For the humble, curious or just plain bored I lay out the basics of entrepreneurial startup building.
The big WHY. No, it’s not HOW as in describing at great length all the bells and whistles of what your product is doing or HOW it’s working. No one couldn’t be bother, so not interesting without a context. You need to understand first the relevance.
WHY is the ultimately most important prime mover of any convincing or sales. It’s the context, motivation and reason. Often if not always, it is something far and beyond the solution or the company in question. It provides the purpose.
Think about Apple vs. Microsoft or Nokia. It’s philosophy, lifestyle, and attitude versus superior product specs. A rational approach versus feelings, heart against the mind.
After winning with the WHY the rest is just assurance and closing the deal by convincing that you can deliver and the thing actually works and does as promised. This is details, and building trust.
Who brings you the MONEY? No, it’s not investors. They bring a little death every time you raise a round and dilute your shareholding. Making fuzz about raising a round is like having a wake or sequence of obituaries for the entrepreneur. You are literally dancing on your investment returns’ grave.
CASH. So bourgeois and plain vanilla yet it is the ultimate unicorn. Dividends are sexy, despite the fame for valuations in billions. Free cash flow gives you the freedom and leverage. More importantly it directs you to do the things that matter: customer experience, a commitment to deliver and close, and most importantly it validates what you’re doing. Someone is willing to pay for what you’re offering. A true success is paying customers.
PEOPLE. Who makes your success? A-players. A mediocre idea can win in the market place any day with a brilliant team. Switch the parts and the formula does not have the same outcome. Probably the most undervalued success factor is picking the right people. It requires patience, courage, and tough calls. Often, this lessons is learned only when your title is serial entrepreneur. Just think about it. Again. And again.
HUMBLE. Everybody is figuring out things while they go along. The difference is how they appear to the others. Empty barrels make the most noise. Asking for advice, being open to ideas and criticism, knowing oneself and taking responsibility are forms of true bravery. Weak signals, agility and a low cost structure enable fast moves and adjustments when needed. Mission driven approach to your venture ensures the steady course during a hardship, peer pressure or weak moments.
It’s all very simple and obvious, really. Just do it.