What are the startup hurdles every entrepreneur needs to overcome?
Your unique startup will have its own specific challenges. Yet, there are common hurdles which all founders will have to grapple with. You may be comfortable with some of these, but the more mentally prepared and practically equipped you are for the others, the smoother things will go, and more likely you’ll stick with your startup and make it a success.
Here are some of those you need to be ready for…
It’s not just you. Even the most bullish and optimistic entrepreneurs have to wrestle with bouts of doubt. It can be self-doubt or doubt in the business. This can come right before launch, or when you hit a setback. It is vital to understand that this is completely normal. If you are going to make it as an entrepreneur and business owner you have to learn how to work through these periods, and objectively weigh whether there is really a dead end for this business here, or just something you need to work through and stick with.
Constant Change & Challenge
You may have spent a lot of time on planning and forecasts and modeling. These can be necessary things. Yet, most of these plans are going to change. They will change more than once. You may go through big pivots. You will face nonstop challenges.
In fact, your job as an entrepreneur is really just nonstop problem solving. If you love challenges, solving things on the fly, and thrive in fluid situations this is definitely for you. It’s not unlike traveling the world and trying to figure out how to get by and thrive in a new country, language and culture every few weeks. This is a critical aspect when thinking about the startup hurdles every entrepreneur needs to overcome.
Making Decisions With Limited Information
Entrepreneurship is a risk. It is a risk that no one ever seems to regret taking. Though even the bravest entrepreneurs seem to like to be confident in their decisions and to be able to make well calculated and informed decisions. That’s good common sense.
Yet, in reality you will rarely if ever find you 100% guarantees of making the perfect decision. You won’t always have complete or perfect data. Though you still need to make decisions, and fast. You just have to get comfortable with this, and learn to lean on great advisors and those with the most first hand experience.
Your real number one job as an entrepreneur is to make sure that your company doesn’t run out of money. This is probably the most important out of the startup hurdles every entrepreneur needs to overcome. That can be a more demanding job than you might think. In the early stages of a startup this may take up nearly half of your time.
If this is your first startup, then the fundraising process is probably pretty new to you. There is a lot of misinformation out there too. It requires learning, building relationships with investors, polishing pitch decks and presenting. Then, you have to juggle the money, and make sure someone is making sure ends meet and you are getting the most out of every dollar.
In this regard, keep in mind that in fundraising storytelling is everything. In this regard for a winning pitch deck to help you here, take a look at the template created by Silicon Valley legend, Peter Thiel (see it here) that I recently covered. Thiel was the first angel investor in Facebook with a $500K check that turned into more than $1 billion in cash.
Remember to unlock the pitch deck template that is being used by founders around the world to raise millions below.
This is another area in which few new entrepreneurs have much experience. It can be even more challenging if you have been used to working in a traditional corporate environment, which can be completely different from an early stage startup culture. Even more so with today’s remote hiring and working environment. This is again an area which many founders say consumes half of their working day. One of the best ways to expedite this can be to hire executives and department heads early, and let them worry about filling out their teams.
Once you hire them, you have to manage them. This has fortunately become much easier in the world of remote and freelance work, where you can hire super talented individuals on demand, and who may have even more experience than you do. Still, you need empathy, and to know how to keep your team focused and motivated and working together.
Delegating & Empowering Teams
One of the things that is hardest for most to master and get over out of the startup hurdles every entrepreneur needs to overcome is to truly delegate and empower their teams to do their best work. If you hire well, instruct them on the mission, values and focus well, then the best thing you can do is to just get out of their way so that they can do their best work. Micromanaging in this setting is only going to be counterproductive.
Growing As Fast As Your Company
If your startup is a success, and you are raising money and hiring and have hit product fit, then things are moving and scaling fast. You can’t be the same green entrepreneur who didn’t know anything about M&A, or managing people, and still be an effective CEO with 1,000 employees, raising $100M on a Series C round. You have to be growing even faster personally and as a leader to stay ahead and be an asset to the company instead of a hurdle. That requires learning, mentors, advice, and being intentional about your growth.
To handle all of these hurdles and continue to execute well, you have to maintain some balance in your life and work. It may sound cliche, but it is true. It is one of the things the successful recommend and even wish they had done more of earlier. Remember that you are not the business. Your identities are separate. There will be life and probably more companies after this venture. To perform your best on this one, and not to lose precious time with people that you can’t get back, make sure you are finding some balance and still have a life outside of work.
