Entrepreneurship is the best business course sweat can buy.
The last year has been fantastic, miserable, full of wins, and full of losses.
These are the top three lessons I’ve learned this year from my own portfolio, as well as from the hundreds of startups I’ve connected with throughout the year.
1. Great business is more about building trust than about collecting money.
Startups conduct more transactions with trust than with money.
That’s especially true if you’re bootstrapping your venture. You have to barter, you have to convince people to take a chance, and you have to follow through. Free work can play a huge role in developing trust in your startup.
Money follows trust in new ventures.
2. In a startup, discipline is far more important than motivation.
Motivation is very easy to sell, super easy to consume, and succulent to suck on.
Unfortunately at the end of the day, motivation is just a feeling. Feelings come and go. The feeling is there one minute, then gone the next.
If you’re relying on a feeling to get you through the late nights, early mornings, and work weekends that true startups demand of you, then you will not make it. You won’t always be able to feel the way you want.
Self-discipline is a choice, and you can always make the choice.
3. 98% of entrepreneurship feels like hell.
There are a ton of people drinking the entrepreneur kool-aid.
It tastes good and feels good to say you’re a founder. When people say, “Wow,” the validation gives us pride. And I think it should feel that way. We’re building something out of nothing, and that’s a risk that we should feel proud of taking.
However, I haven’t met many people who absolutely love how it feels to put in the hard work. I don’t always love it.
The truest entrepreneurs in my circles go through so much pain that it’d make you spit out the entrepreneur kool-aid. Most of building something out of nothing doesn’t feel good.
This isn’t a sad thing. Actually, it’s liberating to fully embrace that 98% of entrepreneurship hurts.
The 2% is incredibly sweet.
What are your top lessons from 2016?
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