Just do it. Start. Launch. Stop thinking about it and planning, just do it.
Don’t get bogged down in advice (including mine) and be weary of “if I had my time back” advice from other founders. Everyone’s path is different and their experience, while interesting, should not be used as a pathway for your own.
You’re going to fuck up. You’re probably going to fail. And that’s ok.
Don’t be sensible, it will hold you back and make you focus on irrelevant problems. If you’re trying to define perfect processes and workflows you’re doing it wrong. You’re solving problems that, at least right now, are completely imaginary. Onboarding plans for new hires are pointless when you’re not hiring a ton of people. Policies and procedures are for companies that get to a stage where they are having challenges because they don’t have policies and procedures.
Painting a perfect picture for investors is a waste of time. Just fucking build it and when you’re in a place where you’re investable, that part will be 100x easier. You’ll suffer less dilution and end up with better investors.
Do things you’re good at. Don’t hire until you hit a wall you can’t jump over and you can hire someone who can. Don’t hire from big companies. Hire hungry, smart people who don’t need you to hold their hands or make decisions for them. Hire people that will piss you off because they’ve coloured outside the lines and will take action rather than seek permission.
In SaaS, all you need in the founding team is someone who can build and someone who can sell. That probably shouldn’t be the same person.
One of your first hires should be creative. Someone who has the chops to build a brand but an unbelievable work ethic. They’ll be designing your logo, your brand, your website, your social graphics, your decks - and later things like videos, corporate stuff, swag, office spaces and more. Hiring an unbelievably talented creative director early is one of the best decisions we ever made. It raises the bar for everything about your company.
Be transparent. Tell your team everything. Have a weekly all hands and don’t stop doing it regardless how big you grow.
Give people autonomy. Give direction; don’t manage. If someone can’t work without being managed they’re not cut out for working in a startup.
Don’t be an asshole. Be kind. Be supportive. Be flexible. Give if you want to take. Don’t ask anyone to do anything you wouldn’t be prepared to do yourself. And do everything yourself when it needs to be done.
If you can’t afford a salesperson, just fucking do it yourself, don’t look for investment because you don’t want to do the job yourself. Need a coder but can’t convince someone technical to join? Learn to code. It’s not easy but most people can do enough to get themselves off the ground. Everything you need is available for free online.
Ask for help. People are generous with their time. But know what you want when you do - don’t piss people off by asking for their help and then spending the time asking stupid generic things like “how can I raise money” or “where do I find a technical cofounder”. Figure out what someone’s expertise is in and focus your questions.
Investment is a tool not a goal. Raising money feels good but it’s a means to an end, not an end in itself. Celebrate the real wins. Paying customers. Revenue in the bank. Growth. Profit.
Enjoy yourself. Don’t take yourself too seriously. Obsess about building a great culture. Write everything down. Don’t drown people in meetings, optimise for async.
Don’t get too big for your boots. Don’t spend before you need to. Don’t get carried away when you hit momentum. Stay lean. Stay hungry. Stay healthy. Survive.