Software dev myself - been working on startup idea for a four months now - I'm a solo founder ( until I can find the right person) - as previous partnerships were difficult to maintain
My questions is more for those who dropped the 9-5 job at quit to work on their startups:
1) How much money did you have? (e.g. 30k, not 75% of my current salary - as we don't know your salary :) )
2) How much time did #1 leave you to build a product to release to the market?
3) Did your family support you?
4) Where did you go for help, if needed (e.g. the side of the business with your least background in) ?
5) Do you feel a mentor/adviser is vital in the super-early, pre-product stage?
6) Finally, what would you have changed if you had to do it again?
Everyday I read about people on HackerNews who leave their well paying jobs to begin their voyage in startup land. I've taken a day off last week from work and was super effective - compared to burning the midnight oil after 8 hours to get this going. Something tells me to just leave, but I'd like your advice as well.
Thank you all!
Disclaimer: I started my business with a product concept but eventually moved into Software Services (it helped maintain cash flow). Now I am again working on a product after 2 years when the business is stable and my partner can do without me for 3-6 months. Not sure if my experience will fit in for you.
Its Great to have thoughts to be an Entrepreneur but please do not fall into the booby trap of just feelings instead of actually doing. So do note that you ought to take a leap of faith and be ready to fail. If you don't run the race you won't ever win. Just planning won't help you succeed, it requires actual ground work (do note that no planning would certainly ensure your failure:P)
Coming to your questions:
1) How much money did you have? (e.g. 30k, not 75% of my current salary - as we don't know your salary :) ) A) Please do remember that salaries grow over time because but at the same time your expenses and responsibilities. If you are going to just plan on saving sufficient and then starting the business, there is a high probability that you won't be starting at all. Start your business while you are in job, don't only conceptualize, in fact start implementation. Have money coming from job.
Put in extra hours (at least 4-6 hours on weekdays and 16 hours on weekends) into conceptualization and actual work. You should be ready to launch the product in around 6 months. Don't work on making the product with every feature you have thought of, first implement those which are critical and which are addressing some major issue which users are facing, if you see traction, go ahead add more features. Remember, even Gmail started like that. Even today they keep adding new features. Launch early so that you know if you are failing or you are successful.
Once the product is in the final stages of launch go for a month or two leave without pay and work 18 hours a day to launch and promote it.
DON'T BE AFRAID TO FAIL.
2) How much time did #1 leave you to build a product to release to the market? A) Since I did not leave the job, I had all the time, but I gave myself 6 months to launch and another 6 months to see if people actually like it. If yes, then good, else concentrate back in your job and start conceptualizing again. Entrepreneurship is a bug, if it has bitten once, you are going to be infected for life :P
3) Did your family support you? A) Fortunately, my family did. My wife said that I married you because I felt that you are not coward and can take failures positively. I think that was enough of motivation. Although parents did not support initially, they were of the opinion, do job 9-5, spend time with family, be happy. Why all this problematic journey of Entrepreneurship. Did I tell you about the bug?
4) Where did you go for help, if needed (e.g. the side of the business with your least background in) ? A) Business is simple, money comes in money goes out. Just ensure that money coming in is more than what goes out. So why do you need someone else for help. Still, I did go to my friends for technical help. I roped them in with some equity in the company for initially helping me build my product. If I succeed, they get benefited, I I did not, we had awesome time spent together trying to do something substantial (Please do note that I knew programming and so did my friends and we were to start an IT business)
5) Do you feel a mentor/adviser is vital in the super-early, pre-product stage? A) Hmmm...I did not have anyone. It was unfortunate, I did make few mistakes which I should have not. Mentor would have helped understanding the market better and would have few thousand bucks for me. (Do note that I was not rich when I began, so few thousand meant a lot). I would thank Microsoft who under Bizspark program gave free licenses to all their products. This Bizspark program advice did come from a friend of mine. So surround yourself with intelligent, enthusiastic, but realistic people. You will automagically get intelligent :)
6) Finally, what would you have changed if you had to do it again? A) Nothing except that I would have roped in a mentor at the earlier stages of my business. But that does not mean that you should wait for eternity for a mentor.
At the end, one advice, DO NOT BE AFRAID. Go ahead take a leap of faith.
Replies are ideal situation, some are based on my experience, some are just ideas:
1) How much money did you have? (e.g. 30k, not 75% of my current salary - as we don't know your salary :) ) Ideally, you should leave 9-5 when your project earns equal or more than your full time job. Don't leave your jobs completely and count on your savings, cos your cashflow will deplete and run out. Been there, done that. Big mistake. Here's what I will do now: Quit my job, take few months off to build the product, launch it, then look for job again. It's depressing, but it's not stupid.
2) How much time did #1 leave you to build a product to release to the market? When I first started out, I wanted a web startup, but I did not know programming. So I quit my job, with half my savings, I hired contract developer to build, but they gave me a crap job, so I learned coding on my own and rebuilt it again. After one year, cash ran out, I went back to job, and started bootstrapping, working 2 hours per weekday and more per weekends on my project. Not knowing how to code to learning how to code took me good 3 years to build even my first product. I recently just quit my job, taking few months off, and want to finish off the last 20% of my product, launch it, then find a job again. Until I see profit more than my day job salary, I will keep my job.
3) Did your family support you? No, they don't understand the painful journey in entrepreneurship. They think that being employed is best. You just need to shut their mouth before they demotivate you. Remember, you are alone. If pressure is too much to take, move out from such negative energy and stay focused.
4) Where did you go for help, if needed (e.g. the side of the business with your least background in) ? Read, read, read and read. Test, test, test and test.
5) Do you feel a mentor/adviser is vital in the super-early, pre-product stage? I do have people I can go for advice, but in the end, you gotta execute and test the market. Your customers will tell you what they need, your advisers won't or can't.
6) Finally, what would you have changed if you had to do it again? I wouldn't quit my job at early stage. I would bootstrap. It's ok to go slow for the first time (Tony Hsieh's advice on Delivering Happiness). I would also get my hands dirty and learn what I know not. Don't hire contractors and hope that they will do the job well. Don't waste your time socializing, attending useless networking events. Spend more time on building your product, launch it, then do the rest.
READ THIS: http://www.mindvalleyinsights.com/7-lessons-from-building-a-lifestyle-business/