There are hundreds of millions of guides on almost everything related to undertaking and mount a startup, but most of them focus on the most “logical” aspects of the process: business, technology, marketing … etc. However, it is not easy to find information about how you will affect YOU, on the emotional aspects of the journey …almost nothing.
In addition, these feelings and emotions will be decisive in the success or failure of your project, which as a founder will put test every day… However, that does not mean it will not be the greatest adventure you’ve ever lived, and not only you learn a lot but grow as a person … but it is important to know what you are going to face.
As I heard some time ago:
“Entrepreneurship is living in an eternal Wednesday”
In addition, why no one talks about it? Because it is difficult, requires accepting and says aloud that often-lost litter, you do not have all the answers and that you are going wrong. Something that is risky and requires exposed in a world dominated by posture, false projections of success (do I really am the only one who feels this way?) Moreover, stereotypes…
I am living back in my own flesh much of this with the launch of Startupxplore, and wanted to share with you some of my thoughts and feelings … and remember above all, we must never forget that it is not a sprint in which you have to give especially in the first 100 meters:
Entrepreneurship is a marathon, with climbs and descents … so dispenses your strength.
Things you (probably) will feel if you are a startup founder
Everything goes too slow
As an entrepreneur you are, expect things succeeds as soon as you think, “we have come …” and 5 minutes functionality is already built and can validate whether it is a good idea or bad idea. However, the reality is that this idea must prioritize it among other 1000 there will be, spend time and resources (both always little things in a startup) and do it. Not to mention those investors who take so long to respond, the lawyer who seems to take three months writing the Quixote … Almost nothing
Although it is paradoxical, also going to have vertigo so fast that goes. However, not in the sense of how fast will the product (hopefully!). The tremendous amount of things happening at once, at the most inconvenient times of day (Users in the Philippines or Canada are sleeping hours different!) and completely different fronts … what makes you feel you are unable to maintain control, to keep in the air with 7 balls you juggle that.
Perhaps one of the most difficult aspects to explain, but most important: despite everyone trusts you, in your team, and your vision … you feel an impostor, as well explained by David Bonilla. You know, even though you believe in your idea completely and you put all your heart, your role is only a small part of the success of your startup … but what if the problem precisely is you. You know you are not a guru and there are 1,000 things that you lack experience. In addition, on top, there are colleagues, partners or investors who have put their trust in you … long story.
Sometimes trouble sleeping
If there is one word that defines what feels the founder of a startup is anxiety… something that keeps you awake at night wondering if you made the best decision, remembering all the things you need to do, bringing your head the email you received … and like a loop, repeating again and again.
Already said, Ben Horowitz:
“As the founder of a startup slept like a baby: I woke up every few hours and cried”
Things will make hate
As a startup, you cannot have a designer, a commercial, a specialist in international markets, an economist, a specialist in marketing, safety engineers … .etc you’re going to do things that not only munches but do not you know that you hate (like selling?) … but sorry to say, many of them, as the first sales, the need to do your
You live in a rollercoaster
You will feel in a loop, with days when you think you’re going to eat the world, going so pear, if everything planted out will be amazing … and other days you are negative eat, you question everything, which you think issueless … and you can even feel really depressed (very common among entrepreneurs).
There are days where you have the feeling that you have no idea where to go, you seem to take the last few days acting like a headless chicken, going from one topic to another but without seeing the progress. In addition, between events, prizes, competitors, suppliers, equipment and a thousand other tasks often it will cost horrors priority … but is the most important thing to do.
Something that takes some getting used to living in complete uncertainty, since it may not only can you have given (or not) a lot as a professional, but above begin to see how your financial “cushion” begins to decrease, and you realize the risk you’re running … what if at the end goes wrong? What if I do not have to pay rent?
You are “second”
Look, you work hard, but competition always seems to do better, get more visibility and be more successful … and that makes you feel worse, but if you look you will notice that surely what you see as “success” is not so, as you have some cognitive bias on how you value your.
It is difficult sometimes to share with others what you’re going through because they seem not to understand … especially if you’re a founder “only” or if people around you do not understand how the hell you left your cushy job / your career / your life “always” to this madness.
Summit every day is further
After months of hard work, sweat and passion finally manage to reach that milestone for which you have fought so hard … and suddenly you realize, amidst the (mandatory) holding that has been only a small step, that really how complicated is now, in fact, it had been easy … and once you get to the next milestone, back again.
