We are happy to present this guest post by Pablo Ruiz.
I am not going to lie to you, starting a company is not easy at all. You will face difficult times which will put your endurance to test. At some moments you will wish you had kept working in that old boring job, you will spend nights without sleeping, you will fight with your partners, family and friends. But at the end of the day, you will be the most happier person in the world for starting something of your own. And if you are lucky enough and work hard, your company might become as big as Apple some day!
The following tips are not meant to discourage you, but to help you be prepared to face some problems you might encounter along the way. Most of these tips come from my experience at founding my own company some years ago, pieces of advise I wish I had been given at that time, and that I hope are useful for you whether you are just starting your first company or your tenth.
1) Be prepared for unforeseen problems
Whether you like it or not, you will face tons of problems while starting your company. You’ll have to manage employees, deal with providers and customers and more. But one of the things no one expects is to be a victim of a disaster. There was one time we got robbed, losing around 10 Macbook Pros, our entire work equipment at that moment, leaving us with nothing. We were not really prepared for something like that, we had a pretty bad insurance and our alarm system just wasn’t enough. I am not saying you should always be expecting the worst, but there are things you can do to minimize risks or for being able to recover faster if bad things happen to you.
2) Find yourself a good partner
I couldn’t be happier with the partner I have at my company. Most times, you will have an easier time if you find a person you can trust with something as important as your company. The hard thing is to find that person. Someone that shares your vision, that helps you with fresh ideas and can execute them appropriately. The ideal situation is to find someone that thinks like you, but can complement you with skills you don’t posses. If you are about to start your company alone, think again! Who is going to take care of things while you take your hard earned vacations? (I mean, when your couple demands you to take some vacations).
3) Keep track of money
Write down every penny you spend or you earn from day one. If you can afford an accountant from the start, that is much better. This is very important as you keep growing and start hiring employees, paying taxes, getting bigger clients, etc. You need to know how are you doing financially to take decisions, and if you don’t do that well, you will have problems managing your company. Much worse, if you don’t track money properly, you will end up fighting with your partner/s over a couple dollars, and that is the least you want to be doing.
4) Plan ahead
If you want to avoid headaches and working until late for the rest of your life, plan ahead, and plan often! Whether you are considering growing from 2 employees to 20 in a year, or to 100 in a year or staying the same; you have to make up a plan. Scaling your business up is one of the most difficult things and can be a painful process, especially in the software industry, where it is very difficult to find decent developers that would want to work for you (Instead of working in a big company or on their own.).
5) Don’t let it affect your personal life
This is one of the most complicated things to do when starting your own company. You will spend months, if not years, working until late, on weekends, on your vacations. As difficult as it is, try to make room for as much quality time as you can with your friends, family, significant other or children and try not to miss important events because of your job. This might sound impossible to do, but there are things you can do. For example, nowadays I am waking up at 5 am so I can start working early and go home early.
6) Meet people like you
As you start your company, your work will tend to push you away your old friends. If you are doing really well, like it or not, people around you will be jealous; even more if these friend of yours work in the same industry as you. Other people just won’t understand what you do, or won’t care.
The best thing you can do in those cases is to try to spend some time with people like you, other entrepreneurs that know what you are experiencing because they are in the same situation or because they have already gone through it. In both cases, both of them can be a great support and source of advise.
There are lots of networking events, regardless of the industry, try to assist to as many as you can and talk to everyone you can too!
Extra tip: Find a hobby or a distracting activity
Try to make room for doing something else than working, even better if it is a social activity, do something that distracts you from your responsibilities, at least for a while. If the activity has nothing to do with your line of work, much better. Right now, I could count blogging as an extra activity for me, although I makes me keep thinking about work. It is ok, but it would be better if I did something else too.
Extra points if you choose to do a physical activity, your body will thank you for that.
These things have really helped me keep my mental sanity during these years of having my own company. What things have helped you?
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