What should all first-time founders know before they start a business? originally appeared on Quora: the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world.
Accept the fact that you are going to be wrong.
The so called "great idea" you had and quit your job for won't be worth a penny if no one is willing to pay for your product. You will have to have the humility to admit defeat and quickly pick yourself up and pivot according to market feedback. First-time founders can get so in over their heads and become oblivious that they fail to pivot fast enough based on feedback.
Nothing is personal.
Buckle up, it is going to be a tough ride. This ride could be filled with rejection, arguments, disapproval.... I am making it sound terrible, but hey, rainbows always come after a thunderstorm, right? That is, if you make it out of the thunderstorm. The point is, if you are fortunate enough, you are going to encounter a lot of experienced and smart people who will give it to you straight. It might feel like they have some sort of personal vendetta against you, but in actuality, nothing is personal. In fact, thank them, because they did not waste your time by trying to make you feel good. Instead, they gave you real information that can be critical to figuring out your business. So, don't take rejections and disapproval personally. It is not about you, it is about the business.
Do what matters.
Half-hour coffee meetings with a potential VC and late night networking events when you are trying to build your first prototype are perfect examples of things that DON'T matter. Do what matters and prioritize according to where you are. I found myself going through the motions of startups because I was naive in the way that I thought if I crammed all activities that a founder should do in less than six months, then I would be able to reach my goal faster.... The list of things I knew founders needed to do were networking with VCs, hiring, fundraising, building product, figuring out a revenue model.... So I did them all, and all at once. I didn't realize there is a sequence of events that can maximize the impact of each activity. Understanding what matters at any given time and rejecting everything that can take away your time from doing what matters to achieve your ultimate objective, is the hardest and the most important thing for entrepreneurs. After all, founders are born opportunistic, it kills us inside to turn down opportunities, so it takes practice to say no.
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