14 Lessons I Learned From My First Two Years As A Startup Founder
“You can never make the same mistake twice because the second time you make it, it’s not a mistake, it’s a choice”
One of the major issues preventing us from being active is the fear of failing.
We are so afraid to find out we wasted our time, disappointed our family and friends or just chose the wrong path for ourselves.
The best way to avoid being always stuck a small step before achieving your dreams or passions is to try and fail and then..try and fail again and then…yeah..try and fail again! (I wrote here on my last try and fail session)
I am not saying you cannot become a success on the first time you tried. But unfortunately this is not the reality. Most people who try achieving goals they see as over their limit, do not succeed on the first time. In the startup world there is even a very sad number I have always heard from people :90% of startups fail (And I actually think it is higher..).
Trying and failing maybe sounds smart but the important point here, is what you learn between your tries and how better you become from time to time.
Honestly? It is not so easy but I decided to write some lessons I learned from my actions in the last two years.
- Be willing to sacrifice and do it as soon as possible
If you really believe in what you do , show yourself it is not just something you tell yourself to feel better. Invest some major amount of cash and time on it, even consider leaving your job. I believe that if you cannot do at least one of the above something that will “hurt you” , then maybe you don’t really believe in it. Time is almost the most valuable asset you have and you need to know ASAP if it’s worth spending it on this dream.
2. Be the target audience of your product
Maybe it is not a must, but as I see it, you can improve your chances to create a product that people really need and love because you love it. You can always ask yourself or people like you about your product. Worst case? You created something you enjoy using.
3. Choose a partner you would spend time with on a deserted island
As people say, startup is a roller coaster. One day you are on the way up and one day screaming on your way down. Specially on the way down, you have to know you both can survive the fall. Even when it seems impossible. In addition to that, on a lonely island you don’t just need to survive, you need to enjoy. This way your stay there will be improved. Try to find not only a partner but a real friend you appreciate and enjoy working with.
4. Always be honest with yourself and your team
It is something easy to say but hard to do. We tend to say to ourselves that things will be solved by themselves, but this is not always the case. When you feel something is wrong, say it to your team. Do it in a state of mind of trying to solve it together, don’t just throw it like a bomb, always offer a solution.
5. Never work with people who are not passionate about your startup
There are many talented and professional people who want to join you, but without passion and light in their eyes, you can really waste each other’s time. We tend to say we are a startup with limited resources so if someone wants to work with me just for equity (shares from the company), I have to say yes. I don’t actually pay and they are willing to spend their precious time. So don’t be mistaken, money is precious but time is more. If someone works on your dream without passion, the results will be influenced respectively.
6. Always free some time to help others, even when you do not have time
One of the special things in the Israeli eco-system is that people love to help each other. Be the person who help others who needs your help. It can be even a coffee for 30 minutes, a phone call or an intro to a friend. And remember, Karma is a bitch (;
7. Leave the ego aside and be open minded for help and advice from others
Listen to ANY opinion people has and try to respect it. You do not have to agree but trying to open your mind to other directions can sometimes take you to the place that you were looking for all that time. Being open for criticism is also so important! You are going to get so much of it, so be prepared.
8. Make sure you spend time with your loved ones
When working on a startup, you sleep less, your mind is always thinking about new stuff you can try, you are worried about what others in your team do. It is so easy to leave aside your hobbies, your loved ones and take them from granted. Put your loved one in first priority. They are your base when coming back home after a hard day. There is a better chance your startup is temporary than the chance they are. Take an early breakfast together, cook a surprise dinner for friends, ask for their opinion even if they are not part of the startup world..after all they are your friends (:
9. Be willing to do stuff which is not part of your responsibility
As I said before, time is your most valuable asset. When something need to be done and you do not have a team member or resources to spend on it, learn how to do it by yourself. You might do it less better but it is better than waiting decades for someone else to do it. Of course it is important to make sure you have someone in your team you trust and can do it, but until then..leave what you do and put your resources there.
10. Money from investors can buy you time but it is not a validation
This is a very tricky one. When working as first timers on a startup we can believe that we get an investment, we are in the right direction and on the way to success. If you have an idea, first validate it! Make sure people are willing to pay on it, make sure companies are willing to co-operate and spend resources on that. The best option is an investment from a potential client as a partners if you can combine them. Make this process of validation with milestones. Every couple of months there is a goal. Didn’t achieve it? Think again if you do the right thing.
11. Never stop speaking directly with your target audience
Yeah, as I mentioned it can be you but it is not enough (: You have to speak to as many users as you can and learn from them how they use or expect to use your product. Do not guess what they want , ASK THEM! If you will do it politely they might tell you.
12. Work with interns
There are so many internship programs all over the globe. People from the US, China, Israel and so much more can do an internship in your startup. They will work and be part of the team for 2+ month and if you treat them well and really care about them, they even do a great job. This is an awesome resource specially for a bootstrapped startups..believe me..I know after working with almost ten (:
Your number one enemy is being like a kid in a toy store who is excited from any toy and want to buy everything. Your time is valuable and you should focus on one thing that validate your product and takes it to the next level of validation and maybe even bring you some resources to work faster. If you will fall to the trap of doing many things but non of them is good enough, you can waste your time and maybe loose the chance to achieve your startup goals and validations
14. Always give others more than what they asked
Did customers asked you for a service you provide? Surprise them and give them a bonus which is not part of the service. Did investors asked for some data and plans? give them at least 2X than what they asked. Surprise people your interact with. Give an extra service whenever you can.
Thank you for reading, I will be happy to hear and learn more from your experience and hope you got some real advice!
Clap if you enjoyed (: