Founders generally fall in the category of knowing enough to see an opportunity, but not enough to see the obstacles. Which is normal, as otherwise they wouldn’t start in the first place, but this means that they need to rely on a community of people to get feedback, guidance and to learn from others experiences.
I’ve had a couple of instances of late where entrepreneurs with very viable businesses are told that their idea is not feasible, not scaleable or not worth their while. It normally comes from a VC (or incubator). The advice is not wrong – possibly misplaced – but the one thing you need to be very aware of is the motivations and perspectives of the person giving you advice.
I spent 4 years working on luxury superyachts (or megayachts or gigayachts) and every time someone I know is thinking about it I end up having the same conversation with them. I’ve decided to stop doing that and put everything that I’d normally say into this post. This is everything you need to know about working on superyachts, all in one place.
There are effectively 2 types of people in the workplace. Tradesman and managers. People who make things and people who organise things.
Knowing which one you are helps…
The hardest part about finding a name for a startup is finding a decent free domain. In most cases, the available domains is one of the main determining factors for which name you choose. With an awesome domain normally going for over $10 000 US it’s no wonder why startups are looking for variations away from the norm. The global village doesn’t help much either…
One of the hardest things about a startup is that the buck stops with you.
With a very small team and a brand new product/service, there are no balls rolling and there are no pressing deadlines – until you create them. Clients not calling? Call them. No one coming to your website? Promote it more and get it out there.
It’s this responsibility that makes it so frikken hard to start a company. They call it the hustle. And all you do, all day, is hustle hustle hustle.
One of the most important things for a tech startup is to get your product in front of customers. (It’s that whole Product/Market fit thing that you’ve got to try and work out as quickly as possible.) If you don’t have a product yet, pitch the idea. See if you can get people to sign up or agree to terms then go and build it. Fast. Cold calling really sucks but it’s one of the best ways to start talking to people about their needs and what you can do to solve them.
This is one of the biggest hurdles to get over in the early days of a startup. It’s because you don’t have a benchmark and have nothing to compare what you should be doing to. It’s those awkward moments when you’re talking to a customer and have never had to pitch it in this way before. You’re making it up on the fly and everything you are saying is a test for the person’s reactions. Say one thing wrong, price it too high or mention the wrong features or benefits and this potential customer is about to become another failed lead.
One wrong step and you fail. Then you pick yourself up and try again. (Probably to fail again.) It’s this cycle that makes it hard. When it’s a slow moving corporate cycle, it’s even worse.
Keeping motivation through the first couple of months is a serious challenge. Don’t underestimate it. Just remember that it’s all up to you – and get on with it.
[Note: These are my thoughts. If you want the real deal, I recommend reading this post by Paul Graham on 'What startups are really like.' or browse WWPGD.com]
Back in 2010 I hear Dr Vincent Maphai speak on “Understanding the levers of our Society” during a BYM conference. Seriously smart guy and I find myself remembering parts of his speech almost every time I read the news. His comments and thoughts seem more relevant every time there is a new crisis, such as the Limpopo textbooks or Lonmin. Here’s some parts of his talk that I scribbled down and really stood out for me: [Note: I've paraphrased a lot as it is reconstructed it from my notes]
South Africa is still a very young democracy. Most countries took a very long time to become a stable democracy. Think of the UK which took over 400 years, Sweden who took 80 years or Turkey who 70 years later is still wrestling with the concept. We mustn’t be in such a hurry. Things will settle, we must be patient.
Being very involved in the ANC struggle all the way through apartheid, he observed that “the tools that you use to liberate yourself are not the tools you need to successfully run a country.”
How lucky are you? I’m not a big fan of starsigns and superstitions, but some people just seem more lucky than others. Isn’t strange how some people always seem to land on their feet in any situation and that everything always works out for them? With some other people, it’s the opposite. So, what is it that makes some poeple really lucky?
As I found out in The Luck Factor by Richard Wiseman, there’s actually a little more to it. Through over 10 years of experiments researching luck he reckons that it depends more on what type of person you are than what you star sign is. The old saying, “Unlucky at cards – lucky at love” seems to be slightly off the mark because generally people that are lucky are lucky in many aspects of their life. So what makes for a lucky person?