What should all first-time startup founders know before they start their business? originally appeared on Quora: the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world.
Understand your mission, and then understand how to build a strong team to do it.
I worked for nearly a decade with companies like Google and Facebook. After quitting Facebook, I was frustrated with the amount of talent and resources being used to optimize the Advertising business - essentially, make people buy stuff they don't need. I thought, "why do we need so many smart folks, working so hard, just to optimize ads algorithms and click through rates?" So when I decided to create my own company, I knew that in addition to solving a real-world problem, that I needed to be part-of a mission-driven organization. I felt there was a need, opportunity and obligation to focus attention on the growing issue of distracted driving, and that's why I started Zendrive to make roads safer using data analytics.
The other crucial ingredient to entrepreneurial success, in my opinion, is building a strong team. My co-founder is one of the smartest people on the planet, and working with him has made Zendrive possible. You need people like that on your side of the court. The three things I look at when hiring for a strong team are curiosity, passion and grit. I believe that in order to be successful in whatever it is you do, you need to learn every day, and have a passion for meeting new people and solving problems. That's where curiosity comes in. The second thing is passion. At Zendrive, it's passion for making a positive social impact. It's a focus on the mission, whatever that might be, rather than just collecting a paycheck. Third is grit. Startups are hard. Sometimes things go amazing well, other times things can be extremely difficult. Determination and focus, even in the toughest times, is an important property for both entrepreneurs, but also their teams.
A firm grasp on your mission and the problem you're trying to solve is crucial, and makes everything else -- raising money, hiring the right team and ultimately, building the business - much easier. That focus shapes our product and services and how they intertwine with our business strategy. It's easier to hire the right people (and keep them around) when they understand and believe in the company mission. One can't exist without the other.
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