What is some good advice for first-time founders that can help them on the road to success? originally appeared on Quora: the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world.
I get this question a lot, so it's one I have given a fair amount of thought to. I don't have all the answers - I'm still learning. But a few pieces of advice I'd recommend:
Always test and learn: Sometimes, people come up with a cool solution for something that people don't care about and need. That's why it's so important to test out your product and make adjustments along the way. When I started DoNotPay, it was just to help my friends and family out. They were getting parking tickets, and I had developed a formula that worked. It was only when the demand became so great, and I couldn't physically help everyone that was asking me, that I knew I was on to something. But I still used that time to test out my product, get feedback from users, and make tons of improvements before it ever hit the market.
Get started and don't overthink it: While testing and learning is essential, it's also important to make decisions. When you're starting a company or building a product, it's easy to get weighed down with a million questions and possibilities. Trust me; you don't have the time. If you're testing something and it seems to be working, go with it. Don't stay still because you're scared to make a decision. Some of your decisions will end up being wrong, and that's ok. If you have a solid idea, a hardworking team, and a good product-market fit, you'll survive.
Move on quickly from bad ideas: One of the mistakes many early founders make - myself included - is we become attached to our ideas, even the bad ones. If you realize something isn't working, move on quickly. There is no reason to try and fit a round peg into a square hole. Think about the leading tech companies -- e.g. Apple, Facebook, Uber -- all of them have pivoted from their original ideas and made significant changes, not only to their business models but also their core products.
Surround yourself with awesome people: Surrounding yourself with talented, hardworking people is very important, especially in the early days. For starters, talented people attract other talented people, so this makes recruiting easier. It's also critical because there is so much work to do in the beginning, so having teammates who can pick up the slack without you ever having to worry about it is a gift.
Be frugal: I cannot overstate this piece of advice. Everything, and I mean everything, costs way more than you think. The lawyer who draws up your contract? Expensive. The platforms you need to ensure your employees are paid on time? Expensive. Office space in San Francisco? Beyond expensive. And those are just the everyday items. Tons of unexpected expenses will arise, and if you're not careful, they will eat you alive.
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