The truth is that when we are going to start an entrepreneurship for the first time, it’s easy to be overrun with the overnight success stories the media typically runs. Television, radio and newspapers make it hard to understand the reality of what carrying on with a startup really means.
I believe that the main problem of this misunderstanding is because we, the entrepreneurs, should be telling our own stories. It is for this reason that I would like to express in this article, five years after founding my startup elMejorTrato.com, what a new project, dream or a venture really requires.
1) A Startup Is Often A Negative Path.
It is better to start with one of the more significant points: the negative ones. They represent all those moments when other people will say NO.
You can never imagine, if you have never founded a startup, the number of times that you will have to go through a “no” to achieve your ultimate goal.
The “no” comes from all sides. From investors who do not believe in your vision, customers who refuse to try, use or experiment with your development or product, to providers who refuse to work with your project.
As time passes, only the good entrepreneurs are going to carry on, those who are really bound to succeed. What makes the difference is not the intelligence, university marks, or the degree you get; instead, everything relies on how fast you get up and move forward after you fall and fail.
An example of failure can be seen with the beginning of Google; they received many rejections from investors. At that time, search engines like AltaVista dominated the market. However, beyond the negative perspective from investors today, Google is the world’s largest company on the Internet. We even now use it as a verb.
2) Undertaking Means Selling.
Another point that sometimes goes unnoticed, even when it is a key pillar in a venture, is the ability to sell.
Whatever your enterprise is, you will always have something to sell to someone. From an idea to an investor, a dream to your future co-founders, to a service to a potential customer.
A real entrepreneur is characterized by always selling something. Maybe some people will feel disappointed, because a great entrepreneur is not the most intelligent, capable, the smartest, the fastest; a great entrepreneur is basically a big seller. It is the one who convinces and spreads the vision and has the power to generate a startup.
If we know ourselves and realize that we are not good sellers, rest assured that it is not a feature that people are born with. On the contrary, it is made; you should learn and improve every day.
To be a better seller, do more than read books, manuals, watch videos, among others; simply try to take it into practice. Nothing can replace the exercise of selling through a presentation to an investor or a conversation with a future customer.
3) An Entrepreneur Has A Boss.
Another point that I often see that is misunderstood is based on thinking that because we have a venture we don´t have to put up with a boss who gives us orders.
Truth is that you will not have to tolerate one boss, but hundreds of them, because from now on, your customers will be the ones who give you orders.
If your incentive to be an entrepreneur is to not have a boss and do what you want, a startup is not the right choice.
Read the book “The Lean Startup” by Eric Ries. In it, he clearly shows how our clients are not only our bosses, but much more than that.
But there is a positive side. By listening to your users, you should be able to adjust and improve your development. Nobody is going to know more about what your customers need than themselves! (Even more than the founders) Once you realize that the ones who have the last word are your customers, you will be able to understand that the feedback they provide is essential to the success of your startup.
4) An Entrepreneur Does Not Have A Schedule
Another common misperception of being entrepreneurs and owners of our development, we don’t have fixed schedules to respect and follow.
And the truth is that we do not have fixed schedules. When you are an entrepreneur, you are absolutely working all the time.
If you think that because you are an entrepreneur you are going to work less, you are wrong. On the contrary, you will work sometimes all day, every day! No rest, no matter what happens; we must be there always to respond.
If an employee is absent; we must cover for him or her. A server fails; we must fix it and make it work. We had an accounting problem; you guessed it, we must fix it.
5) Startups Represent Passion.
If there is a requirement that cannot be missed in any entrepreneur, it’s passion. As Steve Jobs said, “The only way to do a great work is doing what you like, what you love”
Before beginning a startup, we need to be committed to it. Whatever you will do, it must be related to your passion. Only a passionate entrepreneur will succeed in the long term. Just think what an entrepreneur without passion is going to answer to all of the above points. Can you go on despite receiving one negative response after another? Learning to sell, even when it’s hard for you to talk to people because you come from a technical field? Continuing despite having thousands of unbearable bosses? And finally, keep going even knowing that fixed schedules won’t exist, that a startup demands all your time?
If you have started a company before, you know that each of these points are real, and you will go through this every day. Do you have what it takes? Being a startup CEO is a very challenging process that involves each of the points described above. If you have not founded a startup yet, do it! It’s a whole new world, and you can find success if you’re prepared.
Cristian is an Internet entrepreneur – cofounder of oMelhorTrato.com, the largest Brazilian online comparator. He loves programming online, specially PHP, Python and .NET.