As a founder, you will hear a lot about the difficult choices you have to make; how each crossroad will require soul-searching for the right step forward. Most of those stories are true. But it’s not all bad – as you go about building stuff, some choices are going to be no-brainers!
These questions are different for each of us. It depends on your unique blend of talent, conviction and constitution. Some folks will find it easy to select the first channel of distribution or the first feature or the first investor or whatever else. However easy you may have found the choice, you may be surprised by the consequences.
These seemingly easy choices tend to have a high degree of cognitive biases and may leave you unprepared for the results. It may have been an easy decision to take that first cheque from an unknown investor, but you will have to deal with this person for a very long time. That feature you thought was super important may turn out to be a timesucking lemon.
Some choices you are prepared for and for some you need to do more work. Never underestimate the impact of these easy choices, the value of due diligence and the power of hard work.
When you are building for a global audience, everything seems to move at light speed. Your users are online 24/7 and so is your competition. Nobody cares about ‘business hours’ anymore. All that matters is Happiness. You can leave no stone unturned, no feature half-baked and no tweet unreplied to in the pursuit of their happiness.
To build a great experience for users who drop apps at light speed, you need to move at light speed yourself. Everything you do is crucial and everything you miss is fatal. This is a gross oversimplification of the harsh realities of a contemporary technology startup, but it doesn’t belie the truth. Once successful companies can look like also-rans in the matter of only a few quarters, lest they keep up with the always-on crowd. Apps that defined your mornings can feel sluggish and not-real-timey-enough if they don’t push out updates regularly.
Working at these speeds requires discipline and drive. Insane drive. Almost maniacal obsession to be on top of every single point of contact, every single click, every single request. Drop the ball and your users pass you by.
As you start out creating something out of nothing, it quickly becomes clear that you need to learn things you hadn’t planned on learning. The most valuable thing that you learn is the art of saying No.
If you are leading the process, you need to identify holes in the idea, process and people that might detract you from your ultimate goal. Counter to popular belief, this doesn’t always become easier with experience. With each new idea come new people, new processes and new hurdles for a new goal. What remains constant is to be able to say no to bad ideas which could quickly balloon to take up your precious time.
Each time you add a new feature, you make another promise to your customer. Before you do that, check if you have done all you can to keep the promises you have already made. Focus on your existing promises and say no to the rest.