When I left my awesome Product Manager job at peerTransfer to pick up more technical skills and start my own company I knew I needed to have a few simple rules to follow.
Rather than using what I thought would be good guidelines to getting my company off the ground I turned to my mentors and asked them for advice.
The first rule that resonated loud and clear was:
“Make money within the first 3 months or your team will leave you”
“Why is that?” you might ask. Well, it’s actually pretty straightforward. Most people have a risk tolerance of 3 months and either become nervous about the ‘whole thing’ or simply run out of funds.
So when I sat down with my co-founder the first thing we agreed on was to first make some money together. We didn’t want to raise any capital on an idea without traction, so we had to earn money ourselves. In fact, we didn’t really care how we would make money. All the wanted to prove is that we could make money together as a team, execute and still…well, like each other.
Here’s what happened after the first person gave us $100 for a technical coding workshop that we announced at a local tech event. We started to believe. Believe in us, in our team, in our ability to create value and turn that value into a business.
Making money first helped get everyone fired up and charging ahead
After making some money and testing a lot of different business strategies (and talking to more mentors) my second rule emerged:
“If given a set of choices, always do the one you’re most uncomfortable with first”
Let me explain what this second rule really means, by first telling you why your decision making speed matters a ton to your young company.
When you’re starting you can try out any possible idea that you have. And you should try out most of those ideas. However, we — as humans — have a limited amount of mental capacity to create and make decisions on any given day. In other words, you can only do so much each day. That means, if you have 20 ideas, leads, business strategies that you are testing, your mental capacity might be maxed out.
Which means you need to make room for new ideas to test. The fastest way to make room for new ideas is to kill each of your current ideas off and invalidate them (eg. figure out that they’re shitty). The faster you kill old ideas, the more mental capacity you have available to work on the next idea.
Ok, got it — kill ideas fast, but how?
You are killing old ideas and creating more space for new tests by leaving your comfort zone and doing what you are most uncomfortable with first. This means doing what feels most radical to you. For me that often times means, not emailing, but instead picking up to phone to call the CEO of a big company directly and ask him flat-out to help me get something done.
For different people doing the uncomfortable means different things. If you’re technical, stop writing code and go talk about your idea to 100 strangers at the next networking event. If you’re non-technical and talked to everyone in the world about your idea already, stop talking, learn to code and build your MVP so you can test assumptions with a real product.
The point is, by doing whatever makes you uncomfortable, you usually find out if you’re on to something good a hell of a lot faster than by doing what you’re comfortable with.
Stop wasting your time and do what feels uncomfortable first!