What Should All Founders Know Before Starting Their First Company?

What things should all would-be founders know before starting their first company? originally appeared on Quora - the knowledge sharing network where compelling questions are answered by people with unique insights.

Answer by Jake Schwartz, CEO and Co-Founder of General Assembly, on Quora.

To all first time founders:

  1. There is so much you don't know and you should be okay with that. Approach it all with a growth mindset and ask for advice. Then actually try to synthesize and internalize all the advice. Rinse, and then repeat.
  2. As much as the world of bloggers and Twitter and startup-land will avoid this truth, your job as a founder is to build a business. Business is, at the end of the day, about building a profit machine. Revenue, unit economics, competitive advantage, economies of scale - all these things should be part of your thinking. You don't have to know all the answers on day one, but there will be a reckoning if you put them off too long.
  3. Raising money is not success, nor is it even the ideal thing. The most successful entrepreneurs I know are the ones who build a small profitable business, and then grew it to a large profitable business. They then owned 100% of a profitable business. That's a really good thing. That should be your goal, and raising money is a middling scenario for when you unfortunately need to scale fast to succeed. It's a deal with the devil, and it adds a lot of risk to the investment you are making with your time and opportunity cost.
  4. You will make many mistakes, and you will have to get good at being okay with that. As long as you learn from them and don't keep repeating the same mistakes, you're doing okay.

Those are a good four, there are probably hundreds more that are rattling around somewhere in my brain, but that will have to do for now!

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