Whom am I writing this for : For all the 1st time entrepreneurs who have been building their startups grounds up in the last 2 years.
Why I am writing this: I am a 1st time entrepreneur & have run my startup ExtraaEdge for the last 2 years.
Ok, so lets get one thing straight, running a startup is tough. Now, here’s where it gets interesting when you are a 1st time entrepreneur, running a startup is really tough.
It takes the toll on you mentally, physically, socially & can be all consuming.U think you are your own boss, incorrect ! Everyone is your boss, customers demanding services & features, investors demanding growth & their 10x’s, employees demanding perks & hikes, spouses & gf demanding time (whatever is left after the 14 hour grinds), parents demanding answers ( where is this going dude !! ), friends demanding their borrowed money to be returned back & rest of the world demanding strangely their bills to be paid!!
So, million $ qust, why do we do it or why do I do it. Many have asked this question and there’s no correct or incorrect answer. I do it coz it helps me answer one simple question to satisfaction.
“Doing it leads me to my end game”.
End game is simple -
  1. Growth - This is a combination of economic growth of my business where I create value through by products & innovation. It also involves personal & intellectual growth for me as an individual.
  2. Goodness - This is sense of achievement that something you tirelessly work on does “the job” better (automation) or differently (innovation).
  3. Gold - There’s a tinie tinny chance that you may create huge wealth not only for yourself but for others too during this journey.

As I have tirelessly followed & chased my end game for 2 years, I have discovered few facts as I metamorphosed from an employee to an entrepreneur. I believe that if I accomplish my end game I’ll go down as probably as the most happy & lucky bloke in the town. So yeah its absolutely worth it. Here’s my list of 9 things I have discovered during these 2 years. Hope this helps & connects.


1. Master your own psychology :

Read “HTATHT” by Ben Horowitz. Going thru a lot of shit happens, especially if you building in India. Sometimes it bites you hard & it will for sure. Mastering your own sanity & psychology becomes really critical. As its easy to get screwed, go haywire in your head and resort to self-pity. Its intuitive but so counter-productive as this always takes you downhill. Looking at what you can do to get ahead is far wiser than obsessing on all the hell that broke loose lately. Having that “tough as a hard nut” -> “Andy Grove attribute” is absolutely essential.
Master your psychology, you don't have a choice. Period.


2. Be ok with going broke financially

Its like a binary tree, 1st node is "Can you survive the 1st 12 months without salary? ". You at most times have to put your own hard earned money or bright n sharp youthful years to building your startup. You will eventually borrow money from the 3Fs, loose digits from 6 to 4 in your bank balance very swiftly & may have to rent a smaller place sharing with friends. But going without salary for those x months and surviving will become that Node 1 of the binary tree of becoming an entrepreneur in India. So is perfectly ok to have few thousand and maybe at times few hundreds in your account when few folks are ringing you for your rent, bills & credit card payments. Just be ok & cool with it. Embrace the going broke part.


3. Learn how to leverage these two arts - Prod Management &Design Thinking

The world around is getting smarter day by day. The greatest app ever build & used everyday by millions are Gmail & WhatsApp. Does your product match the same experience? Because it better, else you are boring & you suck. Plain simple.
Understanding who your users are, their motivations and how do they useproducts to do their “job” better, smarter & faster are the tenets of “Design Thinking”. Combining this with Product Management where you build, plan & strategise the right product at the right time for solving an important problem is the key to nailing it. These will be the 2 best weapon in today’s time to build a great product especially for the 1st timers.

4. Read 2 factor theory & master it

If there’s two things you get right & screw the rest as an entrepreneur you may still win.
Those are getting the market right & making right decisions about people.  
At times you need not want all crazy junkie like yours but also the blind followers. The team is what it takes you to the goal post, even the guy on the bench is important. I have found Hertzberg’s a genius American psychologist has nailed the framework on “motivation & job enrichment frameworks” at workplace. He briefly states that there are certain factors in the workplace that cause job satisfaction, while a separate set of factors cause dissatisfaction. As an entrepreneur you need to balance both the “Motivators” & “Hygiene Factors” and understand that most times these are mutually exclusive. Trick haan. Go check it out, will surprise you & help connect the dots on many employee woes you have had.


5. Help & Seek help from whoever & whenever you can

Be shameless and say “Can you help me..” more often that you will.
Do understand in the perennial state of uncertainty you will most of the times be without any clue what to do next. Ask, beg, shout it out - make the right noise and help’s mostly around the corner. There are enough folks who have been there and done it. Find a mentor if you can and bare your woes out if he gives you that liberty. Else find a bunch of entrepreneurs & talk about the struggle.      I can say with absolute certainty that these 4 golden words - “Can you help me..” has taken me so many places that I couldn’t muster courage to go to & do things that I have managed to do in last 2 years.


6. Be blunt & transparent with your Co-Founder

He’s not your friend, he’s not your colleague. He’s your comrade & brother-in-arms.
He’s the guy who will fight it out with you in the trenches all night.
To ship that crappy piece of code, put a patch on that UI bug & help you lend some money from his parents which he would never do for himself but maybe for the co-founder. You will fight, disagree & would have different visions at different points. Learn to understand and listen & avoid agreeing & pleasing.Your co-founder relationship is the most important relationship you will have in your entrepreneurial journey. There are 2 factors which will help you make it work :- 
  1. Ability to factor in the impact of your actions on him & vise versa
  2. Trust build over time with a v.clear True North for both of you.
We at our startup always had a clear True North - “When at conflict think about the third guy i.e. our startup and what’s best for him then do that."

7. It's not checkers but f#c%i*g chess

Ben Horowitz says in “The Struggle” - Its not checkers its moth#r f%%cking chess. Come what may keep moving ahead and don’t stop. Lost a customer, had a existential quarrel with co-founder, fired a qualified but unfit techie, lost a deal to a competitor, a great employee left for more money, nobody turned up for a placement drive, tried 100th time to explain your girlfriend why what you do is at few times priority. Keep moving & don’t stop. As the samurai says to Tom Cruise in “The Last Samurai” - NO MIND. Keep calm & move on.

8. Never stop being a student of technology & business

You will at times taste success and will be applauded. If you keep doing it again & again like King Bruce & the spider you may make it. But, don’t become complacent & always get back to the 1st principles of technology & business.
You are innovating &  building to solve aproblem for which other people will pay.
Tech & Biz are changing every day, read, talk, observe & keep changing.The technology & business graveyard is filled with stories of XEROX PARC  of the world who had it, but failed to see and gave it all up. Its also filled with stories ofAndy Grove’s ( Intel - CEO ) of the world who took a giant from oblivion to market leadership again & again. Observe the technology & business landscape - plan the change.

9. Take break, call folks & do some physical thing

Be hard on yourself most of the times. Its required. But on few occasions cut yourself some slack. Take care of your health, call your folks to say hello & do some physical activity. Plan the trip & just take a weekday off just like that. Yes, you are building a company but your parents are getting older & so are you.Spend time with them & take care of your body.
Your mental & physical strength are your biggest allies.
Your folks & their well-being is the mental strength that helps fight many complex wars. & you bet there will be many.
Keep running your company and kick ass !!