18 things I wish I’d known 7 years ago

16th October, 2012Insights

This is a response to Rand Fishkin’s blog post “24 things I know now that I wish I knew then” which is itself a response to Rae Hoffman’s “Entrepreneurial Lessons: 48 Things I Know Now That I Wish I Knew Then”

  1. “Premature optimisation” applies to nearly everything (automation, scale, others?). The famous Paul Graham adage “Do things that don’t cale” is the same advice as “premature optimisation is the root of all evil”. Think about it.
  2. No one cares what you do – they will all forget your embarrassing marketing gaffs or shitty 1st version of your software. Ship and self-promote fearlessly. You’ll learn along the way how you should actually do it.
  3. Your business will take at least 5 years to do anything interesting.
  4. Don’t pay attention to the tech press (and MOST OF ALL the “valuations and funding” press)
  5. You don’t have to move as fast as you think you do (this is a lift from Mike McDermot, CEO Freshbooks from this post)
  6. Play life like a game of chess: look at the situation as it is now and ignore what you had planned up until this point (I learned this one by playing lots of games of chess simultaneously to the point that I was unable to remember individual game plans so I had to assess each board as it lay – very powerful stuff)
  7. Value your family and your friendships – celebrate what’s amazing every day in your life and use it to give you perspective (and help keep you from the “deferred living” trap)
  8. Not everyone gets rich in their early 20s and you won’t feel any less fantastic if you manage to “succeed” at any time in your life.
  9. VC funding works in a really specific set of circumstances and results in acqui-hires most of the time: it’s NOT like being given money.
  10. You don’t need funding yet.
  11. Your first business should not be a heavy technical investment even if you are a coder.
  12. Become profitable at anything that doesn’t take up all your time, rinse, repeat.
  13. Don’t invest in product, invest in outcomes.
  14. Don’t write your own software, even if you’re a coder, unless you want to go down the VC/YC acqui-hire route.
  15. The only thing that matters in a new business is sales. All activity should stem from that: marketing, customer service, development.
  16. The market is huge, and you can compete. There isn’t only one dry cleaner in New York.
  17. First mover advantage is almost always bullshit.
  18. Frugality creates opportunity. Just because you’re planning on being rich, doesn’t mean you can spend like you already are.

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