When the Fun ends and Work begins..
1. Business Idea – Check
2. Fancy name and logo – Check
3. Desirable mix of misfits – Check
4. Website and social media pages created – Check
Now that we have all the fun things off our list of things-to-do, let’s get to the part that most of us fret. The actual running of the business.
Let’s face it, this is the tough part. This is the part that none of us startup founders have any control over. So now what? You are standing at the door of the plane with the knowledge you think you have to build a parachute and out the plane you go!
Being a founder/ CEO is tough work. The path is usually long, dark and lonely- littered with pitfalls, unknowns, highs and lows and occasionally puppies (at least in my case). I pen this article to you as an individual and not someone who is promoting a brand, service or business. If you are already on the plane without a parachute, you might understand some of the things I am sharing here. But if you are sitting on the runway waiting to take flight, this article may help you to decide if you should get on the plane.
Here you go;
1. A startup is a business!
This is numero uno in everything you do! It’s not a pet project, a hobby, favor, excuse or anything else you think it is. You have to respect your startup as a business entity. A business needs to pay its bills. To pay its bills it needs to make money. It’s very similar to being employed – It’s a trade of your hours in an office for a stipend every month. The difference in running your own startup is that you are your own income potential. We often get trapped in the ‘bigger picture’ that we forsake the day to day running of the business. I call this the ‘founders syndrome’. In short, a founder that has his eyes on the ‘flip’ usually flops!
2. Prepare to be broke
No really, this isn’t funny at all. Unless you have an inheritance, trust fund or some serious backer with you, be prepared to go broke. Be prepared to utilize your savings, credit cards and every line of credit you have! This will be the toughest part of the startup journey. 99% of startups fail because of cash flow issues. Manage your funds well. Being broke in the startup phase is normal but if it becomes a recurring issue maybe it’s time to get off the boat.
Never hire family, friends or anyone for compassionate reasons. Talent acquisition is crucial for any startup. Hire right. You initial hires will define your company culture. Office culture runs your business! Never ever substitute culture for hires.
4. Believe in your Mission
As a startup founder, it’s easy to get distracted. Believe in your mission and your goals. Ensure that all you do, plan and execute is in alignment with your mission. No one else decides where and how the business is going except for you. I cannot stress this enough! You have to believe in your purpose to impact change in the industry that you are in. Stay steadfast but not stubborn. Remember the story about the elephant and the 5 men?
Things won’t always work out the way it’s supposed to. Patience and perseverance is key to sustainability. Keep going! The will to succeed is greater than anything imaginable. As Steve Jobs once said, “ The only thing that defines a successful entrepreneur from the rest is pure perseverance.”
To conclude, not all of us will make it to our desired destination. The journey though will teach us things we never knew or thought were even remotely plausible. The road will be tough, painful at times, but yet we hold hope that we will make it, and it is in this hope that we share that I will continue to share my experience in this journey we call entrepreneurship, so that hopefully we grow as a community and not as individuals.