What I learned from my startup experiences

Photo by Clark Tibbs on Unsplash

The startup concept has become very popular thanks to Silicon Valley and a bunch of worldwide innovators.

Today everyone knows that startup means something related to a new kind of business. But I’ve noticed that very few people know what really is important in the startup world, so a misunderstanding equals to a loss of opportunities.

We live in a very dynamic and competitive global society, so new ideas are the key for standing out. That’s why in the last years a lot of (wannabe) entrepreneurs have launched themselves into startup adventures from the latest mobile app to the new fancy smart tool.

In this article I don’t want to bother you with all the buzzwords like disruptive, traction, scalable, motivation, money, amazing, etc. Instead, I’d like to give you — young or experienced entrepreneur — a list of facts that you should consider in your business life.

I’m not selling you anything, I’m just giving my suggestions

I’ve started as a freelance web developer, then I cofounded a FashionTech startup in Italy and I’m currently helping a UK-based FinTech startup to develop its products.

This is Clutch-e Bag, a smart handbag I’ve developed with my startup mates (yes, in the background you can see Florence’s Ponte Vecchio)

In my experience I’ve seen different kinds of approaches to the startup mindset. There’s no golden rule, but there are some important recurring aspects that can help you grow as entrepreneur.

Are you curious? Let’s explore them together!

Before going into detail, I ask you to reset your mind from all what you know about startups (yes, forget about money, luxury cars and garage-ideas).

Is your mind clear? Good, let’s go.

Process

Photo by Clayton Robbins on Unsplash

You have to create, test and improve your business process. If you have an idea in mind, try to understand first what are the necessary steps you need to take before getting something valuable. Then, highlight all the pros and cons of every step. You could draw a map, write down notes, talk with a friend, look at the mirror, it doesn’t matter. An idea needs execution. And execution is the outcome of a good process.

Now, repeat with me:

Fail to Prepare is Prepare to Fail

People

Photo by Pascal Swier on Unsplash

I am a computer scientist, so I thought that what empowers companies is the technology. Wrong! People are real business-enablers. You can call them friends, colleagues, cofounders, collaborators, contractors, employees, managers, martians. But they are your most valuable asset. They can give you instant feedback or they can do work that you hate, but most importantly people can share a vision (have you ever tried to convince a computer to follow your dream? Quite difficult…).

People can help you to achieve your goals

Communication

Something is inside your head. Yes, you have a clear idea of how it will work, who you need, what tools are necessary… But how do you externalise your thoughts? This is one of the most difficult aspects: communicate your idea to all involved stakeholders (cofounders, colleagues, investors, clients, etc). So, learn how to explain things in a logic and clear way. Remember, don’t be redundant and engage your audience by asking them to use their words to express what you have just said. This way, you will test if your communication is really working.

Learn how to express your thoughts

Errors

“GIFs don’t have sound”

I remember my good old school days: if I make a mistake, I’ll get a lower grade. Perfect approach for learning notions (coming from other people’s — like Pythagoras or Fibonacci — great ideas). Completely wrong approach for learning how to improve your idea. You have to love errors. Did I really write this weird assumption? Yes. Because an error is more valuable than a lot of small wins. An error is brutally clear, small wins are indicators in the short term but you can’t be 100% sure that you are doing something in the right way. Oh, and errors will remember you that you are human (I’m sorry dear Google crawler, I’m not talking to you), so don’t take them personally. Errors are like a cold shower (yes, you should try the Wim Hof method): it can be painful at the beginning, but then you will have a warm sensation of control and power. Start a good practice: document every error and all the steps you are trying/made to fix it.

A mistake is your best teacher

Passion

Oh my God, here he talks about all the bla bla things… Nope, my friend. I’m not here to motivate you, but to present you facts. And passion is a recurring winning fact. Your passions can change easily, you don’t have to stick to them for all your life. Running a business is often made by boring stuff and you have to be prepared to pass the low-excitement phases. So, try to work out what passion can give you the necessary mental boost you really need to solve a series of tasks. The quality of your thoughts determines the quality of your life, once said Marcus Aurelius. I’d like to change a bit this quote (please, don’t throw me in the Colosseum filled with lions):

The quality of your passions determines the quality of your business idea

Wait a minute, 5 mins of precious time to read just these simple facts?

Yes.

I’ve just explained to you what I really learnt from my startup experiences.

No money dreams, no secret formulas, no hacks.

If you are quite good at communicating to the right people your idea, you can set up a process that will help you to overcome errors while following your passion.

Thank you for reading! 🙏

Did you find it helpful? Please clap my article 👏 and follow me on LinkedIn and Twitter.

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Marco Rapaccini

Marco Rapaccini

Senior Software Engineer ~ Startup Technical Cofounder ~ R&D lover