Drop Out, Start Up – Advice From Successful Entrepreneurs
Successful entrepreneurship involves a whole host of unique challenges that can be a test of one’s will, (and bank account). The rough seas are to be expected and you already know this going in. With this in mind, here are a set of ideas and practices that experienced bootstrapping entrepreneurs have listed as key points to keep in mind as you set up and launch your startup.
What Preparation Is Needed?
First off, attending or even finishing college isn’t a prerequisite to building a successful startup. The list of college dropouts or those who never started studying is a long one that of course includes Walt Disney, Richard Branson, Michael Dell, and Steve Jobs. These, of course, are very special cases of success but it’s important to keep in mind that learning and self-sufficiency are inborn desires independent of a formal education.
In fact, Max Levchin the co-founder of PayPal, gives 24 people under the age of 21 $100,000 each in order that they drop out of college for at least two years to pursue their “entrepreneurial ventures, research, and self education.”
Further, being a perceived underdog (in this case as someone without a “formal” education) often drives people in various fields to work that much harder to prove themselves.
Follow Your Passion
Paul Buchheit, the developer of Gmail, says that first and foremost one must follow passion and figure out a way to make your passion into a project. Instead of setting goals, Buchheit says that he is constantly looking to find things that he enjoys doing and when he’s found that, he then figures out a way to spend his time doing it. This is applicable to your startup’s long term vision as well as tasks involved in your startup’s evolution.
Focus On A Real Problem
How might your product or service better serve the community or society as a whole? This is important to consider when starting your project because it allows you to pursue a goal that many times you yourself found an issue in your own experience. This brings up another important point which is to listen to what other people have to say.
What are the kinds of tools or products people need? What will help a certain group of people manage their lives better or what might help make efficient the tasks they do on a daily basis?
Find A Supportive Team
In addition to knowing your own strengths and using those to fuel the vision of your startup, it’s important to find a supportive team that shares your vision and enthusiasm.
Dario Meli, co-founder of Hootsuite and Invoke, describes meeting his core team for conversation in a coffee shop. He knew they had experience but after talking with them he knew they were capable of meeting the potential challenges they might face in particular situations.
Proposing how someone might handle specific situations is key to finding a good team. You want to find out how they think and how they would react to problems. This speaks much more than any particular degree or years of experience at a previous company as noted on a CV.
Stay Calm, Stay Focused, and Move Forward
You’re going to run into all kinds of issues from expenses, to potential contracts, to prioritizing all that needs to be done in a work day. The important thing to remember is that each of these issues at some point needs to be resolved without compromising your enthusiasm and creativity. Your vision and creativity are the elements that will inspire others to follow you in your project. This includes customers, investors, partners, and employees.
A startup is no easy task and it takes dedication to see the project to the end. Knowing that the road will present challenges is accepting the responsibility of following through on your project. The more calm and focused you are in your approach, the more you’ll be able to keep perspective and maintain focus.