My Top 5 Things to Remember When Starting a Company:
#1. Fixing the Founding Team is Very, Very Painful. Take the time to get it right.
I was unstoppable when I had aligned, great co-founders. I also almost died when I had great — but dis-aligned — co-founders. A great story of how Algolia worked hard here: How Algolia built a Culture-First Company around Ownership
#2. Your market research is probably wrong, or at least off. Do more of it.
If you don’t have true, deep domain expertise in your space — you are probably dealing with surface and superficial insights. If you want to understand if your initial market really needs your product, don’t shoot from the hip. Take the extra meeting. Do the extra mock-up and get feedback. If time and money don’t matter, sure, just push a product out to market. But if they do matter. Double-down on your market understanding, research, and customer interviews. More here: Planning to Do a SaaS Startup? Don’t Forget the 20 Interview Rule.
#3. Give yourself 24 months to get to a Minimum Sellable Product.
I’ve said this before, but I can’t say it enough. 12 months is almost never enough in SaaS to get to a great product “enough” customers pay for. 18 is rarely enough, either. You have to budget 24 months to get to first base, to an MSP and any material revenue. If you can’t “afford it” — too bad. Find a way. More here: If You’re Going to Do a SaaS Start-Up … You Have to Give it 24…
It took us 2 years just to figure out our ultimate business model. What you think you do on day 1 may look very different by day 365. https://t.co/gmg2HH1MS8
— Aaron Levie (@levie) September 11, 2020
#4. It’s supposed to be hard. Really, really hard.
If you haven’t done it before, bear in mind, being a founder is about 100x harder than being a VP. Which is really hard as it is. I don’t mean the work is harder. It isn’t. But the constant pressure and stress to do the impossible is like nothing you’ve ever had to do before. Are you up for it?
#5. Aggressively seek out the very best help.
Get the best investors, the best advisors, the best mentors. Figure out who they are and aggressively find them. The best of the best here can really accelerate your business. The so-so ones add no value, however, and in the end just waste your limited time.