As the founder and CEO you have a lot of control and freedom. You also have a lot of responsibility on many fronts. It’s all on you. You have no one else to blame for anything. You get to take total ownership of all the failures. Then give all the credit for the wins to your team.
Hopefully this post provided some perspective as you are thinking about the startup hurdles every entrepreneur needs to overcome.
You may find interesting as well our free library of business templates. There you will find every single template you will need when building and scaling your business completely for free. See it here.
In the video below I cover in detail the startup hurdles every entrepreneur needs to overcome which you may find interesting.
* * *
FULL TRANSCRIPTION OF THE VIDEO:
Hello, everyone. This is Alejandro Cremades, and today we’re going to be talking about startup hurdles that every entrepreneur needs to overcome. Before we get started, make sure that you hit that Subscribe button, and this way, you will never miss out on any of the videos that we roll out every week.
Let’s face it. In starting a business, there’s no such thing as a straight line. You’re going to have your ups; you’re going to have your downs, and there are going to be all types of hurdles that you’re going to have all along the way. Those stories of being super successful that you see in the press, they’re far from being the truth because being an entrepreneur, especially during the early days, is not as glamourous as you would imagine.
There are a lot of fires that you need to put out and a lot of things that you’re going to have to overcome, as we were saying earlier. So in today’s video, we’re really going to be breaking down what are going to be some of those hurdles and also how to overcome them. With that being said, let’s get into it.
Doubt: That’s definitely one of the things that you’re going to be encountering, especially when you’re finding really, really tough days. You’re going to question yourself. You’re going to think if this was the right project to start? If you’re the right person to execute on this?
You’re going to be pointing fingers, having people pointing fingers at you, too, when things are not going well. Maybe it could be your wife, your husband, your colleague, your cofounder – maybe they’re questioning about the potential success of this. During those times, what you need to do is remain calm and remind yourself, what was that reason that you got started in the first place? That should carry you during those tough moments.
Also, remember about those great successes, the great accomplishments because those are the ones that are going to carry you through those difficult situations. With that being said, whenever you question yourself, just always close your eyes and think about that moment where you got started with the business and why you were so passionate about that solution that you were bringing to market to address a problem that you saw.
Constant change and challenge: This is just part of the journey. You are never going to have a business plan that is completely bulletproof to the market because the market is always changing. You need to adapt to wherever the market is going, to whatever your customers are requiring from you, and you always need to listen.
So don’t get worried when you develop a financial plan or perhaps some projections that at the end of the day you’re going to have to change because that’s part of being business; that’s part of adapting, and you need to adapt in order to survive and thrive. Otherwise, you’re going to fail. So don’t be stuck to that initial plan because things always continue to change. You need to listen to your customers, to your employees, to your investors, and really listen because that’s going to be the key and the answer to those questions.
You’re going to make decisions with little information. That’s just part of the startups, that’s part of being an entrepreneur is that you can’t wait to have all of the information being super solid because if you do that, you’re going to be too late, and that’s going to be potentially catastrophic for the business. You need to execute, and you need to execute fast. As Mark Zuckerberg, from Facebook, says, “If you’re not moving fast enough, and you’re not breaking things, perhaps you’re not really doing what you’re supposed to.” It’s all about breaking things and just being okay with breaking things, and that happens typically when you don’t have all the information to make the right calls.
Funding: Your #1 job as the startup founder and CEO is to make sure that there’s always, at all times, money in the bank. Money in the bank that can support the operations, that can support having the lights on, and that can support the continuous growth of the business. You’re going to hear, essentially, go from financing cycle to financing cycle every 18 to 24 months in order to continue raising the money that you need to take things to the next level.
Now, when you’re thinking about money, don’t think about money per se. You’ve got to think about who is giving you the money as well because ultimately, you’re bringing on board those people as colleagues, as people that are going to help you with building the business. You’ve got to think about what their network is? Who do they know? Can they help with distribution? Can they help with subsequent rounds? Can they help with an M&A opportunity of someone else acquiring your business?
So, it’s not about the money. Always turn it around. Think about who is giving you the money, and what can they contribute besides the money? And always, always, always remember that fundraising is all about relationships, and it’s all about trust, and those take time to build, so don’t wait until the last minute. Always be developing those relationships so that whenever you’re ready to raise that round, you know exactly who to call, and you know exactly how to get them excited to jump in.
