If you are thinking about starting your own business, you might surely have various concerns. So what do you do when you want to do something new but have never done it before? You learn it from the experts.
Here you will learn the secrets of startups from Paul Graham, the “King of Startups.”
Paul Graham is a computer scientist, essayist, entrepreneur, author, and the founder of the venture capital firm Y Combinator (an early-stage startup accelerator). He is undoubtedly one of Silicon Valley’s most well-known figures.
Millions of people read his essays about beginning a business. He has helped in the foundation of various successful businesses. Y Combinator, his company, has invested in over 3000 startups, including Airbnb, Stripe, Dropbox, and Reddit.
Here are some words of wisdom from Paul Graham that will certainly benefit you on your startup journey
Paul Graham addresses young startup founders in his essays. Here are some of his tips which you can benefit from.
According to Paul Graham, startups are incredibly counterintuitive since knowledge about them has not yet infiltrated our culture, According to Paul Graham. But, whichever the cause, starting a business is a difficult endeavor in which you cannot always rely on your instincts.
Graham compares it to skiing. When you first start skiing and want to slow down, your natural reaction is to lean back.
However, if you lean back on your skis, you will fly down the hill uncontrollably.
Learning to ski entails learning to reject that impulse. You eventually develop new habits, but it takes conscious effort at first. As you begin to descend the hill, there is a list of things you are attempting to remember.
Because startups are as bizarre as skiing, there is a similar list.
The second idea Paul Graham has is that having extensive startup knowledge is not necessary. To succeed in a startup, you must first become skilled in your consumers and the problem you are solving for them.
Mark Zuckerberg did not succeed because he was a startup expert. He survived despite being a startup noob since he understood his users so well.
Paul advises you to not feel bad if you lack knowledge in a particular area, such as how to raise an angel round. That’s the kind of thing you can learn when you need to and then forget about.
When is the ideal time to start your startup?
Does it matter your age to do it? People make it sound like starting a business is hard. Guess what! They are right. Launching a startup is incredibly hard. Here is what Paul Graham has to say about this.
The Answer is You can’t tell. Your life experience may have given you an idea of your chances of becoming a scientist or a professional soccer player. You haven’t likely done much that was similar to being a startup founder unless your life has been extremely bizarre.
Starting a business will drastically change your life. You’re therefore attempting to predict not just who you are now but also who you might become in the future, and who is capable of doing that.
So, if starting a business makes you feel like you could die, you probably shouldn’t. But if you’re simply unsure of your ability, the only way to discover it is to give it a shot. Just not now.
According to Paul Graham, the only things you initially need to launch a startup are an idea and co-founders. And the procedure for getting both will be the same. This brings us to our fourth point: it’s not a good idea to try to come up with business ideas.
If you deliberately try to come up with startup ideas, the ideas you pop up with won’t just be bad; they’ll also sound absurd and feasible, which means you’ll waste much time on them before you realize they’re bad.
Paul Graham believes that taking a step back can come up with good startup ideas. Instead of making an intentional effort to generate startup ideas, adapt your mind to the type that brings startup ideas naturally.
So involuntarily that you almost don’t realize they’re startup ideas at first.
This is how companies like Apple, Yahoo, Google, and Facebook got their start. At first, none of these businesses were intended to be businesses. All of them were side projects.
Because great ideas are such outliers that your conscious mind would reject them as company ideas, the best startups almost always start as side projects.
So, how do you train your mind to be the type that generates startup ideas unconsciously? Three steps:
1. Learn a lot about what matters
2. Work on problems that interest you
3. Collaborate with people you like and respect.
Interestingly, the third part is how you get co-founders at the same time as the idea.
If you start a business, it will take over your life in ways you cannot imagine. And if your startup is successful, it will control your life for a long time: at the very least, several years, perhaps a decade, perhaps the rest of your professional career. There is a significant opportunity cost involved.
For example, Mark Zuckerberg will never have the opportunity to saunter around a foreign country. He can do things that most people cannot, such as charter planes to fly him to various countries. But success has robbed him of much of his serendipity. Facebook runs him just as much as he runs Facebook.
And, while being in the hands of a project you think your life’s mission can be very cool, there are benefits to serendipity as well, particularly early in life. It gives you more choices for choosing your life’s work, among other things.
Now that you know some facts about startups, here are some tips to start them.
Paul Graham advises young startups to not wait for their best product; just, release version 1 quickly and then improve it based on user feedback.
He believes that releasing early does not imply that you should release a bug-ridden version; rather, it means that you should release the bare minimum. Users detest bugs, but they don’t appear to mind a basic version 1 if more are on the way.
