A lot of blogs and such out there have headings like “How to build a great startup overnight” and “3 tips to make a gazillion dollars in 10 minutes or less”, but we all know that they maybe aren’t telling the truth. Show me someone who built a successful startup overnight and I’ll show you a liar, because the truth is startups take time and patience, and while a few quick wins can help, Rome wasn’t built in a day.
The first thing a startup needs, before anything else, is an idea. From there you need a plan, onto the product, traction, maybe then you make some hires. It’s a long and often a very stressful process. However while I can’t say I’ll be able to fast forward the whole thing into 24 hours of work. This blog will definitely make life easier for you.
The first tip is don’t be solely product focused. I know it’s hard to do but it’s a very common trap. If you have tunnel vision and all you do is spend your days building and building then nothing else gets done. No marketing, no awareness, no anything. At the end of it all you have a shiny new product and no one to show it to, or even worse, no one else knows or cares.
Now I’m not saying ignore the product totally, far from it, but try to strike a balance so you have a ready-made audience to push your product on as soon as it’s done. Trust me, it’s much easier that way.
The second piece of advice I have is to be patient. Yes this is kind of just an extension of what I said in the first paragraph but let me elaborate.
When you start, you have nothing, it sucks to face that reality but it’s true. However, there is a benefit to this, you have the ability to take your time and do everything properly. When I was in high school complaining about assignments my dad always used to tell me “well do it right and you’ll only have to do it once”.
It’s good advice (as much as I didn’t want to admit it back in the day) and so now I pass the wisdom of my father on to you. Take a breath. Relax. Yes you have deadlines but don’t forget, you’ve made your own deadlines. Make sure you do everything properly, don’t take shortcuts just to meet your own deadlines when you could instead do things correctly. This will have 2 major benefits.
One. Your product will thank-you. Taking your time and doing things properly will not only result in a well-refined product but will mean that further down the track, squashing bugs and adding features will be easier as your product isn’t a rush job that will require serious detective work to figure out how it even manages to work.
Secondly, your sanity. Every startup is going to be stressful and have speed bumps to overcome. So if you lock yourself away and work like a maniac, these speed bumps will seem like mountains. Don’t send yourself crazy. Work consistently not crazily and do things properly.
My third and last tip is to seek good advice and not to ignore it. It’s another all too common trap new founders fall into where the advice of all others is ignored in the blind pursuit of a singular focus which may or may not be misguided. However the truth is, if the people around you with experience and knowledge are all telling you to do something differently, you should probably listen.
Now I’ll admit that there are rare cases where founders have gone against advice and built their own thing only to see it take off, everyone knows these examples. The reason everyone knows these examples is because they are so so rare, and that’s what makes them noteworthy. No one hears about the numerous cases where someone goes mad building a product only to see it fail but trust me, it happens far more often than the success stories.
With those three tips in mind, go forth and succeed. Don’t be too product focused, yes it’s important, but so is everything else. Plan well and pace yourself, be patient and listen to those around you. A startup is a stressful and difficult thing, there is no need to go and make it harder than it needs to be. Now go do your thing.