I want to share a few thoughts on where a startup founder should allocate a) their personal resources as a human being b) their startups resources on the way to becoming an organization.
The idea stage
A great product idea does not always mean that you are going to have an easy time starting up. First, if your idea is apparently and obviously good, that might even make things more difficult for you. One great advice I heard from others is to find an idea that seemingly is not that great of an idea but actually is if you dig a little deeper.
Historically, ideas that are undervalued in the beginning later outsize their ROI for investors and founders.
What should a founder look for in a good idea worth pursuing?
Studies show that people are prone to be influenced by trends and their surroundings more than they would like to admit. This makes is a lot more difficult to pursue an idea that is seemingly bad and also unpopular among the “cool cats” of the startup scene—no matter where you are in the world.
Nevertheless, what always proves worthy in my opinion is to look around for systemic shifts in the industries you can watch closely and can make healthy predictions about. Better if you can back these with behavioral data. When you adopt such an approach, it is going to be easier to turn a deaf ear to the skeptics around you.
This next one is almost a cliche at this age but I think rolling out an MVP that does enough to capture the value proposition of your product is still highly undervalued. But the deal is pretty simple: If you launch sooner, you get users and insight into those users’ needs sooner.
Another top-line priority for an early stage startup is to maintain the momentum under any circumstance. For a considerable while, it is okay to prioritize steady growth over trying to overcome obstacles that has to do with your organizational structure or your team’s cultural compatibility. There will come a point in time where you will feel like it is the right time to make these your priority instead of growth or keeping up with user acquisition targets. Remember, if you stop growing, a whole bunch of other problems that you haven’t foreseen will emerge out of nowhere.
On this last point, I saw that you can trust the feedback of your frontline employees as a pulse check mechanism to see if you are losing pace or not. They are the first to know when things are shifting and when your users are abandoning you—and they can tell you this without consulting the quantitative data.
Lastly, do not mistake “fake work” with actual work that needs to get done in a timely manner. Your first priority is to build something that works without breaking down too frequently and that your users love; and this will be your reality for a long while.