Through personal experience I’ve found that building on the advice and experience of others who have actually been where you want to be is invaluable. It may be thinking, “Well, duh,” but I think oftentimes entrepreneurs stay within their little silos and try to do everything on their own. Additionally, not everyone has access to the types of people who could really give them some great advice. So, I’ve culled some of the best startup advice that has appeared on DailyTekk over the last several weeks and made it easily accessible and digestible (I’ve even thrown in a bit of advice from yours truly at the end). These are valuable musings from some incredibly bright people who have doing some interesting and visible things and it’s definitely worth your time to read through. Note: to view the original article each quote appears in just click on their name!
Greg Mazanec (LivingSocial): It’s not about the idea; it’s about execution. Also, don’t be afraid to talk about an idea you are chasing. The sooner you start to execute on an idea the sooner you will get the feedback needed to help shape it into what it is actually going to be. Talk with customers and prospective clients and use their feedback to quickly reframe the parts of your idea that don’t work to make something even better.
Guillaume Martin (Pictarine): Talk to your users or your potential users. Truly understand that your real value is not your product, it’s the community that uses your product. Without users, you are nothing more than lines of codes. So go meet your community and listen!
Jon Stein (Betterment): Build it, put it in people’s hands, make it real. The sooner the better. If you’re pitching to Angels or VCs, you’re going to have a much easier time if you have something you can show them. Prove that you can execute. Build that prototype. Get your business cards. Start using your @[yourdomain] email address. Every little bit that you make it more real, then others around you will start to believe it, too. Don’t just say, we can get this market – show survey data that indicated demand. Buy cheap ads on Facebook and show click-through rates. If you’re building a consumer product, you want to get it in their hands and start getting real feedback as early as possible. If you wait until it’s perfect, you’ll never be done. Get it out there, get people using it, make it real.
Sandy Khaund (Turner Broadcasting): Prepare yourself for the long haul. It’s a marathon, not a sprint, and you need to be prepared for the setbacks. It’s a roller coaster and even the most successful entrepreneurs need to maintain a balance of staying strong and showing confidence in their convictions, but also continually questioning their assumptions and looking for ways to be better. Always look to learn. Humility is a godsend. You’ll make mistakes. You’ll get excited over opportunities that quickly fizzle. You’ll meet people that will later ignore your e-mails or not call you back. And you’ll have people tell you your “baby” is ugly. It’s how you manage those moments that will give your vision, passion, and execution the best chance to succeed.
Will Young (Zappos): There is a lot of advice out there to follow your passion. I really believe in that but I think that sometimes discourages some entrepreneurs. I often hear “I don’t have an idea I’m super passionate about”. And I think a lot of the times that’s ok. I often feel the most passionate about just being a part of building anything new with a fun team that I enjoy being with. Sometimes it’s ok to feel more passionate about the act of building than the product itself. For example, people often think about our CEO Tony “Wow, he must really love shoes”. He didn’t when he started with Zappos and still doesn’t! But he was passionate about building a company with an amazing corporate culture that delivered the best possible service. Passion doesn’t always have to be about a specific product your are trying to sell. So if you find yourself at a job/start-up and you aren’t enjoying the product or the process to build it, something should change!
Brad Feld (Foundry Group): Only do something that you are intensely passionate about. If you aren’t obsessed with the idea and product, do something else.
Sam Tarantino (Grooveshark): The advice I have for people starting a tech company is never give up. There are always ups and downs in every startup and as much as you may want to give up, getting through the worst of times is how you win.
Chris McConnell (DailyTekk): To be a successful entrepreneur, you have to see through barriers. So many menacing problems you face will turn out to be mere illusions when you actually test them for weaknesses. When something seems impossible, you’ve got to press on. Especially when talking to investors. They aren’t just investing in your idea. They are investing in you and you’ve got to show them that you can solve problems with creativity and persistence. Take things one at a time. Little successes can add up to something bigger and if you break it down to smaller tasks you won’t get overwhelmed. Above all else, never, ever, ever give up. If giving up seems even remotely like an option to you, quite while you’re ahead because you’re not going to have the drive needed to see it through to the end.