Lately there are a lot of buzz about a chile incubator program which sends entrepreneur to Chile for 6 months to work on their project on $40k grant. This is tempting.
Lately there are also lot of discussion about wantrapreneur, or entrepreneur wannna be.
I know it’s hard to believe but the most effective driving force for a potentially successful startup product other than having a great idea and product is the “lack of the money” (see “rework” from 37signals).
I am not saying chile incubator is not good. I am saying that we as entrepreneur, should NOT make decisions because of outside money. We should stay closest to our customers, to truly understand them, even that means we need to tighten our budget, live on a shoestring and a bag of rice everyday.
Say “no”, loud and clear, to other people’s money.
But how do you survive? Should you not touch your checking account, your saving account, your ex-employer stock option, your stock portfolio, your 401k (it’s important to take the money in that order).
This is how a friend of mine acted before he went all in to his startup 4 years ago, and today he worths $50 million to say the least.
He left his job as a technical lead on a leading software company, tapped into his saving account, sold most of stock from the his broker account and left his 401k untouched.
I don’t know how far deep he reached into his pocket before getting outside funding, one thing for sure is he believed in his vision and product so much he think he should invest his money on his own startup, NOT stock market or other investment vehicles, because his startup will give him much bigger return.
He succeeded, not without many ups and downs.
So I am saying no to outside money. I am tapping into my own cash repertoire in that order I mentioned, plus using any other means possible that do not distract me from devoting to my startup, airbnb, for example, almost paid my expensive rent.
If you don’t want to be remembered as the wantrapreneurs, say NO to outside money, eat your dog food, be ready to be creative and live on tight budget.
Oh, if you have not, quit your boring job. Chase your dream full time! Life is too short not to.
All in all: why do you have to eat your dog food, spent your own money, push yourself to the extreme?
Because, as human, when we do all that, it’s a guarantee that we will work harder, smarter than ever before. And when we do that, miracle can happen much more likely.
If formspring.me and chatroulette were the last two crazy viral internet startup (if you count textfromlastnight, it’s 3), it’s probably once in a lifetime experiences to see bunch of geeks and beauties from startup weekend in Palo Alto #swbay, sitting just a few feet away, cranked out a ridiculous “product” called confess.ly, the genius part is use of soundcloud/twilio letting people anonymously record their “confession” (think of the most embarrassing things you have done but would not post on your facebook wall) in sound.
Within a few hours after their facebook page is up, more than 3000 fans liked it! I am not going to say much now, the following are a few confessions from the then slightly drunk, otherwise perfectly normal people
Entrepreneurs who give it all to change the world are bold, upbeat, relentless, most of the time. But, sometime, panic moment , the thought of “what if it does not work out” does hit us. It’s the vulnerability side of us. Many things could lead us to think like that, such as others’ comment, project’s status, or maybe even the stock market. It hit me this morning at 2am. I was debugging, testing and speaking to my developer. I am aiming at beta launch within a week, but the site’s UI/visual design problems became more and more visible as it is closer to the deadline. I kept hearing two voices in my head: one being “it’s ok, just launch as is and tell everyone we are improving and this is only beta”, the other being “holy shit, this looks ugly, no one will ever use this shit.”
I went to bed with these scary thoughts, and woke up in the morning only to find the debt ceiling nonsense kept dragging down stock market and my otherwise upbeat portfolio with 15%-profit-in-three-month since I started trading was hit hard and saw profits almost entirely wiped out.
The doubts about the future that consists of uncertainties about my startup and “do I have to sell my stock portfolio” hit hard this morning. It does not help that I am an entrepreneur working from home alone and no one to talk to when it hit.
What would U do? The following is what I am trying:
1. Focus on my startup project: do not let noise such as stock market gets in my head. Focusing can also give me clear pictures about the problems, hence focusing on solutions. Stock wise: as long as your portfolio is solid, do not panic, let it sit and value will show when market calms.
2. Think about the reason I work on my startup project: before the down moment hits, I have full confidence in what I do, I believe in it. Where is that belief? I have to find that back. I find reading my own mission statement, viewing site like mixergy, think about those guys who work on their startup with just 10k to 50k investment from YC, think about exactly how airbnb got started, the difficulties they met, the multiple launches they had, the creativity they showed facing uncertainty. Thinking about all these makes me believe I can do this and I will win.
3. Take a deep breath and take a relaxing walk outside, see real people on the street, hear people talk, smile.
4. Be fearless, be bold, do not be afraid
5. Nourish myself with knowledge: spend 1 to 2 hours a day to watch Techcrunch’s interview show (short), and other leading blogs such as allthingsD, I particularly value listening to what very smart people have to say in the interviews, I can gain tremendous knowledge. Secondly, learn a little new technology 1 hour a day. It makes me feel I am growing. Knowledge will in turn help me to become more fearless (calculated), bold and visionary, which is critical to someone like us who runs our own startups.
I am feeling better already!