Anyone who has ever started a business, or endeavored to do something new and innovative knows that there are many roadbumps on the path to success. As an aspiring entrepreneur, I heard often enough that it will take atlease twice as long as you expect and cost twice what you budget. But being young and dumb and filled with hopes and passion, you don’t believe them. As my British friends would say, “I couldn’t be arsed to listen”
Well, it turns out building a business really is hard shit. I would like to recap some of the struggles we have had, and the lessons you can take away from each.
1) Never hire a friend
Never hire a friend. Period. I hired my friend, and a friend of his to assist with backend web development. We negotiated low equity deals with each to help bootstrap our business. But neither one of these individuals has been able to help coding after several months. By pushing a friend too hard on a contract or business, the friendship could be irreparably ruined. Also, neither were truly committed to the cause and both had full time jobs and lives to deal with. Which leads to lesson two.
2) Make sure team members are committed.
I read somewhere about a successful entrepreneur whose name escapes me. His philosophy with employees was to pitch them on the benefits of the company, the values, goals and so on and so forth. Once the candidate had heard the spiel, its time to ground their expectations in reality. To do this, the boss would describe the challenges ahead, the high odds of failure, the competition in the field etc… If they were still interested after hearing the negatives, they were hired.
3) Always trust your gut
The final lesson involves another developer we added to the Vespyr team to help with iOS implementation. This individual was a highly skilled programmer with plenty of experience, but something just rubbed us the wrong way. A small comment about work conduct with his current employer spooked us, but not enough to look elsewhere for talent. Fast forward several months and this person has been quite difficult to deal with. Well behind on projected schedules, nearly impossible to contact for long stretches and just unreliable. I have certainly learned my lesson, only add team members you feel you can trust.
We have made promises, pushed back deadlines, failed to deliver, and had unsuccessful stretches and yet we still will succeed. 8Blocks is roaring along and plans to devour Georgia Tech in beta test mode as soon as humanly possible so get ready for a wild ride.