Launching a business is one of the most exciting and freeing things you can do. Most who try it resolve never to go back to a regular job again. Even if that means having to pivot or relaunch a new startup idea. Yet, there can be some big reality checks coming your way once you leap.
You should absolutely launch your own business. Yet, the reality can be far different from the dream. Use this checkup list to be sure you are more prepared and are ready to crush it.
1. Are You Really Ready to be an Entrepreneur?
By definition an entrepreneur is someone who organizes and operates a business. Obviously that is a substantially simplified description.
You will be:
-Lead customer service rep
-Responsible for a lot
There is a whole volume of other titles and roles you may fill in the beginning. At least until you hire or outsource to cover them.
At the beginning you may not be enjoying four hour work weeks and champagne celebrations. You might be working 10 full time jobs and getting paid zero. Though, if you love what you do then most of it may not seem like work at all.
2. Do You Know What it Takes to be a Great Entrepreneur?
Everyone is an entrepreneur now. There is a huge difference between calling yourself one, and having a small local business or hobby versus becoming a startup founder who raises tens of millions of dollars, racks up $100M a year in revenues and exits a venture for $1B.
Billionaire founders tend to share this one trait. You may also want to read this Forbes article on the six pieces of advice successful entrepreneurs would give their younger selves.
3. Startup Fundraising
While capital is plentiful and founders are hauling off with record amounts of funding, there is more to fundraising for your startup than blasting out your pitch deck to every email address you can find.
The art of startup fundraising involves strategy, salespersonship, a lot of work and communication, and preparation.
Even once you get offers, surviving the due diligence process can be a whole different animal. Most will need to raise multiple rounds too. It’s not over till you exit.
Storytelling is everything in fundraising. Being able to capture the essence of what you are doing in 15 to 20 slides is the key. For a winning deck, take a look at the pitch deck template created by Silicon Valley legend, Peter Thiel (see it here) that I recently covered. Thiel was the first angel investor in Facebook with a $500K check that turned into more than $1 billion in cash.
4. The Trade Offs
There are going to be a lot of potential trade offs and sacrifices to be made on the road to a really big and successful business.
Do you know what they are? Can you stomach them? Where will you draw your line in the sand?
Be prepared for intense time demands. Working long hours, weekends, nights and holidays. Being away from family to go to investor meetings and events.
You may have to trade the majority ownership, equity and control of your business for funding. Or work even harder and bootstrap it all the way and stay lean.
It can all be more than worth it, but there will be trade offs on the way.
5. Be at Peace with Failure
There really is no failure. Things may not turn out the way you expected. You might even bankrupt your first startup. Be okay with that. Accept it happens. See whatever comes as a learning experience and way to improve.
6. You’re Going to Need Help
Unless you’ll only really be a freelancer or one man band doing everything yourself, you will need help and counsel. You’ll need advisors, consultants, legal, tax strategists, and maybe technical or marketing expertise. You might even have to be willing to hire an outside CEO who has an MBA and more experience in business operations. These are all positives. Though, if you are going to make it big, you need to be okay with seeking out and recruiting a lot of help.
7. Be Ready for Adversity
Can you keep your cool and passion for your new business, no matter how challenging it gets. Expect everything to cost more, take longer, and earn less than planned. If you are doing well, people will try to lie, cheat, steal, copy and sue you.
8. Can You Handle the Success
Sometimes success is worse than failure. Once you are raising, making and exiting for millions and billions it amplifies everything. Keeping your ego in check can be critical for relationships, and maintaining that success. There are few geniuses. Most get there with hard work and help.
9. The Dull Work
Launching a business is exciting. There will be many amazing highs. Yet, there is also a lot of repetitive dull work. Are you ready to survive that? For example; consistently pumping out daily blogs, cold calling investors, and accounting? If you are going to stay in the game, you have to keep your job interesting. Hire out the work that bores you.