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3 Things First-Time Founders Need to Know

Whether you’re fresh out of college and want to build the next big thing or want to switch careers and start your own freelance copywriting business there are foundation things you can do to give yourself a head start in your entrepreneurial journey. As a Startups Manager at Future Founders, I have the privilege of working with ambitious, young founders and I see many of them deal with the same struggles that can be avoided. Here are three things first-time founders to need to know based on my experience.

You’re going to have to unlearn things

A lot more goes into building a company than what you see in The Social Network and on Shark Tank. Your entrepreneurial strategy and knowledge should not be coming from what you see on-screen. You’re going to have to unlearn a lot of things and uncover what are the substantive things to work on.

For example, launching is typically seen as this one-and-done, overnight success story. In reality, successful companies like Airbnb see a slow build with moments of virality that are built upon a core foundation.

I also see many first-time entrepreneurs deal with “shiny object syndrome.” Shiny object syndrome is where you become obsessed chasing vanity success like raising capital from a VC or obsessing over packaging design.

It’s not your fault that you think this way. The media often conditions us to focus our efforts on the wrong things. Watch out for “shiny object syndrome.” Veteran founders know what they need to work on and end up turning down that coveted VC meeting because they know they aren’t ready yet.

Understand entrepreneurial privilege

When each of us starts our entrepreneurial journey, we are all starting with some degree of entrepreneurial privilege. Do you have a second bedroom in your parents childhood home you can move into to save money on rent? Did you have an entrepreneur in the family? Did your high school have business electives? Entrepreneurial privilege isn’t exclusively associated with race. In fact, Taylor Morrison of Inner Workout, a black female founder & Future Founders alum, acknowledges her own privilege when she tells her story. She had a partner that could add her to his health insurance. How many businesses weren’t started because someone didn’t want to lose their health insurance?

It’s okay to use the privilege you have to get going — entrepreneurship is hard as it is. It’s also important to understand the privilege you don’t have because being honest with yourself can better position you for navigating around it.

Be good at solving problems

This is something I’ve learned from Garry Cooper of Rheaply. Entrepreneurs are often referred to as jack-of-all-trades people because they have to handle all aspects of their company from design, legal, marketing, PR, & more. Chances are you don’t have an undergraduate degree in each of these fields so you’ll have to figure out things on the spot. This is where good problem-solving skills come in. How do you handle a low-budget design project? A no-budget marketing campaign? How do manage your first employees when you don’t have prior experience managing? This can even go goes as far as accounting for the entrepreneurial privilege you don’t have.

Entrepreneurs have to be good at solving problems -Garry Cooper

Perhaps you can account for your lack of social capital by applying to programs like the Future Founders Startup Bootcamp where community and networking is a big theme. There are problems everywhere and everyone is going to have an opinion on what’s most important. What is truly important is how you navigate all of that noise to get to the next level of your journey.

There’s so much more to learn about entrepreneurship but I find that these three points are a good foundation to start. You’re going to have to be good at learning things quickly and make decisions based on limited information and skill. Entrepreneurial privilege makes starting something easier or harder depending on what’s available to you and being good at solving problems can be that core skill that you can rely on to get you through the new and challenging parts you’ll face.

If you enjoyed this piece, I encourage you to follow me on Medium where I share more tips on the entrepreneurial journey as well as my thoughts on current trends and state of the world.



Startups @ Future Founders

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