Hiring is another hurdle. Ultimately, here’s the thing: you can’t wait until the last minute. You should not go out and hire without having built any type of network before. Before you even need a position to be filled, you need to be networking. You need to be meeting people, and eventually, when you have an open role, you can look back, see who you’ve been in contact with, and those relationships that you’ve been nurturing. That way, you can call them right away if you wait until that last minute where you’re literally creating a classified on Craig’s List, on LinkedIn, wherever that is to fill that job, and you need to go out and try to find that candidate, it’s going to be too late. That’s why you want to get out there and develop those relationships over the course of time. As they say, A+ people are always going to hire A+ people, and B- are going to hire the mediocre people. So you always want to shoot for the top talent.
The other thing that you want to do is always hire fast and fire fast. You’ve got to move very quickly because you ultimately need to surround yourself with the right people. So, hire fast and fire fast, as well, if they’re not working out, so that doesn’t become something that is toxic for the business as well because, at the end of the day, this is also a cost opportunity. While you’re going to try to relocate that employee to see if that employee is going to fit in another position, you’re creating a toxic environment, and it could also be a lost opportunity for that employee because that employee could be in another company perhaps thriving. So, don’t do that. Hire fast and fire fast.
Managing people: Managing people is a tough one because entrepreneurs are ultimately all over the place; they are wearing different hats. One day, one hat; another day, another hat. Maybe recruiting, marketing, fundraising, whatever that is. But you’re going to have to make that shift and have that type of growth where you’re going from entrepreneur to manager, where you’re able to manage your team, where you’re able to keep them aligned, to keep them as a unit, all working toward a big vision. They need to know the vision and what’s the mission and all be aligned toward it and pushing toward achieving them. That’s something that is going to get them excited. That’s something that is going to allow them to see a future, that’s there’s a bright future for them, and that is what is going to create the culture around.
Delegating and empowering teams: Ultimately, here’s the deal. It’s going to be very difficult to grab, master a task, and then delegate it to someone else. You’re going to try to micromanage it; you’re going to make those people be disempowered, and you need to avoid doing that because, ultimately, people are going to leave. First, try to understand the task. Then, once you understand the task, then you either bring someone or hire someone to perform that task, and with you being able to trust them and to empower them so that they are able to succeed at whatever you are giving them.
Growing as fast as your company: This is a really big one because here’s the thing. The skillsets that you have, who you are being as a leader, who you’re being as an entrepreneur is going to be different from the early days to when you have 100 employees or 200 employees or 300 employees. You’re going to have to grow in parallel with the company because, in many cases, unfortunately, I see those companies that outgrow their founders, and they end up being kicked out of the business, especially if they have raised money. So always be learning. Always be listening. Understand what will be the different types of requirements that the business is going to need from you, and really develop yourself, and be able to achieve that type of growth and transformation in parallel with the business, whether that is understanding what the company needs at an early stage, or understanding what the company needs at a growth stage, which are completely different types of requirements and skillsets.
Balance: That’s a really big one because the thing is that sometimes when you’re executing, when it’s your baby, you even forget that there’s a world outside. You even forget, perhaps, about birthdays, about your family, about your friends. You need to maintain that balance because here’s the thing: without those relationships, you’re going to be unhappy, and that unhappiness is going to impact your business negatively. So you need to be able to maintain that balance between work and your life and be able to take them both at the same level and prioritize them in the same manner.
Remember, you are not the business. You need to completely detach yourself from the business because, at the end of the day, companies always die. That is either via bankruptcy, a merger, or an acquisition, but always, companies are going to cease to exist. The fact that that happens or when that happens, you need to be able to take yourself out of that so that you don’t go through a depression or any of that stuff. Essentially, being able to detach yourself is going to allow you to maintain, as well, that nice balance between work and also with your life. Your company is part of your life, but it’s not your life. So, again, balance is critical.
Complete ownership: Here’s the thing. When you’re the founder and the CEO, if things go well or if there are successes, someone else is going to take the credit – one of your employees, one of your colleagues, whatever that is. But when something doesn’t go well, as a leader, you need to step it up, and rather than blaming others, you need to take responsibility because you have the ultimate say. You were the one that brought these people to be your colleagues, to be your employees. They took major sacrifices to be there with you in the journey, so you need to take responsibility and ownership, even if things are not working well. When you do that, people are going to respect you. That is going to embrace the culture that you created, and that’s why it is critical because otherwise, you are going to create a space that is toxic for your employees.
Hopefully, you liked the video, and if so, make sure you hit the Like. Then, also comment so that I can know what some of the hurdles are that you’re dealing with. Subscribe to the channel so that you don’t miss out on all the new videos that we’re rolling out every week. And if you need any help with your fundraising efforts, feel free to shot me a note at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you so much for watching.