Therefore, the most important thing is to be resilient and realize that you’re not a freak and that as Aitor Guevara says: There is no spoon. The reality is something that depends on your perspective, and for that you’ll have to experience it all, grow and realize you really are able to all this and more. You are doing, you are growing as a person.
That if some ideas and things that my I have served or are serving me:
- Give priority to friends, family, sport … everything that is important to you and makes you realize that your startup is not your life
- Learn to relativism the problems, to realize that they are not forever and soon return to live good news.
- Make sessions of “confessional” with your partner / co-founder in which you will sincere is about how you feel and you support you 200% into each / other.
- Remember why you are doing; reconnect with the passion that moved you like a bullet at the beginning
- Celebrate all victories, small and large with few laughs, a few beers with the team or a day of startup team building.
- Find someone you trust external and to help you to put into context what you are living, and to give you an opinion “unpolluted”
- Above all: Do not you customize. The problem (almost never) is you, but the situation, an error or whatever, but not you as a person.
Writing this post does not intend to discourage you and tell you it is a hell launch a startup …although some of it are sometimes. Actually, launch your own business is much more exciting and motivating than anything else you can do in your life (professional), and you’ll spend as ever, but also will demand a lot from you, as a person and as a professional … so better if you know what you’ll find.
What metrics should you focus on each phase of your startup?
The main cause of death in a startup is trying to grow up too soon (according to the prestigious Startup Genome Report), which means that resources are exhausted prematurely. In addition, it is that often we focus on the wrong priorities when we are launching our startup, among others by a poor choice of metric…
Stages of life cycle of a startup
Some time ago, we talked about all startup went through two distinct phases, with completely different objectives and requirements:
Search business model: At this point, the startup must discover the best business model for your product / service… i.e. is an exploration phase. In addition, this phase is characterized by uncertainty (since we know who the customers are, how you get them the value proposition, what is the best way to monetize … etc).
In this situation, the key is to try to validate what the business model on the market as soon as possible, which means designing a validation strategy as agile as possible. Analyzing the assumptions on which the business model is based and whether they are true or no …, adapting the model quickly, and iteratively, and especially, keeping the spending profile as low as possible. Therefore, it is usual that we operate “under the radar”.
It is a phase characterized by exploration and the validation.
Performance of the business model: Once we have validated the business model and reached the famous lace product-market, we entered a completely different phase, it is important to optimize processes (as in the previous phase our focus was to validate if the business model was right, if it was not as efficient as possible) and grow.
It is a situation where we should start worrying about improving operating margins of the business, refine the entire model and generally make it grow by bringing in new customers. It is a time to worry about scalability, by marketing strategies and growth.
It is a phase characterized by the growth and optimization
What each phase focus in metric? Growth vs. Value
It is important to understand that at each stage we should worry about a different thing, and, therefore, to focus on completely divergent ways. As you know, I am a firm believer that the funnels or funnels are key in implementing any business model, and, therefore, will use them at this point.
1 – Phase search -> Metric value: If, as we said in the previous point the key in the search phase is the exploration and validation of the business model, common sense dictates that we should focus on validating the product or service we have created adds value to users. In addition, how do you measure that? With metric interior of the funnel: ACTIVATION (which tells us if we can establish a relationship with the client), RETENTION (which indicates if the customer wants to continue interacting with our product) and of course MONETIZATION (although it is critical to validate the adequacy of income flows that have designed, is not the time yet to optimize monetization).
2 – That is, as we explore the business model we need to focus on improving each week internal metrics (which means that progressively improve conversion rates from one-step to the next). Once we have reached the product market, fit and consider the improvements that we get value metrics are not so striking, it is time to change focus.
3 – In short, during this phase we strive to improve internal conversion, or put another way, we make the (now few) customers who “cast” at the top of the funnel pass in the best possible way to monetize.
4 – Implementation phase -> Metrics growth: Once validated the business model and optimized value metrics, it is time to grow the model. If as we said before we managed to significantly improve conversion rates inside the funnel, now comes the key moment: we will “take” more customers through the funnel.
To do this we will focus on the two main metrics of growth: customer acquisition (i.e. doing get our offer to more people, usually through marketing techniques or sales) and on the other hand the reference (or what is the same, try to enhance the virility of the business model, making the clients themselves bring us more customers).
In short, at this point, we are going to focus on attracting more customers (through direct actions -marketing, sales-, which has a cost), and on the other hand, make them the customers to help us bring new customers (ideal).
If during the start of our adventure, and while we do not have a business model validated in hand, we do extensive efforts to attract new customers not just are throwing money but we will be committing a major sin for a startup: waste resources.