7 tips for first time entrepreneurs
#1 – Join a startup first, then start your own. If you have never done a startup go join one first – then learn as much as you can! Cut your teeth in the startup world by working with great entrepreneurs that you can learn from. Once you work your tail off and learn all you can and expand your network, then go start your own.
#2 – Remember, your first startup will likely fail. Like any other career, you don’t start at the top. You might start at the top of your startup, but your startup itself will start in the bottom. At the bottom of the whole pool of startups that are out there. Others startups may have greater teams, more traction and much more funding. If the goal of your first startup is to become super rich or famous, you will likely fail. Set realistic expectations.
#3 – Start now. Do your first startup as early as possible and treat it like any other job. Get in the game as soon as possible. If you don’t like it and it’s not paying well then maybe you should quit and do another startup.
#4 – Go to where the action is. If you fundraise in a small pond with a few investors swimming around then chances are none of them are going to invest. Achieve much more by moving to the nearest startup hub (in Europe its pretty much London or Berlin) and do your fundraising there – that’s where the money is. If you don’t wanna move then just incorporate there and send the person who is fundraising there for the duration. You still have a “local” presence.
#5 – Make it fun. I realized early how much fundraising mattered and have always tried to make it as fun a process as possible. If you know that investors (like any person out there) can be real pricks then don’t be surprised when you meet one – just laugh and say “what a ****” and move on to the next. Fundraising is like any other sales – most people will say no, some will be rude, but the pay is good. Keep a good attitude and make the entire experience as fun as possible.
#6 – Know what motivates investors. Many entrepreneurs mistakenly think that investors are like minded folks with the same objectives as you who just happen to have a lot more 0’s on their cash balance. Investors couldn’t care less about your product features or why your idea is awesome. They care about return on investment rather than actually helping you achieve success. So play their game and show them you will make money for them, that’s what they want. Once you are done dealing with them go back to whatever you like doing about your startup.
#7 – Never give up. It’s a bit of a cliche, but the only reason I’m a better or more successful entrepreneur today than I was eight years ago is because of experience and persistence. Had I quit building startups and gotten a corporate job then most of that experience would have been completely useless. Because I kept going I could learn from my mistakes get a much better outset when starting my next venture.