The "Monsters" That Can Halt Start-Up Success
Do you know what Airbnb looked like when it first launched?
Airbnb is now considered one of the most innovative start-ups, but their journey was not an easy one. They began as a small company working out of a San Francisco apartment. They wanted to provide airbeds for conferences in major cities across the United States. By the time they attended Y Combinator’s seed accelerator program they were at the end of their rope down to their maxed out credit cards.
Facing obstacles throughout the journey
Founding a start-up means facing obstacles throughout the journey to success. As an entrepreneur and start-up founder there is one critical weapon against the “monsters” that can hinder advancement -- determination. Determination comes down to two things – resilience and drive. While resilience pushes you from going backward, drive meanwhile takes you forward. You need both! You need resilience because you will get rejected a lot. People will have doubts about what you are doing and you cannot count on receiving the external validation that you get for making “normal” life choices, like going to college, getting an advanced degree or working for a big-name company. Along with determination you need to focus on making a product that people will love. You need to execute well and eventually you will be able to win people over.
Overcome startups monsters
Monsters are the hurdles that can kill start-ups along the way. As a founder, you have to do everything in your power to overcome these monsters or they may unravel your company completely. Some of the most common hurdles include the following:
Founders tend to underestimate how important founder relationships are. Breakups among founders are common. If you have three founders then losing one might be OK. However, if you have only two founders and your relationship fails it can be fatal to your start-up. Be extremely careful and intentional in finding the right co-founder for your start-up. If you see red flags you need to address them. Make sure that your co-founder is trustworthy, competent and as driven as you are to move the start-up in the right direction.
The Funding/Investor Monster:
Investors can be major monsters. They have a herd mentality and they will often only like you if others like you as well. You need to work hard to convince investors that your start-up is worthy. Essentially, you begin in a deep hole and have to climb out of it. Fundraising is hard and fundraising is slow and then you, hopefully, turn a corner and it becomes fast and easy. Investors drag their feet – you have to be persistent, but you also need to maintain focus on your product. Remember that a deal is not a deal until money is in the bank. Fundraising can be a huge distraction, though it is necessary. At the end of the day, make sure you are building your product and talking to users. Make sure you are most concerned with figuring out how to make a product people love. There has to be a balance – remember that funding will not ensure your success.
The Difficulty in Making Something that People Want:
As a founder of a start-up you are trying to make something that people want and something that has not been made before. To make something that people want you have to be more than brilliant. You have to execute the product in the best way possible.
Starting a company is hard work
People are often surprised by this and do not realize how difficult specific problems can be. Start-ups are not for the faint of heart. There will be a lot of unglamorous moments and a lot of ups and downs -- highs one moment and lows the next. Just know that these extremes cannot immobilize you. Do not get lazy when things are going well and remember that things are never as good or bad as they seem. People will say things about your company and they will say you are crazy. Never let them get you down. Believe in your product, reevaluate your vision often, and above all maintain your determination. It is the key deterrent to monsters that will present along the way.
Adapted from Y Combinator Co-Founder Jessica Livingston's video, found here: