Six months ago I left the comfort of a career as a Management Consultant to start my own business and like many of you, spent a great deal of time preparing myself before taking the plunge.There is so much information, 100’s of books and so many online resources out there now for people thinking about launching a start-up, yet still…many entrepreneurs like me learn our most important lessons in the real world, and not from behind a laptop screen.
You dont need to know everything to get started, luckily since you never will
Waiting until you have all the information you need before starting a project, building your website/ product or speaking to investors is a bad idea…you will never have all the information that exists.
Now I’m not suggesting you be reckless and rush into things unprepared, however I believe you should decide what pieces of data, information etc. you really must have to get started, and get started forget the rest, if you really need it, you will get to it eventually. You will never have everything you need and you will never be 100% ready, so just start. Inaction is your worst enemy and will very likely lead to you missing out on some great opportunities.
Entrepreneurship can be lonely but still awesome
Sure the brainstorming and strategizing with co-founders and employees, meetings with investors, working from cool co-working spaces, attending networking events, pitching your start-up and meeting more new people than you thought possible is fun and exciting, but there is another side. Inevitably at some point you will spend hours/days/weeks building your website or product, writing requirements, testing etc. and often you will need to do this alone. Even if you have an awesome co-founder (which I do by the way!) you need to divide and conquer to be effective which can often mean lots of working alone.
For many people this isn’t a problem, but if you are an extroverted individual who needs to be around people all day every day, and is energized by socializing and interacting with others…be prepared! It doesn’t last forever but it is inevitable in the early days, so just make sure you are ready for it and can adjust your working style and personality accordingly.
My effort + hours worked = success of my business
This sounds obvious, but having worked for many years in global organizations with large back office/support functions to take care of finance, marketing, IT, HR and other administrative tasks being responsible for absolutely everything can take a bit of getting used to!
It’s great to have total control and flexibility about when, where and how much I work and arrange my life around my work when I need to, there are very real benefits to this. However, all in, I work much more than I did before because the buck stops with me, there isn’t anyone to hand things off to and in the early days outsourcing is often too expensive.
Making your start-up a success takes everything you have, it consumes you most of the time mentally and physically, but it is well worth the effort. The quicker you can realize that the amount of work you put in directly correlates with how well your business is doing, the better.
Thick skin is a requirement
As emotional human beings, we get emotionally invested in what we are building, it’s ours, and we feel that it represents an important part of us. Unfortunately failure in one way or another will happen even to the most successful businesses, and it’s critical, it’s how we learn and improve, but the start-up world is no place for people with thin skin.
You will at some point get an email from a seriously unhappy customer, rejection from a potential employee, a big ‘no’ from an investor, a partner who isn’t interested and probably much worse than that as well. Taking all these things personally every time they happen is; a) a waste of your time b) exhausting c) depressing.
My rule is to take a minute to feel sorry for myself (if I really must) think about what the learning from the situation is, adjust as needed and keep it moving. Done.