Startups Are Easy

Don’t believe what they tell you.  Startups are really easy and lots of fun.  They are so easy, this is my second startup.  A few years ago I quit my job to try my luck with entrepreneurship   I created a “create your social network” product called Yonkly.  It made me some money but it wasn’t the huge success that I had hoped.  I shut it down a couple of years later.  On a side note, my biggest competitor was acquired by Microsoft for 1.2 billion dollars.

I am back at it again, but this time armed with wisdom, scars, experience and an amazing cofounder (Maged).  We started a few months ago with the goal of building a software company focused on productivity tools/apps/solutions – Divine Bytes.  We are not really sure where exactly we are heading.  We have an idea but we are not certain.  Oh, nothing is ever certain in startup-world.  Let me say that again – NOTHING IS CERTAIN.

Maged is a very productive person and is always on top of his stuff.  I am also a productivity nut and always trying to squeeze every second out of the day and optimize everything.  I also happen to be a huge fan of Getting Things Done (GTD).  We decided to create a Windows 8 GTD app because windows 8 was coming out in a few months and we figured why not get in early and ride that wave.  Taskorami was born.  Our goal is to build the BEST GTD application on Windows.  We are very happy with where we are now and are very passionate about Taskorami and want to see to it that it is the best GTD app on Windows.

Maged has never started a company before and although this is my second one, I am far (very very very far) from knowing what the hell I am doing.  But, hey, how hard can it be!!!  We decided to read startup books, lots of them.  We got an audible subscription and listened to books during our daily commute at 1.5x the speed.  Plus we read tons of blogs and get a ton articles from Hacker News.

This is not a comprehensive list of startup or business books but here is a list of the books we have read/heard so far:

This is the list of books on our “To Read” list:

We have also decide that in order to stay sane and healthy, we will alternate between “business” books and “non-business” books.  I already read Bossy Pants and planning to read America Again (Steven Colbert).

As you can imagine the amount of information in these books is staggering, but a lot of it is also common sense – or at least it seems so after you are done reading them.  You also start to see common themes between these books…  If you started a startup, starting a startup or planning to start a startup, you should definitely read these books (and many others)…

But if you are lazy and don’t feel like reading tens of books, here are some things to ask yourself before starting a startup:

  1. Are you lazy?  If you are lazy do NOT start a startup.
  2. Why are you building a startup?  Define why you want to do it.
  3. Can you handle uncertainty?
  4. Are you comfortable with failure?  Because you will fail.
  5. Are you comfortable with more failure?  Because you will probably fail again.
  6. Can you take criticism?  Because your product sucks
  7. Is your wife/husband on-board?  You are going to need their support and understanding.  This one is CRUCIAL otherwise you are doomed.
  8. Ask yourself “what is the worst that could happen?”.  Can you live with the answer?
  9. How will you finance your startup?  Stock up on Ramen Noodles
  10. Are you passionate about whatever it is you are building?  If you are not, it will show. Your customers will know it.  You will know it and you will not be happy.
  11. How do you plan to make money?
  12. Is anyone going to buy whatever it is you are selling?  Other than your mom and maybe a few of your friends.
  13. Are you willing for your startup to consume every minute of your day -?  This is a tough one for me and I try to “turn off” specially when spending time with my wife – it’s not easy.

I hope these questions will help you decide whether to proceed or not and remember startups are not for everyone and there is no shame in admitting that.  The most important things to remember are:

  • Family & friends come first otherwise it is all for nothing.  If your wife/husband wants to hang out the night before a big release.  You should hang out with her/him.  The release can wait.
  • Aim for happiness because again if you are happy doing whatever it is you are doing then you are already successful and nothing else matters.

I find startups to be a lot of work but also very easy.  I find it easy because I love what I am doing and I am happy doing it.  I am happy working on it for 2 hours after an exhausting 10-hour work week.  I am happy working on it at 6 am on Saturday morning while my wife is sleeping.  I am happy working on it for 30 minutes while my wife takes a nap, showers or even walk the dog.