Important Things Startup Founders Should Know

Being an entrepreneur can be a pain in the ass. Especially if you’re not prepared for it.

Fortunately, there are a lot of generous people offering sage advice. David Shen, an advisor & investor of early stage Internet startups, tries to talk people out of being an entrepreneur. Starting a business is not for everyone. If that’s the case for you, the sooner you realize it, the better.

I talk about the time commitment. I talk about my early Yahoo days when there were just a bunch of us, and we worked our tail off for years. I talk about the long hours we spent building Yahoo back in the day, the stress, the do-everything-yourself mentality and the chaos of not knowing what’s coming next. I tell them about the fact that relationships have broken up due to training for Ironman, which even at its peak, doesn’t equate to time commitment spent at a startup and for a longer period of time. I go through the inevitable ups and downs that come with relationships and families of entrepreneurs; it’s not an easy place to be when your work and family demands collide.

Dharmesh Shah, founder of HubSpot, also offers ten critical questions that startup co-founders should ask themselves:

  1. How should we divide the shares?
  2. How will decisions get made?
  3. What happens if one of us leaves the company?
  4. Can any of us be fired? By whom? For what reasons?
  5. What are our personal goals for the startup?
  6. Will this be the primary activity for each of us?
  7. What part of our plan are we each unwilling to change?
  8. What contractual terms will each of us sign with the company?
  9. Will any of us be investing cash in the company? If so, how is this treated?
  10. What will we pay ourselves? Who gets to change this in the future?

To these great questions, I would add two derived from Shen’s advice:

  1. Do we all understand the risks and commitment required to be an entrepreneur?
  2. Is everyone willing to fully take those risks and honor those commitments?

It is not easy being an entrepreneur. But if you understand the risks and commitment required, you will have a better chance of survival.

Photo by: Team Dalog

Author: Mike Lee

An idealistic realist, humanistic technologist & constant student.