When you start a company, you usually have a grand vision for how things are going to work. You will provide X service, Y number of people will sign up, you will make Z million dollars and retire to the Bahamas, right?
Ha! If only!
Starting a business is actually the very humbling experience of having everything you thought you knew dismantled one thing at a time, until your whole world is turned upside down and you are running a totally different company than you ever thought you would.
And that’s if you surrender to the process. Fight it and you will most likely end up with no company at all. (Unless you are one of those infuriating people who happens upon a runaway success. But we won’t talk about those people.)
Your goal when you start your business is to learn as much as possible as quickly as possible, and to lose as little money in the process as possible.
But you will lose money.
That is simply inevitable and you have to accept that when you enter into this entrepreneurship game. Your goal is to risk as little money as you can (or is reasonable) at any given point in time and to methodically lower the risk inherent in every aspect of your business, one piece at a time.
Steve Blank, the Silicon Valley super-entrepreneur (he’s taken not one, not two, but FOUR companies public), professor of entrepreneurship at Stanford and grandfather of the Lean Startup movement explains that most people make one fatal mistake when they start a business: they run startups like they are established companies.
So what is the difference between a startup and an established company (other than you know, size, revenue, staff, etc)?