Whatever you do,
- Don’t write a business plan—this comes later.
- Don’t try to get a loan—you won’t qualify anyway.
- Don’t start building immediately—get feedback first.
- Don’t rent an office—work from home.
- Don’t advertise—what would you advertise, anyway?
- Don’t buy fancy equipment—rent or borrow; save your cash.
- Don’t quit your job—there’s a lot of setup you can do first.
- Don’t incorporate—worry about this distraction later.
- Don’t look for a partner—explore the idea first.
- Don’t hire employees—start building it yourself.
These are fatal mistakes that can doom your startup from the beginning. They are either major distractions that pull your focus away from what matters, or they’re a waste of your precious startup capital. Put first things first, and avoid these ten temptations.
Founding a company is like having a baby. It takes just as much time, energy, and attention. Like raising a child, your startup is a direct reflection of you, and it’s up to you to make sure that it has the right values and mission. You have to protect it when it’s young, and help it grow up to be strong and independent. You pour your heart and soul into it, and will do anything to make it succeed. It sucks your bank accounts dry and you gladly pay.
If you have a business partner, it’s like having a spouse. In fact, in the early years you will likely spend more waking hours with your partner than your spouse.
Like parenthood, owning a business is also one of the most rewarding things you can do. To watch your business grow into a powerhouse is amazing and inspiring. To see that you created something where before there was nothing, to know that you made your own little dent in the universe, creates an unparalleled feeling of pride and satisfaction.
Before you get started, recognize that starting a company is a serious commitment. If you are going to succeed, it will take the same dedication and lifestyle rearrangement as parenthood. Are you sure you’re ready to bring a baby into this world?
You already know that starting a business is an all-consuming pursuit. What you may not realize is that it will consume your family as well. Starting a business is truly a family affair. To one degree or another, everyone will have to step up and make sacrifices. Your income will decrease significantly for the foreseeable future, which means you won’t be able to afford many luxuries. Instead of leisure time, your family will probably end up putting in time on your business. You will be working throughout most of your kids’ childhoods.
Startups have broken up many happy homes, so set expectations from the beginning. Make sure your significant other is 100 percent on board, and ready to make the necessary sacrifices. Starting a business usually does one of two things: It brings you closer together or drives you apart. Make sure your relationship can withstand the stresses of a startup. Address any hesitation or trepidation up front, with an open and honest discussion. Your family’s unwavering support will be critical to overcome the challenges that you’ll inevitably face.
This isn’t your neighborhood little league. You’re competing against the best, and you have to be the best if you hope to win in the marketplace. Capitalism is ruthless, so don’t expect any mercy. Customers are fickle. One day you’re flying high, the next you’re bottoming out. Entrepreneurship is as competitive and cutthroat as the NFL. You’re going to have to pour it on and give it everything you’ve got. Just when you think you nailed it, the market will shift, a new competitor will enter, or something will go wrong. Right when you reach the top, you’ll get knocked off. To win, you’ll have to excel at the fundamentals, stay eternally vigilant of encroachers, and always search for new opportunities. Then, the moment you start to get traction, you can expect company. Current competitors or other aspiring entrepreneurs will take notice of your success and copy your model. Start your business with your eyes wide open, know what you’re getting into, and understand how truly difficult the startup path is. If it were easy, everyone would do it.