This post is more relevant for founders who double up as CEOs. It will usually be the founder who sets the vision/ sells the vision. This post is largely based on my 10 months’ experience in a startup with 2 other co-founders. We have pivoted often, once after building the product and often after dissecting promising ideas after weeks of research. Without further ado!
- All startups need leaders. Down with democracy
When everyone has an equal say, things move slow. add the fact that the group has smart, opinionated people and you will never build true consensus. Successful founding teams have one person who has the final call. The rest go along. Earn that trust & respect, LEAD, take the tough decisions yourself and get others to run with the decision
- Confidence is everything. yes, ALWAYS!
Have a vision. behave as if you know. Assume that you might not, so do experiments and get data. Validate. If you are not sure, if you don’t know, go with what you think is best. It might be wrong, but it is your bloody JOB to have a vision and take everyone along. You might be wrong but if you don’t have a vision, you will move too slow, get frustrated, the team will lose motivations, you will second-guess and you will die soon. And you will never know if your vision was right. Have a vision. Be confident. Move fast. Validate it. Change if need be.
- Ideas before friends
Good ideas, when executed well, make money. Friends don’t
We are a group of people who want to do a startup together and are looking for an idea – e.p.i.c. FAIL! Find ideas independently, look for co-founders for executing it. It is your job to find an idea. Find an opportunity – Then ask your friends to come along for the ride. But pick out the destination yourself
- Take lonely decisions
Just because it is a startup doesn’t mean you have to discuss and debate everything among co-founders. Don’t expect anyone else to take decisions for you. There is no magic wand. Mr. CEO, man up & decide. take inputs but decide on your own. Take the blame for wrong decisions. Try to be correct as often as you can. Keep the decision making swift.
- Assign and take individual ownership. no group projects.
Make independent projects, let people come up with their own solutions, stop debating, stop analyzing, stop trying to be perfect. Let people make mistakes.
Let people come up with their own solutions. Interfere only when something is going wrong for long enough / something is clearly stupid/ someone asks for help.
Do meetings, decide on next projects/ experiments, set deadlines & deliverables, follow up. discuss. Be an enabler, stop being a roadblock by questioning / debating/ second-guessing / looking for the perfect solution
- No group ideation to find ideas.
This even sounds ugly, incestuous. It is a bad idea to find ideas together. get away, build conviction, inspire others, take the leap, fail fast, fail often. This is a special case of the point made above
- Figure a need/ gap/ business model
Building teams is easy once you get there. Don’t get stuck on the best team. Get stuck on the business model/ need
You can always build teams once you have a proven business model. Get to that point first
- Make things happen
This is a f****** startup. nothing happens on its own. no emails and phone calls will magically find your inboxes. Everything that happens, happens because you make it happen. Do your job, make it happen
- Make peace with the sub-optimal
Find the next milestone for the business (funding/ revenue/ more funding/ hiring/ growth/ profitability) and focus your energy on that. It is ok to grow like crazy while having sub-optimal decisions. Be ok with the sub-optimal as long as you are on track for what matters most.
- Get married to your co-founders, but don’t sleep together
people. product .personality in that order
Prioritise your co-founders’ happiness. Next comes the startup itself. Make your quirks, passions, opinion, ego and interest a distant third. Marry your co-founder and treat him as your wife.(irritates you, is difficult but you still give in happily to her)
Avoid staying together though, too much face-time builds stress. Living together never lets you get out of office completely. Builds stress, hampers cooling-off. Abstinence, please !
- Be happy
Never a beautiful creation did an unhappy man make. Find out what keeps you happy, go after it. Unhappy founders don’t stand a chance.