Lessons From A Year Of Hype
Unsolicited advice from a one year start-up.
We started our business a year ago.
Two weeks after we launched: Covid.
I don't know if that makes this more or less relevant... but we survived.
If you're thinking of doing the same, here's some of my favourite unsolicited advice.
1. Stuff The Mattress
New businesses don't usually last.
Most fail within three years. The cause? Lack of cash.
You might be lucky enough to be rich, or have revenue from the start.
Either way, stuff the mattress. Build your savings so you can last a good 3-6 months of 0% business growth. (This might involve fewer lattes.)
Or if not, do as a serial entrepreneur friend did - extend your overdraft, take out a loan, or get a 0% interest credit card for emergencies only:
'It's not for spending. It's a safety net. When you're starting out, it helps to take that pressure off.'
Starting out is like working out. Pain is necessary - but if it really hurts, you're doing it wrong.
2. Hype Your Fam
First seed round investments are affectionally known as being 'for friends, family and fools'.
Because they're the ones who'll trust you when you've nothing to show for it.
Starting out, weak ties are your growth engine.
Network and referral matter most.
Those who know you, worked with you, their friends, your friends, your friends of friends, you mother's neighbour, etc.
Ask for introductions. Lean on favours.
Rather than wasting time on cold leads, start there.
Your new best friends might be unexpected.
I can't imagine doing this without my business partners.
It's not the workload - it's the emotional load.
You need people to celebrate with, cheer (you) up and be an exponent to your skills.
You don't gain multiple partners: you multiply your brain, soul and heart.
If you're planning on going it alone - bless you. Get a dog.
4. Find Elders
Once a month we meet with smarter folk.
We tell them our plans, get laughed at, and get their perspective.
After all, you don't know what you don't know.
Better than trial and error, learn from those who've failed, so you can fail better.
5. Be Quick Or Be Dead*
The more I go on, the more I realise: luck matters.
You can increase serendipity through that special relationship of fast and bold.
Fast and bold together is an unstoppable force.
Besides, hesitation kills momentum, and lack of momentum means death.
From tools to travel: always invest in speed.
6. *Hurry Up And Wait
Still - with all the talk of action-bias, patience can be underrated.
So HTFU - patiently?
Fast on effort, slow on expectation.
Seeds we planted at the start are only just blooming.
With multiple bets, you can maximise the chance things will pay off.
7. Gravity Hits Different
I spent years learning and working for others before I leapt.
The corporate life is good when it smiles on you; when it doesn't, it's lead.
So while I'd never say it's 'easy', don't be scared to jump.
When you're weighed down, gravity hits different.
Release that burden - you fall up.