We’re all entrepreneurs at Tech Collective and one of the (unspoken) criteria is that you either built your own company at some stage in your life, want to build a company or are in the stages of building a company. So we decided to share some of our internal thoughts around building a startup from scratch.
When we started, we made a ton of mistakes and wasted a lot of time. We realised after a while that you need to align the business with strong goals and focus your efforts on achieving results. Here’s what we learned:
You need to love the idea
This may come as a surprise, but startups require a lot of hard work and if you are not passionate about your work and doing what you don’t find it exciting, you often lack the motivation to see to the bitter end.
Ideally, you want to start from a specific point, build and adapt to see what solution you think works best. Almost all successful startups are built around a solution to a problem. Trying to create a problem that you can fix isn’t a sustainable strategy if you want to build a large company.
Rethink your solo journey
Going in solo is risky and some may say stupid. A co-founder can basically share the pain.
Terng Shing from SYNC PR, a solo founder shared, “There is this feeling that you should take all of the risks in order to reap all the reward, but you need to ask yourself if the reward is worth the effort and risk and more importantly, are you reducing the reward without necessarily reducing risk by going in solo. I went in by myself because I couldn’t find someone who shared my passion and at least, a portion of my vision for the industry, but if I had, I definitely would have partnered with them.”
Invest in technology
If you can find a partner, get someone who’s technically savvy or you should be that person in the company.
Just make sure you don’t fall into the trap of using software for the sake of using it. You should really need it and make an investment there.
Start small if you need to and don’t invest heavily in an office, furniture, market material and so on. These things are cool, but not really essential. We’ve all fallen into the trap of losing focus and getting excited. Be smart with your limited resources.
Here’s a little tip from us to you. Focus on selling your product or service and leave everything else till later, after you’ve made a few sales. You’d be amazed at how much people invest in things before they even know if there is real market demand.
Make sure you have a healthy bank account as well. Invoices don’t wait for anyone.
Learning to hire is crucial
Damn, hiring is hard.
Before you can even think about letting people come to you and your company, you need to go to them and pretty much beg them to join. If you want the best of the best that is.
Here are a few tips to keep in mind when starting out:
- There are dozens of job sites out there. Use them all. See CultJobs for creative or Glints for interns and startup employees
- Hire based on attitude and compatibility, not skill-level unless they are very senior. You need to be able to train them
- Always maintain a long assessment period to make sure you’ve hired the best people
- Hiring is a journey and you’ll make mistakes, so never stop looking to make it better
Here’s what Pulsifi’s CEO had to share about hiring and his journey so far
Let’s talk about funding
There are other options available for passionate entrepreneurs, so don’t think that VC funding is the only way to go. You can try bootstrapping, business loans and building an SME-style business where you grow revenue more sustainably.
However, if you’re going the funding route, here are a few things we learned:
- Don’t chase investors, look for partners first who can invest in you and your idea versus the easiest money
- Build your company to a stage where investors come to you first
- Market yourself the right way – PR, investor meetings and building a solid business first
Don’t ignore sales and marketing
There seems to be a growing trend of founders looking to invest heavily into different aspects of the business without first building a core foundation.
Get your business up and running with cash in the bank. Then build out what you need to get you to stage 2, which is the million dollar revenue target. Once you’re getting there, start the hiring.
Don’t get obsessed just by the technology. Remember folks, investors and customers flock to companies with proven track records and something to sell. Don’t count on people buying air.
Tech Collective Talks is a new segment where we discuss matters that our partners, startup founders, and staff feel is important enough to spend time around it. We discuss it as a group and from it, we craft a story to share with our readers.
If you’ve got something on your mind, drop us a note here and we’ll see if we can include it in the next session.