A View Into The Startup Journey: Lessons from the CEO

Proggio began in 2016, and enough time has passed to take a look over our first year and share the lessons we’ve learned along our startup journey with you. Thinking about starting a new business? Have a great idea for a startup? These tips might be relevant to you, too.

Leave Your Ego Out of the Critical Discussions

no egoEven if you were really fortunate to fund your activity from day 1 (and certainly if you weren’t!), the first year allows only small room for mistakes. The time to the next milestone is short, and the resources you can burn to get there are so, so limited. One significant mistake can be enough to put you on the wrong route – and that’s all you get. You won’t have enough time and resources to turn back to the right path. One way to avoid these wrong decisions is to keep your ego out of critical discussions. You are passionate about your new idea, and because of that, you are likely to involve things that are less relevant to the overall success.  

Replace “I Know” with “I Checked”

We think we know everything about the new initiative. That may be right, but it must be validated. The validation can be done with any stakeholder, as long as they are giving us real feedback (for example, potential investors are not always sharing their real view on the idea, for many reasons). The best source of information are potential customers, but there are others. Domain experts, partners, and experienced entrepreneurs can give you a lot of valuable information. When you switch from “I know” to “I checked,” you will feel more confident in holding a validated idea.

Take The Hard Path 

Talking to friends and family is not going to help you that much. They (hopefully) love you, and that makes them biased. The right path for the startup journey is the hard path. Think about a person that is most likely to object, that represents the other side of the scale, and that is expected to stick to the status quo. You are not likely to be able to convince this person, but in trying to, you will learn a lot. The arguments will be sharper, the scope and the focus will be clearer, and with time it will help shaping your idea.

Climb In Zig Zag Stages

The direct line always looks shorter, but it won’t get you to the summit. If you’ve ever climbed a mountain, or even a hill, you know how intimidating the option to just go straight ahead really is. The summit looks like it’s just in front of you, within reach – why not go straight up? Well, there are many reasons.

First, you may not see the real summit. When you get there, you will be out of power and might still need to climb more.

Second, it’s a high risk proposition. What if going straight requires more power than what you have?

Most climbs go in zig zag stages for a good reason. You need to find your own path, too. Staging is so important on the way up to your idea. You need to see it from different angles, and you need to find the pace you can climb without falling all the way down. Zig and zag – in the long run, consistent growth is better than a superhero leap to the summit.

Don’t Be Shy

Bringing up a new idea requires so many small interactions, and shying away from speaking to people only hurts your idea in the end. If you think that you have an opportunity for talking to a potential customer, partner, or expert – just do it. You might be burning up inside, or incredibly uncomfortable. But to progress along the startup journey, you need to overcome that.

Be a .300 Hitter

Ted Williams

At the end of the day, the progress you made will be the sum of the opportunities you didn’t miss. Take every opportunity that comes your way. Some may come to naught. Ted Williams said “baseball is the only field of endeavor where a man can succeed three times out of ten and be considered a good performer.” Ted was mostly right – when it comes to successfully launching a startup, that would be good too. You don’t need to hit home runs with every opportunity along the startup journey. Grind out your singles and doubles, nab your occasional triple, maybe steal a base here or there, and you’ll build momentum to success.