As the co-founder of MindMate, I can tell you that starting a company is one of the most exciting things you will ever do but also one of the most challenging. Though I consider this decision the best thing I have done so far, there’s no denying that I was clueless about what I was getting myself into when I took that leap a little over a year ago. Though we are still at the beginning (and there is a lot more to learn) these are some things I wish I had known before starting our company.
1 | There is never a “perfect” time to get started.
The truth is that you’re almost too late because someone else wants to do the same thing. Sometimes (most of the time, actually) everything takes much longer than you expect it to. The real work has just started at the point you decide to start and it is important to remember that the process will take time. Growing your business is more like marathon than a sprint to the finish line.
2 | No one who hasn’t been through it will really understand.
They won’t get why you work so much or how your startup actually can be more important to you than sleep or spending time with family and friends. Being part of Ignite 100 showed me that accelerators are a great way to be surrounded by people who are going through the same thing. Sole founders, those who are probably the loneliest, definitely can benefit from them.
3 | Don’t even get started without the right team.
Having the right team is crucial. It seems like a no-brainer but you really have to think about what that exactly means. Having a start-up is an at least 3-5 year commitment. For that period of time you will be in each other’s faces all the time (and this is the least of your problems). The people you work with need to have the necessary skills and strengths that balance out your weaknesses. Your Co-Founders should also be committed to the business (ideally full-time). At MindMate, we were lucky enough to have all of that in place. Without it, I doubt that we would have gotten as far.
4 | Expect the unexpected.
Even if you think that you’ve thought of everything, the possibility that something unexpected will happen is quite high. Even if you have covered all the basics like legal paperwork, accounts and your business model, be ready to hit roadblocks along the way. Things will happen that you can’t control and you’ll have to bounce back and keep going. On the bright side: the good surprises usually outweigh the bad ones.
5 | We’ve barely scratched the surface.
Choosing only five out of the endless number of important things you should know was difficult. You learn new things every day when you start a business. You should read as much as you can and speak to as many people as you can. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there and ask because most people will help. Define what will make this a success for you and your team and work like hell to make it happen.
Are you a new founder? What do you wish you would have known when you started?