Many of my friends who are working for other companies and with the comforting insurance that each end of the month, they will cash in their salary, often wonder what it is to get a startup on the road. At each party or get-together, they asked me how things are going is it tough and how nice it is to be able to work for yourself and so on. Yes, my friends think that the life of an entrepreneur is glamorous, lazy and that we get to play all day like care-free people.
So after a gazillion of hearing the same thing other and other again, I have decided to get an article on how it is for anyone who wants to a startup and to provide some useful insights to my dear friends too.
Now, take a seat, grab a knife and get ready to stab yourself for the ride will be jumpy, scary and unbearable for the feint of heart. You worst nightmare has just started with your startup so get ready to box until the round for victory comes cheering out loud your name and you feel like Rocky.
The first nightmare will be about Money. When you are starting a business, you will have the tendency to think that with your knowledge and some cash, you have enough power-fire to blow your startup to the top o the Mount of Success. Let me stop you right there, you are wrong, gigantically wrong.
Starting a business, cost money, lots of money and as the days go by, the business will need more money to grow. You will have to pay staff, suppliers, bills and above all yourself. There is no free coffee in this world. Many startups fail mainly because of lack of funds. So you better get your strategy right here, look for funding sources.
These funding sources can be in terms of personal savings, a business loan from a bank, personal credit card, personal assets other than savings, a loan from family or/and friends, government business loan schemes and venture capital. Get whatever seed you can get , sell your PlayStation or Xbox games, comic magazines or coin collection, sub-let your extra room, do side-jobs, do anything just to get the amount of money to get you going.
To scare you more, 69% of startup survive for only 2 years, 44% for 4 years, 31% for 5 years (stats from businessfinancestore.com). And if this is not enough to scare you, there is no guarantee you will have steady months or even a steady job. Each day is a fight for survival and a race to get clients.
The second scary movie will be about the Team. Be realistic you cannot afford the best of the best or the Bon Jovi or CR7 of your dream. The money issue will sure to catch up with you if you are on a long-term development phase. Now, some of you will say that it is feasible for a short-term development phase and my answer will be if you are smart and resourceful who knows, you may win that gamble but there is no good success rate on that.
You will have to pray and also search for at least one co-founder that’s better than you at what he/she does. You will have to be a team on your own so that you can afford to hire that rare stone. Freelancers cost loads of money so you better hire permanent staff rather than temps. Above all these, find someone whom you can trust, who is as thirsty as you are to get your project to the top. You need to surround yourself with a dedicated team whose sole purpose is to get everyone to Mount Success.
Another nightmare, I have personally gone through, yes I too am in the same boat in case you are wondering. As I was saying, the other nightmare to face is Time. The bastard is never on our side, never. You don’t have time to waste on anything other than your product. That is why your team is essential so that you can iterate, iterate and iterate as many times as needed for even if you have a million dollar idea, there is still a chance that there are around 10 other teams already doing it just like you. So you are in a sprint, and you have to run fast to win it.
Now, you have knowledge and location that also are nightmares that will pop up each day. Without the proper team knowledge and expertise, your startup won’t make it far, so as you can see Team element is very important. The location is also prime, for you trust where you know not the unknown, right? Get to a reasonable place to work not any fancy skyscraper office that needs you to work 25 hours a day for 8 days a week (got the message clearly and it is not a typo error, it is intentional)
You know all those scary movies like Conjuring or Freddy vs Jason, etc., well it is nothing compare to the dilemma that Customers represent. You can’t predict where the masses are going. You can just hope that you can lead them where you need them to be. There is no golden secret or formula, for customers themselves don’t have a clue what exactly they want and neither are you having a clue about what they want. It is not a science , just solve a problem with your product to get the traction going. That’s it. Then you will just have to build o the hype and ride the wave as hard as you can.
If this was not enough to make you wet your pants, then say goodbye to your sanity and stress-free life. You will be living in a stressful life day after day when you startup is setup, your sleep will be sleepless ( don’t know if this sentence even exists) and you will become restless as you progress in your development.
From time to time, you will forget why you started your journey or quest, stress, and pressure to succeed sometimes become too much. Take as many breaks as you can possibly can, unwind from time to time, or else your startup will break you for sure. If this can be of some comfort, I am also still experiencing those nightmares of startup so be strong and believe in yourself and your startup. For even with all those things, I will not dream of doing anything else, for I am a Conqueror just like you.