So you saw The Social Network and started chatting with some friends. You’ve got some great ideas and you think you can turn those ideas into a viable business. You’ve finally decided to take the plunge and found a startup. First off, congrats! Now, any idea what you’re in for? At the time that The Social Network came out, Mark Zuckerberg, in trying to play down some of the myths about founding a startup, said this about founding Facebook:
“I mean, the real story is actually probably pretty boring, right? I mean, we just sat at our computers for six years and coded.”Mark Zuckerberg
It’s incredible, but that short sentence speaks volumes.
I suppose what Mr. Z was trying to say is that real life isn’t like the movies. It’s not all glitz and glamour (in fact, there’s very little of that). Founding a startup is hard work, and if you think that it will be anything other than work, work, and more work, you’ve got another thing coming. And often times, it can be a bit tedious – anyone who has ever done any programming will tell you that (and yes, I’ve done some programming – it’s how I paid my way through law school).
It takes years
Although the actual act of founding a company isn’t too lengthy a process, the work involved in bringing an idea into fruition, while at the same time creating a business around that idea, can take years. Rome was not built in a day. And in today’s world, you have to continuously improve and reinvent yourself. So if commitment isn’t your thing, you may want to rethink the whole startup gig.
You’re not alone
Chances are you’re not a one-man (or woman) show. You’ve got a small group of initial founders, but the size of the team will evolve over the years. Right from the start, you need to think about who makes up that founding team and what each person brings to the table. You’ll also need to think about what happens when someone leaves (willingly, or otherwise) and what happens when you want to bring someone new on board. You’ll also need to think about selecting the right advisors (lawyers, accountants, investors, mentors, etc.).
The point is that there are tons of things to think about when you’re just starting out. And it’s OK to feel a bit overwhelmed and to make mistakes. Sure, there might be plenty of questions you are not prepared to answer right now, but founding a startup is not about having all the answers. It’s about learning everything you can and discovering challenges as you (and your business) grow. Just remember that founding a startup is a long term commitment which will make you sweat, laugh and cry, but also remember that you’re not doing it alone. There are people who will rely on you, and there are people you can rely on too.