Solve real problems
Every company solves a problem. That’s what customers are paying for. Amazon solves the problem of having to get in the car to drive to the store. Google is solving the problem of organizing the world’s information.
What problem do you want to solve? My advice to you is simple: Find a real problem that, if you solve it, will create maximum profit and impact. If you focus on what matters, you will build a great business, create change, and gain access to amazing people and opportunities along the way.
Choose your startup spouse wisely
While the alignment of values, dreams, and ambitions is critical, it isn’t always enough to make for a great startup marriage. You and your Co-founder are about to embark on a (hopefully) long-term relationship with each other, sharing meals, hotel rooms, cramped office space, and everything in between. It’s critical that you take the time on the front end to learn as much as you can about each other before entering into a marriage-like relationship
Here are five questions I would recommend you ponder when considering your choice of a startup spouse:
- Do I have fun hanging out with this person?
- Is this person in the same stage of life as I am? If not, how will that impact our working relationship?
- Does this person have a similar work ethic and style as I do?
- Does this person offer a skill set that is complementary to yours?
- Can you speak the truth (kindly) to this person and have difficult conversations with them?
Ideas are cheap
Once you have a good grasp on what your idea is, find people in your network who have experience and expertise that will make your idea stronger. Talk openly with these people about your idea without fear of legal repercussions. The more you air out your idea, exposing it to people different from you, the stronger it will get and the quicker you will learn whether or not it’s an idea worth pursuing.
The next time you are hesitant about sitting down at a coffee shop with a friend or acquaintance to talk about your idea, consider this: What are the chances that the person sitting at the table next to you will hear your idea, think it’s as great as you do, have the expertise and drive to build the idea into a business, and will be able to do it all better than you can? If you think the chances are high, then you’re not the right person to build that business. The benefits of vetting your idea in broad daylight far outweigh the risks. Remember, ideas are cheap. Talk freely about them. If you have the right idea and the right experience to build it into a business, no one will be able to stop you.
Stay focused on what matters
At the start of a startup you have no map. You are charting uncharted territory. When you’re in that position, it’s easy to trick yourself into believing that the things that are the most fun are the things that are helping you build your business. And maybe they are! But the things that matter the most are the things that are the hardest and least fun to do. After you have come down from the intoxicating launch of your startup, get focused on what matters most as quickly as possible.
Be comfortable in your own skin
In a startup, you are constantly asking people for something. You are asking potential customers to buy your product. You are asking investors to gamble a sizable fortune on your idea. You are asking reporters to cover news about your company. When you’re constantly asking for things critical to your company’s survival, it’s easy to pull chameleon-like metamorphoses to close deals. Resist the temptation. It takes one Google search to reveal the true you, so don’t hide from it. Find creative ways to use your background and experience to your advantage.
Domain knowledge matters
This may sound obvious, but so many entrepreneurs act like they’ve never heard this advice. There are two ways to gain domain knowledge. The first is to find a partner with deep knowledge of the problem you’re trying to solve. This
If you can’t find a partner with the domain expertise you’re looking for, take the time to learn the problem yourself. There’s no substitute for domain knowledge and expertise. Make sure you or a partner know the ins and outs of the industry you are tackling in order to position your startup for maximum growth.
Take advantage of being unknown
In a startup, you have so many things stacked against you. While you’re relatively unknown, use that position to your advantage. Think outside the box, ask forgiveness instead of permission, and take risks you won’t be able to take as your company matures.