Painful Lessons Learned in the First Year of Starting a Company

Are you thinking of founding your own startup this year? Here are some painful mistakes that I made that you might want to avoid!

  1. Delegation is Your Best Friend and Highest Priority
  2. Don’t Underestimate the Importance of Marketing
  3. Knowing Your Finances and Projections
  4. Find a Mentor
  5. It’s a Lonely Road

1. Delegation is Your Best Friend and Highest Priority

Many first-time CEOs find themselves trying to fit too many hats on their head. You become the CEO, Developer, Graphic Designer, Marketing Editor, Blog Writer, and Content Creator. To make things harder, you may also still be working a 9-5 day job!

Hiring low-cost freelancers can really help you with this, allowing you to progressively delegate, starting with the areas that take up the most of your time. This hopefully will free you up to focus on the big picture.

2. Don’t Underestimate the Importance of Marketing

It’s natural to start off by thinking creating a superior product alone would result in a flood of users; which often couldn’t be more wrong.

Marketing underlies almost every purchase you make; from the drinks, you consume to the clothes you wear. Without a well-planned marketing strategy executed well, you might have the best product in the market, but no one will ever try it.

Developing your knowledge and understanding of how to market through both digital and classic approaches is key to developing a great marketing strategy.

3. Knowing Your Finances and Projections

Writing a Cash Flow is an exercise that is crucial for everyone starting a business. It helps you work out the most important metrics to track and shows others your prospects and goals for your business.

It will likely help you develop your understanding of the cost involved in running a company. It also acts as a structure in the future to help you to keep track of your monthly spending and prevents you from unexpectedly encountering shortfalls in cash flow which is a prime cause of failure for lots of start-ups.

Here is a useful document to help you write your first Cash Flow: https://online.hbs.edu/blog/post/how-to-prepare-a-cash-flow-statement

4. Find a Mentor

Finding a mentor is absolutely key to success for many businesses.

A study of over 700 founders discovered that 33% of the top-performing companies had a founder with a strong mentor: https://techcrunch.com/2015/03/22/mentors-are-the-secret-weapons-of-successful-startups/?guccounter=2

Mentors are someone you can rely on for constructive criticism. When you make a wrong turn or experience difficulties, their experience helps you work through some of these challenges.

Unlike working for a company, as a founder, your skills are not pushed by many levels of management. A mentor can fill this void and be the person to help accelerate your growth!

5. It’s a Lonely Road

Many solo startup founders speak to the loneliness of starting a company alone. You have all this knowledge building in your mind, all this excitement about your company, and no one that understands your business well enough to properly share it with you.

To top it all off, you’re spending likely every spare moment working on your startup. This leaves less time than normal for socializing, which can add to this feeling of isolation.

If you are considering founding a startup, I would recommend looking for a co-founder early on or for a mentor for these reasons.



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