Just over one year ago, I decided to make the leap from Google to the startup world. It wasn’t an easy decision (not even close). I knew I wanted to work for a startup eventually, but I didn’t know exactly when…or what kind…or in what capacity…or in what location…or, now that I think about it, if I truly wanted to be an entrepreneur at all. Maybe it was just media-induced lust after the “new rockstar lifestyle.”
But I made the decision, and it’s been the single best career choice I’ve made. The past year has been a hugely important learning opportunity for me. While Google afforded me tremendous opportunities in its own right, nothing can compare to the “sink or swim” startup world — one filled with huge emotional swings, tons of energy and plenty of hands-on experience.
In short, it’s been EXACTLY what others said it would be.
But what have I learned? Turns out, more than I originally imagined, now that I’ve bulleted out my top few. Here’s the first…
YOU’RE BUILDING A HOUSE - PRIORITIZE ACCORDINGLY!
If I’ve learned anything at all, it’s that startups are about prioritizing and distributing resources. There aren’t all that many resources to go around to begin with, so it becomes all the more important that you carefully and thoughtfully address the things that will have the biggest impact on the business.
Well, you’d think so…but it’s incredibly easy to get sidetracked and spend time on projects that either don’t matter now or won’t matter ever.
You feel compelled as an entrepreneur to fix and build on everything. Your blog needs content, your UI needs design, your competitor does funny video shorts so you want to get in that game, etc.
But you’re building a house here. This is a longterm investment. But it’s REALLY easy for people to drive by and point to the dying bushes or the unpaved driveway or the fact that a pool and basketball hoop would be sweet…
BUT THE DOOR IS BROKEN! You should probably fix the door first. And the plumbing is on the fritz! Even though your neighbors can’t see that plumbing, isn’t a working faucet and toilet more important to your house than a new bush out front? Isn’t the security of a door that actually closes and locks much more critical than a new coat of paint outside?
The bottom line is this: you’re deep into the business, full of pride and energy. But funnel it towards the projects that will help the house stand and last…not just look nice to others. This isn’t always that glamorous (certainly not the “rockstar” lifestyle that Mashable, TechCrunch and Silicon Valley stories always promote), but it’s the only way to build a successful business.
This I’ve learned from just over a year at a startup, and I will NEVER forget it.