Toying around with the idea of starting a company? Worried about things that may go wrong or making the wrong decisions? Did you just start a company but are concerned about how you are doing things? You are not alone, and you definitely are not in unchartered waters.
There are not only many thousands of people just like you who are working on starting their own company or have just launched their company, but there have been thousands of people who were once in your shoes who’ve gone on to grow some wildly successful companies, many of which you probably have heard of or even use on the regular basis.
While you are working away on your business plan, looking for ways to raise capital, finding the right people to hire, etc., part of the process involves asking others for their help and advice and doing lots of research to make sure you are on the right path. But have you ever had the opportunity to pick the brains of founders who created amazingly successful startups and companies like Envato,Backblaze, Simple, or Treehouse?
Being heavily interested in businesses and how they work, I chatted with some of the founders of nine well-known and/or growing startups – most of which you’ll have heard of – you may even use their services – to ask them about one of the toughest areas of starting your own company’ what mistakes did they make and how did they overcome them?
Few people like talking about their mistakes, but thankfully nine founders took some time to share some of their hard-earned knowledge with you. Let’s talk about some of the most common mistakes and how to avoid them, using the words from the founders of Envato, Dribbble, Freshbooks, 6Wunderkinder,Treehouse, Backblaze, Simple, Shapeways, and Statamic.
Starting a company with a mission and purpose
“[…] the biggest thing I’d recommend is to start a company that’s on a mission, not just a company that’s building a nifty product. At Treehouse, we’re trying to make technology education affordable and accessible to everyone on Earth, and doing that means that we’ll be working for a really long time and will likely always have more to do. Also, it’s made so many things, like hiring and other decisions, significantly simpler for us, because we can always look to our mission for help.”
“Solve a real problem that creates real value in the world. Focus on the problem => solution => value => profit chain of events, and try to make a pass through this sequence sooner than later. Also, be strategic. Find a competitive advantage. At Dribbble, we stumbled into ours – we were just building a side project, but it was a site for designers, and Dan is a designer with lots of recognition and credibility. As a result, we attracted a great set of initial users who posted incredible work. Things snowballed from there.”
Find your niche
“I’d say the best advice would be just to get started and once you find something, focus and execute. Don’t try to be everything to everyone right away. If you pick one vertical and do it well, other folks will find you. From a narrow niche of IT professionals who were our early target market, we now have a wide variety of customers.”
“Find your niche(s). Early on we believed that because online backup is something everyone needs and we provide the service in 11 languages to anyone in the world, that everyone should use it. While that would be great, especially in the early days you need smaller groups of people where you can get critical mass.”