March 17, 2013 - No Comments!

Mistakes of a Native

No matter what you read in books or others tell you, you will make mistakes in your startup, so accept it, learn from it and move on.

1. A Team of Founders

Never hire when you start. It should be always team of founders, 2-5 having 3 the perfect number for Design, Development, and Business. Hiring people to do your job is not the solution, because no matter what you do, they will still be employees, in their thinking and in their way of working. Going for a one man show is possible but don’t expect to release anytime soon.

2. Hire the Heart not the Brain

When hiring don’t choose the best developer for a group of interviewee’s hire the one who got the heart and passion for what they do, hire people who follow their heart, hire people who match your Startup culture and mindset. They are the people who will stay up all night for the release day, they are the people who are willing to give what it takes, they are the people who will not ask for tasks if they are free because they know what needs to be done.

3. Defined Hierarchy

Startups tend to be loose and friendly —which is cool. But without defining responsibilities and decision makers discussions will have no end. So be sure that you listen to others, explain your point, then take the decision or let the responsible one do it.

4. A Moving Platform

This one is critical, for a social network, never start with closed platform. I can’t stress this hard enough. When you target wide and broad set of people a closed platform will always require a set of other platforms. Here is a scenario “We are on iPhone”, “Do you have Android?”, “No”, “Windows”, “No”, “BB”, “No”, “Can you make one?”.

That is really annoying but its the truth, everyone will always want his platform, and hiring teams or freelancing to develop on all these platform and maintaining them requires a hell of a budget. So IMHO go for a JS web application with local storage from the start, unless you are relying on Apple or Google mobile API to do something cool or replying on the AppStore to advertise your application. You can always target specific mobile platform later.

5. Find your customer

Don’t look for the customer after you release or while testing, go look for the customer before you even start. He is the one who is going to pay, do don’t imagine the situation for him, go in forms, twitter, facebook and find out what annoys the user and what other competitors are doing wrong, then go do it better.

You can tailor a software for yourself, but you still need to find other customers like you with the same problems.

6. Never code without testing

Coding without testing is like climbing without a safe rope. Don’t expect your code to be working the same way after refactoring or adding a new feature. And relying on the tester to test all the cases he tested before is just bullshit. I’m not saying there should be no testers, but when discovering a flaw, it should not be able to make its way back to the application, and saying that its a waste of time or it will take more time, is more bullshit, because fixing bugs and re-fixing them will take more time from what you are trying to save.

7. Don’t sprint in an endurance race

The no sleep, no life, motivation speeches thing doesn’t work. In order to have a clear mind that is ready for work you need to stop the sprinting mentality with an endurance one. Go workout, have a good sleep, eat healthy, play from time to time, go watch a movie or a show, it’s not a wasted time, it’s what your mind needs in order to keep moving, and it will keep you from getting depressed. So keep your “all out” energy for times that you really need it.

8. Quality, Time, and Features

There is always sacrifice, and the best way to do it is to choose what are you willing to sacrifice. You can choose product quality with known cycles, but rolling features will be slow. You can choose definitive cycles and with lots of features, but quality will suffer. And finally you can choose quality and features, but take as long as you need or set a 3 months to 1 year period to make something perfect and polished.

It doesn’t matter what you choose as long as you know what you will sacrifice, and make peace with it.

9. Make some $$$

Don’t wait for enforcements to come, your alone in this shit hole, no one cares about your nor your startup, even if everyone likes the idea, doesn’t mean they are willing to share the risk with you. So the only way to deal with this is acting like there is no fund is coming, and find a way to make money before making your application. Show your worth before asking for money.

10. Launch

Launching is one of the hardes moments in your startup. It’s just a mixed feelings between fear and joy. You want to launch but scared that something will go wrong. So no matter what, launch first with little features, and no bugs, then add up as you go. By starting with less you will get feedback, be able to fix things fast, and know what features to add first.

Last words

When it comes to startups there is no definitive way of doing it, there is no recipe for success, so don’t regret any decisions you’ve done in the past. Past is only there to learn from, you can only become better when you learn from it.

Also published on Medium.

Published by: Seif in Uncategorized

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