seems as though everyone wants be involved with a startup. It’s the thrill of
building a company, from an idea discussed over drinks to your first successful
launch. To watch your business flourish as customers embrace your product, and
to have the ability to take control of your future. The satisfaction of
achieving independent wealth through hard work, determination and sacrifice.
American dream. But there’s a lot that goes into playing this game, and I want
to share with others aspiring to change the world through their startups some
advice I learned through founding my own company.
- Trust your instincts. Learn to listen to yourself. From day one we are trained to listen and obey others, particularly our elders. Entering a traditional hierarchical work environment only exacerbates and compounds this belief until it has been so ingrained that it becomes habit. You no longer trust your own
intuition. But if you want to be a successful founder or CEO, you need to
find and obey your inner voice. It won’t steer you wrong.
- Successful execution is a game of inches. Execution is a critical part of any strategy. Ideas, vision and ingenuity are wonderful, but without the ability to take an idea from the whiteboard and turn it into a real, useful product that people
actually love, it’s still just an idea. Successful execution is a game of
inches. If you want to deliver a superior product, you need to be prepared to push. Especially during those times when you’re exhausted, haven’t eaten or slept properly in days – when every inch of your body is telling you “no,“ you have to keep working.
- You are your own worst enemy. So get out of your own way. Starting a company is like dating; you need to learn to love rejection. We often have a hard time believing in our own success. I always think of a beautiful woman sitting at the bar who you are anxious to meet. You paint a picture of all of the things that will go wrong and can’t happen: She probably has a
boyfriend, you’re probably not her type, she would never be interested in a guy like you. You waste all of this energy thinking about the things that are not going to happen instead of simply walking over and saying “hi.” When starting a company there are an insurmountable number of bumps in the road – situations we view as obstacles that are really not. These “bumps” can easily be overcome by re-framing the situation and simply getting out of the way of your own success. Remember to drag yourself out of the weeds, take time to see the bigger picture and be sure to celebrate the small wins.
- Heat and pressure make diamonds. As a former investment banker, working long hours, setting the bar high and managing type-A personalities is par for the course. My friends and family have no trouble reminding me that I work too much, am too hard on myself, and need to learn to lighten up. But my response is always the same. I mention diamonds, which are created only with a lot of heat and a lot of pressure. I don’t
believe that successful startups are made using soft management techniques coupled with grandiose dreams of success. It’s simply the mundane and repetitive stuff – the things that most people try and avoid: disciple,
consistency and routine. You need to build a strong foundation if you want it to withstand the unforeseen challenges ahead. The same things that make an amazing athlete are the ones that make an amazing company.
- Go big or go home. Chairman of NY Angles Brian Cohen – angel investor, mentor and friend – beats this into every one of the founders in his portfolio of investments. Aim for the fences or don’t bother stepping up to the plate. Ben Horowitz drives this philosophy home in one of the greatest management books of all time “The Hard Thing About Hard Things.” Your idea, team, product and execution capabilities need to be at least 10 times better than your competition. If not, the there is no reason for your company to exist. Just fold up the tent go home.
company is not for the faint of heart. It takes discipline, dedication and a
passion to build something amazing. Having closed the door on nearly a 20-year
Wall Street career to co-found AllTheRooms, I’ve learned a few things
that I wanted to share with others who aspire to build great things.
DiTomaso is the Co-Founder and CEO AllTheRooms, the world’s largest and only complete accommodation search engine
– bringing you every room on the planet. If you can’t find it on AllTheRooms,
that’s probably because it doesn’t exit.
Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised
of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi,
YEC recently launched StartupCollective, a free virtual mentorship program.