Advice for Start-Ups

Random Observation/Comment #438: Follow your heart. Even if you give it your all and you fail, at least you’ve experienced something. It’s more valuable than 100 successes.

startup advice

I attend a lot of NYC start-up/entrepreneur events where panels speak about their experiences from working at a successful start-up. It gets a little repetitive because they’re probably reading from the same blogs, but here’s my best summary:

  1. Treat your start-up as an experiment instead of a business. The start-up is an investment and it will not make money for a long time (sometimes a very long time), so you might as well have fun with it. As an experiment, you probably shouldn’t think about the long term finances or marketability of your product.
  2. Sometimes life is about risking everything for a dream no one can see but you. This is a rally for passion and if you don’t see the value of these words, you probably shouldn’t have your start-up. If you have your vision and you work hard to get there, then no one can stop you.
  3. Change happens, so Deal with it. This applies to starting a new company and seeing one of your key selling points become a feature in your competitor’s strategy. Well – it’s not the end of the world. Just work harder to do it better.
  4. Start from your role and always work outwards. Realize how you contribute to your idea and how you’re pushing it forward and making it grow. Once you do that, look at the other points of influence:
    1. Know who people in your company are and what they do day to day. Let’s be honest, you can’t do everything yourself so you’ll need to hire people – good/smart people that share your vision and pull their weight. It’s only micromanaging if you’re telling someone how to do their job. Understanding why they’re doing their job is just courtesy.
    2. Know your market and all it’s nooks and crannies. Be sure you’re aware of all the big players and possible news that can change the playing field. Maybe a law can be passed that could completely shut down your operations. It’s better to know and be proactive, than just have it sneak up on you.
    3. Know your users. Not everyone can be their own user, but even if you are, know all of them. Know how people use your product/service and why they continue to. It will help your in your overall strategy. Embrace their feedback and adjust accordingly. A low feedback diet is harmful to the health of your business.
  5. Be thorough and complete with your work because your prototype usually becomes your version 1.  This happens all the time around scalability, so as with all good coding, make sure what you’re building can be separated into modules and scaled to a certain extent.  Also make sure that you’re not building to support 1 million users when you have trouble getting 1000.

This is basically Entrepreneurship 101, but people working as a project lead on any-sized project at any-sized company should have the same passionate perspective as these entrepreneurs. The leadership is usually the special sauce that inspires the team and drives a project to success.

~See Lemons Prototype