aligned.

‘I’ve been in several meetings where we think we’ve done a deal, but then the other party says they need to look at it for another three months, and then we might finally get there in six months.

‘And you have to sit there and pretend that it’s no big deal, when you really need decisions to happen faster,’ he said. ‘So, try and engage with businesses that work at the same pace as you.’

7. Go for ‘category captaincy’
David encouraged businesses to call out the best in their competition – and then beat them.

‘Knowing your competition is one thing; knowing the best-in-class is another. When starting HUBBED, I identified the organisation that had the best technology solution for e-commerce delivery in the country. And I was determined to beat them,’ he said passionately.

8. Believe in your products and services
Based on his decades of experience in sales and marketing, David believes that having confidence in what you sell is essential.

‘You shouldn’t try and sell a product that you don’t believe in,’ David said. ‘Believe in your work, and then believe in the worth of your products and services.’

9. Don’t be starstruck into poor decisions
David spoke of his experience meeting influential, famous and wealthy people who engaged with him. ‘I have been absolutely starstruck into doing what they say, because I can’t believe this impressive person is talking to me. That approach hasn’t always worked well for the business.’

A lesson David learnt from this is when it comes to getting advice on your business, it doesn’t matter who a person is – look for deliverables, not their self-perception or legacy.

10. Embrace the struggle
David quoted Ben Horowitz in his book, The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers. According to Ben Horowitz, ‘every great entrepreneur from Steve Jobs to Mark Zuckerberg went through “The Struggle”. And struggle they did – so you are not alone. But that does not mean you will make it. You may not make it. That is why it is The Struggle.

‘The Struggle is where greatness comes from.’

David said he has always held true to that. ‘At HUBBED, we knew we may not always turn the corner – we certainly wouldn’t have without the support of the Australian Business Growth Fund – but it’s a struggle and you’ve got to embrace it. And if you’re not up for it and you don’t have the ticker, you shouldn’t do it.’

11. ‘No’ is a full sentence
For David, sometimes receiving a ‘hard no’ is the reality of running a business. Hard and sharp decisions can be uncomfortable to swallow, David said. But in the end, embrace the clarity.

12. Remember – we’re here for a good time, not a long time
‘I always remember what my mother said to me – “we’re here for a good time, not a long time”. And I think it’s important that I incorporate that into everything I do,’  reflected David.


HUBBED is a technology company that enables a network of pick up and drop off parcel locations for e-commerce companies. In June 2022, the Australian Business Growth Fund became a proud partner of HUBBED, when it invested growth capital into the business.

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