I came across Ray Allen Advice by Ray Allen which he wrote to his younger self, and I immediately started thinking about the letter I would write to myself. At age 37, having been a part of a few successful entrepreneurial journeys in both the driver’s seat as founder a few times and observing as an angel investor many times more, what would I write to my younger 20 year-old self? At age 20, we were just getting our team together to launch our first ‘serious’ startup complete with angel investors, actual employees, an office, etc and had many lessons yet to be learned. Here is what I came up with:
– ‘Entrepreneur’ Often Means ‘Into-Manure’
As my friend David Pomije, founder of FuncoLand recently shared with me, ‘entrepreneur’ often means ‘into-manure’. Entrepreneurship is very celebrated after it works, but if you ask any entrepreneur, they all have their own epic battle that had to triumph over to persevere with their new startup. Expect there to be difficult times, and understand that you are not alone.
– Spend More Time Interviewing Customers and Thinking About Strategy Before Starting
Being an entrepreneur is being in a race against time, a race to not run out of resources before getting your startup to viability. To get ahead in the initial race, spend more time before it starts validating your ideas with prospective customers. It is much cheaper, and more efficient, to validate your ideas before you start sprinting.After you start sprinting, you’ll quickly realize it isn’t a sprint at all, but a marathon. Don’t just hop into new startup opportunities without consideration to market size and defensibility. Some entrepreneurs may luck into a strong defensible business model that ends up lasting, but most will not. You only have so many ‘bullets’ in your life, make sure you make them count.
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