Startups are like children: upbringing is critical
Building a startup is a conscious form of creation.
In fact, I would argue that it’s a more impressive form of human creation than giving birth, because unlike pro-creation, building a startup goes against everything that comes naturally. We’re well designed to conceive children, we’re terribly designed conceive startups.
Many of the important considerations that go into raising a child correlate to important considerations when building a startup. There is a lot to learn about startups when you think about these correlations. Here are a few to get you thinking, along with tips to help you manage the quagmire of hard things when raising a startup.
Choosing who you conceive your “baby” with is important
A startup will have a blend of the combined values, strengths and weaknesses of the founders. It’s important that you find people who will help to co-create something you will continue to love (values alignment), that is will rounded (different strengths & skills), and who you get along with well enough to stick it out through the shitty times (commitment). Make sure you spend time dating before you ‘jump into bed’ with them, and have a solid prenup in case things turn to crap.
The environment you bring a startup into has a lasting impact on its life
Put thought into the school you sign your startup up to (e.g. accelerators, incubators, startup programs and mentors), as their values and teachings will have a lasting impact on your startups future.
Don’t only consider the tangible things that are on offer, as often the influences you can’t see are what can have the biggest impact. Look beyond money, names, and buzz words, and consider the culture and people behind what you’re getting yourself into. Become better informed so you can make better decisions. Don’t just get taken by the flashy sign on the school gate.
This is because…
The people who are part of your startups life will have a material impact on it’s future
Before your startup is mature enough to confidently and easily make decisions on it’s own, it’s more vulnerable to the influence of others.
The reason it’s easier for people to influence a start up at this time is because there is not a lot of tangibility (product still being built, team still being formed, culture, brand and value still being defined). So it’s important to be very considered about who you let into your startups life.
Find people who truly care about your startups future, not just how much money they can make.
The bigger it grows, the harder it becomes to change , which is why the decisions that are made early on are important
Habits and beliefs form right from the beginning. The longer they exist and the more people they exist for, the harder they become to change.
Take time in the early stages to think about what’s important (culture, brand, values, vision) and embed those philosophies into your company before you start to grow. This will help you to make better decisions about where you head and who you have onboard.
Society screws with you
Everyone has their own opinion on how you should raise your startup. If you’ve never done it before, you should seek out advice from others. But be conscious that no one knows your startup better than you do. So you need to be making the final decision for your startup, if you want your startup to grow up into something you’re proud of.
They grow up
They’re not babies forever and you can’t control every element of their lives. The sooner you realise this, the better it will be for your startup.
You have to choose the parts you are great at. Let other people into your startups life who can do the other parts. If you do a good job selecting who these people are, then you should be able to trust them to have the companies best interests at heart, and do what they need to do to ensure it grows in the right way.
If you love babies then get your startup to a place where it can stand on it’s own, or can be adopted by another loving family, and then you can have another one. Or if you’re great at raising them, consider joining a creche.
It’s harder to do it on your own, and then it’s even harder to let it go
When it’s only been you that’s raised it from the beginning, it’s purely an extension of you. So you haven’t had to compromise on how it’s been raised so far. Next step is to find someone else who you trust to have as part of your startup, who can give it the qualities you can’t provide as well. Once you have one more person involved, it becomes easier to open up and let more in.
Your startup will consume a significant period of your life and financially drain you
BUT if you do things right, it will pay significant dividends in the long run, so keep going and raise it right.
Startups form their own purpose, their own set of beliefs and values, habits and systems, which go on to have a shape the life they live and the impact they have in the world.
There is a lot to learn from thinking about your own development and how you optimise your own personal performance, then applying this to your startup on a macro-scale.
Are you giving your startup the best chance at a successful future?
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Thank to Elyse Wyatt for proof reading this.