I originally had the idea for TheCodeFactory back in March(ish) of 2007 and started this blog in June of that year. Over the weekend (11-June-2017) was the tenth-year anniversary of our blog. While it seems like a long journey and a lot of ground covered it has also gone by extremely quickly at the same time. Over the weekend I reviewed my day timers and notes over the past decade finding there were a number of recurring questions from conversations with new entrepreneurs. I have taken the time to review my notes, document them a bit and offer some reflection the more common questions. If you have a chance please give it a read, I would be interested in other points of view.
1. How do I know when to get started?
At one time, I had two advisors that rarely agreed on anything and in fact quite often held extreme and polar opposite views on the same issue. I learned to love this perspective because when my advisors (decision making bookends) opinions were far apart I knew the latitude I had to make a decision. However, when they agreed that was a different story and fodder for another blog.
“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second-best time is today.”
Advisors holding opposite views on the same issue is what I came to call my entrepreneurial decision-making bookends. Each advisor’s opinion formed a book end for a decision to be framed and made. The solution to the decision to be made was somewhere in between the book ends. It is in that spirit of bookends that I frame that great entrepreneurial question of “How do I know when to get started.”
- Don’t give up your day job too soon!
- Do go all in.
- Do Get started.
2. Is falling fast a good option for my Startup?
Argh! Failing fast has to be one the most misused sayings for early stage business and one of my pet peeves. If your goal is to fail success can easily be achieved. However, for most start-ups a better modus operandus than fail fast is adapt and survive.
“Show me a good loser, and I’ll show you a loser.” Vince Lombardi
- Do bootstrap. “Lori” by Derek Sivers
- Do find product market fit. – “The long road to product market fit” by Sramana Mitra
3. When should I start pitching my business to investors?
I love Dragons Den and do watch it on a regular basis. Who couldn’t love Mr. Wonderful, the friendly dragon and all the other Dragons/Sharks that have come and gone. However, you get on this show for one of three reasons; your product is really good and funding will grow your business, your product or idea is really bad and you are entertainment, or your product is really good and you are not looking for funding but, want to get some free PR. However, the vast majority of new businesses don’t fall into any of these categories.
“Money is like gasoline during a road trip. You don’t want to run out of gas on your trip, but you’re not doing a tour of gas stations.” —Tim O’Reilly, O’Reilly Media founder and CEO
In my opinion Dragons Den has fueled many entrepreneurs with a false sense of when to start pitching investors for funding. IMHO the time to pitch investors is when you have figured out your business model and need money to grow your business.
- Don’t Pitch too early.
- Do Build something of value – 90% of companies bootstrap their way to success
- Do Build meaningful relations
In the past decade, I have met a lot of people many of them thinking about starting up and others that are in the game a building a sustainable business. If you are thinking about building your own business now is an excellent time to get started. You are likely to make much more progress by building value and securing customers than you are by preparing a pitch deck and doing a funding tour. I see way more startups succeed by bootstrapping and grinding it out than pitching too early. Wishing you much success on your journey.