Browse By

3 Tips for Building Your Own Startup. Survive Hell and Thrive.

If you’re a creative individual, if you spend your days and nights dreaming up product ideas and ways to revolutionize the world, working for someone else can be a pain. It’s depressing. You want to get out there and be your own boss, but you’re stuck making another person rich. So what do you do about it? How do you make the transition from working for someone else to working for yourself?

It’s all about dedication and commitment. How hard do you want it? Are you determined enough to wake up early and go to bed late, while working a 9-5 job to pay the bills? Hard work is a leading factor in success, but you need to be smart about it. 

Below are few tips on how to get closer to achieving your goals and living your life of your dreams:

You need to have focus.

It’s easy as a creative person to jump from idea to idea. I’ve seen it happen many times, including in my own life. It’s common to become frustrated that your product is not progressing at the rate you hoped, and while you wished and wished for that instant, Instagram success, you have a better shot at winning the lottery.

Plan out your life one year at a time. Decide what project you’re passionate about, work hard to develop your idea, sketching, designing, developing, marketing, etc. Continue to push yourself to work hard towards a milestone at the end of year one. What milestone should you pick? Well, that’s up to you, but it needs to be something attainable, like 1,000 users per month or $5 dollars a day in Adsense earnings. Keep your focus narrow, on one product at a time, with achievable goals, and you will see yourself succeed. 

At the end of year one, take stock and examine whether your product has any traction or if you yourself have any passion left. If you do, great, move forward and carve out your goals for year two. Are you exhausted? Perhaps you should take a break and enjoy life’s other pleasures, such as a vacation, a Harley or petting your dog. Don’t have a dog or Harley? Well get with it. 

You could always just watch Shia LaBeouf’s most inspirational video ever:

You need to have a partner.

In the digital realm, cofounders are gold. If you’re a technical person, you may be looking for a creative or business type to partner with. If you’re a creative, you’re most definitely looking for a technical person. Check out our article on Finding a Technical Cofounder if that’s you. Regardless, you need a partner in crime, a person to bounce ideas off of and a shoulder to cry on. Most importantly, you need a second brain, because let me share a little secret with you: even Mark Zuckerberg needed help, and he’s a genius. Design is a collaborative process. It requires more than one individual. You cannot do it alone.

One of the most important elements in a cofounder is personality fit. Yes, skills and education are important, but what’s more important is that you get along. Startups take time and are stressful. You may be working on a project for two years before you even launch it. Think that’s crazy? Have you ever tried to build something either web or mobile related? This stuff is hard. It takes time to get it right. I once spoke with Michael Karnjanaprakorn when he was first launching Skillshare. What’s the one thing he said to me that resonated to this day? Building a startup is incredibly hard. The look on his face convinced me that he was speaking from his soul.

Make sure your cofounder is your friend and partner in crime. If you meet at the local Starbucks and all you talk about is work, well, you have a problem.

You need to have patience and adaptability. 

Firstly, building a startup takes a very, very long time. Let me repeat that: building a startup takes an insane amount of time. So, be prepared to be in it for the long haul. Secondly, the trials and tribulations of building a digital product will test your mental fortitude and perseverance, as you wind your way through product pivots, negative user reviews and eye strain from staring at the monitor for too long. How badly do you want it? How badly do you want to succeed?

Here’s the correct way to think about it: You are currently on mile 1 of a 26.2 mile marathon. At mile 26, you realize your hopes and dreams of your startup being acquired by Google or Facebook. What’s standing in your way? Everything and everyone. But you want to get to the end right? So how do you get there?

Convince yourself that it’s either finish or die. Those are the only options. But remember, by the time you get halfway, the finish line might look completely different. It might not be an acquisition at all, but it might open other doors to new connections, jobs or careers entirely. 

You never know what will happen until you start building and experimenting. You’re not running until you lace up your shoes.