Matt Schmeisser recently shared his experience in an interview with Authority Magazine for its series of articles that profile founders of technology companies like Motor Fuel License Center and Avalara. See the excerpt below for Matt’s list of ‘5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Became a Founder’ from the interview or follow the link to read all about it and more.
- 1. Double anticipated budget for time and cost — For whatever reason, you’ll probably need to at least double your anticipated budget for time and cost. Things usually take longer and cost more than expected. Here’s the thing, it very well may not even be because of you. Just because your company is agile doesn’t mean everyone else around you or those you do business with will be as well. There are infinite other reasons that can and will delay or cost more so it’s better to account for them. In fact, more adequately planning and providing slack is often viewed favorably as it indicates more maturity, experience, and capacity.
- 2. Get other people involved ASAP — One of the early challenges entrepreneurs face when leading the company is when to hire. The simple answer is when the cost of a helping hand is less than the value of the next best activity you could be doing. However, there are many other good reasons to get others involved earlier like complementary perspectives to see what you can’t. It also takes working with people to have a significant impact at scale. Rome wasn’t built in a day and, usually, the company won’t be either. The sooner you can get more people helping you, the better. We are a social species after all!
3. How challenging it would be both professionally and personally — This one seems obvious, right? I believe it’s not communicated clearly and often enough. Maybe it’s just social etiquette to not overly indulge in negative discussion, but I think this gets in the way of sharing just how difficult the lows can be on every level. What’s more, it can be difficult to isolate feelings of success or failure from other, perhaps even more, important areas of life. It helps to have a supportive partner but that’s usually not enough. I think it was Elon Musk who described that starting a company is like eating glass and getting punched in the stomach. I’d add while being on stage publicly humiliated in underwear to that description! Probably best to avoid if possible but endurable if unreasonably committed to the result…
- 4. Always get it in writing, otherwise it doesn’t count — Probably the least glamorous and easiest to overlook is to make sure you get everything you will depend upon in writing. While a firm handshake is usually good enough for me, my experience is that it’s probably a good idea to back that up just in case. It shouldn’t be a problem if both parties are acting in good faith. If the counterparty is offended, just mentioning a bad prior experience with someone else is usually enough to smooth things out.
- 5. Celebrate the small wins, all of them — Lastly, one of the best-kept secrets for being consistently enthusiastic and avoiding burnout is to take time for celebrating incremental wins. This doesn’t mean you need to go all out like WeWork, but you should keep track of positive progress to keep spirits up. It never hurts to keep a little in reserve for tough times in between. It also helps keep the direction forward-facing and creates measurable milestones that others who care about you will want to celebrate. That’s what it’s all about, right?