Saturday, September 16, 2017

15 Things You Better Love Before Becoming A Founder - Founders Under 40™ Group Shares

Imagine somebody asked you to write on a piece of paper the things
you love doing. If what came to mind was “partying, hanging out with
friends, going to the beach, meeting new people, traveling,” you might
ready to go on vacation or spring break.

If on the other hand, you wrote “learning, making decisions, listening,
risk, selling, working hard and building something from nothing,” you
might be ready to be an entrepreneur. Through my experience I
learned about the less glamorous yet truly valuable things
entrepreneurs do with their time.

So if you’re thinking about starting your own company from scratch,
here are the things you better love – or at least learn to tolerate on a
daily basis.



1.Recruiting


Building a team is key to success. Of course, you want to work with
rockstars (sans the diva factor) that believe in your vision, are easy to
spend long days with, willing to take on risks and work hard for little
pay. So does everyone else.

You are competing with other talented startups and, more
importantly, with big companies and their large budgets for a scarce
resource. This makes recruiting hard.

You’ve heard that investors “bet on teams.” This makes perfect sense
since your product or idea might change. One thing you don’t hear as
much is that investors look at your team to measure up your ability to
sell.

Founders need to sell, and your ability to sell your vision to good
co-founders and employees is social proof for the investors. It shows
investors that someone else was willing to share the risk with you
before you ask them to do so.

Look for teammates as you go and as early as possible. Not only will
you increase the odds of finding partners earlier on, you’ll also
practice your sales chops and get the realest feedback on your pitch.

2. Fundraising


Ah, fundraising… some CEOs hate it, and some love it. Like everything
in life, if you find you are good at it, you are more likely to enjoy it.
Bottom line is, the vast majority of startups raise outside money.
Fortunately, you can bootstrap both product and distribution with a
lower budget than ever before.

Not everyone can afford to or wants to invest their own money (in
addition to their time) into their startup, and many companies need
outside funding to scale. Once you are doing well, funding feels less
like asking for money and more like choosing it. But you might still
need some funding to help you get there.

Luckily, accelerators provide a good platform for kicking off your
fundraising efforts and there are more accelerators now than ever
before.

AngelList is also a great platform that you can leverage to drive or
track your fundraising efforts. Keep in mind that fundraising will be
disruptive to your product development and marketing. Not only
because it takes a lot of time but also because while you’re
fundraising, you think about your investor leads, intro requests,
upcoming meeting and your pitch deck instead of the product,
marketing and growth.

The silver lining is that fundraising is a great way to get feedback,
meet potential advisors and help distill your pitch.

3.Customer support


You might be thinking “we’ll outsource customer support because as
CEO, my time is too precious to help customers figure out how to
navigate my site or retrieve their password.” Think again.
The reason you will do customer support is because you will quickly [learn a lot more about your] product.

“Talk to your customers” is in startup rulebooks 101 for good reason.
There’s so much value in talking to customers and more importantly,
listening to them.

The educational value is just one reason you will be doing customer
support. Another reason is because you might be the person that will
do it with most heart, and we all want to [create raving fans through] our brand’s
customer experience.

Will you be doing support forever? Of course not. Sooner or later you
will need to let go and delegate, so you have more time to do more
important things. But delegating and managing a job you’ve done is
much easier than one you haven’t.

4.Tradeshows


Get ready for fluorescent lights, overpriced hotels, tradeshow food
and spending long hours on your feet.

industry, with buyers or vendors. They may even help you spark or
maintain friendships.

You don’t want to become a Conference Ho, but you better be ready
to hit the floor a couple of times a year. When you look back, you
might realize just how valuable those trips were.

5.Working long hours

Thanks to Hollywood, some people think being an entrepreneur is like
the movie “The Social Network” where 20 percent of it is work and 80
percent action.

The reality is, you must be prepared to grind 5x harder than you ever
have while working for someone else. My co-founder and I typically
work 80+ hours a week. While we were at [an accelerator] surrounded
by 27 other companies, we were pleasantly surprised to find this is
standard practice in Silicon Valley.
The wonderful thing is if you do something you are passionate about,
it doesn’t feel like work, it feels like an opportunity. It’s as if you are
on a mission and time just flies.

6.Making tough decisions


When was the last time you had to make an important decision? As a
founder, you are constantly hitting crossroads, where it’s on you to
decide which road to take.

This happens with product (which features to build and which not),
fundraising (if and when and from whom), partnerships, business
model types, pricing, which attorney to work with, who to hire and so
many more. You must learn to feel comfortable making important
decisions.

While you may have good advisors and brain trust around you, it’s on
you to make the call and there’s often no clear right or wrong, or at
least no way to know until much later. It’s easy to criticize other
entrepreneurs or your current boss from the bleachers. But being a
founder puts you ‘in the arena’ and that doesn’t happen every day as

I don’t know anyone who likes to fly. I do know two pilots who love
their job. But both confided that they can’t stand flying as passengers
either.

Thing is, not everyone will come to you and you’ll need other people’s
help, especially when you are starting out. You’ll have to fly to
tradeshows or conferences, meet investors, recruit, meet your
contract employees, pitch at events and more.
One thing I’ve learned is to optimize for flight comfort (total flight
length and takeoff time, for example) rather than for saving $100.

You won’t know where that $100 is in three months but your time,
alertness in those meetings and resilience to not burn out will make
or break you.

