Is Starting-up Right for Me?

Is a startup for everyone?

Today with the hype, glamour, and sex-appeal surrounding startups there is a real danger that all and sundry would take the plunge without being fully aware of the rigours and tensions of startup life. Here are some pointers to help you decide if a startup is for you. Or if you are better off wherever you currently are.

Passion: This is the key requirement. You must feel the burning need to be a successful entrepreneur deep in your bones and believe in yourself, the team and the opportunity. You must be willing to be consumed by the business especially in the formative years. Passion will help cope with the excitement and glamour of a startup as distinct from the reality. Don’t do a startup for the glamour or sex-appeal. Remember over 60% of VC backed startups go bankrupt!

Resource constraints: Are you willing to give up a cushy corporate lifestyle and the accompanying trappings and luxuries? Are you willing to manage with few resources, handle the immense pressures on your time (especially when it affects time with family and when you have to work well beyond the 9 to 5 routine!) and yet “give it all you have” performances? Are you willing to have your quality of life negatively affected? Are you physically and mentally healthy? Can you handle 12 to 14 hour days, 6 to 7 days a week for about the first year?

Self-confidence: Do you have the self-confidence to realistically believe in your capabilities and harness the opportunity in the market? Can you communicate this self-confidence to your team mates? Do you have the self-confidence to convince hard-nosed investors that they’re looking at the opportunity of a life time? Self-confidence will help you cope with rejection. The founders at Apple Computer set out to create an insanely great product; All the founders believed that they could do it.

Humility: Are you humble enough to learn from others? Even if they are much younger? Are you willing to listen to others? Are you humble enough to go knocking on doors asking for help and advice? Are you willing to suspend your ego and contribute to the building of the company? Or do you think, “Taking out the garbage is not my job; I’m the CEO?”

Team Player: Are you individualistic or are you a team player? Do you share or hoard information? Do you help others on your team with their jobs? Is there trust between team members? Is there a single minded focus and belief on the objectives and goals in the team or are you there for your personal agenda? Can you delegate with confidence?

Knowledge: Do you have the required functional and business knowledge and expertise? Are you capable of continuous learning? Are you aware of the market, business and technology dynamics and trends? Can you command the respect of the board, investors, and others with your knowledge and awareness?

Time Sensitivity: Are you sensitive to the most valuable resource, namely time? Can you make quick decisions with less than perfect and inadequate information? Are you willing to change all 4 wheels of a moving car? Netscape released 7 versions of their product in the first 7 months while growing from zero employees to close to a 1000!

Communication: Are you an effective verbal and oral communicator? Can you communicate with your : Are you an effective verbal and oral communicator? Can you communicate with your team, motivate and charge them? Can you communicate with the board and investors effectively?

Remember there are many ways to reach financial independence. However, only the last one is truly satisfying and in your control:

You can marry it

You can inherit it

You can steal it

You can be one of the lucky few and earn it in your corporate life

You can earn it in your startup

This article was originally published in VentureKatalyst, India’s first e-zine aimed at entrepreneurs, started by Sanjay Anandaram.