For Episode #2 of the For Starters podcast, we talk about the essential elements of starting a business. What is important and what should you ignore, at least initially? There is a lot of conventional wisdom and misconceptions about what's involved with starting a company so we get into that too.
My first guest is Startomatic's very own Andrew Fisher. As an accomplished startup attorney, Andrew has seen it all when it comes to launching new ventures. With Andrew, I get into what it even means to have started a company.
Next, I talk to Venus Liles of Liles Law. Venus is a startup attorney, works at SAS, and even wrote a children's book last year, so she has lots of practical advice.
Lastly, I talk to the Obi-Wan Kenobi of the Triangle, Scot Wingo. Scot is a serial entrepreneur and is currently running Spiffy. Scot has been a mentor of mine for many years and always provides useful insights.
Andrew shared a story about how he and his cofounders at Smallcakes spent a lot of time, probably too much, coming up with a company name. Spending that much time to get the perfect name wasn't necessarily worth it, but the process of debating ideas with his cofounders was a good exercise. That's how I feel about writing a business plan. The output of creating a business plan isn't all that useful but the process of writing a business plan is because it forces you to think about all aspects of your business.
While Andrew has a knack for learning new things, I don't think his advice that every entrepreneur should learn all the various parts of running a business is misplaced. It is very reasonable to expect that you can learn as you go; no fancy college degrees are required.
Venus echoed the sentiment with her mantra of "not letting perfect be the enemy of good". You don't have to know everything or get everything just right when running a company. Often times that can result in over-optimizing things like your company name or logo when those things can be updated once you have a better idea of what your business is going to be.
We heard from all three guests that focusing on the customer and customer discovery is more important than just about anything else in the very early stages. Scot Wingo even uses customers as a great source for new ideas too.
The key takeaway:
Most aspects of starting a company really don't matter in the early days EXCEPT focusing on selling a product or service that customers want. Ultimately, you can fix anything you don't get right early on but one thing you can't fix so easily is a bad product that no one wants.
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