7 things going against you as a first time entrepreneur #blindpost

by Jeff Hilimire on October 3, 2013

Embarking on my new startup, Dragon Army, has made me feel like a brand new entrepreneur again. Mainly because building mobile apps for consumers is not something I’ve been directly involved with before. So we’re going to be learning as we go, ala Ender Wiggin from Ender’s Game (you know, where we got the name Dragon Army from).

And so this article, 7 things going against you as a first time entrepreneur, really resonates with me today (thanks Joe for the recommendation). So I decided to write a blindpost on it, where I don’t read the article until after but simply take the title and write my own post. Here are the things that I think are going against us as well as the things that were going against me the first time around (with Spunlogic):

7 things going against you as a first time entrepreneur

1. A relatively short runway. No matter what business you are starting, you will have a short window of time to either prove the business model (and then get additional funding) or generate enough revenue to be self-sustaining. Time is not a friend to the first time entrepreneur.

2. The easy button is a phone call away. If you’re starting a business, then you probably could go out and get a “job” somewhere else. Even if you’re in college or just graduated, you have job prospects that you could seek out if things get tough at your startup. For a first time entrepreneur that can be an enticing fall-back plan. Resist it!

3. Knowing when to call it day vs. knowing when to fight another day. This is a very tricky thing for the first time entrepreneur. I credit much of our success at Spunlogic on simply not being willing to fail. There were days when we should have closed down the shop, with us failing every business book test on how a company should be progressing. But we stuck through it and ended up building a very successful business over ten years.

4. No experience to draw from. If you’re a first time entrepreneur then you personally don’t have the experience of starting a business to draw from. Fortunately I do have that going for me, but I don’t have any experience selling a product to consumers. That makes me feel like I am truly starting from scratch.

5. Hiring for a startup is different than hiring for an established business, especially for the first few people you add to the team. If you haven’t done it before, your first several team members are going to be critical to your success. I was fortunate to start with several people that I have worked with before and know to be true A+ individuals, but hiring game designers and developers is something I haven’t done before. So you look for these types of traits: passion for the business/industry, the “culture” fit (do you want to hang with these people for long periods of time), passion for what YOU are trying to do, self-starters, etc.

6. Knowing what to focus on as the leader. Should you personally focus on growth? On the product? On customer service? On overseeing the team? As the founder of a company, this can be one of the most difficult things to figure out. Especially if you’re a first time entrepreneur and you don’t know where you shine as the leader of a startup.

7. Not knowing where the trouble is brewing. If this is your first attempt at starting a company, it will probably be very tough to figure out why things aren’t working. Do you have enough customers? The wrong type of customers? Are you managing your people the right way? Are you charging enough? Are you getting bad advice? Is your developer up to par with what you need? Not having the experience around that can be a killer for the first time entrepreneur.

Those are my 7 thoughts, what did I miss?

~ if you liked this blindpost, here are more you can check out. And a handful of my friends will suggest blindposts for me to write from time to time, please feel free to do that too!

  • Joe Koufman

    Nice post! The original article has some interesting points too.

  • Prem Bhatia

    Great post Jeff.

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