Creating a startup may require a lots of skills, but I’ve found a majority of them to depends on one main capacity: boldness. Of course, competency is important, but daring may be even more. It is not about doing it right. It is about doing it, period.
About our startup
One of the basic tenants of startup 101 is the capacity to listen, learn and evolve. This means that as many other entrepreneurs, Christophe and I spend some idle time discussing and reflecting on the way done and (mostly) the way to go. As a personal log, I also keep a basic journal (you know, those things from this long lost period where every little thing we wrote was not automatically published for the whole planet’s benefit?) about our story, and peeking at it yesterday, I realized what was probably the common field between all our progresses: boldness.
Here are three little snippets to illustrate this.
Boldness with prospects or customers
We are two random guys no one ever heard about, with a company still in its diapers, and our product target is (now to read with the pitching voice): mid-sized software development companies with at least 50 employees. Basically, big companies. Our competitors in this sector are named Oracle, Kronos, or SAP.
It is not even David versus Goliath: Goliath is shown as a very large man, but he’s what? Just two times bigger? We are a company of two, our typical customer is a company of several hundreds, and our competitors companies of thousands.
So, how can you approach such customers? Even if we did use our own bags of tricks, the baseline was: you call or mail them. You find the name of a contact person, and reach him with a short and clear message about your product.
Does it work every time? Heck, no. But what do you fear? Worse case is no response, we had at least two were we got a quick, polite, two sentences rebuttal that actually teach us something.
Boldness with advisors
The startup world has a formidable advantage in the number of people able to help and advise you. Now, most of those people are high-level, busy people with their own schedule and probably little time for your shiny young startup, so trying to ask them for time is probably pointless.
It certainly is if you do not try. Ask them. Worse case, they do not respond. Good case, they accept a lunch offer. Do not deprive you of the advice of people you credit because you think they will not have time for you.
Just ask them.
Boldness with potential hires
As you may know if you read us, we are actually hiring. After some procrastination, we finally decided to make a list of people we would like to work with, from our past, relations, or other. We’re going to this list, and at some point, one of us say “He’s nice and competent, but he got a good job at a nice company, he’ll never quit to work with us”.
This is the wrong way. Let everyone do their part. Ours is to select people we want to work with. Whether they want to work with us or not is not ours to decide. Let them. You’ll be surprised. Even in the situations that we were right (people with good careers plans), the answers were thankful and positive (“I appreciate the fact that you reached to me for this position”).
Again: how do you get great people to work for your company ? You ask them.
The summary of this fit in one stupid shoe trademark, but I got something a little better to quote as an advice :
- You could say this advice is priceless,” she said, “Are you listening?”
- Yes, said Tiffany.
- Good. Now...if you trust in yourself...
-...and believe in your dreams...
- ...and follow your star...
- ...you’ll still be beaten by people who spent their time working hard and learning things and weren’t so lazy. Goodbye.