Advice 1: When working on a startup, move quickly. Very quickly. If you’re building a startup from scratch, your business is liked to get flipped on its head at least twice or three times before you get to what REALLY works. Moving quick enables you to test things, figure out what works, and what doesn’t. Don’t worry if things are less than perfect. I’ve made this mistake several times – spent far too long building features that turned out to be something that we scrapped in the end.
Advice 2: When building a startup, you tend to get A LOT of (often unsolicited) opinions. You have to find who you want to listen to. That’s not to say you shouldn’t be open to feedback – you definitely should. But, figure out who or what your trusted sources are. If it’s future customers – are they really your target market? If it’s business experts, start up mentors, advisors, or anyone else claiming they have all the experience in the world – do they really know your business as well as you do? At a pre-launch pitching event, I’ve had an industry ‘expert’ assertively tell me my business model is all wrong and according to their opinion, we should change the business right now (after only understanding half the concept)– and within 20 minutes, another industry ‘expert’ loved the model and the concept but suggested several new directions we can go in. It’s impossible to listen to everyone – feedback is extremely important, but it’s up to you to find who to listen to.
Advice 3: Take time to celebrate the wins, both big and small. Building a startup seems like a series of never-ending milestones to reach and problems to solve. Have you launched? How many orders do you have? Have you raised your seed round? Series A? What kind of partnerships have you secured? This applies especially if you’re surrounded by other startups – someone is always going to be at a different stage than you, and your investors and customers will always be wanting more. But, enjoy the wins, that’s what keeps you going. Secured an important partnership? Celebrate it. No idea how you’ll make it work? You’ll figure it out.
Details of experience: Co-founded a tech online marketplace, currently working on a marketing strategy for a consultancy.
What the job is really like: It can get quite varied, and it’s probably massively different depending on what kind of startup your building. But, one thing seems quite universal for early-stage startup founders: you wear a lot of hats. One day I’m taking care of customer service, the next I’m drafting contracts, the next I’m implementing marketing campaigns.