Many people in the startup industry are guilty of saying “university is a waste of time” but I couldn’t disagree more.
I was recently asked “What are some things you wish you had been told while you were in college -things that would have prepared you better to found a startup, or at least seriously maim the status-quo?”
I hated school, however time management and organization are the two most valuable lessons I’ve ever learned and it’s because of university. When I am asked this question, I always ask a counter question. What do you really want to do?
“I want to be an entrepreneur” is not an answer. What do you want to do?
What do you want to make, what do you want to change, what do you want to explore? No matter how you look at it, a startup is the risk of a life time. You will expose your deepest weakness and discover your tremendous strengths.
Make that commitment, then evaluate these questions:
1. What am I trying to accomplish?
2. Who will use it?
3. Who will build it?
4. How do I build relationships so people will talk about it?
5. Where will it be located?
6. Can I take advice while holding true to my vision?
7. What will I do when I want to give up (and you will want to give up at one point or another)?
These 7 questions are crucial support stones in the foundation of a successful company. Everything in life takes preparation and if you want to do it well, it takes considerable research.
Read everything you can find and use lots of products. Spend time using a wide verity of websites outside your industry focus. Two websites that have inspired me recently are focused on beauty: www.beautylish.com and www.fashism.com.
Don’t get caught in the trendy lingo or ideal that you have to be in Silicon Valley. The money you save staying where you are until you have a functional prototype, could mean $5000-$7000 toward your initial advertising budget when you’re ready to launch.
In the beginning, it is so important talk to people. People often wonder why notable faces in the startup industry don’t respond but continue to say they are accessible. A little tip, simply start a conversation and learn who they are as people. If you have a question, put your point of view out there and ask for advice. With the number of startups being created weekly, the likelihood they are going to invest in you is slim. However, having that mentorship and recognition is so valuable, because the likelihood they know someone who would be interested is high. Don’t ask for money until you have something to show them and it works.
So figure out what interests you and find a record keeping method to record the ideas and questions that come during the process. Then, I highly recommend copying the questions from the TechStars application and complete three distinct applications. If you are in college, find a smart young lady (or guy) from the student writing center who is willing to tear them apart and rewrite them WITH you. Be flexible but fight for your words to produce the best documents possible. You will understand more about your business idea than anyone when you’re finished. Then start programming and build something beautiful.