What are the tips founders wish they knew before starting a business? What should you know before attempting to start a business of your own?
Here’s what other startup founders wish that they knew or could tell their younger selves before launching a business?
What can you learn from these tips to make your ride smoother and more successful from the beginning? Or to realign your expectations and perception to do better from here on out?
Check out these top tips, insights, and lessons to clear your way to winning…
The Ultimate Guide To Pitch Decks
Here is the content that we will cover in this post. Let’s get started.
- 1. It’s Going To Be Really Hard
- 2. Your Real Job Probably Isn’t Going To Be What You Expect It To Be
- 3. You Don’t Need A Long Business Plan
- 4. Your Pitch Deck Should Be Shorter
- 5. Start Earlier
- 6. Hire Earlier & Faster
- 7. Fundraising Is Harder Than You Think
- 8. It’s More Important To Enjoy The Journey
- 9. Have A Mission, Vision & Lots Of Flexibility
- 10. Product Market Fit Is About The Customer, Not You
- 11. Your Ability To Sell Is More Important Than Your Product
- 12. The Unit Economics Have To Work
- 13. Overnight Success Can Take 10 Years
- 14. You Will End Up Selling Your Company
- 15. The Fastest Way To Learn Is To Start Doing
- 16. Summary
It’s Going To Be Really Hard
There is nothing more rewarding and fulfilling than diving into entrepreneurship and building your own startup.
Some will say that doing what you love means never feeling like you are really working a day in your life.
That is certainly true in many ways. Would you do this for free if you could, or as a way to avoid the dull misery of retirement? Then this is probably going to be true for you too.
However, there is real work involved. A lot of it. It is going to be hard. Really hard. If it doesn’t feel hard each day, then you probably aren’t pushing yourself nearly enough.
On the bright side, if you enjoy being challenged and mentally stimulated every day, you wouldn’t ever want to do something else.
Your Real Job Probably Isn’t Going To Be What You Expect It To Be
One of the biggest misconceptions about starting a business is what you’ll be doing all day.
Some think they’ll be barking orders all day, commanding their minions to get busy on their tasks.
Others have the dream that they’ll finally just get to tinker with their product design all day. Neither of these approaches may work out too well today.
Experienced successful founders often say they spend 50% of their time on fundraising efforts.
Others say that they spend 50% of their time on recruiting and hiring. If they can fit it in, then they find building the company culture is a top priority.
That doesn’t leave much time for much else. Before you start a business make sure that you are excited spending your time on these things.
Otherwise you may find more enjoyment doing this as a hobby, or just yelling at your favorite football team on TV from the couch.
Also, take the time to read up these tips founders wish they knew before starting a business.
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.
You Don’t Need A Long Business Plan
You do need a business plan. You shouldn’t attempt to leap without one.
You need a plan that is comprehensive enough that it has made you think things through. And realize some things you had forgotten to account for.
However, you don’t need a long mind numbing volume of pages just for the sake of it. No one is going to read it. Not you. Not your team. Certainly not any startup investors.
Don’t waste months on a long business plan that will just collect dust and eat up your online storage data limits.
Certainly don’t get lost in the process and miss out on the opportunity entirely, or lose your edge in getting into the market.
Don’t let this process be an excuse not to take action.
Your Pitch Deck Should Be Shorter
No matter how short your pitch deck is right now, it should probably be even shorter.
As a young startup, you don’t need more than 10 slides in your deck. You shouldn’t be using anything smaller than a 30 point font for any text on your slides.
Are you struggling to cut it shorter, even though you know that you need to? Then consider every additional slide as cutting your odds of funding by that extra percentage.
So, if you have 11 slides, you’ve already cut your chances of getting funded by another 10%.
With 15 slides, you’ve cut your chances of landing an investor in half. If you are at 20, you shouldn’t be pitching anyone. Save your energy and time.
See How I Can Help You With Your Fundraising Efforts
See How I Can Help You With Your Fundraising Efforts
Probably the most common tip you’ll hear repeated by experienced startup founders is that they wish that they could go back and tell themselves to start earlier.
Imagine where you and your company and mission would be today if you started 10 years ago. Maybe even just two years ago.
It’s never too late. There is never going to be a perfect moment. But sooner is better than later.
Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today. And, remember to incorporate these tips founders wish they knew before starting a business.
Hire Earlier & Faster
What experienced startup founders get is that it is about the people. Your people, your team.
The sooner you can bring them in the better. Experienced founders wish that they would have hired more better talent early.
Not just experts in different areas of the business, but even executives, including CEOs.
The earlier you put these people in place the faster you can get on to the next thing, the faster you will make progress, and the fewer mistakes you will make.
If you are still tight on capital, consider equity and options as compensation, part-time on-demand outsourced help, and other creative solutions.
Fundraising Is Harder Than You Think
Fundraising sounds ridiculously simple on TV, social media, and even online tech news sites.
