prepare? It comes down to knowing yourself and knowing your market.
- Do you have fire in your belly? It's not enough if someone else suggests you start something. Do you truly want do it, deep within? Do you have the passionate voice that can't be quieted, day or night?
- Are you pioneer or a farmer? Are you the "Louis and Clark" type that's ready to explore new territory without a map? Or are you comfortable with where you are in life? A related point. You might consider yourself a pioneer but circumstantially you may not be ready, e.g. family commitments. If that's the case, don't start a venture unless you can really afford it and you have support.
- What's unique about you? Founders are usually individuals that not only recognize new opportunity, but also have unique insights on how to apply prior knowledge (and others' knowledge) to that opportunity.
- Do you have a safety net? Do you have enough funds to last for a year without income? Do the math - take your "baseline" expenses/month to live frugally, add 15% on top, and multiply by 12. That's how much you need. And/or ... do you have a significant other that both of you can live together without your income? If you can't make it, can you go back to what you did before (e.g. your old job)? Will the market be robust that you can find another job down the road?
- Do you have a network? You'll need help ... lots of it from friends, family and advisors. In particular, think
about your relationship with your family and your cofounders. Your life is definitely going to change. How will your relationships endure regardless of whether your venture is successful or not?
Know the market
There's a lot of great advice out there about knowing the market (customers, competitors, partners, and
so on), so I won't repeat that here. A couple of tips:
- Don't share everything to everyone. Of course you have to share your ideas, trust your advisors and investors to get them excited and onboard. But, be careful about disclosing too much or too early. You need to get traction ... so share what you must, but reserve the "secret sauce" details to your trusted, inner circle. NDAs can (and will) only go so far.
- Know your exit before you begin. Are you going to disrupt the market? Are you going to share the market? What's the likely success outcome ... IPO or acquisition?. Here's an excellent blog post (an
oldie but a goodie) about "Sharks, Pilot Fish, and the Product Food Chain". It's written by Rich Mirinov,
a serial entrepreneur in Silicon Valley.
Photo: JRubenc, licensed under GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2