So You Want To Start A Startup? Read This First

Fact: Two out of every three startups pivot drastically from their original idea.

And many others fail.

If you ask most great startup founders, they probably had no idea what they were building would become as big as it did.

And as the opening statement says, they likely shifted from their original premise.

So don't be so sold on your idea that you don't take logical steps to prove out the demand for your product.

Here are four things that will help you get kickstarted:

1. Find the right idea

But I already have an idea, you say.

Great!

Chances are it probably sucks. Don't be upset, that's just reality.

Let Uncle Paul guide you in his essay on startup ideas: http://paulgraham.com/startupideas.html

Most programmers wish they could start a startup by just writing some brilliant code, pushing it to a server, and having users pay them lots of money. They'd prefer not to deal with tedious problems or get involved in messy ways with the real world. - PG

Basically, most of the really easy problems are already taken, so solve hard problems in big markets.

2. Read this before, during, and after your startup:

http://blog.samaltman.com/startup-advice-briefly

A few gems from Sam's article...

The best startup ideas are the ones that seem like bad ideas but are good ideas.

He says, "Focus intensely on the things that do matter." Those 2 - 3 most important things. He calls it "Be[ing] a relentless execution machine."

Generate revenue early in the life of your company.

That sound you hear is investors cheering.

Learn to manage people. Make sure your employees are happy. Don’t ignore this.

Read The Hard Thing About Hard Things by Ben Horowitz.

Figure out a way to get users at scale (i.e. bite the bullet and learn how sales and marketing work). - Sam Altman

You need us marketers. Just accept that. We're good people.

3. Always have a side-project

Projects > Companies in the early days.

Check out Jason Shen's Ship Your Side Project and
Sam Altman's blog post "Projects and Companies."

4. Build products for real people that they actually want

Every book that begins with "Lean" evangelizes this point. We preach this incessantly at Sultan Ventures.

Why would you want to spend all your time and money building something nobody cares about, nobody will use, and importantly nobody will pay for?

Startups are hard.

Doing hard things is good. You can make a great impact on the world with a successful startup.

Expect to fail. Be happy when you do.

Just learn and move on.

So what are you still doing reading this? Go work on your startup side project!

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