What’s the hardest thing about doing a startup?

Techstars is already teaching me. That isn’t a surprise. What is a surprise is just how much it’s teaching me, and how fast. Here’s just one example.

On the first day of Techstars, I went for a little shock and awe. I announced to our 26 new founders “You’re not here because of your idea.” I then gave them all a license to just change it.

I’ve now watched a couple of them do just that.

It’s great that a startup can turn on a dime. You have no customers, no promises, no technology to speak of. You can just go where you want to go. There’s no reason not to.

Except that talking about what you’re going to do is really different from doing it. So you have to harbor a bias towards action, and you have to start doing. That starts the clock. That starts the learning.

The hardest thing about doing a startup is simply starting. Leaving idea stage. Leaving the details until later, and shoving off in search of the destination. Taking action. And it doesn’t get any easier just because you’ve committed yourself to do it. This does not equal doing it.

Blueprint to a Billion opens with the obviously made-up assertion that only 1 in 50 ideas ever becomes a business. But it’s probably about right. It’s certain that almost all “ideas for a business” are simply not acted upon.

Yet we know it’s not even about the original idea – it’s about the dedication and the ability to listen, react, and adapt.

Shutting up and starting stops most people dead in their tracks. Congrats if you’ve gotten past that. You’re a rare breed indeed.

file under: Blog, Startups