eoincostello

My 10 golden rules for start-ups

In Advice for Start-ups on December 28, 2012 at 7:41 pm

1. Be careful what you sign and check for the notice terms and length of the agreement.

2. If it’s not in writing it never happened.

3. Equity is blood, preserve it for as long as possible before giving any of it away.

4. Don’t rush into gold plating the first version – Fail early, fail cheap.

5. Cart before the horse – do the feasibility research (including asking customers how much they would pay you for it) before writing any specifications documents. When talking to your customers think about the parallel between a sales pitch and telling your child a bed time story, when you start telling them a fairy tale the first question they ask is “Who am I in your story”? They want the story to be about them, not you or some third party.

6. Don’t re-invent the wheel, outsource anything you can and check http://portal.enterprise-europe-network.ec.europa.eu/  for any possible duplication of what you intend working on. I asked one of my mentees to bear this in mind, but like all of us,  the best lessons are learnt the hard way. He called me recently saying “You know the way you were always saying “Can it be done easier”, well now after 9 months I’ve figured out that I can poll the data I need without wasting time coding the software myself!”.

7. Make sure you keep 50% of your resources for marketing/sales etc – Secrets of Software Success ( http://www.amazon.com/Secrets-Software-Success-Management-Insights/dp/1578511054 ) finds that the most successful software companies are those that spend a high % on marketing.

8. Look to automate/streamline standard processes from the word go. Many companies fail to scale as the early entrepreneur gets bogged down in admin stuff.

9. If you can build your business from cashflow without equity investment do so until you need to scale. Clean shareholding registries are a big benefit.

10. Start with the end in mind – have a clear plan of why you are doing it and what you want to get out of it – write it down too.

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