These 3 Big Mistakes I Made as a First-Time Entrepreneur
years ago, I founded a tech startup as a sole founder, in an
unfamiliar industry, and with no tech or startup experience.
Looking back, I couldn’t have been more “out of the tech scene” --
I was a corporate lawyer at Cravath, a formal firm in midtown
Manhattan. Making mistakes during those early stages of Updater
was par for the course.
hopes that you will avoid some classic “first-time entrepreneur”
missteps and build your company faster, here are the top three
lessons I learned:
Don’t hire unqualified early employees.
you’re running a company of one to three people and trying to
accomplish a lot without the necessary manpower, it’s easy to
think that you just need a few people to help take the weight off,
build the prototype, or just get you to the next funding hurdle.
Anyone will do, right? Wrong.
4 Most Common Mistakes Early Entrepreneurs Make
did I hire my first engineer? I hired one of the first people to
respond to my job post who seemed confident he could do the work
and was willing to do it at a low price. I thought I was getting a
great deal … I wasn’t.
could I have made such a rookie mistake? In retrospect, I could
partly blame the fact that I lacked funding and connections to get
top talent, but the real problem was that I just didn’t know
exactly what the job entailed. I understood the tasks that needed
to be completed, but I didn’t understand the skills the candidates
should possess to complete those tasks, or how to evaluate the
candidate for those skills. Unfortunately, with that lack of
knowledge, my hiring mistakes were nearly inevitable.
advice to you: chat with more experienced entrepreneurs and people
currently doing the job that you’re hiring for at another startup
to properly understand the qualifications for the role. Talk to
anyone who will give you advice. They’ll help you identify the
right skill sets and help you set key performance indicators and
deliverables for the role, allowing you to hire more effectively
and gain proper expectations.
even the earliest employees are helping set company culture. Your
early employees must have the right skills, but equally important
they must have the right personality and attitude to help you
build the company and environment that you want to create.
Find a co-founder.
at it alone with no experience is difficult on all fronts. When it
comes to startups, it’s true that two heads are better than one.
an idea can be great, it’s really all about the execution, and my
limited technical know-how was, frankly, very limiting. Having a
co-founder helps ensure that you have someone to complement and
balance your strengths and weaknesses, which is key to long-term
Lessons for Entrepreneurs That 'The Celebrity Apprentice'
accomplishing things myself, I waited a long time before finding a
partner. Waiting was beneficial because, over time, I was able to
identify the exact experience and skills my partner should possess
to complement my skill set, and as a result I was able to identify
the ideal person.
I would have achieved more much faster and greatly reduced the
company's risk profile if I had a partner at the beginning, even
if not the perfect partner. So don’t start your company alone!
While owning 100 percent rather than 50 or 33 percent may seem
appealing, you’re probably increasing your likelihood of owning
100 percent of nothing.
Don’t protect your ideas -- share them.
got this one all wrong, too. I spent valuable time and money
working to protect my ideas and strategies for implementation,
thinking someone might try to copy me.
only did I waste time and money, but I also missed countless
opportunities to get feedback from potential users, clients and
early adopters. I spent weeks (and thousands of dollars) on patent
and trademark protection, when I should have been building a
prototype and showing it to everyone and anyone who would listen.
I know now is ideas aren’t as valuable as they seem. Rather, it’s
the ability to execute that’s valuable. No one was going to steal
my idea because no one was as passionate about reinventing the
moving process. In fact, hundreds of people probably already had
my idea, but couldn’t or wouldn’t execute it.
sum it up, tap into the resources around you for feedback and