8.Being broke


The two primary paths of starting a startup are bootstrapping or
raising outside funding. Sometimes the former leads to the latter.
When you are bootstrapping you are often living off savings and
probably aren’t taking a salary. After you raise outside funds you’ll
take a salary but it probably won’t be flashy.

Investors rightfully expect you to be prudent with their money. Either
way, you’re unlikely to be ‘living large’ during the first years of your
startup.

It’s not uncommon in Silicon Valley for entrepreneurs with millions of

9.Risk


If there’s one word that defines startups besides ‘growth,’ it’s
‘uncertainty. You are always at the whims of the market, your users,
your runway, investors and your hustle. It’s difficult to plan for the
future when you don’t know if the thing that currently consumes your
life will be alive in eight months.

Whether you’ll have growth or not next month. If that experiment
you’re running with the business model will pay off or bite you in the
ass.

Be prepared to develop thick skin and put on those blinders. Your goal
is to stay focused on the mountain-top while getting over the hump
right in front of you and being prepared for the one hiding behind it.

10.Moving fast


Your most valuable resource as an entrepreneur is time. You are
racing against the clock trying not to run out of money, not to be
beaten to market by competition, to minimize your opportunity cost
and to grow fast.

Since you probably aren’t starting the journey with lots of money, you
will wear many hats. This leaves you with very little time.

I’m a musician and have had weeks go by without playing. I’ve seen
my friends and family less than I’d like. I’ve watched a handful of
movies in the last 12 months, when I used to watch a one or two a
week (trailer binging is still allowed though it’s about a fulfilling
substitute as donuts are to a good Italian meal).

Get ready to disappear, to go underground. Get ready to lose sleep.
You know your friends who recently had kids, and suddenly they are
never to be seen and always tired? Yeah, that’s going to be you if you
embark on this journey.

Having a startup is like having a baby. But so many parents say, it’s
one the most rewarding things they have ever done and would do it
again in a heartbeat.

It’s one of the few times in life you’ll go so deep, you’ll get lost in it
and return to the real world with a sparkle of wisdom in your eyes.

11.Learning new things


Learning is one of the most rewarding parts of being an entrepreneur.
Statistically, most startups don’t succeed. However, what all
entrepreneurs ‘win’ at is a huge new basket of experience and skills.
Having to wear many hats – marketing, HR, accounting, pricing, biz
dev, pitching, product management and more, forces you to learn a
lot in a short amount of time.

Fortunately, there is a ton of info readily available to you. The culture
in the startup world today is one of transparency and that’s an
reading (and the rest of the day doing). You’ll need to be in output
mode, but you’ll also get to be in input mode absorbing knowledge,
and that’s rewarding.

Founding a startup is like an MBA on speed with more doing and with
real stakes. It’s hard to choose only a few but some of my favorite
resources for getting acquainted to ‘Startup thinking’ are:

12. Selling confidently


If you don’t like selling, maybe business isn’t for you. If you don’t like
speaking in front of an audience, you probably shouldn’t become a
CEO.
You will need to sell your vision and leadership to your team, sell your
product to your users and sell it all to your investors and accelerators.
You will likely participate in pitch/demo days in front of an audience.
You’ll be asked to do interviews (if you are lucky).

Don’t be a used car salesman, but don’t be too shy or it will get in
your way. I always thought that Richard, CEO of Pied Piper from HBO’s
“Silicon Valley” would have an uphill battle in the real world.

Even if you don’t have it naturally, being a founder gives you a great
opportunity build confidence. Not necessarily through success, but
because you’ll learn to find and bring out that confidence from within
you very fast in order to stay in the game.

13.Dealing with Contracts, Legal, Accounting


If hearing these words make your eyes roll to the back of your head,
you’re not alone. Fortunately it’s easier than ever to get legal
documents drafted and do accounting thanks to sites like [Blanked} and the availability of legal document
templates like the [Blanked]. There couldn’t be an easier time to do this.

14.Adapting


One of the greatest things being an entrepreneur can do for your
character is teach you to adapt – to be open to data and feedback.
Being stubborn about your vision regardless of new information you
learn can be a hindrance to success. That’s an important part of the
Lean Startup methodology that many in the startup world subscribe
adjusting your course. Being nimble is an advantage you have
compared to bigger companies.

Big ships take longer to change their course. Learning to be wrong
will allow you to find your way as a leader and a person.

As an entrepreneur you are doing the work of a whole company. In
the early days you are running a triage and you will most likely find
yourself delving in many of the things on this list. If you are fortunate,
you’ll find one or two other people who will go on the journey with
you.

In addition (mine)

15.The Hardship


It will mostly not be smooth sailing for you and your team. Especially if you are in a minority group or a woman. Until there’s slightly more equal representation in the world of entrepreneurship, founders, investors, community, etc., the few of you grinding and hustling honestly will need to work five times harder. My advice is keep learning from the best regardless of their background or ethnicity. And keep your head up.

Later Founders!!



***This was originally written by a different author named Shachar G and we are not endorsing the author or his/her affiliations. Just sharing. Original title was “14 things you better love before becoming an entrepreneur “.
***If you want to share your thoughts or talk about something else, you are welcome to join our Founders Under 40™ Group private community.(subscription required). Also Join Us on Facebook; Https://www.facebook.com/foundersunder40

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