Those following my story closely know that I wasn’t born a VC.
Just like the people I passionately work with I started with my own set of pitfalls and weaknesses, and what is a better place for all these to become imminent than within a company you have started?
Fast forward, 2 companies, board member in 6 more and chairman of Campus Consortium here are some of the things I wish I had known earlier in my startup journey.
How rewarding it will be!
No matter if your company ends up as success or failure, several years later you will still turn back to that experience with a sweet taste in your mouth and tons of live changing experiences.
There is hardly a better learning process in learning about yourself, learning about the others and learning about the world than running a startup. So, start regardless of where it may take you.
Letting hold of the basic tasks and focus sooner than later on company building.
Most of the founders I know who are also product developers share this same pattern. They find it extremely hard to let go of the product development, of incremental improvements of writing new batches of code or answering support for customers.
If you are the CEO of your company apart from being the programmer it is your task to start thinking about scaling the company as fast as possible. You have to learn to let go.
Asking for help more often — there are incredibly helpful people around
I got along this very hard. It took me long to digest the fact that people are not as busy as they seem to be and that if you come up with the right questions there will always be people ready to provide answers and guidance.
That’s the magic thing about getting a reply or an advice from literary anyone — ask the right, the specific the concise question whose answer will be actionable.
Resting on your laurels
If you have people around who are able to tell you — you are stupid, this thing will never work on the long run, this will completely dissipate and nothing you will ever build will be ever known, consider yourself lucky. It is always good to have such people around who ground you down. That means someone cares.
Don’t let your ego rule over you just because you have turned a million dollars of profit this year but start looking immediately on what will it take to make the next 10 millions right from tomorrow. The point is clear — don’t rest on your laurels. Don’t listen to those saying how great and awesome work you are doing.
Writing your own story.
This is particularly applicable for wannapreneurs, those who seem to need a permission from a VC to finally start a company and bring it forth from idea stag. Stop imagining how it may look like. Stop reading stories on successful people. Don’t respond to clichés that 10/11 successful startup founders have a Stanford degree. It tells absolutely nothing about your prospect of success.
Avoid being seduced by patterns and causality where there is none, stop reading those blog posts talking about successful founders and their stories and start writing your own unique story.
Start with the little pieces, those over you can have absolute control of, like choosing who do you work with, what hours would you like to spend working, what would you like to work on, etc.
Define your destiny around these lines and you will already find out that you are working just like a startup founders. Find your own terms and the story will follow suit.
Having few people you can talk to
We are always seduced by the glittering world of startups as showed by media, about companies consistently growing, consistently hitting the headlines, always hiring and we wonder — How do they do it? How do they tread such path?
The truth is — It is never as pink as it looks. Most of the times founders must act as if everything goes smooth even when it doesn’t, for obvious reasons.
Doing so for a longer time makes you exhausted. Therefore it is always a good idea to have a bunch of people you can confide to with your actual burden. Those people may be your founders or may be your investors or advisers.
It is good to have people you don’t have to act in front of. It helps tremendously to be able to unburden yourself of and not feeling that it is a burden you have to carry on your own. This is rarely the case with any burden we may have but unfortunately, the younger we are the less we are able to figure this out.