What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why.

 

  1. There’s no perfect score in entrepreneurship:

 

Perfectionism doesn’t last long in startup world. You will inevitably make many mistakes, and as long as you’re willing and able to learn from them, be accountable for them, and rectify them without putting anyone on your team in a very uncomfortable spot, you’ll be fine. Most mistakes are tolerable provided you grow from them. However, carelessness is generally less sufferable so try to get that bug out of your system ASAP.

 

Starting a company or joining a startup is a risky and few paved roads exist. If you go into each entrepreneurial endeavor as a personal challenge for growth with whatever your business goals are as the context, you’ll come out ahead in success or failure.

 

Take CoinCentral for example. We’re a startup in media that focuses on the cryptocurrency and blockchain industries. That means we’re categorically a traditionally risky high-failure-rate type of project, except with another element of being in an extremely volatile developing tech niche. When you’re diving into a venture like this, there isn’t a perfect score because there simply isn’t a rudimentary grade that applies to you for most cases. We went from a few hundred readers a day to nearly a hundred thousand readers a day in about a month due to the skyrocketing popularity of the niche and our extensive coverage of the fundamental projects and leaders in the space. You’re either always in a different niche or economical/technological climate from most comparable companies, and your current and historic competition only serves as a vague metric for success in most cases.

 

You can’t beat yourself up for an imaginary fictitious perfect score. You can only focus on your team’s vision, and executing on it in a dynamic, evolving way.  

 

  1. If you’re not always on the edge of not knowing what the fuck is going on, you’re not learning and growing:

 

You may be familiar with the concept of uncertainty, but going through the experience of being genuinely clueless and digging your way out is an entirely different education. Entrepreneurship is kind of like solving a long line of interconnected puzzles and challenges, and you’ll need to hone your skills to develop the ability to uncover each piece and learn how to connect it to the larger goal.

 

Bonus points: if you look at every challenge with a beginner’s mind, you’ll get more out of the experience and potentially find a more efficient path or lucrative opportunity previously uncovered.

 

  1. Entrepreneurship can be lonely, but it doesn’t have to be:

 

Entrepreneurship is generally regarded as a pretty lonely endeavor, but I think it’s becoming less so. The barriers to launching your own company have been substantially lowered (you could have probably launched a Shopify story in the time it takes you to read this article), and thousands of new people enter the world of entrepreneurship every year. Many of these people are realizing that entrepreneurship is pretty solitary discipline, and there is a sense of understanding, if not solidarity, that arises. People that generally do cool stuff also attract others doing cool stuff and networks are formed.

 

I might be biased, but digital entrepreneurship is honestly one of the most exciting spaces to be in. Go in with the acceptance that startup life can be a bit lonely because of the odd and long hours, task-oriented Slack notifications, and lack of proximity to co-workers and good friends.  However, you meet some really cool people with wild stories from all over the world and you’ll have surprisingly way more in common than you anticipated.

 

  1. It’s way easier to stay in shape than it is to fall out of shape and get back in:

 

So, you started committing a few hundred hours a month to your newfound passion. There aren’t enough hours in the day, so some time previously reserved for exercise and physical health gets allocated to time spent at a desk. Entrepreneurship has its sacrifices, I get it.

 

But you need to understand that neglecting your physical health invites an insipid vicious cycle that is very hard to escape. Poor physical health can nag at your brain, leading to higher levels of stress and lower quality decisions.

 

If you’ve let your body take the path of least resistance, you might find yourself having to exert double or triple the effort just to get back to a healthy range. It’s not worth it, and it ultimately costs you more and robs you of hundreds of hours where you simply just feel good.

 

  1. Ideas are literally worth their weight in gold (worthless)

 

As most aspiring 18-year-old business majors, I was on a speedy path to becoming an infamous level 1“ideas guy”. That’s the one-man idea factory that spits out half-baked ideas, enters an intense week-long rabbit hole, and comes out with a whole lot of research about nothing and no viable business model, potentially taking a few talented entrepreneurial vagabonds along the way.

 

This is not to be confused with someone who has the time, resources, or efficacy to lasso an idea from the clouds and transform it into a real-life revenue-generating value-adding company.

 

Ideas are the lifeblood of entrepreneurship and there’s nothing wrong with trying to turn a dream into a reality, but you must be grounded in the realities of what’s required of you and the world to make them happen. Ultimately, if you can’t boil your idea down to a functional, and by no means perfect, equation or plan, you’ll waste more time with the main lesson learned is “be more focused and don’t waste your time”.

 

  • What will it take to create a minimum viable product?

  • How much capital would I need to get to this point?

  • How much time do I expect to personally have to spend? How much time am I able to commit?

  • What other goals might this take away from?

  • Who in my network can I rely on for advice or other strategic partnerships (if any)?

  • What critical questions must be answered that would influence the probability of success for this project? What dates can I set to answer these questions by?

  • And if it all falls down, what critical business skills and lessons will I have learned along the way?

In short, action (whether it leads to success or failure) is where the value of ideas is derived from.

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