In Part 1 of this blog, I touched on the importance of timing, early hires, and dedication when it comes to your early startup journey. Below are 3 more tips for navigating the ups and downs of founder-hood and entrepreneurship in your first year.
4. Trust your gut and create your own opportunities.
As startup founder it is important to listen to your instincts and go with your gut when the path is unknown. It takes just as much effort to go after a game-changing opportunity as a small partnership or PR splash. Go after the really big wins -- and ration your availability. This will help with your own burnout and the perception of your brand and business. If you have a unique angle, capitalize on it! As a female founder, I've been afforded a lot of speaking opportunities that I wouldn't have had if I fit the mold. I choose to embrace those opportunities, because it's hard enough to be a woman in tech. Let it differentiate you and your business.
5. Choose your investors wisely.
As CEO of EverlyWell, I've been through a few funding rounds, and I've experienced firsthand how difficult the process can be. One of my top pieces of advice for raising your first round of funding is choosing the right type of investor for your business. Pick your investors the same way you would pick your employees: look for someone who is a fit from both a skill set and cultural perspective. Know exactly why you want to work with them and why they should fund you. You need to know how it fits in with their portfolio and vision -- and you want to vet them as much as they vet you. You can waste a lot of time talking to great VCs or angels who just structurally or philosophically don't fit with your company.
6. Hold your principles.
"It's easier to hold your principles 100 percent of the time than it is to hold them 98 percent of the time" -- said Clayton Christensen, one of my professors from business school. To me this holds true in life and in entrepreneurship. As a founder, you set the standard for the company and the team. Your name and reputation are all you have, and while many decisions will be hard, you can always choose to do the right thing even in tough situations. When you go the extra mile or do something you didn't have to, it often won't be reciprocated -- but it's still worth doing!
As a first time startup CEO and founder, there are a lot of tough calls. You want to wake up every day and be proud of your actions. It takes a tremendous commitment to make it through the ups and downs during the first year -- hopefully some of these tips can make it a rewarding experience for you too.
About the Author
Julia Cheek is the CEO and Founder of EverlyWell, a digital health startup empowering consumers to order, self-collect, and understand lab tests. Based in Austin, EverlyWell launched in June 2016, and had raised $5M in capital to date. They have garnered awards from TechCrunch and Rock Health and are on a multi-million dollar run-rate in just one year since launching. Julia was also named the number one female entrepreneur to watch by CIO magazine for 2017.