Entrepreneurship is not for everyone. One of many reasons most entrepreneurs fail is that in order to build a large sustainable business, you have to fight natural human urges along the way. I have met countless founders who run their company based on natural human instinct and I’d estimate that the result is failure nine times out of ten.
Being an entrepreneur and creating something from nothing is anything but natural. That said, here are five common urges that every entrepreneur needs to learn how to fight:
You want to run with your idea immediately.
Out of all of the urges you need to fight, this is the most important one by far. An idea is just a microscopic part of building a profitable venture. If you have an idea, that’s great. Now, take a breather, and do research about who else had a similar idea. Who else is targeting the same target audience as you? Who else is trying to solve the same problem as you? All those companies are your competitors.
I understand the desire to take your idea and run with it, but for your own sake, fight that desire and do sufficient research whether or not the idea has legs. If you don’t do market analysis now, I guarantee you you will regret it down the line.
You don’t want to accept that you have direct competitors.
Competitive analysis is critical, and in doing so, you want to stay clear of confirmation bias.
You can go through the movements and make a list of competitors only to convince yourself that you are fundamentally different than them or you can be honest with yourself and do real research with the possibility that you might have to pivot or even shut down the company because a space is just too crowded.
Doing so-called research with a specific goal in mind is about as useless as not doing research at all. Fight the urge to be biased and conduct your research objectively.
You raise money as soon as you can.
I recently interviewed a serial entrepreneur who sold multiple companies for billions. He said companies should raise as soon as they can. Far be it from me to disagree with him, but, well, I do.
I understand that you’re reading about monster rounds of financing every day, and the thought of having millions of dollars in the bank so you can grow your company excites you. Trust me, I get it. But the earlier you go to investors, the riskier it is for them, which means the less attractive the terms of the investment are for you.
On the other hand, you do need some oxygen to build your company but it’s all a question of timing. The more leverage you have, whether in the form of a product, traction, team, or technology, the more attractive the terms of the investment are going to be. If you can wait until you have a true product-market fit, then wait.
You don’t want to tell anyone your idea.
If I had a dime for every entrepreneur who told me they want to keep their product under the radar so that others don’t copy them, I would be able to fund all those startups myself.
This is a fundamental mistake. Need I remind you that Facebook wasn’t first to social media, Apple wasn’t first to make personal computers, and being first has no real significance? What’s important is that you out-execute your competition.
By talking to people about your product, you are able to collect user feedback, get the opinion of people smarter than yourself, and iterate on your product as necessary. By keeping it under wraps, you miss out on all of those opportunities and more. Let others steal your idea, but if you do it better than them, you will win.
You’re tempted to take the first acquisition offer you receive.
I realize it is easier said than done to reject an acquisition offer. Having said that, if you truly believe in your product and its feasibility, perhaps it might be worth waiting until the company is a bit more mature before selling it. Again, it’s easier said than done to reject a $100 million offer, I get it. But if you think your company is worth billions, wait it out, and try to build as large of a company as you can.