Being an entrepreneur is hard. It's really hard. There isn't a playbook, instructional manual, video or biography that can possibly provide you with enough information to make it easy.
While the difficulty is just part of the deal, there are a number of things that founders often find themselves entangled in that, without question, make it harder. Let’s take a look at a list of the things that you, as a founder, need to stop doing -- right now.
1. Lying to yourself or others about your traction
It’s awesome if you’ve had 70,000 downloads for your new app in the first three months or that you generated over $1 million last year in revenue. It’s not awesome if you only have 2,000 monthly active users or actually lost $2 million overall. These are numbers that you are hiding behind, lying both to yourself and everyone else as you shout them from the mountaintop. At some point, you’ll begin to believe them -- then you’re in serious trouble.
2. Focusing on too many things at once
Guess what? You only have 100 percent of your time to split up between your professional activities. If you do too many different things simultaneously, you’re just splitting up your 100 percent into pieces that ultimately resemble slivers of poor performance. Instead, spend 100 percent of your time and focus on becoming excellent at one thing.
3. Working yourself to death
The concept that you need to work grueling hours to be an entrepreneur is not a rule, it’s a choice. Technology has advanced to the point where you can get inexpensive help with literally anything. If you’ve chosen not to learn to use the wealth of outsourcing and automation opportunities that would allow you to have a life and a normal night of sleep, that’s your fault and nobody else’s.
4. Following shiny objects
There’s no quicker way to drown your new enterprise than chasing too many opportunities. Yes, it’s in our nature as entrepreneurs to notice new opportunities and look for solutions to them, but you must remain focused on the task at hand. The best entrepreneurs in the world remain unshakably focused, and you must too.
5. Building terrible "lean" products
The "minimum viable product" (MVP) concept has a lot of value, in theory, but doesn’t always translate to production-level quality. So stop using the lean startup methodology as an excuse to put out crappy, underdeveloped products. You’re only wasting your own time.
6. Using the word "I"
Humility is important, particularly when your company begins to grow and bring on outside team members. There is no better way to disenfranchise them than to take credit for everything that comes out of the door. Stop being arrogant and replace “I” with “we.”
7. Building companies with no revenue
If I hear one more pitch where the entrepreneur says, “we’re not worrying about revenue until X happens,” I’m going to poke my eyes out. You’re starting a business, not a hobby, and the likelihood of you building the next Snapchat is fantastically low. Instead, create something that provides users with this magical thing called “value.” If you’re lucky (or smart) people will be willing to pay for it.
8. Asking investors to sign non-disclosure agreements
If you’re doing this, you’re screaming, “I have absolutely no clue what I’m doing”, which doesn’t typically bode well for potential investment. Here’s the thing, investors are investing, not stealing ideas and building companies. On top of that, it can take quite a long time to build your brand and networks as an investor and I can assure you that if they were indeed stealing ideas, it would fly through the startup community like wildfire.
If you’ve found the secret to creating nuclear fusion and are truly worried about it, be sure to work only with known and respected investors.
9. Thinking that you're the only company in your space
When you claim to not have competition, you’re either being dishonest or ignorant. Here’s the problem: competitors aren’t always direct replicas of your business -- think Walgreens and CVS -- but can be other larger companies with potential interest in your space -- Apple or Google -- that have huge amounts of cash to throw at the problem you’re trying to solve.
10. Building photo sharing and mobile dating apps
Sorry to break your heart, but those ships have sailed. You need to stop building companies that are incrementally, or 10 percent, better than what already exists. Instead, be creative and build your business around new innovations, ideas and even industries.