So, You Want to be a Founder…
That is amazing and I congratulate you. I congratulate your drive to create something from nothing, nurture it like a child and work harder than you can ever begin to imagine. Take your worst week at work and times all of that stress and heartache by 10. And you’ll still be nowhere near the reality of day-to-day life as a founder..
I congratulate you for emotionally investing in a concept and enduring the constant emotional roller coaster of success and failure, all while living under the dark cloud of reality — 9 out of 10 of all startups fail.
I also appreciate that you are going be too busy to read a very long blog post and will be bombarded with advice, both good and bad. So, here is some simple advice from a fellow founder:
Nobody has a Crystal Ball
Know that you will not always be right, and neither will your competition. The future is not set. Your job is to reduce risk to future proof your business, trust the data and understand what your customer needs. Iterate until everything clicks into place to reduce risks and prevent a cataclysmic “big bang” explosion that destroys your business.
But don’t go it alone. Find people to guide you on your path as a founder. These souls hold indispensable knowledge. Learn from them, carry on iterating and carry on following the path they guide you to take — that is a key founder skill.
Understand Your Product Lifecycle
From inception to design to development to launch — you should be part of every step and know your product inside and out. Understand why certain processes take longer than others — and how to streamline such processes.. Know your market and put their needs at the top of the work queue. Know the data … I can’t say this enough … know every aspect of the data on your product from bugs, timelines, customers, margins, growth rates and more. Never rely on somebody else to know these facts. Data is the beating heart of your business.
You are NOT a Unicorn
Gaining investment is NOTHING like Silicon Valley on HBO. You are going to be one of more than 100 or so companies all competing for investment. Your job is to help potential investors understand your business, your customers, your team and the numbers, while focusing on your end goal. It’s good to be excited about what you do, but also be realistic. Don’t just say “this is a TRILLION dollar” opportunity. If you utter this statement, all respect for your business will fly out of the window. And, even if you are a small company, always target your pitch to your customers and your investors. Be polished in everything you do.
Trust but Verify the Advice You Receive
Being a founder is hard. You will receive so much advice. Some of it you will immediately disregard, some of it may seem like an ok idea and only about five per cent is worthwhile. Just trust your gut with any advice thrown your way.If you think it’s a good idea,then come up with a small scale test to prove it works. If it does, great. If it doesn’t then you’ve not wasted a load of time or lost focus on your core goal — building a brilliant business.