Lack of confidence in your self, your product, and your startup is a surefire recipe for disaster. At the other extreme, too much confidence or arrogance can kill you just as fast. It’s always painful when a startup fails, but as a mentor to founders, I would hope that you can learn from these failings and not stumble on the same issues. I’ve written about these before, but since I see them so often, I thought it might be worth reiterating:
Do you sometimes lie awake at night wondering what will happen if your biggest customer doesn’t pay you? How about if the vendor handling your website upgrade takes off with your thousand-dollar down payment? These scenarios would be a nightmare for any bootstrappingentrepreneur — and they happen all the time.
Nikolas Daras's insight:
From the OP:
"When you show clients that you are professional and serious about your business, they will think twice before trying to stiff you"
"Have a contract for every single relationship your business enters into."
Maybe it’s just because I entered the entrepreneurial world relatively recently but it seems that ‘start-up’ is a buzz word in the UK at the moment. Driven by recession the government have an obvious motivation to encourage young bright talent to start their own businesses in the UK thus encouraging private investors to get their money back into the system. Not that us entrepreneurs should complain given the tax incentives making investment risk profile more digestible to the guys with the fat wallets. The old cliché of the majority of businesses failing in the first year unfortunately still holds true and if you plan on starting out on your own here’s some tips that I hope will help in your first year (some of which I wished we had known at the time!):
Stefano Bernardi recently wrote a good cautionary post about the difficulties of raising investment in the US. He’s not wrong – the odds are stacked against you – but I don’t think European entrepreneurs should be discouraged.
Here’s a social situation almost everyone in the startup community will recognize: You're at a party, or a conference, or a networking event, and some young founder sidles up to you to chat about his big project. He says his idea is going to disrupt everything about everything. He tells you about how it's sure to scale massively the minute he deploys. He tells you about the flood of investment dollars that will surely be unleashed the moment his brilliant idea sees the light of day. But he refuses to tell you his idea, at least until you sign a non-disclosure agreement, which he conveniently has in his pocket.
The tech industry has a certain narrative on how startups are created. Given the immense wealth generated in a short period of time, entrepreneurial lessons are often lost in the measure of dollars and growth.
Reading is said to be the spark behind creative thinking, and is one of the most predominate traits of individuals said to pertain a level of “higher intelligence”. Is the thought of gaining intelligence through reading actually viable? I believe that it is not intelligence that is gained through reading; rather it’s the exposure to other people’s thoughts and perception of events and processes that generally will lead to you being better rounded thinker.
I’ll admit it, the title of this article is downright curmudgeonly. But between visioning sessions, collaborative software development and Linus’ Law of bug detection — we’ve been taught to accept the wisdom of crowds as necessary to most startup decision-making. In our world, consensus is treated as a type of quality control and our success as leaders depends on a culture of listening and openness. To an extent, all of this is true. But what happens when a constructive conversation becomes a futile one?
When you’re first getting your start-up off the ground, finding and reeling in awesome team members can be one of your biggest challenges.
In my experience, there are a few key factors that matter most to early stage start-up employees, and these are often the reasons that employees join start-ups in the first place. So, if you can show your top candidates how you can offer them those things, you’ll have a much better chance of people coming on board.
Master storyteller and blogger extraordinaire, Seth Godin, recently stopped by Intelligent.ly to share his marketing genius. From a group of over one hundred applicants, we selected a handful of Boston startups to serve up their greatest marketing challenges to Godin for advice. Boy, did he deliver.
Nikolas Daras's insight:
Take your time and watch this video (and also check intelligent.ly - it's an awesome blog). Seth Godin rocks!
Startups are often strapped for cash, crunched for time, and slammed with responsibilities. This kind of lean and agile operations need a particular kind of marketing power. Startups can’t do every marketing activity in the book. They certainly can’t spend all the money they want. But they still need to do [...]
Recruiting for a startup is always a challenge for founders, but there are some considerations such as defining the job scope and managing people's expectations that would help entrepreneurs in this respect.
With the an estimated 150,000 new websites and 7.3 million new pages added to the Internet every day, the biggest challenge for every entrepreneur is to get found, and get some credibility for a new startup. I can attest from experience that publishing a regular blog to properly showcase your offering, even before you have it, is a most cost effective approach in time and money.
When a startup takes off, industry watchers note the company’s core offering, and many attribute its success solely to the founder(s) having a great idea. Investors rarely see it that way. For venture capitalists and angel financiers, a smart investment starts not only with a stellar concept but a smart, entrepreneurial team as well.
Here’s how discerning VCs recognize promising founders:
The era of VCs investing in successful consumer Internet startups such as eBay led to a belief system that seemed to permeate many enterprise software startups that hiring sales or implementation people was a bad thing.
“We want low-touch or zero-touch businesses” was the mantra.