A few things, in no particular order, all learned the hard way:
- No one, not even family and close friends, will admire your audacity to start a company. Everyone, without exception, will think you’re an idiot for not having a “regular job” for the sake of an elusive “stability”.
- No amount of reading or advice can prepare you for the real thing. You will be hit countless times, from every direction imaginable. Keep at it, and learn from your own (and other people’s) mistakes.
- Most people start companies in the pursuit of personal independence. But any company, successful or failing, can quickly become a prison for the founder, if not properly planned ahead. Whenever possible, aim to delegate, and detach yourself from the operational side of things.
- You have to know Marketing, or hire somebody who does. You can be the best in the world at your craft, if no one knows about it, you’ll go hungry. Master the ability to connect your product or service with potential customers.
- Starting a company with the goal of getting rich is not right. It will get very hard before it gets better (if ever), and you’ll need something deeper than money to keep you going. Be profit oriented, but don’t have money as the ultimate goal.
- Listen to your market. Trying to shove a product or service down your prospect’s throat, just because you personally like it, won’t get you far. People “vote” with their money. Pay close attention.
- Every successful company out there, no matter how big (even Jumia and Konga), started out small and local. It’s up to you, the founder, to make your company great. Keep believing in yourself, even when no one else does.
- Don’t fall in love with your product or service. Instead, fall in love with your customers. Your first business is likely not to be the only, or the last, one. Keep serving your customers, and you’ll be fine
It is damn hard to get a business off the ground. It is damn hard to keep it up in the air.
Most people simply don’t have the discipline, and resilience, to break the barrier.
Except it doesn’t work this way.
What the digital age brought to the table is easier access to information. Now you can find anything in 2 clicks. You can have most things shipped to your door overnight.
That also brought more clutter. It is even harder to get noticed right now than before. People are getting busier by the minute. As a result they tend to turn off all interruptions from marketers, in an effort to protect their sanity.
Also, a lot of businesses simply run out of money before they reach market acceptance. No matter how brilliant the idea, if you have no money left in the bank to promote it, you’re out.