I was fortunate enough to personally meet Guy Kawasaki, best-selling author, empowering speaker, and all-around entrepreneurship evangelist, at SXSW 2017. If anybody has the inside scoop on how to get a startup off the ground, it’s him.
Here are three important things I learned from speaking with Guy, which I bet can help you on your startup journey:
#1 Focus on your prototype, not your pitch
You’ve met them at startup cons and bootcamps. Maybe you are one yourself. You know who I’m talking about — those guys who obsess over their pitch, who are so concerned with getting it pitch perfect (pardon the pun) that they lose sight of what’s really important.
Unless you’re in the business of creating pitches, a PowerPoint show or an Excel sheet won’t help you as an entrepreneur. The only thing that needs your full attention — that should be perfect — is your prototype. Get your product right, get it out there, and make sure people are using it.
#2 Forget about your business plan, just create a product you’d want to use
Some of the biggest companies out there, like Facebook or Airbnb, didn’t feel the need to spend countless hours (not to mention dollars) doing market research or business plans before they started. And you shouldn’t need to either. Chances are it will be outdated before you finish it, anyway.
Your guiding principle should be to build a product that you would want to use. It’s as simple as that. That’s not a guarantee of success, but neither is a ton of market research. Just get out there and do it. If it succeeds, great! If not, take your real-world experience and try again.
#3 Don’t make your startup all about fundraising and befriending VCs
It’s so easy to get stuck on the fundraising treadmill and wear yourself out trying to woo reluctant investors, or meeting with VCs who don’t get excited about your product. What they care about is making money, and so should you. Make sure you’re working on sales, because even if you’ve got a great product, if you haven’t figured out how you’re going to sell it, you’re not going to get very far.
And last but not least, according to Kawasaki, timing is everything. And part of that is just luck. But remember: preparation + opportunity = luck. In other words, we make our own luck!