8. Sell, sell, sell
Because this is so important, we have to make this point again. Too many startups focus on building what they like to build but forget (or unwilling) to sell. That’s really one of the biggest problems with startups. There is no one really to push you to do what you don’t enjoy or naturally inclined to do (except figuratively all the bills lurking in the background). For the lack of a better analogy, working in a corporate is like doing course work while starting a startup is like working on a dissertation/thesis. Yes, there are supervisors around to guide you through but it’s up to you to determine your goal, your discipline, your timing and most importantly, your ambition.
Obviously depending on whether your startup is enterprise or consumer focus, your customer profiles (and numbers) will be very different. But the one common question that you need to ask yourself (and test) more often is ‘how am I going to get my next (paying) customer?’. It is a bit counterintuitive to the model (or buzz) that startups just need to build a gianormous user base, and with absolutely no revenue, it can be acquired for millions of dollars. And you become rich. It is not. Everyone is looking at money – granted the time horizon could be different – therefore there are different types of investors for different stages of startups. But fundamentally everyone is looking at this revenue issue. So you should be honest to yourself. Where is the revenue? Using a similar analogy, instead of asking an investor for X dollars, would you be equally comfortable asking the person the same X dollars to buy your products?