Among contradicting advices, blogs, articles and videos on entrepreneurship and startups.
Last couple of weeks, I’ve been reading books & blogs, watching videos and signing up for newsletters to learn more about building a ‘sustainable tech-business’ to help me with running Gridle; and boy have I felt lost!
If you don’t want to read the whole thing, here’s a brief:
Advices by successful people often contradicts. Who do you follow while starting up? 3 things to do:
Set a goal for a deadline and work your needs backwards
Iterate and optimise
Don’t trust your gut!
I suggest you read the whole thing though; it’s more colourful.
I haven’t written anything in sometime now and what motivated me to write this one was because ‘feeling lost’ while running a startup comes naturally to many entrepreneurs; successful and failed ones alike.
The reason ‘feeling lost’ comes naturally to an entrepreneur is because there’s advice everywhere!
In one day, I read an essay by Paul Graham (Founder at Y Combinator) saying ‘do things that don’t scale’ and listened to a prolific investor who believes ‘scaling up’ is the most important bit for a startup and should be done quickly;
I also read in Peter Thiel’s (Co-founder Paypal & Facebook’s first investor) book Zero to one about ‘Being lean and flexible’ and saw a quote by an amazingly successful entrepreneur ‘A bad plan is better than no plan’;
I also watched a video by Base camp Co-founder Jason Fried on why a ‘Product needs no sales team because it should sell itself’ and watched an episode of Shark Tank where Mark Cuban shouted ‘Sales cure all’ at the guy who was pitching!
If you spend some time doing what I did for a week, you’ll find probably 10 more advices in absolute contrast through videos, blogs and articles. And it’s not like these guys are just anyone; most of them are billionaires who’ve built themselves from absolutely nothing, they are successful par question and undoubtedly some of the brightest minds of our time!
So, how do you get over all this?
More advice; ironic, truly, in all senses of the word!
What I’ve tried to do to survive in the middle of Marshal Field’s ‘Customers are always right’ and Steve Jobs’ ‘Customers do not know what they want’ are a couple of things:
Be a Vulture:
Be absolutely sure of what you want. Forget about how you are going to get there. Let it be figured out some other time. For now, get above the serpent vision (knowing things on-ground) and find the eagle vision (Bird-eye view). Set your goals, set your deadlines and be very, very clear about what it is that you must achieve in a specified time-duration.
If you need to reach $1M users in 1 year, think about how many people, developers, designers and marketing guys you’ll need; how much funds will you need, and by when? Answering these questions will raise more questions; answering them, even more. By the time you reach the 5th level of question, you’ll only have answers or ‘don’t know’s. Figure out the ‘don’t know’s. That’s why you get all the equity.
Essentially, for a startup, backward integration is much simpler and better than forward integration.
Try everything at your disposal:
Whatever you hear, see, learn; it’s important. It’s fairly important because it worked for a set of people in certain circumstances at a different time and around a surely separate context. If you hear that your self-service web based product does not need sales or marketing; try that for 3 months and no matter how good/bad the results are, try otherwise for a few months as well. I guess what I am trying to say is pivot, iterate and check out all the options before you settle down on the advice you are going to listen to.
Give up your gut-feel:
Gut-feel is useless. It’s almost never true; and when it is, it’s more like luck or winning a lottery. Rely on data. (We‘ve written about why it matters when we announced launch of Gridle- analytics). Hard-work + Common sense is an amazing combination perfectly blended to help you accomplish stuff!
And you wouldn’t leave the most important decisions for your startup to luck, would you?
Competitive market or entirely new space itself; early stage valuation or 3 forward year projections; your users/consumers and their behavior is largely predictable if you use common-sense since that is what drives them in their lives as well.
This article is a work-in-progress and I will be adding more things as and when I come across. If you have any suggestions or additions, please let me know.