Should You Start a Startup?

If you are just joining us, welcome to the experiment. Right now, you are probably asking yourself, 'Should I start a startup?' If you weren't, hopefully you are now!

The Grim Truth

Even at one of the leading accelerators, Y Combinator, success rates for Startups are only 35-40%. In the words of Paul Graham:

What this means is that at any given time, the great majority of startups will be working on something that's never going to go anywhere, and yet glorifying their doomed efforts with the grandiose title of "startup."

Below I've provided a list of valuable information you should know before attempting a startup.

Consider this...

You will doubt yourself

While there are some amazing stories of startups, and they will indeed bring some of the highest highs, undoubtedly, they will also bring some of the lowest lows. It is essential to have a support system of friends and mentors to spur you on.

You are going to mess up, royally

This isn't an if, it's a when. Every founder will mess up at some point in this journey. The difference between the good founders and the great founders, is the ability to correct quickly and learn from previous mistakes.

Be okay with hearing "No"

You will probably hear this word more than anything else along the way. There will be skeptical friends, concerned investors, and tons of other people telling you no. Do yourself a favor and get thick skin, fast.

Get comfortable selling yourself

In the beginning you'll be selling yourself more than the idea. Initially, the idea doesn't have any traction. It's literally in your head, so you must sell early investors and customers on YOUR unique ability to solve the problem.

Be comfortable selling, period

In the beginning, you are going to have to sell, sell, and sell some more. Whether you are practicing your pitch on a stranger, are at an investor meet up, or are going to a social gathering with your friends, you have to be comfortable selling your startup and your team. Confidence is one of the first things investors and customer look for. Sell yourself and your idea so that they don't look elsewhere.

Be relentlessly resourceful

I think Paul Graham has it right when he lays out necessary traits for all founders. You will need to be both determined and flexible.

Be ready to pivot

Throughout this process, you'll get advice along the lines of:

"you should do this instead...", "I think what you have could be better if you just.."

It's up to you to weed through the good and bad advice, determing when to move in a different direction. You can't be prideful when it comes to your idea. Flexibility is key.

Grow or Die

As I mentioned in my previous post, What is a "Startup"?, if you aren't growing, you're dying. It's up to the founder to drive the productivity of the startup and set the example for the rest of the startup models. Your determination cannot waiver.

This will not be like a "regular" job

If you have the notion that your current job is hard and that a startup can't possibly be any harder, think again. You are going to have to work faster and harder than you have ever worked before.

The time commitment

Most Startups put in 80+ hours every week. You probably knew that,but did you know that this usually continues for 1 to 2 years? Be ready to sacrifice.

Be careful with your current commitments

Think about your kids, relatives, church, and hobbies. Is there anything that you aren't willing to sacrifice? There wil be a point when the startup steals from these parts of your life. It is then that you're either all-in, or all-out; there is no middle ground.

It's Hard

Like, really, harder than you can imagine from the outside looking in...

Scared Yet?

I hope that list scared some of you. That was my intent. This is not a commitment that should be entered into lightly. But remember, with great risk, comes great reward.

As always, I'd love to hear your questions, comments, and topic suggestions!