I’ve never really thought of myself as an overly creative type, more of a logical problem solver or realist. Having said that, I’d say that it’s more accurate to categorise entrepreneurs as artists than as businessmen.
The term “business”, brings to mind a corporate office, managers, suits and a hierarchal environment and structure. It’s the rat race. The political process called ‘the corporate ladder’ and it speaks to long repetitive hours of grind as you steadily move your way up.
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]
Arnold Schwarzenegger truly is an inspirational person. He has progressed to the highest levels in 3 very different fields: becoming Mr Universe, one of Hollywoods highest paid actors as well as being elected a governor of California. All this from coming from a very rural background, not being able to speak English properly and having a very heavy accent. His motivation, drive and detirmination is something that we can all learn from. Below is a great youtube clip on his secrets of success:
1) Trust yourself
2) Break some rules
3) Don’t be afraid to fail
4) Ignore the naysayers
5) Work Like Hell
6) Give Something back
I can’t help but think that the obstacles in my way of achieving what I want are insignificant compared to what he has had to overcome. Make me wanna get my ass into gear… How about you?