The following video shows Steve Jobs as an entrepreneur, starting over with NeXT. To me, it’s reassuring to see that the Great Steve Jobs himself sometimes found the task overwhelming, despite having $7M (1990’s dollars) in the bank.[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sOlqqriBvUM]
If you only have 10 seconds, look at 13:18 into the video. Steve Jobs says:
I forgot how much work it actually is to create a company. It’s a lot of work. You got to do everything.
This is exactly how I feel right now. Doing everything. Vaporized, atomized. It’s fun, but it’s hard. I had not forgotten, I plain didn’t know.
Steve Jobs was also known for his focus on focus. If you are creating a company, you should probably read this.
When your product is not even built yet, none of this stuff matters. But your startup, in the pre-product phase, is basically a ticking time bomb. The only thing that can prevent it from exploding is user delight. User delight attracts funding, enhances morale, builds determination, earns revenue…Until you get to user delight, you’re always at risk of running out of money or, much more likely, losing a key engineer to something more interesting. Time is your most precious resource.
This is why building a company is an exercise in humility. It’s a case where you don’t need to assume you are below average: you are. You have less funding than your competitors. Your product has less features. Your have less customers, less engineers, less press coverage. If you do something really innovative, most people will think it’s stupid and explain why you are doing it wrong. And most of the time, they are right, you are doing it wrong.
But here is the difference compared to my past experiences in larger companies. In a startup, when you do it wrong, you fix it, and you fix it so quickly you sometimes don’t even realize it. In my opinion, that’s the single reason why startups sometimes succeed. They fall a lot, but then they learn how to walk, and once they get the gist of it, they run circles around more “adult” companies.