The process of starting a company is messy. It has massive ups and downs, tons of uncertainty and a significant portion of time is spent doing things you don’t know how to do, or don’t like doing. But that’s the Startup Process. Either you embrace it and love it or you get out.
Don’t expect that most of your time as a founder will be spent doing things you love (i.e. building your product). Building a great product is just assumed. Ultimately everything hinges on the product, but so much more has to happen successfully for a great product to be realized. And all of those “other things” are generally things startup founders don’t want to do.
Here are some examples:
- Raising Capital – It’s time to change the way we describe raising capital as “a distraction.” You need to look at it as much more than that. No startup survives without money. If you have to raise it from external sources then that becomes pretty damn important. The lights can’t stay on otherwise. Very few people like raising capital, and first-timers can’t believe how much time it takes away from “doing what they should be doing.” But enough of that. If you’re raising capital because you need it to improve your chances of success, then do it. Don’t complain about it and embrace it.
- Hiring – This typically comes later in the process, but it’s very sad how little effort most startup founders put to it. Except without the best people, you likely won’t succeed. So again, hiring top talent is a prerequisite for success (like raising capital) and yet it’s looked at as a distraction. It’s not. It’s core to improving your startup’s chance of success.
- Legal – You may delay formal legal stuff for awhile when you’re very early on and just investigating the potential for your startup, but don’t ignore doing things right when it comes to corporate structure, employee agreements, share structure, etc. This stuff can (and will) come to bite you in the ass later. Even in a mild way, if you don’t have your legal ducks in a row when you go to raise money or hire people, it’s troublesome and wastes more time.
You don’t have to love all of these things, but you have to love the overall process – the Startup Process. You have to love the experience, or at minimum accept the realities of your situation (you don’t get to code by yourself in a room for 12 hours a day) and make sure these sorts of things are top priorities, not distractions or irritations. They’re a necessary and critical part of succeeding – so get to ’em.