Make Something People Want
You need three things to create a successful startup:
- Start with A players, great people (Culture)
- Make something customers want (Vision)
- Bootstrap and & spend as little money as possible (Trust & Validate Until Product Market Fit)
Failure can be pinpointed to one or all of these contributing factors. Most people will attribute it to running out of money (Principle 3), extenuating life circumstances (Principle 1), or they couldn't sell it (Principle 2).
Make Something Customer want
The problem here is it's more common sense, and it doesn't require a genius mind to solve as long as you know what the problem is your solving. If you focused on your problem, you may not be able to scale it. I've stated it many times over, people aren't loyal to people they are loyal to their values. So you can make money by offering people a product, service or idea that fulfills their needs more than what they have now, you have a salable solution. The irony is, what people are using right now usually sucks and is outdated, and you people think it's too costly for time, energy or money to change so they keep on using the same thing. You don't need to reinvent the wheel, you can just make it smoother, and that doesn't take much to be that much better.
Layout a simple plan and adapt to it. Product market fit doesn't always happen right away. Your initial plans will almost always be wrong in some way so iterate fast and figure out where. Rapid prototyping and implementation allow you to see where so you can give the customer what they love and in order to do that you have to understand them. If you don't love them enough to understand stand them a competitor will and it's game over.
"I've not failed, I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work.”
– Thomas A. Edison
Fail fast. Fail often. Fail forward.
I learned you can put a $100k doctor into a $1m clinic and you'll end up with a $100k clinic. And you can take a $1m doctor, and put him into a $100k clinic, and you'll end up with a $1m clinic. It's not the idea or concepts, it's the individual behind them.
Doctors with a great bedside manner, get sued less frequently even if they make mistakes. Think of your favourite restaurant, you can handle the noise, wait times, bad service, cramped spaces, squeaky chairs, and uneven tables as long as you have great food. This is true in Europe, Asia, North America and all over the world. Give the customer what they want.
"Build a better mousetrap,
and the world will beat a path to your door"
- Ralph Waldo Emerson
Michael Jordan played 7 seasons before winning his first ring. A first-overall pick can go to a bad team, and still make things work. But if you take a good player and put him with a solid team, coach and system like the triangle offence around him you can create something special. Michael had the dawg in him, the competitive gene, ambition and the relentlessness to pursue something on another level.
Good people can fix bad ideas,
but good ideas can't save bad people."
- Paul Graham
Cash is King
What doesn't work is throwing money at something until it sticks. That's a fast way to go growing broke. The challenge is most so-called entrepreneurs are speculators, not business minds, so save, invest and speculate only a small fraction of the time based on their financial portfolio.
- Build something users want and love
- Spend less than you make.
- Put away a small percentage into savings.
- Don't focus solely on hitting home runs or catching hail-mary's
Other Things to Consider
- Intellectual property and rights. Validate you have unique code, formulas and methods from each individual.
- Business is common sense. The founder of business management Peter Drucker believed you required a strong liberal arts background. Not a master's in Business, Finance, Economics, Management, Marketing or Sales. Liberal Arts!
- Comparison kills people.
- The riches are in the niches, by giving a group of people something better than what they had previously. Look where things sucked most like, like thermostats once upon a time.
- Focus on gaining and retaining users, the cash will follow (Investment, advertising etc)
There is no secret sauce to business. Everything you already know, because it's common sense. It's straightforward once you get past your insecurities, and doubts and decide to get out of your own way and care about serving the other person.
- Build a great team
- Make something customers want
- Prototype and get it in front of them
- Refine it from customer feedback
- Bootstrap it, spend less than you make
- What you think is the problem: You didn't give the customer what they wanted
- The real problem: The customers didn't want your product (They are still buying it elsewhere, be it a horse, runner's, bicycle, car, scooter or bus pass)
Study the outliers, you'll notice they invest heavily into themselves and love learning. Not necessarily education. But knowledge for the sake of wisdom to maximize their potential. So join me at a workshop, this is what we do.
 Y-Combinator is the most successful start-up accelerator in the world. It was founded by Paul Graham and he has launched and funded hundreds of successful companies like Dropbox, Airbnb, Stripe and Reddit. The best part is Paul has a non-typical background. He has a degree in philosophy and a master's in painting, and no formal academic background in computer science, business or finances, the industries which he's most known for.