Entrepreneurship is a difficult path, full of tough decisions and doubts. We often think about launching a startup as a dream coming true; the realisation of our hidden secret; the chance to finally combine what you really like with your everyday job.
The reality is that if this is your first time, you have good chances to fail. Yes, I know, you have probably read this very often. Obviously, you are not looking for another blog post telling you that perhaps the corporate world doesn’t suck that much, considering the stable income it provides you with.
You are already thinking about launching your startup, which means you are already a step ahead of everyone else. It takes a lot of courage to even start thinking about leaving everything that is sure, for an ocean of uncertainty. You have now prepared everything, right? You have done your research and have a business model in mind (perhaps even a revenue model).
However, you are not ready! You think you are, but you are not. When I launched my startup, I thought I had most of the things sorted out. After less than 2 months and without a product I had already some investors on board. Of course, everything was prepared. Well, not really…
There are an infinite amount of things to take in consideration when launching a startup, here below you can find those I believe you really need to get yourself prepared 50% to start with. Why only 50%? Because the rest is in yourself, and no one else can help you getting prepared for that.
1. Your idea has zero value. You might think that having a great idea is what will take you to the next level, helping you raising funds or clients. That’s wrong! Execution is everything. If you don’t execute, no one will follow you. Rocket Internet is the proof of this. Low creativity, great execution!
2. Build audience before you launch. This is a tough one, because you have an idea, but you still not sure what shape it will take. How can you build your audience? Start a blog. Start writing about your idea and product. Use social network. Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are great platforms to start building awareness. I have found that Reddit is also quite useful in terms of feedback.
3. MVP to prove, product to kill. This is an ongoing problem in the startup world. When is the right moment to launch? How basic should your MVP to prove your idea? Time to market is fundamental nowadays. If you think you can solve a problem, build the basic beta you need and go out to talk with customers. They are the one that will help you in the next phase, not another product feature.
4. Be stressed, but don’t break. Stress is part of the journey. You won’t sleep at night. You will suffer at days. However, you need to live with it, and be able to turn that stress into powerful energy to keep going the extra-mile. Don’t break your body over the stress, make sure to relax sometimes and take also time off. Taking time off is good to refresh your ideas and start again even harder than before.
5. Life-work balance. Nurture your private life. Your startup will suck you into a vortex of activities and events that you might forget you have a private life. Keeping your private life separated from your startup will make sure that you won’t break down.
6. There’s only one Silicon Valley. Sorry to tell you, but you are either there or not. If you live somewhere else (outside US), well, expect a different type of opportunities, expect a different type of interest from investors.
7. Hiring is hard, very hard! Finding people to join your startup is going to be very difficult, because you are still no one. Unless you have raised millions, you will be competing with big corporations or other successful startups to get some of the best work force out there. However, you don’t always need experienced employees. The early stage phase requires hungry people willing to follow you in the thunderstorm. Look for that in their eyes, don’t necessarily look only their CV.
8. But you need to fire faster. There is an old saying “Hire Slowly, Fire Faster“. The decision in taking someone on board is always tough. You need to make sure they are the right ones. Sometimes, however, you might be making mistakes. When you do so, don’t despair, but act immediately. The burden of having the wrong person in your team can be deadly.
9. Listen to everything, but decide carefully. Incredibly enough, once you launch a startup, you will find a bunch of people ready to give you advices or critics. When in this journey, it is always good to listen to everything people tell you, but this can easily lead you to think, you might actually need to follow these indications. You don’t! Listen carefully, but make up for your own mind. You are in the driving seat!
10. You might be thinking of quitting. As said at the beginning of this blog post, entrepreneurship is a tough street to walk on. Lots of difficult decisions and critical moments will make the most of your experience. Most of the time, you might be thinking that quitting is the easiest decision. You won’t, however, you won’t quit because this is your dream. But be careful, don’t fall in one of the most subtle trap of entrepreneurship, sad stubbornness.
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