Dharmesh Shah

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12 Things Entrepreneurs Should Be Thankful For

By Dharmesh Shah on November 23, 2011

A simple thanks to all the people that have made it possible for me to be an entrepreneur.  There are few more fulfilling things in life than finding one's calling.  And, for millions of entrepreneurs around the world, that's precisely what it is.

onstartups thank you

A special thanks to all the people that have joined existing startups and small businesses.  Joining an existing effort requires risk and a degree of selfnessness.  You are all entrepreneurs in my book for one simple reason:  You're crazy enough to join a merry band of misfits even though it makes absolutely no sense.  You're my kind of crazy.  Cheers.

12 Things Entrepreneurs Should Be Thankful For

1. Customers.

2. Getting to pick the exceptional people we work with.

3. An opportunity to add value, big or small, to people's lives.

4. Not having to ask permission to try something crazy.

5. The patience and understanding of our family and friends — especially when we likely don't deserve it.

6. Receiving payment for value delivered. There's no feeling like it.  

7. The joy of seeing a sliver of light after some dark, dark, days.

8. The freedom to change what's not working. It's sometimes painful, but at least it's possible.

9. Not having to rationalize to your family and friends why you took that Wall Street investment banking job.

10. Day 2,743, when the world celebrates your “overnight success”

11. The pleasure of helping team members create memories and experiences that will last a lifetime.  Most of them good.

12. The chance to try. To fail. To try again and flail around. Then, with some luck, to flourish.

Your turn.  What do you think entrepreneurs should be thankful for?

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DON'T start a company...yet

By Dharmesh Shah on November 21, 2011

The following is a guest post by Andrew Payne.  Andy is a Boston-based entrepreneur and angel investor, and a HubSpot director.  You can read his blog at blog.payne.org or follow him on Twtter at @payne92.

I was visiting Harvard a few weeks ago and the professor said, "yea, every undergraduate here is working on a startup!"  Nearby, MIT is practically putting "startup" in the school water supply, and incubator programs for new graduates abound (e.g. TechStars, Y Combinator, etc.)time to learn
For those new graduates itching to start a company, I'm giving some very contrarian (and possibly unpopular) advice:

Don't do it.   At least not yet.

Instead, go join someone else's early stage company as employee #3-50 (or so).   The experience you'll get over the next few years will be invaluable, and you'll be in a far better position for success when you decide to leave and start your own company.  You'll see many processes (e.g. fundraising, product management, leadership, etc.), you'll learn from mistakes (yours AND other's), and you'll build a great network of contacts.

There's just nothing like learning on the job, in context, from those with more experience than you.  There's a reason why the apprenticeship system has been the dominant method, for over a half-millennium, to pass the experience of a trade or craft to the next generation.

I sometimes encounter startup teams that are thrashing on basic things, and it's almost always because they're lacking experience.  Skill is a combination of (a) knowing what to do, and (b) knowing when/where/how to do it.  The Internet is a seductive source of "what", but isn't a substitute for judgement.   Reading someone's blog post on their Agile development principles is helpful, to a point.  But remember:  these anecdotes are necessarily simplified and abstracted, and are missing important bits of context.  Someone else's experience may not translate to your situation.

I am not an astronomer, but I long ago remember reading the fastest way to grind a good 12-inch telescope mirror was to first grind a 6-inch mirror.  Few builders are successful grinding the larger mirror as their first project, and that's sound advice for startup entrepreneurs as well.

What do you think?  Is better for would-be entrepreneurs to just "jump in" or is there value to spending some time learning the ropes at another startup first?

Topics: guest strategy
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