Truth About Startups

Question: 

What harsh truths about startups that most people don't think about?

Gary's Answer: 

I could give a hundred, but let us start with ten:

  1. Success doesn’t depend on a great idea. Building a business requires a new good idea every day and two on Sunday.
  2. Spending more money is makes success more difficult. The less expensive your operations, the sooner you can make a profit.
  3. VC doesn’t invest in good ideas, they invest in proven profitable businesses that can be expanded.
  4. You don’t own your business. It owns you. Don’t think for a moment you are the boss. The customer is the boss.
  5. If you don’t like selling, don’t start a business. The main job of every business is sales: selling customers, selling partners, selling employees, selling investors, selling banks. It never ends.
  6. More partnerships go bad more often because of success than failure. When the business is successful and money is coming in, people’s different desires assert themselves and tear the busniess apart.
  7. Plan is a trap. Plan less and adapt more. Planning is oversold. You do not know what situations you will face until you get out into the marketplace. When you encounter challenges, your plans will not help you.
  8. Perfecting a product or service is a trap, an ever receding goalpost. Get your product or service in front of customers as soon as you can sell it. Only customer feedback can tell you how to further develop it.
  9. You never know enough to succeed. All startups are a learning experience. You win some and you learn some. All good businesses are the best they’ve ever been and the worst they will ever be.
  10. Sometimes, shutting down the business is the best move. This is a hard lesson but wasting time and money on what cannot work is a common mistake. Most people just keep running the business until their money and energy is gone, leaving them without resources to try something better.