OpinionFrom flounder to founder: How to start up your startup
From flounder to founder: How to start up your startup
On the path to success there are hacks to make your journey easier. Below are five tailored for the first-time founder
I began my journey as a founder two years ago in the height of Covid and, like many others, I decided to look inwards for change and then at the market for opportunities. Today, as a CTech journalist, I have the chance to meet, talk to and interview tens of VCs, founders and entrepreneurs. Combining the two positions has sparked a few insights on the subject of entrepreneurship, specifically for first-time founders.
Honestly, the decision to become a founder is nothing short of temporary insanity. As a founder, you won’t be making any money (in the near future) and your days are going to be roller coaster rides where you get knocked down and must get up again as your company depends on it.
You are required to thrive in ambiguous situations and the word “no” becomes a recurring theme. However, nothing comes close to the feeling of accomplishment when things go well.
In your startup you can't hide behind anyone or anything, for better and for worse. However, on the path to success there are hacks to make your journey easier. I say easier as the word easy cannot be used in the same context as first-time founder - under any circumstances.
Below are 5 insights I have acquired as a founder and as a tech journalist:
- Fail as fast as you can - Most startups fail, we all know that. If you are bound to fail, as most do, try and make it happen quickly - any VC will tell you this. Make bold decisions that are going to move the needle. Better to waste six months of your life than three years.
- Find the right co-founder - Being a one-man (or woman) show is excruciating and finding the right team is difficult. So unless you grew up with friends that are, by pure chance, the perfect tech, marketing, operations and product people for your idea, chances are you need to build a team. Also, the journey is long and hard (see second paragraph) and having the right people to lean on is key to your mental health, wellbeing and ultimately, to your success. It's very much like getting married and immediately having children without living together first. I sometimes feel like I have had my heart broken multiple times and that if we stayed together our “baby” would have died a horrible death. Take your time with this decision, try to understand if you and your team share the same ideals and vision and, most important of all, cut your losses. If the “marriage” is not headed in the right direction then let people go, otherwise, you are not failing as fast as you can and your vesting becomes more like a ticking time bomb.
- Learn from your wins - Whenever you succeed in something significant, stop to think ‘how could I have won this faster’? In startups, time (and timing) is everything. Sometimes successes that come too late in the game do not move the needle. Wins are not only moral fuel for you and your team, they are your guides, just as much as your failures are your teachers.
- Don't fall in love with your decisions - You are probably doing something wrong at every given moment and that's okay. The real question is, are you open to learning what that wrong thing is. Perhaps your business model is wrong, perhaps your buyer persona is off, perhaps your SOM (serviceable obtainable market) is unclear - whatever it is, learn to shift and change as pivoting can work miracles. Sometimes you will find yourself in limbo after a lot of work and limbo is uncomfortable - tough luck, that's part of the game.
- You are NOT your startup - You can be an excellent entrepreneur and still have your startup fail. Sometimes the timing isn't right, sometimes you haven't found the right team, or you haven't found the right pivot and so on and so forth. That doesn't mean that you are a failure. If you can disconnect yourself from your startup and draw separate conclusions for the two, you will find that you will feel stronger and more capable than if you define who you are by the failure of your creation.
Noa Gadot is the CEO & co-founder of the5starz and also, a journalist at CTech.