New year’s resolutions for aspiring entrepreneurs
Welcome to 2013. Did you accomplish everything you wanted to last year? If you did, congratulations. For those of you who are looking back on the past year and thinking, “Well, that didn’t turn out the way I planned,” the bright side is you get to start over. Today is day one of 365 and to make sure you don’t waste another 12 months, I’d like to offer a few thoughts on how to make 2013 more productive than 2012.
Regular (read non-tech) people are probably resolving to lose weight or start going to the gym. But since people in tech tend to care a lot more about starting a company than being in shape, here are some resolutions to help you get off your excuse filled behind and start something.1) I will stop buying stuff I don’t need. Starting a company costs money, and every dollar you spend buying the latest gadget is a dollar less you have to spend on your business. Here’s a little secret. A new iPad is not the key to entrepreneurial success.
2) I will stop pretending that meeting for coffee is being productive. Everyone knows that coffee is for closers so you shouldn’t even be allowed to drink coffee until you start closing some business.
3) I will stop calling my landing page a startup. I’ve seen “startups” that were landing pages last January that are still landing pages today. If the only thing you’ve managed to do in 12 months is update your landing page, that really doesn’t make you a startup CEO. Build something or give it up.
4) I will not add random buzzwords like "hustling" and “growth hacking” as skills on my LinkedIn profile. It makes you look like an idiot, and making ridiculous claims like that on your LinkedIn page doesn't do anything to make you a better entrepreneur.
5) I will stop making the excuse that the only thing stopping me from being the next great entrepreneur is finding a technical cofounder. Everyone looking for a technical cofounder should either learn to code, pay a developer, or just get a job in social media somewhere.
6) I will stop pretending that I go to conferences for the knowledge. Everything you could ever learn at a conference and so much more can be found online or in books. Sophia Amoruso learned everything she needed to build Nasty Gal into a multimillion dollar business by watching YouTube videos, not live-Tweeting conferences.
On a related note...
7) I will stop going to conferences as a substitute for a social life. As you read this many people you know, perhaps even you, are preparing to go to CES. Do you really need to see the latest 200 inch TVs to make your entrepreneurial ambitions a reality? Let’s be honest, you just want to go for the vendor sponsored parties in Vegas.
8) I will not confuse social media popularity with success. This should be blatantly obvious and reeks of smankerism, but I still see so many would be entrepreneurs spending as much time and effort trying to be popular as they do trying to build a business. Popularity is in no way an indicator of success.
9) I will focus on just one thing. With very rare exceptions, most entrepreneurs can only build one company at a time. So unless you’re Elon Musk, cut out all the BS side projects. Being an entrepreneur is not like playing the lottery. You don’t increase your odds of success by buying more tickets.
Many years ago a friend of mine asked me how I found the ambition to try my hand at entrepreneurship. I looked at him a bit puzzled and replied, “Ambition? I do this because I'm lazy and can't bear the thought of grinding away at a job for the rest of my life." I’ve always felt this was the best motivator. Whatever fears or reservations or concerns you have about going for your goals, ask yourself what the alternatives are. Maybe that’s the only New Year’s resolution anyone needs. I will not spend the rest of my life grinding away for the man.
Happy New Year, you have 364 days left to either make excuses or make it happen.
[Illustration by Hallie Bateman]