Launching an startup is largely an exercise in trial and error, and unfortunately, the most important lessons — the ones that will ultimately lead you to success — can only be learned by making mistakes. Though you can try your best to minimize the risks of failure ahead of time, the only way to really gain experience is by putting your head down and taking the leap.
What often separates those who fail and those who succeed however is their ability to learn from the experiences of those who walked a similar path. By paying attention to what these entrepreneurs did, and most importantly, what they should have done differently, you can be sure to avoid making similar mistakes on your path to success.
1. “There are no shortcuts”
“It’s a bit of a cliche but if I have to narrow it to one sentence it must be that there are no shortcuts. Doing things more efficiently than larger organizations is definitely do-able, but any attempt to skip necessary steps along the way will result in failure.”
Alon Rajic, Business Loan Companies
2. “Have discussions with sparring partners”
“Entrepreneurs, perhaps by design, are too often alone with their ideas and plans. It can be difficult to share our new ideas with others, and so we often won’t hear any valuable critiques. Entrepreneurs, particularly in the early stages, need to have discussions with sparring partners, who can help refine their plans, ideas, and strategies. A trusted person who will listen, speak candidly, and offer constructive criticism is invaluable when you are launching a start up.”
Rolf Ritter, People As A Service
3. “Passion is what will keep you going”
“If the problem you’re trying to solve is not something you’re passionate about, you may want to reconsider your idea. That passion is what will keep you going when times get tough (and they will).”
Matt Watson, Stackify
4. “Finding a proper work/life balance is a must.”
“No matter how passionate and motivated you are, juggling 10 balls in the air 24/7 will give your personal life and body a beating. Finding a proper work/life balance is a must. I definitely wish I realized this reality from day 1, not year 3 into launching and growing ExactDrive.”
Tim Nichols, ExactDrive
5. “Be capable of relentless optimism”
“One, you must be realistic and objective, but at the same time, be capable of relentless optimism. Two, using a gold rush analogy, it is much easier to be a tool seller than a miner. Three, networking really, really matters. Four, whoever you’re pitching (investors and customers) has heard it all before. I would say #4 was not surprising on the investor side — you expect the good ones to know more than you. But now that start-ups have more or less gone mainstream, you will find that some of your customer’s calls will fall on ears a bit fatigued from hearing about how this wonderful new widget will rock their paradigm!”
Yen Pai, okkhq.com
6. “A fellow founder is a founder’s best friend.”
“The most important one is easily a fellow founder is a founder’s best friend. No one understands the highs and lows of a startup founder like another startup founder. No one wants a founder to overcome the odds and succeed more than a fellow startup founder.”
Shailo Rao, BreakerChat
7. “Passion to ‘build a startup’ is not the same as passion to solve a problem”
“I wish I had known that passion to “build a startup” is not the same as passion to solve a problem or build cool technology. I founded my startup in 2013 when entrepreneurship began to seem glamorous. Suddenly, people wanted to “build startups” for the sake of it. But “building a startup” is weak motivation. It’s more enduring to solve a real problem or build technology that you feel is awesome.”
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