To Start Up or Not To Start Up
Marc Andreessen (co-founder of Netscape and now Ning) is blogging a series on start-ups (thanks, Brad). "Why not to do a startup" outlines some of the many, many challenges an entrepreneur faces in starting a company -- the long hours, hiring and retention, sales ... -- even before you consider actually building and marketing a product or service. It's a great read for the start-up-inclined, and I'd say his first point that it's truly a day-by-day "emotional rollercoaster" is both the most important to understand (since it's influenced by all the other challenges) and the most difficult to grasp -- you really have to just do it before you really get it. We work with a lot of start-ups here at Viget, and we're always looking for more. Why would I link Marc's post? Am I discouraging potential clients? Hardly. People who don't have the start-up bug might read the post and think "that sounds awful!" For those who have decided to dive into their own venture, it will only invigorate them. In fact, I might specifically ask every potential start-up client to read it. The best entrepreneurs have vision and perspective, not just for what's unique to their business, but for what's consistent across all businesses. Not surprisingly, the most rewarding start-up projects we work on are with entrepreneurs who know what they're getting into and ride -- and, to the extent possible, steer -- the rollercoaster accordingly. A lot of our clients are first-time entrepreneurs. We've seen lots of mistakes, lots of inspiring triumphs, and everything in between. We ride the rollercoaster with them, and it's invigorating every time. I would never discourage someone who has the itch from doing a start-up, and I don't think Marc's trying to either. You wouldn't try to climb a mountain without asking how high it is, would you? Knowing what you're getting into and planning (or at least thinking) accordingly is just the first step in what will hopefully be a lot of smart decisions you make. Marc's post only eloquently scratches the surface. As the foundation to everything else an entrepreneur needs to be successful, you need unwavering focus, passion, and dedication to see a start-up through. Entrepreneurs need stick. If you don't have it, none of the other people whom you'll need to make your start-up successful (staff, partners, customers, investors, etc.) ever will.