1. Change is Good
It’s hard to explain this to someone who is isn’t an entrepreneur running a startup, but it may come down to a line from Woody Allen in Annie Hall. Alvy Singer: ”A relationship, I think, is like a shark. You know? It has to constantly move forward or it dies. And I think what we got on our hands is a dead shark.”
So the lesson here is – a startup is like a shark. Don’t be a dead shark.
2. “No” is better than “Maybe”
As a startup founder, the only thing you can’t scale is hours in the day. Sure, you can sleep less but that’s not healthy – and you can’t really have sales calls at 3am. So the only thing worse than an ‘no’ when you’re trying to close a deal is a ‘maybe.’ Maybe’s are death. Because they’re almost always a ‘no’ shrouded in a time-sucking process that will result in the fading walk away, or slo-motion ‘no’.
Go for the hard no – it’s better, and gives you room to connect with new opportunities.
We live in a moment where there is remarkable pressure on enterpreneurs to be ‘big’ – the next Zuckerberg, or the next Jobs, or the next Brin. But you don’t become ‘big’ by wanting to be the next anything. You end up big by dreaming something magical, audacious, inspirational, and often impossible. You see the world, not as it is – but as you imagine it could be. Should be. And they you turn that dream into a series of bold, passion fueled steps. Mistakes are part of the journey – and naysayers are there every step of the way.
Ted Turner, the founder of CNN, has famously said that if he had ever done a focus group or pole before he launched CNN, the research would have most certainly said: “people don’t want 24 hour news on their cable.” Turner didn’t ask the question. He just dreamed the answer.
4. Hard Work Wins
If you watch Shark Tank, there’s one thing that is for sure – Mark Cuban has zero tolerance for founders who aren’t willing to go all in. Says Cuban “Sweat equity is the best startup capital.”. He’s right of course. For all the various tips and tricks, there’s little that has more likelihood to bring success than digging in, working hard, and driving to the goal post. Either you’re driven to success or not, but don’t expect to find any short cut to extraordinary excellence.
5. Have Fun
“Success is defined in units of fun. It’s all about being happy” says Jake Nickell, co-founder of Threadless
For some reason, we’re living in a moment where people feel like being an entrepreneur or starting a company is required. It’s not. It’s like a rollercoaster. Some people like the ride, some don’t. But if you don’t look up at those steep twists and turns with a mix of foreboding and excitement, then don’t get on board. Because there’s one thing that is 100% for sure, startups are going to be wild, bumpy rides.
“We spend most of our waking time working with teams, clients. We must have fun” says Maurice Lévy the CEO of Publicis. “Don’t listen to anyone, be who you are. If you are not happy, leave. Have fun.”
Author: Steven Rosenbaum
Steven Rosenbaum is serial entrepreneur, author, and filmmaker. His latest book, Curate This! is in print and ebook on Amazon.com. He is the CEO of Waywire.com