So I work at a start-up. Yes I said it. The first step to recovery is admitting it, right? Okay I am being overly dramatic but I currently have a sharp pain on the side of my head that’s not due to a hangover. Start-up’s will do that to you. So here are are some key things that I have learned in my experience that I would like to share with all of you crazy people who want to build a start-up company.
1. Have a killer idea
Something that you think will change the world. Something that fills an unmet need in society. Something that you feel so passionate about that you would rather die before the idea fails. The key to initial success of any start-up or venture is the core idea. Your reason for existence needs to be clear and necessary (and by necessary I mean people need or want it). Your idea will be the driving force behind your business- it will shape the culture and drive the funding of your venture. Think of a good idea and run with it.
2. Revise that idea
No matter how good your initial idea was, it probably needs to be revised. Like a good bottle of wine, ideas get better with age. In my start-up we must have revised our idea 20 times before we finally settled on it. And each time we got more and more excited about what we were doing. It started as something good but frankly was not anything revolutionary. As the idea matured it became more specialized and unique. It gained that differentiation factor that untimely attracted our seed investors. But as you revise your idea never loose loose the initial passion you felt.
3. get a kick-ass team
One of the most important lessons I learned the hard way was to have a solid founding team. The founding team is the foundation of your venture. You have to trust them, rely on them, respect them and believe in them. The founding team sets the tone for the entire company; from the type of seed investors you attract, to the type of funding you receive, to the culture and the reputation of the company. Make sure that the team you trust your idea with is the team you want there in the end. It is the worst thing to realize that your founding members are dead weight or insincere after they own large percentages of the company.
as always the oldest story in the book,
4. money talks
Money, money, money, money. I can’t stress how important money is to a start-up. Money runs out faster than you will ever imagine it will. You have to be so careful about budgeting; don’t order those expensive business cards or lease office space before you can really afford it. Don’t pay the founders until there is actual money funneling in. Never let anyone else completely take over the money part of the business. Most businesses fail because they forget to track where there money goes and focus too much on selling the business. You need to maintain that balance.
5. Get your paperwork in place
There is more than you would think. All of the legal paperwork and state paperwork that is required can be daunting. Hire an attorney if you can, unless you are super skilled at writing Shareholders’ Agreements and Offering Memorandums. Of course it depends on what type of business you will be starting but rest assured you do not want to be on bad terms with the IRS.
6. Never forget why you started in the first place
As time goes by the business will start to get more and more hectic. You will get sucked in doing things and working 10 hour days. Some days will get you down and you’ll start to question why you even decided to work there in the first place. The important thing to remember is not to lose sight of why you started your business. Maybe you love the environment and want to make a difference, or you care about children and want to provide safe products for them, maybe you are passionate about music and love to make amplifiers, maybe you want to make a name for yourself in the world, or maybe you just want to make a lot of money. Either way, don’t ever forget what drives you to wake up in the morning and channel that passion into making your start-up great.
I believe in you.
Now, do you ever catch yourself wondering what it’s really like to work at a start-up?