Starting your first company can be an incredibly daunting undertaking. In the first weeks, months and years you will have to experience parts of business you may never have foreseen. This is by no means an exhaustive list, if you have another example of a lesson you have learned about founding your business, comment below!
- Create something new
The barriers to starting a business are relatively low which means that many people will choose to chase the same thing. This can be very confusing to customers if it’s not made clear why you’re different. Being different could be as simple as how you market your product or whom it’s targeted at. But could also mean innovative technology or a new application of old technology.
- Customers determine how successful you are
The best marketing or innovation is great and all but if your customers don’t enjoy the product, they won’t come back. You may need to get creative to make people want what you’ve got. Note that if you do have a dodgy customer experience but they still keep coming back it may mean you have something that solves a real need!
- No one cares about your company
It’s harsh but true. But this can be used to your advantage. Don’t forget about Airbnb, they launched unsuccessfully twice before it stuck. As Brian Chesky from Airbnb says “if you launch and no one notices, launch again.”
- There is literally an endless wealth of information out there about funding.
Don’t overthink fundraising or play games.
Remember that humans love stories.
Are you sure you even need capital? Take a look at our list of big companies that succeeded with little to no money
- Entrepreneurship has no rules.
No one cares about your HSC. There are no rules besides the laws where you operate and your morals. You can follow the laws, be a decent human, break the rules and still be a success.
- Teams and Communication
There’s a fine balance between effective communication and spending all day talking. It’s easy to get off track and end up talking about the latest Game Of Thrones. Be tactical about how you use your time. This is also true externally; maybe don’t present another seminar (even if your ego loves them) until you turn a profit.
- Make sure your co-founders understand how valuable their contribution is.
Simple, yet sometimes quite difficult to accomplish.
- At any given moment, there are ten things you could be doing.
You can’t do all of them, so choose which seven you can put off till tomorrow.
- Don’t be distracted by mergers and acquisitions without a dollar value.
Direct them to the board if you think they’re for real. Otherwise, don’t bother.
- It’s about the journey.
Every failure and new experience is truly a notch on your belt. Focus on the path ahead, the end goal will be worth it.
- Recruiting is tough.
Give someone a reason to take the risk (and maybe a bit of flack from they’re spouse) of working for a risky startup. Why should they risk a decent chunk of their working life on your idea? Make sure that no matter how well it turns out, they don’t regret betting on you and your company. The best time to start recruiting is five years before you need the staff. Throughout your life, think about if you were to start a company tomorrow, who would you want working for you?
- The best additions to your team will be slightly under qualified.
Sounds silly but why would a perfect candidate with the right background choose your company?
- The worst additions to the team will set a new standard.
‘A chain is only as strong as its weakest link’
- Dominate your slice of the pie.
Make something a small group really love
- Create some sense of urgency.
This applies to customers, employees, investors, and suppliers etc. Make sure no one thinks they can just sit and wait for something else.
- Follow up on everything.
You’ll be amazed how few people actually out in the effort to chase things up.
- Find a strong group of peers. (*cough* like SeniorPreneurs)
They know what you’re going through and can offer valuable assistance much more effectively than another hour spent Googling the problem.
- Building something valuable is really hard and can take some time.
Don’t get distracted by fleeting opportunities and focus on your own idea.