Some of you may have read 5 reasons to love startup world, but I don’t want you to wrongly assume it’s all sunshine and lollipops. Before you jump into the noisy abyss filled with entrepreneurs spruiking their intellectual property, you need to answer yes to these 5 questions:
1. Can you live on no income for two years and pay startup bills?
Your time isn’t enough. You need to give your own dollars to your startup. If you eventually want to seek investment, investors need to see you are backing yourself. If you put dollars on the line, you will work harder to succeed.
Pouring your time and money into your startup means you have to give up things you love like great wine, nights out, the theatre etc and reduce your spending. And you need to be okay with that because no one likes a bitter, whiny entrepreneur.
2. Can you function without the IT, finance, marketing, administration and HR teams?
Because they are all you. I just want to take a moment to say how much I now appreciate the support these teams gave me in the past and if I ever sounded ungrateful or frustrated with your service, I am sorry. Believe me, I get a lot more frustrated now it takes me an hour to sort an IT issue, but the hands-on experience is great for learning.
3. Can you spend a lot of time on your own or only talking to one other person?
Some people aren’t built to work solo or in a duo. First of all, you need to be self-motivated. No boss and no performance reviews. Procrastination can’t be a weakness because your kitchen is the next room and it’s calling you… Secondly, there are no water cooler chats about newsy stuff. Thirdly, if you have a co-founder, you need to get on with them really, really, really well because they are the only other person at work.
4. Can you go from team away days and reward trips to sleepovers?
You will be relieved to know sleepovers still involve wine, but you aren’t going to a hotel overlooking grassy knolls with chocolates delicately resting on your pillow. You will sleep on a mattress, you will do the washing up and you will wake up at 5am with the other children in the household. No junkets because you are paying for it and if you need a refresher, go back to question 1.
5. Do you believe wholly in what you are doing even in the face of many deterrents, including your family and friends?
Your family and friends want the best for you. They might be scared you are making the wrong financial/reputational/professional decision to move to startup world. All their points will be valid. They may just want to protect you. Use the negative responses from your nearest and dearest to practice your key messages and fine tune them. It is likely you will face the same negative feedback online or face to face.
At your core you need the conviction and endurance to follow your startup idea through. However, you also need the wherewithal to know when to pull the plug and jump the sinking ship without losing face.