The Secret Company Building Recipe
Everyone sells you on the formula you should follow to build the “best and biggest company.”
Tidbits of this advice often goes something like this:
“You should work with a cofounder who you know well, but not too well.”
“You should have a team of 3.”
“You should go all in on the project from the get go. Give it all you got.”
“Find a competitive advantage. Be a monopoly. Don’t compete.”
All these mantras are great -> but not absolute. You can build a successful company, and people have, by literally avoiding most things people tell you. Why is that so? Because most people have never built a huge company themselves. And even if they have! Surely luck was involved.
The best advice I have ever heard, repeated by friends, mentors, and things I’ve learned from YC:
“Build something people want.”
A business is just delivering a product that people want, and can pay for.
Find one person who wants what you are selling. Make it up if you have to. Test that assumption quickly.
Then find another person.
Before you know it — you have 100 people who buying what you are selling.
That, to me, is a business.
Not press. Not raising VC money. Not having a pretty landing page. A business is selling to customers.
We often under prioritize learning to sell, when in reality, an early stage company’s sole purpose is to talk to customers and sell the product. That is all. You should be building and selling.
The problem, I think, is that we get distracted by all this fluff that people tell us we should be focusing on. All of that fluff is interchangeable. The only common thread among all successful companies, that I can find, is that they deliver something that customers want, especially that they are willing to pay for.
For some reason, at early stage companies, that thought is lost. It is under prioritized. We forget all about it. Now it depends on your goal, maybe you are building a company as a medium for learning and therefore have hugely different expectations — but if you want to create a company (which, btw is not that a particularly fun and easy thing to do) — you better provide something that people want.
And when I say people, I do not mean the whole world. Find one person. Literally one random stranger. Create something that they want. It is hard. But it is not impossible. You may fail, but this is the only way to find out.
Originally published at gonen.blog.