The Truth About Launching My Startup!
“Starting a successful startup is similar to having kids; it’s like a button you press and it changes your life irrevocably.” ~ Paul Graham
I’ve had a life-long mission to build and launch my own company (meaning I’m the founder) and in 2016 I successfully reached that goal.
I will admit the feeling is great, but the thoughts I had before reaching this goals is not the same thoughts that I have now. Mark Zuckerberg’s success gave me a false picture of what being a founder is all about.
I had this initial thought about being the man, the boss, tons of money flowing everywhere, hiring all my friends, and just having a blast everyday.
This is what I thought it was all about…
In all reality it’s the exact opposite…..
Don’t get me wrong, I would much rather has launched my company than to be the person everyday wishing that they did.
My sole purpose for writing this is to give those that are NOT wishing, but taking action to give them a true sense of what it’s all about.
Things That I Learned About Launching My Business
Focus on Problems Not Your Idea
No one cared about my idea….like at all!
What I quick found out was that they really only cared about their problems, and only cared how I was going to solve them. When I talked to my first few early customers I went in pitching them on my idea.
Big no no….. Not only did that conversation end quickly, but I was not invited back.
It wasn’t until I read two books: How To Start A Startup by Thinkapps and Running Lean by Ash Maurya that I figured out what I was doing wrong.
I wish I knew then what I know now is that my sole focus is to learn, not try to show how bright and smart my idea was.
“At the end of the day, founding a startup primarily requires you to do one thing: learn.”
In the early stages you don’t want to go in with salesman’s approach. Instead you want to go in as a researcher.
Once I understood what my customers BIG problems were then I was able to clearly articulate my idea or solution.
Remember customers like solutions NOT ideas!
Finding a Tech-cofounder Was a Waste of Time
I want to preface this by saying my situation is likely totally opposite of yours. You have have tons of developers around you, or you may be able to write code yourself.
That’s awesome, but that doesn’t help me…
I don’t know how to write code and I don’t have a best friend for family member who could either.
There are two types of founders: Technical Founds and Non-Tech Business Founds. I fall into the latter of these two.
While validating my idea, I spent days, weeks, months looking for a tech co-founder. Only to get rejected 100% of the time. I even thought about learning how to code.
I was overwhelmed with looking for the right developer to pay and build my product. I just kept running in circles!
I later found a way to build my product 100% code-free without writing even one line of code.
My app Zap Style is live with paying customers on both iPhone and Android today!
That’s all great, but I made many mistakes and with through agony to get there. I’m sharing this so that you can eliminate the same mistakes.
Here’s what I recommend:
- Be honest what you are: Tech Founder or Non-Tech Founder
- Build relationships with tech resources daily (LinkedIn, networking, etc.)
- Learn the non-tech tools to build your startups
Through my struggles as a Non-Tech Founder, I’ve created a blog Startups With No Code, teaching others who face the same challenges to successfully launch their business.
If You Build It They Will Come
I had this thought in my head, “man once I build this customers will just come running to hand me money.”
Many entrepreneurs will tell you the actual building of the product is much easier than building something customers will need and pay you for.
I initially built this product, had it on the Android and iPhone Stores for download…
It wasn’t until a read this awesome article by Paul Graham that I then understood you have to be willing to Do The Things That Don’t Scale..
That simply means once you build your startup it’s not time to sit back and let SEO or Social Media kick in…
No, you have to be willing to roll your sleeves up to recruit, get to know your customers through conversation, learn what they like, don’t like, desire, and want more of.
An example of this, the DoorDash team set up a site allowing people to order food from other restaurants. Before they hired any people to deliver the food, the founders was out personally delivering the food.
That’s the type of grit and hard work I wasn’t aware but I’m extremely passionate about today.
If you want to be an entrepreneur you will need to have the same if not more passion.
How long should you do things that don’t scale you may ask?
According to Walker Williams, founder and CEO of Teespring:
“The lesson that I’ve been learning lately is that you want to do things that don’t scale as long as possible. I’ts one of your biggest advantages as a company, and the moment you give it up, you’re giving your competitors that are smaller and can still do these things that advantage over you.”
If you’re not much of a reader and prefer the see the video of Paul Graham’s: Before the Startup check it out below:
I Can Do It Alone
I’m sure there are some examples of successful companies where the founder did it all by his or herself. Not many I can assure you.
I had this perception initially, for a stupid reason, that I can build this company and do it all by myself.
By myself meaning I can just read a couple of blog post, watch some videos, step out and just build it.
I was wrong again!
I’m not saying you need to immediately go out to open an office or hire a butch of people. What I’m saying is you need people around you that’s taken this journey before.
This is what I’m doing for you now.
They can tell you what paths to go down, what mistakes you’re making, how to correct mistakes you’ve already made. This is vital stuff!
Additionally you do need some early people on your team that shares the same beliefs and has the same mission as you do.
There are tons of things that goes into a startup landing pages, social media, marketing in general, legal stuff, just to name a few.
If you’re working a 9 to 5 and building a business it can be extremely difficult to take on all of this alone. Not to mention if you have a family, then it becomes even harder.
Launching a business is one of the most rewarding things that I’ve done in my life. The things that I’ve shared in today article is not to sway you away from launching your own business.
In fact that’s what I want you to do, and here to help along the way.
My main focus is to share the mistakes that entrepreneurs continue to make and this is how you can avoid doing the same thing.