In reality, you are up against 1,000 or more competing startups for the same money each week. Less than 1% get funded. It’s a full-time gig for a team.
There are also specific formulas for successfully raising with a pitch deck, and in the boxes investors are expecting you to check.
Even great startups and founders can have to deal with dozens and even hundreds of rejections before getting their first check.
That first round is just the first of nonstop fundraising efforts from there until you sell your business or take it public.
It’s More Important To Enjoy The Journey
Is your only happiness is tied to your dream working out exactly as you originally expected, and a smooth ride to billions in the bank? Then you are probably going to be disappointed.
The great news is that there is probably a lot more potential for your idea than you realize.
Your company could be worth far more than you imagine and reach millions more than you expected. In between here and there are going to be a lot of tough days.
You have to take time to enjoy the journey. Celebrate the tiny wins, and just the process itself. Don’t let it consume you, or steal your identity.
This is just one chapter of your life. Using these tips founders wish they knew before starting a business will make the process easier.
Have A Mission, Vision & Lots Of Flexibility
To succeed as a founder you need a very clear and powerful vision and mission. That is your compass. Without it you are certain to get lost.
However, to get there and make it happen you need to be incredibly flexible on everything in between.
Experienced investors know that early plans are far more than likely to be pivoted from. Products, people, branding, features, and outcomes will change.
Be ready to flow with that, while using your vision, mission, and values as a decision making guide along the way.
Product Market Fit Is About The Customer, Not You
There is a lot of talk about product-market fit in the startup ecosystem. If you don’t know if you have it you don’t. Nothing will really take off until you do.
This is not about trying to cram your square peg into every round hole you find. Because you’ll eventually just realize that it isn’t going to work.
It’s just going to cost a lot of time, energy, and money to figure that out.
Too many founders start out with what they think is a genius product and then realize there is no need for it.
Instead, if you start out with the customer, or just the problem that exists already, and work to solve that with a product instead. Then you should have little problem finding a fit.
Your Ability To Sell Is More Important Than Your Product
Sales skills are more important than product skills. It doesn’t matter how great your product could be if you can’t sell it to anyone. They’ll never know. You’ll never have a business.
Sadly even most otherwise highly intelligent aspiring entrepreneurs and their ventures die here.
If you are a technical entrepreneur, then you have to very quickly recruit professional sales to help to get it sold.
In fact, you may be far better off selling first and building later.
The Unit Economics Have To Work
Not only does it have to sell, but the unit economics also have to work too.
That means you need to be able to make it, sell it, deliver it and service your customers, pay your taxes, and still be able to make a profit.
If you can’t do this, then there is no business here. It is just a really expensive hobby that you may not be able to afford to do forever.
How strong your unit economics work will also directly impact interest and terms from financiers, and ultimately buyers for your company.
Overnight Success Can Take 10 Years
If you are banking on this being an overnight success, just count on it being one pretty long night.
Those overnight success stories you see in the media were often a decade or more in the making.
It may have required 8 years of bootstrapping, sacrifice, and sleepless nights. It may have required two more failed startup attempts before that.
If you are going to leap into a startup, then be ready to commit at least the next ten years of your life to it.
If you happen to find a buyer in 24 months, or you rocket to a billion dollars in sales in the next six months, that’s great.
Though you have to be prepared for a much longer ride. Use these tips startup founders wish they knew before starting a business. You could shorten the ride.
Are you ready for more in-depth information on how to launch a business? Check out this video I have created that explains how to get that done. You’re sure to find it helpful.
You Will End Up Selling Your Company
Most first-time founders don’t expect to sell their businesses. In some cases, they imagine they might take it public one day.
Most believe that they’ll keep it as a private company forever. Dig into the data and you’ll find that most end up getting bought.
There are many reasons this ends up being the outcome. It is often a better outcome than you imagine.
Unfortunately, not foreseeing this or planning for it means that most founders don’t ace the exit process smoothly or as profitably as they should.
Think as though you may well sell your company within the next 10 years, be sure you are optimizing for that as well.
The Fastest Way To Learn Is To Start Doing
Yes, you should invest as much time, money, and energy as you can in learning the craft of entrepreneurship.
Yet, that learning will never be done. Don’t use it as an excuse not to start.
You will never learn how to be a startup founder faster than by just digging in and doing it.
You are going to make mistakes anyway. The faster you burn through those lessons and grow yourself as a leader, the faster you will clock up the successes too.
You’ll find lots of resources and people to help you on the way too. This includes peers, advisors, accelerators, mentors, and podcasts.
There’s nothing to be afraid of. Even if it all goes wrong it’s better than your day job.
Starting a business is the best thing you can do with your life. It will be harder and more complex than you expect.
Yet, the upside can be far greater than you imagine today too. The best way to do it is just to begin now.
Rely on these tips startup founders wish they knew before starting a business. You’re sure to be successful.
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.