For The Fearless Entrepreneurs: How To Build A Startup?

Building a startup is an exciting affair. I’ve been on this entrepreneurial journey for almost five years, and I have helped to coach some startups on how to build their businesses sustainably while running my startup at the same time. It is inspiring to see fellow entrepreneurs fearlessly trying, learning and growing. Hence, when I was offered the opportunity to speak at a kick-off session for the start-ups at the Mercedes-Benz Startup Autobahn Singapore(the first 'future of mobility' accelerator in Singapore), I jumped at it.

Instead of talking about how to build a startup, let’s look at the common mistakes first.


Mistake #1 - Building something nobody wants

Most participants in the room agreed with this, but when I said "I did not". There was an uncomfortable, almost eerie silence :)

“If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.”

— Henry Ford

“It’s not the customer’s job to know what they want”

— Steve Jobs

People don’t often know what they want! Surprise them and....

Tip #1 Build something that nobody knows that they want now.

Mistake #2 - Hiring Poorly

Hiring the right talent starts with firstly determining what your company’s values are.

Companies and Founders struggle to articulate what their values are because they don’t think about it often. Your values are your organisations’s desired actions and behaviors. Determine what kind of company’s values and culture you want to build and whether or not you, as a founder, are willing to live by it. Then, build it into every facet of your company including hiring! You will no longer hire poorly!!

Let’s look at the extensive culture deck of Netflix. Be inspired by how simple yet practical they are. My challenge to you - Spend half a day at the beach with your co-founders and instead of product, product, product, talk values, values, values - you will not regret the effort!

Tip #2 Set your values right from the onset

Mistake #3 - Lack of Focus

As a startup entrepreneur, there is a lot going on. Settling a clear focus — product, value proposition, strategy, company values — is extremely crucial from day one. But sometimes, you are tempted to adapt and move away from the original plan due to the lure of short-term gains.  When that happens, take a step back and re-focus on the values, vision and mission of your business before moving forward.

Tip #3 Stay focused!

There are seven other startup mistakes that I did not cover during the talk. But, feel free to drop me some comments or messages to exchange views so we can learn from each other.

The journey of building a startup is far from easy, but it will be worth it. Enjoy the ride!

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