Stay humble, (and) stay bullish!

Guest post by: Mandar Kulkarni

Last year while I was doing my MBA I got an opportunity to work with a for-profit online social venture. This startup was founded two years back, and the co founders had their own jobs – so basically this was a side-project which they wished to carry on (since they had started it, but now were a tad busy with their jobs).They chose a handful of us B School students to work with them. Needless to say, we were quite kicked about working on this. However, it did not quite work out as expected. From this experience in particular and a few other related experiences in general, here are a few tripping points that I believe entrepreneurs should watch out for!

·       Don’t let early success get into your head! During the first couple of months of launch you are bound to see very promising looking registrations/usage numbers. But understand that a big part of this is purely due to the affection of your family and friends, as well as the novelty factor attached to any new ‘cool’ looking business plan! It is very easy to get carried away by all the sweet talk about your product, but again take all those ‘sweets’ with a pinch of ‘salt’ ;). A positive start is by no means a validation of your business plan!

·       Launch only when ready, even if it takes time! Making your product public when you yourself are aware of major issues is like putting up an ‘in a relationship with’ status update on Facebook just because you have a crush on that person – bound to be disastrous unless the ‘crush’ (or in our case the user) is totally sold out on you (an assumption fraught with peril)

·       Make sure at least one person is working full time with the startup – else, IMHO, the momentum just gets lost somewhere. The side-project would eventually (and sadly) get pushed off the sidelines!

·       And finally, be a bit shameless in asking for feedback,  be humble enough to take the criticism, and be flexible enough to incorporate changes which you might not have thought of in your plan A!

It is the period after the first launch that I believe is the acid test for any Entrepreneur. The joy and pride should take a backseat while receptiveness and humility should do the driving!

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