Who hasn’t told themselves at least once (or twice) “I’ve got a great idea and it’ll be worth millions. It’s time to launch a startup”?
That’s good and all, but launching a startup takes far more than a solid idea and a lofty goal. The hard truth is that some people probably shouldn’t become founders.
With every dream comes a reality – starting a company is not for the faint of heart. And, while a healthy dose of delusion will get you through the excruciating pain of your first years as an entrepreneur, you do owe it to yourself to really understand what you’re about to get into. We hear the great success stories and watch the whirlwind humor of Silicon Valley on TV, but rarely talk about the failures.
The statistics alone are revealing. The most recent reveals that about nine out of ten startups fail, and that’s a generous calculation (those that didn't fail didn't necessarily become wild successes and found themselves with successful exits or IPOs). Sure, there may be incredible moments of success and accomplishment, but for most, the reality of success is slim to none. Becoming an entrepreneur and launching your own startup takes nerve.
I’d go so far as to say it also requires a certain character and attitude, something that goes as deep as your DNA. If you don’t have it, the dream will quickly be shattered.
Here are 6 things to be cautious of when you first go all-in:
1. You’re Perpetually Stressed Out
Some people are calm by nature and some are stressed out all the time. Yes, being a successful entrepreneur means you have to be alert and sharp, but it doesn’t mean a constant sense of tension. Planning and launching your startup entails many stressful situations, but to be an accomplished entrepreneur, you need to know how to control it.
Making decisions and functioning under constant pressure will cause you to make mistakes and eventually fail. The stakes only get higher when you’re tasked with easing a team. Your first ten employees will develop and carry your company culture to your next 100, and if that culture is riddled with anxiety and worry about the unknown, you simply won’t make it. That kind of mentality creates a toxic work environment, and the only time your team will feel relief is when you take a sick day.
2. You’re Indecisive
Making decisions and taking risks on an hourly basis are what startups are all about. You need to be strong with your decisions or risk going into a tailspin. Successful entrepreneurs know how to make decisions quickly, and also stand behind those decisions. When you’re are unable to make a decision – whether it’s about who to hire or what your product roadmap should look like – you’re letting your self-doubt take over.
3. You Have Awful Budget and Forecast-Planning Skills
You don’t plan your budget right and it seems like you’re always down to your last three months. This could be an extra stressful situation when you have to pay suppliers or employees. A good entrepreneur thinks long-term and also knows to strike the iron while it’s hot. Investors are looking first and foremost at growth and growth opportunities. If you had a period of terrific growth in your startup that’s recently slowed down, it may be too late to get new funding.
4. You Spend Too Much Money on Useless Advisors
You don’t have time to hire staff for all the positions you wish you could fill, so you retain advisors for one-time projects. The devotion and dedication of an advisor is not like the devotion of an employee, and that sometimes makes all the difference. You may also be under the false impression that it saves you money (but it actually doesn’t). A good advisor is costly, and usually not less than what a good hiree would take. A bad advisor will help you with nothing, and happily cash your check all the same.
5. Your Interpersonal Skills Suck
Overall, you are not the nicest person. You also like to gossip and talk behind people’s back. Unfortunately, that didn’t change when you launched your own company and hired employees. It’s also extremely difficult for you to say something nice, let alone compliment someone on a job well done and overall just be appreciative of others.
6. You’re Not a Role Model
Your employees and peers don’t look up to you and you expect of them to perform a certain way and do certain things that you are not doing yourself. As an entrepreneur, any person that first meets you will label you a leader and you will immediately sense their respect. But, this leader reputation can fade fast when you are not acting on it. It can start by coming to the office at noon and leaving at 4 to just not caring at staff meetings. Remember that you are at the top of the pyramid, and everyone is noticing you. If you don’t deliver leadership, you will not be perceived as one.
Originally published on Tech In Asia