As a first-time entrepreneur, expect an immense learning curve. The initial year especially is filled with an incredible amount of ups, downs, twists, and turns. Nothing can truly prepare you for what you are about to embark upon, but there are definitely a few things you can expect to learn. I spoke with friend and fellow entrepreneur Eyal Bino about the biggest entrepreneurship lessons he learned during the first year.
Bino is a Tel-Aviv born, New York educated businessman who always had the dream of bridging the gap between the two powerhouse tech landscapes. He is the founder of Accelerant Labs, a New York-based accelerator and fund providing Israeli start-ups with capital and support to flourish in the U.S. market. He also previously launched Worldwide Investor Network (WIN), a NY-based platform for accelerating the growth of promising Israeli and global tech start-ups looking to expand their business to New York. I actually wrote about “Start-Up Nation” in one of my recent articles, and he is definitely one of the major players in the booming Israeli start-up scene in New York. Here are a few things he thinks you should know before you take the plunge.
The More Mistakes You Make, the Faster You Will Learn
The best advice you can receive when you are starting out is to not be afraid to make mistakes. Your business will look very different after the first year, and much of this evolution will be attributed to learning from your missteps. Bino advises to continuously adjust and just “keep running.” You should simply think of mistakes as experiments. If you are nimble and adaptable enough, you can turn the results (bad or good) into new opportunities. Even if you think that ample planning and research will help you to avoid failing, this is not the case. You can read all about the mistakes of other entrepreneurs who have gone before you, but most of the time you need to make those mistakes yourself to truly learn the lesson.
Do Not Wait Until You Have Created the Best Product or Service
The worst piece of advice you could receive as a new entrepreneur in today’s constantly evolving ecosystem is to take your time. Although it is a best practice to ensure that you have a solid business plan and sustainable business model, you should not delay your process by waiting for the perfect time. The best way to grow is to start with a minimum viable product (MVP), rather than creating a product that might be better but will take much longer to create. Bino recalls ignoring the advice to be a “tortoise” rather than a “hare,” and believes it is one of the best decisions he made early on. He knew what he wanted to do and dove in headfirst. He does reiterate that the ability to be flexible comes into play if you take the “hare” route, and to just be ready for a wild ride.
Find a Mentor (or Mentors)
One of the best things you can do to set yourself up for success during your first year is to find others who have been in your shoes before. Says Bino, “I was fortunate to work with some of the best mentors in the New York tech scene, who really showed me the way and helped me think through the most difficult parts of growing the business.” As entrepreneurs, we are often overly confident and optimistic by nature (and we have to be), but you cannot be reluctant to ask for help. Allow yourself to be a bit vulnerable and share your concerns and challenges with others who can lend insight.
That being said, remember not to take all advice too seriously. Everyone is learning as they go. No one has all the answers and not every piece of advice is good. You have to trust your gut as an entrepreneur. You also shouldn’t take someone else’s prescription for success. The only way to build something truly unique in the market is to pave your own path.
Hire as Soon as You Can
Not having a sufficient team is often a problem start-ups face in the first year. To accomplish your big goals, you need a large enough team. It needs to be built with employees who each have distinctive skills and strengths. Not everyone has what it takes to work in the start-up environment. The ideal employee should be a motivated self-starter who can produce work without being micromanaged, and is passionate about working for a company without too much structure yet. People who want to be in on the ground floor! This is necessary since you cannot wear every hat at the company. Hire others so they can tackle the tasks that you do not have time for so you can maintain your focus on what matters the most; building the business, not doing the busy work.
Becoming an “Overnight Success” Takes Years of Hard Work
This is one of the biggest things that Bino wishes he had known before he started. There are so many points during the growth of a business when things won’t go well. They may even go disastrously. It is very easy to want to give up. This sounds obvious, but until you actually go through these periods, you just can’t understand how difficult it is to become a successful entrepreneur. Nonetheless, it could be worth all of the pain when you make it through to the other side.
According to Bino, it was all completely worth it: “It’s the best thing in the world, and I couldn’t be happier. There is no better time to be an entrepreneur.” I couldn’t agree more.
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