HOW NOT TO START A STARTUP
I have plans, ideas and visions for my startup. I know what my long term goals are. I know that when I achieve those long term goals I’ll have new ones, waiting on the sidelines. There’s just one problem. I haven’t started. It’s not that I’m lazy or careless. It’s not that I don’t care about what I want. I just don’t know how to handle school and work at the same time. During this period of uncertainty, I’ve learnt how NOT to do a lot of things.
This may seem like an extremely cliché thing to say. You’ve heard it a million times and read books like “How to be more productive” and a lot of other books. The only problem is that you can not be productive if you cannot learn how to stop procrastinating. I am so experienced, I’m ashamed. I keep telling myself the only reason I haven’t started is because I don’t have a company name. Although that’s true, it’s not a good enough reason. If you don’t have a company name, I assume everyone has a name right??? Till you figure out which name you want to use, be a one-man show. If you have co-founders, add the first letters of all your names together. Start with something. You don’t have to register your company during this period immediately, start side projects, keep yourself busy one way or the other.
“The really happy people are those who have broken the chains of procrastination, those who find satisfaction in doing the job at hand. They’re full of eagerness, zest, productivity. You can be, too.”
– Norman Vincent Peale
Never start a start-up for the money
The very moment you decide to start a business for the monetary aspects is the very moment you’ve lost your company to the various pressures that life may bring. The only thing that sustains a lot of start-ups is the passion the entirety of the staff and the founder(s) have put into that business. There will be times you’d be broke. You’ll face economic recessions, pressure from your board of directors or investors and inconsiderate customers that will delay in payment or not pay at all. You need the zest that made you start the company in the first place to make sure you don’t give up.
The money will come and go, it’s up to you to make it stay.
Never give up
- Walt Disney of Disney Studios
- Colonel Sanders of Kentucky Fried Chicken ( KFC )
- Travis Kalanick of Uber
- Henry Ford of Ford Motors
- Eric Ries of The Lean Startup
The list goes on.
All these people failed at more than one start-up before getting to where they are today. All of them have one tale to tell — Never lose faith.
Pick the right co-founders and employ the right people.
Your employees/co-founders matter as more than the next rent you’re going to pay. Don’t slaughter me just yet, let me explain.
You’re run a start-up of let’s say five people including you and you all graduated from Ivy league schools with a first class degree. You are all computer prodigies each with their various specialties. You are in charge of running the day to day activities of the company. You’ve never been into programming, you’re more of the design prodigy.
You land a multi million dollar contract and you’re to pitch by 8am on Monday. The day is Thursday. You’re the only “rookie” in the list alongside two Fortune 500 companies. They have the resources and the crew. All you have is a small team of people. The only reason you landed this gig was because your uncle who owed you one was heading the hunt and wanted to give you a chance. You knew that was where the favors will stop. He won’t risk his job any more than that to make sure you get the contract. So you need a brilliant idea. Something that will knock the board of their feet. You decided to build the app from scratch and submit it as your pitch. The project should have lasted for a month, but you want to accomplish it in days. It’s a serious challenge. Your team is in.
It’s 11:36pm on Sunday, you’re almost done. There’s just one problem, the app isn’t functioning properly. It’s crashing continuously. You’re lost, scared. You’re thinking about how the recession affected your customers and you couldn’t afford to lose this one else you’d go bankrupt. In all of this you put on a strong face and try to encourage X — the Android developer to find the bug but he’s tired and can’t think properly. You have no contractors, no one to call. X made sure of that one way or the other. As he walks out, you see your house, your fees and your upkeep walking out with him. For ten minutes you’re lost. Then you remember him joking about taking a job offer at Andela. You remember the coded phone conversations. Then you realize all of this never mattered to him because he was resuming work at Google by 9am the next morning. What would you do?
I’m going to let you put the pieces of the puzzle together in this one. I know that you can never know who the right person is, you just have to be careful and prayerful that the “right” person is actually the right person.
This was exhilarating!! All of these are personal experiences that I learnt the hard way. I hope you had as much fun reading as I did writing.
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