The Things We Think And Do Not Say: A Startup Manifesto

So today is day zero.

The startup I worked at for the last year failed and everyone was let go.

Having worked in startups the last five years, I’ve had plenty of ideas but none which I felt were worth going full time with – until now.

So I’ve taken the plunge. But I want to do things right.

And I mean that from a lifestyle perspective.

In Jerry Maguire, Tom Cruise’s character becomes so unsatisfied with his work and the place it had left him in the world that he wrote a mission statement, outlining what he felt was wrong with his industry and how to set it right. I mean, it got him fired but it did at least resonate with Renne Zellweger so all in all I’d consider it a success.

This post serves to be my personal mission statement.

In the movie, Jerry says:

“In the quest for the big dollar, a lot of little things were going wrong”

Similarly, a lot of us get into the startup game so we can work on interesting problems and applications, as well as hoping for a nice big cheque at the end of it. But in return we give up quite a lot: time, health, friends, family. And whilst the sacrifices are often guaranteed, the rewards are not.

I’ve always believed in 37signals’ mantra that you don’t have to give up your life to work in a startup. So with this in mind I’ve written my own mission statement.

Work sane hours

I don’t know why but we have this weird badge of honour in startups about working crazy hours (like 60-100 hours per week). I’m a firm believer that after 8 hours of work in day we’re not really any more efficient – in fact it’s probably the opposite.

I’m going to work hard and I’m going to work efficiently.

I’ve done the huge hours – it doesn’t pay off; it leads to poor work and poorer health. Which brings me onto my next point.

Stay Healthy

I’m pretty good nick at the moment. I exercise regularly and eat healthily.

For me, exercise the best way to generate momentum – in everything. If I’m ever feeling a bit beaten down or demotivated I find a good trip to gym fixes all that. Now that I can work my own hours I can take midday trips to the gym when it’s quiet, which means I should be able to do whatever workout I want.

I’m lucky in that I have some money saved up so I can continue to eat good food. Tech entrepreneurs often try to cut expenditure by buying cheap food but if it makes you feel like crap then how do they think they’ll perform at work?.

If working in a startup makes me unhealthy then I don’t want to do it. End of.

Make money

Generally speaking I don’t believe in taking investment upfront for tech startups. In my opinion, a company should build a simple but useful product, target a niche and charge for it. I predict it will take about three months to build Hipster CEO and it will be a paid app from the off.

This means no huge valuations or acquisition. No million dollar contract. Just steady income from a happy user base.

Enjoy it

This links into the points about working hours and health. If you’re run down from working on your startup then you’re not going to enjoy it – no matter how interesting the domain. I know I’m going to love working on Hipster CEO because I’m passionate about startups, making apps and creating great experiences.

If those things aren’t present in your startup then I’m not sure you should be in it.

Maintain relationships

I’ve read so many times about entrepreneurs getting disconnected from their friends and family because their job is eating up all their time. I plan to dedicate myself fully to my startup but not at the cost of my social life.

My experience with startups is that the presence of friends and family is really important when the going gets tough (and it will) so isolating myself to (try) speed up development seems counter-intuitive.

I’m sure I’ll stray from the path now and then but I believe this is the right attitude to adopt for all entrepreneurs, not just me. Needless to say I’ll find out in a few months if that’s true or not.

If you’re interested in running your own startup without the risk then you should sign up for my upcoming startup simulation app for iPhone: Hipster CEO.

Posted by getchoo in Apps, Software, Startup Philosophy, Startups, Thoughts