Learn to take a risk
Successful entrepreneurs keep at it. Don’t give up.
Solve an unsolved problem Some of the most successful businesses in the world have been built on deep customer insight. Specifically, they began by solving an unsolved problem for their customers.
Sell to customers yourself It is important for an entrepreneur to really know the pulse of the market. The best way to do that is to go out into the field and sell to customers yourself. This not only earns revenue for the company and motivates the sales team, but it also sharpens your judgement and gives you invaluable feedback from customers directly.
Be persistent Most entrepreneurs face financial struggle for several years before they succeed. It goes with the territory, so be prepared to face it. During this period your commitment will be tested and you will be tempted to throw in the towel. The best kept secret of most successful first generation entrepreneurs is that they kept at it. So don’t give up.
Be conservative and frugal Budget generously for cost overruns, time delays and revenue shortfalls. They will happen. Tighten your belt and make personal sacrifices, chances are that there will be months on end when you will not be able take a salary for yourself. Remember you are only in control of your costs, not your revenues.
Set the bar high for hiring You cannot do it alone. You need good people with you. Don’t compromise on the quality of the people you bring onto your team. The single biggest mistake that early stage entrepreneurs make is they hire poor quality people initially either because they are in a hurry or because they believe they cannot afford to pay more. More often than not, they regret this in hindsight.
Share the wealth Early on when the company is not worth much, most employees don’t really bother about their employee stock options. However, should the company go on to become valuable and then if employees who joined early on feel they have been treated unfairly, then you could have a serious problem on your hands. It is really important that you treat everyone in the team fairly as far as company ownership is concerned.
Raise money from others without understanding the responsibility While people may be taking an equity risk when they invest in your company, you have to regard it as if they have given you a personal loan. Your personal reputation is your greatest asset. If people lose money by backing you, you can forget about raising money again from them.
Overcommit When raising money, you will be tempted to give aggressive projections to get a higher valuation. Remember, investors will make you sign an agreement that will give them powers that are disproportionate to their shareholding. If you consistently deliver numbers that are way below what you promised, this chicken could come home to roost. Undercommit and overdeliver and you will be happier.
Lose good people Do what it takes to retain valuable employees, they are worth their weight in gold.