When Chris Mirabile set out to build Hotlist, his third tech company, he learned that perseverance is what separates the "want-trepreneurs" from the real deal.
Stepping away from a well-paying job and a defined career path with nothing more than an idea was no easy task. But actually building my third tech company, Hotlist, into the world's largest future-focused network--with more than 200 million people's plans--was incomparably more challenging.
These are a few words of advice that I've received as an entrepreneur that have helped to guide me on my journey of building Hotlist into a success:
1. It's going to take longer than you think and it's going to hurt.
Starting a company is not for the faint of heart. The press glamorizes entrepreneurs when it focuses on the one-in-a-million overnight billionaire. In reality, it's more likely that building that company took years longer, spawned dozens more grey hairs, and spurred far more self-questioning ("Am I doing things right? Should I continue down this path?") than is typically admitted to.
The point is that brains are a commodity; perseverance is a rare trait that distinguishes the wantrepreneurs from the entrepreneurs. If you truly have the heart of an entrepreneur, success will one day find you.
2. You need at least one partner, and your close friend is a great choice.
A partner fills in the blanks by compensating for your weaknesses, and along the theme of my first point, also helps to prop you up when things get rough (and vice versa). So who should your partner be?
Many people advise against partnering with friends or family. Yet, I started Hotlist with my best friend, Gianni Martire, and it has paid dividends. To be fair, we sometimes express our opinions to each other more freely than traditional business etiquette may call for. But that is probably the only negative, which more often than not becomes a positive, as we skip the formalities and dive straight into the issues. Most importantly, you're close to your friend because they have similar morals, values, and perspectives on life, and most importantly, are loyal to the friendship. I can't think of a better combination of traits in somebody who you're going to spend more time with than your own family!
3. Simplicity is essential for success.
As entrepreneurs, we're dreamers. We have a vision for how we're going to change the world and we creatively explore every last detail in our minds. The problem comes when we expect others to be as well versed as we are, and we take on more than we can handle. Start by building the Minimal Viable Product (see Eric Ries' Lean Startup), and be sure that simplicity is ingrained in every facet of the company: marketing (can consumers understand the core value proposition?), business development (can partners clearly see how they'll make money?), PR (would my mom and dad understand what my company does?), investors (is the value and potential crystal clear?) and the product itself (is it intuitive enough for a child to use?). Keeping things simple will multiply your odds for success.