Setting out on a startup journey will be exciting and overwhelming in the beginning. As you’re attempting to do unknown, you’ll likely feel both fearful and excited at the same time.
I know how you feel because I’ve been here myself. The feeling of doing what you like and what you love all day – which was not possible in your corporate job – will be inspiring.
The designation on your business card which says Founder will be as good as you winning the World Cup for India as a stand-in Captain.
Learning and unlearning the art of doing things one by one, and acquiring skills that your corporate job or academics never thought of, will be a bonus.
But sooner or later, you’ll come up against a set of problems that will demand your attention every day, without fail. Here is a list of problems that most of the first-time founders (I am one) might encounter:
Lack of resources
If you just started an online business, or are thinking of starting one, sooner or later you will worry about productivity, progress, and minimum resources at your disposal to help do things fast.
You will be demotivated, and doubts about your abilities will creep in. You may feel lonely and short of help. You will identify some skills missing from you, such as producing great designs, implementing digital marketing campaigns on time, little to no knowledge about SEO, etc.
But here’s the kicker – you are not alone. You do not have to worry about any of the situations mentioned above as you have equal access to online tools and advice (for free), same as the big companies have.
Hate is not fate (love what you do)
- Many people hate what they do. Whether it is coding or sales calls or something else, this is often the number one reason people leave their corporate jobs.
But be prepared to learn all required skills by yourself, or with your founding team, even if you hate them. You cannot ignore learning for the first year as you can save money by doing things on your own instead of outsourcing every task that you hate.
- Your product will likely not be ready after several deadlines. You may feel like adding more and more features, assuming the end user will like what you offer if it is an extra feature that your competitor is not aware of. But this may not always be the case.
Hiring and firing
- Hiring a team and forming core team members with likeable, complementary, and expert skills who believe in you and your product/services is a daunting process.
- You hire for the sake of hiring – interviewing a candidate is tricky and mastering it will take more time. Soon you will realize firing is the most difficult task. So, you delay the firing process, and this will hurt your startup while doing even more damage.
- You outsource some important work hoping that the other guy will give you the output that will outperform the work if you would have done it by yourself. However, you and your co-founder may be the only people who know the product in-and-out, and you will do the best job if you put in some extra time and effort.
- Funds disappear, more investments will be hard to get, and bootstrapping needs more commitment and perseverance.
Focusing on the core problem
- Your end-user or customer could see you as a big player and want all the necessary services and benefits from you from the beginning. Your user often compares you with mighty stalwarts and expects the same discounts and services. Expect no mercy – you have to be perfect or solve one problem better than your competitor.
However, solve that one problem with your prototype/beta product, and you are on your way. Remember, the core problem should be a value for your users.
- Managing a team and individuals with different skill sets, personal goals, and egos will add a new dimension to your skill list.
Motivating is the mantra
- Motivating yourself and the team and making them believe in you and the product or service is a never-ending story.
Always keep motivating, and be surrounded by smart and positive people. Bring the same energy every day as if it was your first day.
- Communications, presentations, and pitch decks will be part of your job and you may have a difficult time mastering these new skills. Be prepared.
No free service
- You will likely have a very difficult time running the business month-on-month if people expect freebies, cash-backs, and huge discounts regularly.
Collect money for your services. Don’t give away anything free that will kill your business. Charge customers and partners from the beginning. If you do not have paying customers, something is missing in your product/service. So, iterate the product until you find some paying customers.
- Risks you have put and the faith your friends or family have shown will be on top of your mind.
- Reading will increasingly be your go-to relaxation activity, especially if you want a solution to a problem or if you want refreshment.
Every dime is worth saving
- You may find yourself searching for the next thing to do, and all of a sudden feel like taking help from everyone. The truth is you have to find a resolution to your situation and move on.
Maximize your efforts on social media. Keep less or very little to no money for marketing in the initial days. Importantly, compensate money with time.
Once you start getting income, focus on paid advertising on Facebook or Google, and or on traffic sources that suit your product.
- You may even risk your health, family, and social connections.
Is there a good side to starting up?
Of course! Don’t worry – in the long run, all the above problems or difficulties will make you a better person both professionally and in your personal life.
You will sooner or later learn to appreciate the important lessons which will be helpful throughout your lifetime, lessons your highly paid education or corporate job may have never brought you.
Being happy and becoming strong both mentally and skillfully is what you will get out of your startup journey. Everyone who wants to be a first-time founder of a startup will have wonderful and loving friends and family, mentors and coaches, team and fellow co-founder(s) to back you up and support you in both startup and personal lives.
Whether you fail or succeed, may be evident in the next couple of years. But, if you focus on solving the problems with determination, you will definitely transform as a good human being with special skills that only a startup can teach.
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