“Being a founder isn’t easy” is something that I heard a million times but did not completely understand the sentiment before I actually became one. When I compared notes with fellow founders I realised that most of the things were very common with most of our experiences so here are the list of truths I wished I knew before hand:
No one gives a fuck (at first): If you are doing it for impressing someone, stop and rethink your priorities because it’s not worth the pain. When water starts flowing in you tend to question your sanity and the world thinks you have gone mad to do whatever you are doing. Only after Funding, Onboarding some brag worthy customers and hiring well do most people give a fuck about your startup.
Fooling yourself is easy: There is a market, I can smell it and feel it - every first time founder ever. Chance is what you are looking at is a mirage, not that it’s a bad thing in itself. Learn to spot mirages or to clone them in actual markets before you are fucked. If you are not verifying markets, customers, products, progress you are doing it wrong and chances are it won’t be a smooth sail later.
The time spent will not come back: Starting a startup is a long term game and it takes it own sweet time, don’t do it as a method/activity of escapism. I dropped out and did not attend classes since I was trying to give my startup it’s fair share of time it needed and let’s just say I do regret doing it on some terribly fucked up days. I regret the fact that those days are not coming back!
Play long term games with long term people: Startups are long term games with payoff coming after an average of 3-5 years of good hustle. Pick your co-founders, markets, employees, investors like you would pick your partner (Someone you probably don’t want to divorce ever). Startups, actually Tech ecosystem is a pretty small world and it will pay off in ways you can’t think of.
Avoid Bad Cofounders, Customers (also Markets), Investors and Employees: Bad actors in any of these verticals will slow you down by a factor you can’t even estimate. Bad of anything bring in more bad folks and before you know it you will be either forced to do a firesafe or to shut your startup down. Just go to any serial entrepreneur and ask her why her previous startup did not work out, don’t be too surprised after you see the reasons.
Don’t loose out on essentials aka your life: Being busy is okay in the short term, but understand that this will probably be your life if it works so don’t take anyone for granted. Let your loved ones, family and friends know you exist: You will need them in terms of uncertainty as well as distress. Also don’t forget to stay fit, detox and disconnect every once in a while, I call it un-hustle weekends.
Do whatever it takes: Buy out your existing investors if they are being unreasonable, get rid of your employees if you think its not working out, talk about your problems to your cofounders and advisors. Eric Ries says you need to get off the building I agree with him but sometimes it’s equally important for you to throw things, ideas and people out of building as and when needed.