It’s now been way over a month since I left the corporate world to jump on this new adventure. Might seems short, but time is when you know your runway length, how fast the market is heating up and you see your arbitrary deadlines coming up. It’s enough to learn a few lessons that I’ll share here.

Keep it moving

When you launch a project that aims at disturbing a market, there’s probably an infinite number of things to do to get there and only limited time and resources. Don’t waste time debating. If you are unable to settle a point under 20 minutes, pick a side and move on. You might be right or wrong, but by the time it will make a real difference, chances are good that you’ll have figured out the right answer. And nothing was paralyzed by unproved arguments.

It’s not a sprint. Yet

You’ve read it and heard it before on a few 1000s blogs, but it’s so easy to get crazy right at the start. You like the idea so much, you feel the pressure of tens of startup looking in the same direction and you want to launch asap to get some feedback, so you start working crazy hours. Don’t. Not yet.

If you get to the launch with your tongue hanging out of your mouth, the day a real spike of traffic hit your servers and things start cracking (cause they will), I assume you better be well rested so you can stay up all night a few times fixing unexpected production bug your full-fledged QA team (lol) hadn’t found. It’s not yet about to happen to us but at least we won’t be mentally and physically exhausted the day we get there.

Our lead developer and his little family are probably helping me keeping it real on that end. Thanks Julien.

Stop reading startup blogs

The day you started your project, you probably already had read your share of “Ten Startup Lessons Learned” and other blog posts like the one you are reading now. Cut it out. You don’t need more lessons, you don’t need more advice, you’ll figure it out. If you are anywhere like me, the time you’ll save there might make a tremendous difference over a full week. And if you fail, it probably won’t be because of an unread blog post.
Same goes for business books. (I didn’t read the post … ;-)

Don’t over-monitor your competitors

You have an angle, it’s different. Looking at what your competitors do inevitably lead you to consider adding some of their features into your product. Of course, you’re too focused and smart to do it, but they’re smart too and they do have good ideas, so the temptation is there.

It’s obviously important to map your competition when you start, maybe start a little keyword and brand monitoring plan, but don’t look at it more than once a week. You do need to stay focus and that can’t be good when you feel you also need their new shiny feature.

Keep it fun

It’s too easy to start stressing about how important is it for you to succeed, how fast you need to go, all the things that need to be done, and all the tests that are not yet implemented, and your marketing strategy that’s still undefined, so how can it be fun ? Well it needs to be. It’s a simple question of survival. if you don’t have fun doing it, don’t. People around you will feel it, they’ll start to drag their feet to work and you’ll be on the death march before you even launch.

The lesson I am now trying to learn is to get to bed earlier. But I am not quite there yet.

I also have no idea if I can keep up with writing on this blog, but for now it feels like a nice place to dump my brain.