Don’t do a Startup, Just to DO A STARTUP.

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I believe that most entrepreneurs deal with this at one point or another. They are so anxious to start a company that they literally jump head first into any idea that comes to mind. And so many of us who’ve experience this failed miserably.

Starting a company is REALLY hard. It’s not for the weak or faint hearted. It’s not something that happens over a weekend or as sexy as the media makes it seem. In fact, it is much, much easier to occupy space at a company or to move up the corporate ladder.

Companies like Facebook, Google, Microsoft, etc – have all been really, really hard to start. We always hear the success stories and read the headlines about how rich the leaders of these companies are today. The fact is that there many moments in these companies lives that challenged whether they would survive or not. I remember in 2011 when Ron Conway came by to our Angelpad class to provide us with some insight around how to start a company. He told us a few stories about founders that he had worked with and the critical moments in their company’s life around which they had to make company-defining decisions. He mentioned how founders like Sergey Brin and Larry Page of Google and Mark Zuckeberg of Facebook, would call him up for advice when they were experiencing difficult moments.

My point is that if you are going to start a company, you must make sure that a few things are in place. Here’s a short list:

1.    You like the idea and believe in it enough to suffer for a very long time. You will suffer, be frustrated many times, and want to quit. It’s better to know this going in so when you encounter these moments you deal with them effectively.

2.    You understand the odds are against you and are ok with failure. It’s not unknown that most companies fail. And although the idea is to beat the odds and build something great, if you live in delusional state you will not make good decisions and will be influenced by inaccurate expectations.

3.    You must be willing to fight hard and strive to win; yet don’t be too attached to the outcome or you will miss the journey and/or be driven by fear. You will be under enormous amounts of stress and need to find ways to cope with this stress, learn from it, and maintain equilibrium.

4.    You did not just want to start a company to be cool or cause you hate your current job. I am not saying that these can’t influence your desire to start a company, however they must not be main drivers. Unless you have had previous financial successes, being a startup founder gets old quick and becomes less cool as you confront challenges. There will be times that the job that sucked is a walk in the park compared to your current venture.

5.    You are actually passionate and excited about the space that you’d like to enter and not just trying to enter it because you heard it was hot. 

6.    You are not just starting a company because everyone else is doing it. 

7.    You actually have a deep understand of the problem you are trying to solve or wide vision for the space.

8.    You have done your due-diligence as if you were an investor.