Startup advice seems to be everywhere! Over the past several months, we’ve all noticed companies closing down due to the COVID-19 Lockdown. And today, 5 months after the national lockdown was instated, more and more companies are closing their doors for good.
We can all debate the legitimacy and the attack on our constitutional rights. But, for thousands of individuals, this means a dramatic change in their careers. I have personally spoken to quite a few would-be entrepreneurs that are now venturing into starting their own businesses – creating their own job so to speak. Now, even more, startup advice – sound startup advice – is needed. If we wait for a draconian government to tell us when you are allowed to work again, what you are allowed to do or come up with their own once-size-fits-all startup advice, you might as well stop reading now.
- No government can stop your creative juices from flowing.
- No government can stop you from working on a new business idea.
- No government can dish out startup advice as they are normally so divorced from reality that the startup advice you get will be just another 100+ page policy document bearing no fruit.
- And no government can stop you from moving into the next “survival gear” and create a new business.
- It is your dreams! It is your future. It is your survival.
Here is some Startup Advice for all New Entrepreneurs that are now entering a new phase in their lives, contemplating starting a new business:
Startup Advice A: Start something you’re genuinely passionate about.
I think the most important thing is to make sure the business you want to start is something you are personally passionate about, not just a big business idea. You have to fight and grind every single day, and you’ll be less likely to give up during the hard times if it’s something you deeply care about.
Startup Advice B: Find good people to support you.
Reflect on what drives you and what you’re naturally passionate about. And find good people to support you. And no, the government will not support you. Look past the PR and promises of multi-billion Rand funds and easy steps to apply for funding. Rather seek out those coaches, mentors and individuals or organisations that really want to help you and see you succeed. Don’t fall for just more lip-service and empty promises. Stop consuming the endless PR lies and bureaucracy and make things happen.
Startup Advice C: Align your passion with how you make a living.
Align your passion with how you make a living. In the end, it’s all about what you are willing to do to accomplish your dreams, to use your potential. Life is too short to not stop and figure out what you care about and go do that.
Startup Advice D: What you decide to do with your life will change over time.
When it comes to the question “What should I do with my life?” you often hear 3 different common pieces of advice. Some say…
- “Play to your strengths.” In other words, figure out what you’re good at, and go do that
- “Follow your passion.” In other words, figure out what you like to do, and build a life around that.
- “Figure out what the market needs and go do that.” This is the conventional thinking of if there are a shortage of engineers, go a study to become an engineer.
What’s problematic is that each of these common pieces of advice, when taken on their own, is insufficient.
What if your passion is playing the bagpipes or something else that’s awfully hard to monetise? Or what if you are not passionate about what you’re good at? And if you just pursue a career based on what the market needs, you may not be able to do it for exceedingly long because you may not enjoy it.
YOU ARE THE STARTUP!
You need to develop a competitive advantage by intersecting all three considerations: your assets (strengths), aspirations (values, passions, etc.), and the market realities. Fit those three puzzle pieces together to arrive at a smart “PLAN A for John Doe” for your career. How can you leverage your strengths to achieve some of your aspirations while navigating the realities around you? You’ll necessarily have to trade off on some things along the way.
For example, I love writing and am decent at it, but it’s so hard to monetise writing ability on its own; so, I integrated that skill/strength into an arena where the market realities are more favourable (business).
Finally, the answers to any of these questions will change. Your assets change. Your aspirations change. The market changes. You always have to iterate on your plans to account for these changes. There’s no one right, permanent answer to the question.
Startup Advice E: Find your superpower.
Learn to become a Master of a lot of things. Become a Superman/Superwoman by being good at a bunch of stuff, but then have a clear superpower where you’re world-class. To be world-class at something, you will have to work on a single thing night and day for years. Spend time writing and reflecting – more than reading, and more than reading tweets and Facebook posts.
Startup Advice F: Time is King, not Cash.
Time is King. The nonsense you and I grew up with telling us that Cash is King is worthless. If you don’t have time, what will a large bank account mean?
Cash is only King because cash buys you time. And Time is King because time can do whatever it wants, whenever it wants, and answers to no Boss!
Once you have time, hold onto it. To hold onto time, avoid momentum. That’ll be hard. Entrepreneurs crave momentum. Most entrepreneurs I meet can’t sit still for one minute let along one day. From personal experience, I can tell you that momentum is dangerous because it’s distracting and addicting. I rolled the ball. The ball continues rolling. I get impatient. I pour money into marketing because it makes the ball looks so much shinier. I fill my calendar with so much to do. So much to accomplish. One day I wake up and realise that the ball stopped. I have run out of time.