Everyone has dreamt of starting their own business at some point because being your own boss sounds amazing. Only a small fraction of the dreamers actually take the big step, i.e. establishing a startup and becoming the startup entrepreneur. Getting to that point is milestone in itself and lets you experience the best kind of goosebumps. What you may not realize is that it’s only the beginning of a long and arduous journey. Despite having a clear objective in mind, you cannot pre-define your destination or calculate the aftermath.
Ideas are Price-less
In the real world, there is no such thing as ‘a million dollar idea’. An idea is basically just an illusion and barely has any value, unless materialized. When you say someone stole your idea, it commonly does not refer to something tangible. So what’s the point in complaining? If someone actually builds something based on your idea, it’s still them who did all the work, so why give you the credit?
On the contrary, if someone makes something identical to what you have already made, then that’s a different story. Nonetheless, no idea is truly as unique as one may imagine. Somewhere someone else has probably thought of the same thing as you or tried to create something similar. I’m not saying that ideas are useless, because every startup starts with one or more. Ideas are important, but what matters most is how you execute them. If others can do better with the so-called “your idea”, you shall only blame yourself.
Responsibilities are Underrated
It feels good to be independent and not in a situation where you have to follow another person’s orders. However the real question is: Do you have what it takes? When we’re working under somebody, there are lots of things we don’t need to worry about. Normally, our tasks are already defined, the necessary utilities are provided and we’re only focused on a fragment of the whole system. As the owner of a startup, we are in charge of the tiniest of details (mainly lots of bills).
Instead of requesting for resources, you’ll be the one providing them and that costs more than just money. You will have to put together an entire system, determine roles, make plans, provide the right environment to carry out the plans, estimate practical deadlines, complete set targets, figure out the perfect marketing game plan, and the list goes on. One mistake and your startup could be doomed. Did I mention that you’re paying for everything?
Rainy Day Reserves are the Necessary Evil
Every startup needs capital for formulating the foundation. Big or small, you will have to invest and most importantly have a backup for that investment. An optimistic approach is good, but one must always be prepared for a downfall. If something goes wrong and you lose everything put at stake, you should have savings to cover all possible damages. When you’ve borrowed a loan from a bank or another funding body, make sure you can still pay them back under unanticipated circumstances. Being broke after a failure is not as bad as being in debt, therefore spend wisely.
No Concept of Vacation
When we’re working for someone else, we can fantasize about paid vacation or at least take a day or two off occasionally. As a startup entrepreneur, you’re lucky if you can squeeze in a good night’s sleep. When you’re trying to establish your own business, you can’t waste time or wait for things to happen on their own. It may take years before you can finally relax and think about not thinking about work.
Family & Friends have a Place
Managing a startup can be extremely challenging and hectic; it becomes easy to neglect people around you. Many young entrepreneurs end up as loners because they don’t have the energy for making or maintaining relationships. When you donate all your attention to work, other matters start to seem irrelevant and even invisible. For some reason, we forget that when we encounter a horrible business problem, those people are the ones we will run to – for moral support, financial support or maybe both.
Family and friends often help us get through mental/physical stress and even financial losses. In order to become a successful entrepreneur, it’s binding that we keep our business dilemmas to our workplace. Involvement of family and friends can become toxic with time; also you may develop a habit of letting them solve your issues. Your friends or family are not your personal ATM; sooner or later they will refuse to lend you money or take care of other blunders you commit on your startup journey. Can you give up one thing or sail in two boats at the same time?
The Path to Success is Jagged
The world is full of competition and therefore it’s hard to stand out. Sometimes taking the straight road is of no use because it’s too simple and boring. You have to be innovative with whatever you want to sell. Nowadays people seek things that diverge from normal standards; being ‘weird’ has become more acceptable rather than playing it safe. If you’re not up to taking risks, you might just consider giving up.
Startups have to take the high road, get through zigzags and run into dead ends sometimes. It’s inevitable to make some mistakes, so learn from them and try again. You will have to come out of your comfort zone, follow new-age trends and be unconventional. You should understand that your startup has to evolve into a company; for that you need a viable business model. Explore and find your product-market fit to apply the right strategies.
At the beginning, you need regular breakthroughs to guarantee a sound future. Thus, you’ll have to press the pedal more often, until you drive out of the startup phase. Beginner’s luck might fetch you some instant wins, but that doesn’t mean the struggle is over. Being patient and consistent is the key; success doesn’t come overnight, give it time.
Ego Will Drown You
As a startup entrepreneur, you’ve got to say goodbye to your ego; at least for a few years. In order to make progress, you will have to start with baby steps. Making a name for yourself is no piece of cake when there’s so much competition. You might have to work for lower rates, deliver on impossible deadlines and deal with the worst kind of clients. If you let ego in, nobody will want to work with you because you’re just another startup, aren’t you? They’ll hire someone else who is willing to give in to all their demands. However, once you’ve made a name for yourself, you may afford to be choosy.
Getting to a Lighter Note
Not all startup entrepreneurs have the same experience. For some the journey is smooth, some get it harder. At the end of the day, it depends on three things: the decisions you make, your efforts and luck. If you find decent business partners or clients at an early stage, it definitely helps your chances for rapid development.