There are several benefits to wrapping up version 1 quickly. One is that, whether it’s for a startup or not, this is just the proper way to write software. Many startups fail because they release products too slowly, but none do so because they release products too quickly.
You might be surprised to learn that you don’t know your users if you build something that becomes successful.
Reddit now receives close to 500,000 unique visitors per month. Who are all of those people? Reddit has no idea. No other web startup does. And, because you don’t know your users, guessing what they’ll like is risky. It’s better to let something go and let them tell you.
Of course, “release early” is incomplete without the second element, Keep updating.
According to Paul Graham, one should make it a rule to always pump out features. This guideline doesn’t only apply in the beginning. All startups must do this as long as they choose to be categorized as startups.
Of course, this does not imply that you should continue to complicate your application. The feature means one hacking quantum that improves the lives of users.
Improvements, like exercise, breed more improvements. If you exercise daily, you’ll most likely feel like exercising tomorrow.
However, if you don’t run for a few weeks, you’ll have to force yourself to go. In the same way, the more hacking techniques you use, the more ideas you’ll come up with. Approximately every day or two, you should improve your system in some small way.
A general rule is to make users happy, and optimizing constantly is an example of this. All startups share the ability to not compel anyone to take any action. They cannot compel anyone to use their software, nor can they compel anyone to do business with them.
Paul Graham says that a startup must perform to survive. That’s why talented companies make great things. They must do it or perish.
You feel like a small piece of debris being blown around by strong winds when you’re running a startup. Consumers are the wind with the most force.
You can either be caught and hoisted into the sky, as they did with Google, or you can be left flat on the ground, as most startups are. Users are erratic winds, but they are more potent than any other. No rival will be able to keep you down if they accept you.
Paul says that as a tiny piece of debris, it makes sense for you to curl up into a shape that will catch the wind rather than lay flat.
Another piece of advice Pual gives to young startup founders is to worry less. According to him, the paranoia of startups is understandable, but occasionally their fears are misguided. He says that most observable disasters are not as terrifying as they initially appear.
In a startup, disasters are commonplace: founders leave, you find a patent that contains what you’re doing, your systems keep crashing, you run into insuperable technical issues, you have to alter your name, and a deal falls through—all of these are expected events.
They will not kill you except if you allow them to.
Most competitors will not either. He says that at Y combinator many startups fret, “What if a big company builds something similar to us? He replies to them that you don’t have to be concerned about large corporations.
Paul Graham writes in one of his essays that people in large corporations are smart, but not smarter than you; they are less motivated because they will not go out of business if this one product fails; and even in large corporations, there is a lot of bureaucracy to slow them down.
What you should be concerned about as a startup are not the established players, but other startups that you are unaware of.
Because they are animals in a corner like you are, they are much more dangerous than big corporations.
Contrary to popular belief, intelligence is not the most important characteristic of a startup founder. The key characteristic of a startup founder is sheer determination.
Paul Graham believes that running a startup is similar to walking on your hands: it is possible, but it takes a lot of work.
However, the right kind of determination is required. Paul Graham says that he purposefully avoided using the word stubborn in favor of determined because it is disastrous for a startup. You must possess the flexibility and tenacity of a running back.
A productive running back doesn’t simply squat and tries to pass people. He adapts by running around obstacles that appear in his path, spinning to escape grabs, and even temporarily running in the opposite direction if it will help. Standing still is something he will never do.
Paul Graham was once discussing with a startup founder whether it would be a good idea to include a social component in their software. He stated that he did not believe so because the entire social aspect had been exhausted. Graham was opposed to the idea.
He replied, “So, Facebook, MySpace, Flickr, and Twitter will be the only social networking sites in a hundred years?” Most likely not.
He believes that there’s always room for new things. People have always made discoveries that left everyone wondering, “Why didn’t anybody consider that before?” even during the most gloomy periods of the dark ages.
Therefore, in all actuality, there is no cap on the number of startup companies. Startups create wealth, which means they create products that people want, and if there is a limit to the number of products that people want, we are still nowhere near it.
We don’t yet have flying cars.
Founders of startups are by nature optimistic people. Otherwise, they wouldn’t do it.
However, Paul Graham does not appreciate too much optimism. It’s acceptable to have high expectations for yourself but to have pessimistic views of both technology and other people is better.
This is especially important in a startup, according to him, because you frequently push the boundaries of what you’re doing. Therefore, events don’t proceed in the orderly and predictable manner they do elsewhere. Sudden, and usually negative, changes frequently occur.
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