A lot of young entrepreneurs these days are very misguided. Every kid dreams big, but doesn’t acquire the right knowledge to get their business started.
When I was in college I took an entrepreneurship class where we were expected to make a business in class. That was one of the most fun classes I’ve ever taken, and that business ended up taking off quick. By the 3rd month we had already made 30k in sales.
There was also another kid in the class that hadn’t released anything yet. He kept on saying things like, “Oh I’m going to raise funding, or oh I’m waiting to assemble the right team, or oh I need to find someone to code my MVP.”
Years later, his project still hasn’t launched, and I’m pretty sure he’s working some corporate job now.
And that’s the problem I feel a lot of my peers are facing. We’re making way too many excuses and not actually taking action. We want to build startups, we want to make businesses, but we’re not taking the necessary steps to get there.
Are you making any of the following mistakes?
1) Relying on co-founders or funding
So many entrepreneurs fall into the trap of “I need to find a co-founder” or “I need to get funding.”
Co-founders and funding are great, but don’t waste months of time trying to find one. You don’t NEED anyone else to make your business, and relying on another person’s money or time is just going to set you back. You can only control yourself, so start working on your project TONIGHT and get your first sales asap.
So stop with the excuses. I hear excuses like the ones below ALL THE TIME. Here are some solutions.
“But what if my app idea requires a developer?”
“I need investors to get my company off the ground, but I can’t find any!”
– No. You never need investment.
For a first-time entrepreneur you should be trying to make a business with the lowest overhead possible. Most people who do get investment generally already have connections, revenue, or money in the bank from a previous venture. Or you could just find a real job for a few years and save enough money to start your business.
And furthermore, your inability to get any investment speaks a lot about your skill as an entrepreneur. Entrepreneurs have to think outside the box & make things happen out of thin air. Your defeatist attitude already shows you’re not being resourceful enough.
“I need a co-founder.”
Yes a lot of people say that co-founders are important. And I wholeheartedly agree. You get double the work done.
But it’s not an excuse. Don’t let the lack of a co-founder stop you from starting your business.
Drew Houston created Dropbox without a co-founder and it’s now a billion dollar business. The founder of Zenefits, Parker Conrad, created the fastest growing software as a service (SaaS) company without a co-founder.
And furthermore, why can’t you find a co-founder? Do you not have any friends? Do people not believe in the business? Are you not persuasive or confident enough about your idea?
Which brings us to #2.
2) Not making money ASAP
No matter what your idea is, the sooner you get to your first dollar, the better you will be.
Stop worrying about making a website, getting a fancy logo, and or writing code.
Just SELL your freakin’ product. Go door to door if you have to (or cold-email as many people as you possibly can).
This is called product validation.
Noah Kagan of AppSumo says a properly validated business gets 3 sales within 48 hours, and you can do it without having a website, a logo, or even writing a line of code.
- If you’re trying to sell a monthly beef jerky subscription service, then pre-sell the beef jerky to friends and family first. Entrepreneur Noah Kagan made $1,000 doing this within 24 hours.
- If you’re trying to sell a tutorial course for learning magic tricks (or anything for that matter), advertise an in-person lesson over Craigslist/reddit/online forums and see if you can get 3 customers.
The problem is that too many kids have “Facebook” syndrome. They want to build some crazy awesome app and worry about the money later. That’s like waiting to win the lottery. It doesn’t work for most people. You must realize that Mark Zuckerberg and Evan Spiegal (founder of Snapchat) came from very extraordinary circumstances. Trying to replicate their successes will end up working against you.
3) Thinking big too soon. Start small.
I hear a lot of entrepreneurs say things like “this won’t scale!” But I’m here to tell you that pretty much any business can scale with time.
A restaurant can open new locations (see McDonald’s).
A private tutor can open up a private school. (see Kumon).
A blog in one topic can expand to many topics (see Gawker).
McDonald’s began with a single restaurant.
Kumon began with one guy wanting to tutor students.
Gawker started as one blog before it expanded to multiple topics.
Get your first CLIENT & CUSTOMER before you even begin thinking about expansion.
4) Vanity buys.
James Altucher sold a company for millions. Years later he was in debt for millions. (Btw, we’re giving away his book).
Antoine Walker, a pro basketball player, made over $100 million in his career, yet years later he’s broke as a joke. We all know about 50 Cent’s current troubles with money.
Vanity buys are what will KILL your business. Just because you can afford that nice BMW doesn’t mean you should purchase it. A Toyota Corolla gets you from point A to point B just as easily, and you’ll save on gas too.
This is ESPECIALLY crucial when you’re starting a business. You need as much burn as possible. So save the expensive condo, the sexy car, and vacations for when you’re a much more established entrepreneur.
Just listen to John Urschel.
5) Not being productive. And not learning HOW to be more productive.
The thing that separates the Elon Musks from the homeless lazy bums on the street is the fact that Elon Musk knows how to get shit done. That skill alone will prevent you from being broke. Execution is CRITICAL for any entrepreneur.
One book that you need to read is How Your Brain Works by David Rocks. (We’re giving this book away too).
I’m guilty of this as much as any entrepreneur, but I’ve become much more self-aware of this problem in recent years. My productivity now is better than ever.
Have you been making any of these mistakes?