“Am I cut out to be an entrepreneur?” is a question many of us ask ourselves. It’s a good question. And one way of looking for the answer is to ask yourself another question – “Am I comfortable taking decisions? Lots of them?”
Yes, there’s decision making in every job, in everything you do in life. But starting up on your own takes it to a new level altogether.
Let’s start with some basics.
What need should you solve? What segment of the market should you target? To start with, or forever? Do you focus on users and traction in terms of numbers, or make them pay? What features will do that? What comprises “MVP”? How much time should you plan for building that? Should you outsource it, hire freshers, or get co-founders on board with equity? What should the pitch to them be?
What’s your plan B? What are the untested hypotheses? What if they don’t work? How long is “persevering”? How quickly should you “fail fast”?
What metrics should you track? Should you be purely data driven, or experiment a bit more? When is not worth backing your intuition any longer and be guided by business numbers?
Or, if it starts working….
Should you first scale the little success you have seen, and build a sales team? Or build a more mature product given the first MVP was – well – minimal? Which of the customer requests and feedback should you pay heed to and act upon? What functions should you hire for, or outsource, as you scale? When is a technology investment needed, and how much is it ok to spend on it?
What scale opportunity do you have? What do you want to shoot for? What is the downside and your risk appetite for the same?
People issues are a permanent one.
Should you hire only the best, all the time? What skills do you really need at a given stage of the business? Can the business support it? If not, is it a suitable investment towards growth?
And there’s finance, legal, regulations, paperwork .
When do you move to formal book-keeping? What costs are ok as overheads for suchlike? What bills go under what heads? What regulations do you follow up on diligently, and what can you afford to “ignore for now”? What should take up your immediate attention, and how much time should you set aside for these non-core tasks?
How do you track payments? When does a spreadsheet stop being enough? What tools do you use for task management? How many meetings is too many? Too few? How do you keep folks in the team motivated, and productive? What should the compensation structure, and equity sharing be?
At what point are you spending too much? When are you being too stingy?
How many events should you attend? What percentage of your time should be on sales, and for strategic thinking, versus spending time on building the product?
What growth should you shoot for? When? How much money will that need? As debt? Or do you want investors? What equity and control should you share for that? What risks are ok with you and the team?
How many hours should you sleep? What is the opportunity cost of a vacation?
Every waking hour is a choice between a dozen things you could do right then. And you’ll never have enough data points, or clarity, that helps you decide which to pick. There certainly is no structure or framework inside which to chase goals and accomplish tasks, unlike in a formal “job”. You will, over time, do it by instinct. Because that’s what you’ll develop as you do this more, make mistakes, and learn.