“If you just work on stuff that you like and you’re passionate about, you don’t have to have a master plan with how things will work out. Just learn as you go !!!
–Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook
from Forbes Zine & Personal Branding Blog 3/19 enhanced by Peter/CXO Wiz4.biz
Founders Topics: 1st Step, Career Change, Decisions, Delegating, Time Mgt, Perfection, new Customers, Patience, Ego, BootStrapping, Cash Flow, Fund-Raising, Due Diligence, Burnout.
To be an entrepreneur means to be someone who takes on challenges. It also means you are a problem solver. Anticipating what is ahead is half the battle. The list below is compiled from the challenges that I have recognized from interviewing some of the most successful entrepreneurs on my DealMakers Podcast. Alejandro Cremades – author of “The Art of Startup Fundraising” and Serial Entrepreneur.
#1. Taking the First Step
The biggest struggle for most Founders would be taking that first step. It may be quitting a Job, putting up a Wbsite, entering a startup Accelerator program, approaching someone with your first Pitch, or just announcing your Venture to the world and committing all the dollars & credit you have.
Planning. This normally comes after a fair amount of brain-washing (no, Brain-Storming), organizing & planning. That can be a time when your mind frequently plays tricks on you. Fear & doubt creep. You can make plenty of excuses. There are more than enough to choose from. Including Timing of your launch.
Best of Times; Worst of Times ??? From all the super successful entrepreneurs I’ve interviewed, two things stand out here. Many of the most successful billion dollar startups were launched & acquired in what most would consider the worst crises & economic times. The timing is always better than you think. Figuring it out as you go is one of the most fun and rewarding parts of being an entrepreneur. Just do it.
#2. Career Change ???
Abandoning your current career to become an entrepreneur can be very risky for an individual. Especially, if you reached a certain point at your career, then leaving everything behind to start from zero can be the greatest challenge.
#3. Making Decisions
If you are a solo Founder or 1 of 2 co-Flounders, making decisions might be very hard, because if one of the founder is in favor of one position and the other has a very different position, how will the decision be made? Compromise. Do “pro’s & con’s” of each position and look for commonalities. Then, form a new position. You may each have to give up a little to get there, but think of the long-term consequences.
Many great Founders & Business Owners still really struggle with this. They may even preach it. They will probably be, very intelligent & talented. They just can’t get out of their own way. So, they get stuck Owning a small business or being a free-lance Agent, instead of scaling a true startup & “industry disrupting” company. The bottom line is, that you aren’t going to be very successful, unless you learn to hire, outsource, delegate – & more importantly – empower those people to do awesome work. Hire the best !!! They might not do it 100% like you, but they may actually generate even better results from their unique talents.
#5. Time Management
We always want more time. Why can’t there be 36-48 hours in a day, and at least 1 extra day in a week. Unfortunately, we all have the same number of hours in a day. Some will have far fewer days than others. There will be a lot more to manage than you imagine, if you are hoping to build a true, fast growth Startup. You’ll be wearing many hats, and probably doing tasks you never imagined. Yet, you can’t allow that to rob you of time for a full life either. There are no “do-overs” when it comes to relationships. Set some boundaries in advance. Remember what is truly most important to you. Exploit all the best time & productivity tips & tricks you can.
#6. Balancing Perfection & Progress . . .
is a great way to break the chains of getting bogged down in the never-ending pursuit of perfection and detailed trivial pursuit. Do pay attention to the details (cause that’s where the Devil is) and the polish. It can make a difference. Yet, you aren’t getting anywhere unless you actually finalize. You need to recognize the difference between almost “barely-good-enough” & “perfect enough”.
#7. Getting new Customers
Many new Customers will want to see references before doing business with you but how can you get your first customer without any references? Perhaps, a Founder can try the Evaluation model. Offer the product for the Customer to provide “feedback” – which may be very useful in learning whether it meets the needs of the Customer. Then you can make appropriate modifications to improve the product to make it better “value” to other Customers.
#8. Having Patience – waiting for the Time it takes to see Results
Big ‘overnight’ success is really the culmination of steady, consistent small efforts & wins over time. That applies to sales, execution & fundraising. Unfortunately, the vast majority of Founders call it quits, just before the big pay-off hits. If only they would have held on a little longer, everything would have come together. Often far better than they imagined.
The best Founders – who become winners – are often just those who held out longer, and kept going when everyone else quit and gave up. Determine to hang in there. It’s probably worth it.
#9. le go Ego [French, not Lego’s]
This list focuses on the challenges in getting to the top. Well, success can bring more. Chief among them is Ego. Your Ego can lead you to make many mistakes, bad decisions, & generally let your inner monster go on rampage – at the cost of your relationships – if you aren’t mindfully keeping it in check.
#10. BootStrapping your Business
An Entrepreneur who wants to become a Founder should bootstrap his/her own business at the beginning to control Cash Flow carefully. A Founder should keep away from significant, unnecessary expenses which will not add “value” to the business.
#11. poor Cash Flow management . . .
is one of the most common reasons for new business failures. “You can even go broke in your best month You may have just taken a record number of Orders. Yet, you also may have a record amount of Expenses to deliver on those promises before you get paid.
#12. Beat the Odds . . .
by paying attention to your Cash Flow needs & projections. Make sure you have some Financial Reserves – or at least – some Emergency Credit. Always raise significantly more money than you think you’ll need. (at least 20% or more)
#13. Fund-Raising for your Startup
There’s a lot more work to startup Fund-Raising than most new Founders realize. Not having a full understanding of the process, and what it takes can lead to a lot of frustration, if not failed rounds, or at least miserable terms.
#14. Raising a Round
(or even a square – Boo) can take from 6 to 12 months. Even the best Startups & Founders can face 10’s to 100’s of no’s for every check they bring in. When it comes to Fund-Raising it is all about mastering Story-telling and capturing the purpose/mission in 15 to 20 slides.
#15. do your Due Diligence . . .
which really becomes challenging in Fund-Raising – after you get funding commitments. Learn as much about this process in advance, and get Expert advice on how to manage it well. Not only in terms of execution, strategy & investor updates, but mentally & physically surviving the chaos & anxiety as well.
#16. Keep fanning the Fire of your Passion, but Avoid Burnout
New Founders should devote majority of their time to their new businesses, to get it started, but this doesn’t mean that they will not have any social lives, family time or any time to relax. Everybody needs downtime to recharge their batteries & refresh their minds.
Comments: Do you have any other ideas on how to handle the Challenges that a Founder has?
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