2. Me, Myself, or Who?


You have an idea; that was the easy part.

My undergraduate college degree was in mathematics, and my career began as a computer programmer. Within my first year out of college, I realized I was an entrepreneur. Within a year, I had started my first company, at the age of twenty-two. Over the past twenty-plus years, I have founded or co-founded five other companies. And in that time, I have filed two dozen patents, written over thirty business plans, advised more than fifty startups, and taught entrepreneurship at both the University of Washington and Pinchot University.

From this direct experience, I can assure you that turning your idea into a company is difficult. The process requires a tremendous amount of work, across a wide range of disciplines. Many of these disciplines will be new to you. That said, this is a well-trodden path, followed hundreds of thousands of times each year by people just like you. It is made possible by a network of service providers who can fill in much of the experience and labor that might otherwise present an impassible hurdle.

This process will take time. It will require a vast number of decisions. And it will often take multiple leaps of faith, demanding that you make these decisions with far too little information to know what is best.

Case in point: after deciding to move forward, your next decision is whether to get this company started on your own (or with your current team, if you are not alone) or whether to search for a co-founder to join you in this process.

Do I start this company alone, or seek a co-founder?

At this point, before you have read this book and understood the process, many of you do not have anywhere near enough information to know the best answer to this question. The same is true of many of the questions posed in this book, when they are presented.

My advice is this: do not try to answer anything on the first read through the book. Read through the whole process first, then go back to the beginning and answer the questions. If at that point you feel stuck or unable to answer a question, skip it and come back later. Building a business is not a linear process. In fact, even when you do answer a question, you will often have to revise that answer based on answers to later questions.

Back to the question at hand. If you decide to seek a co-founder (a.k.a. a partner), it is still useful to answer all the questions in this book yourself, as those answers will be at your disposal when your new partner asks you similar questions. If you decide to go forward on your own, the answers will guide your business plans. Thus, either way, these questions are important to the process.

Do I seek a mentor, set of advisors, incubator and/or accelerator?

With those answers, you will have not only a far better understanding of the process you have chosen to undertake, but you should also have a list of questions you can focus on. Some questions will stand out to you as needing better answers. To get those answers, consider finding a mentor or collection of advisors, or seek out one of the many accelerator programs.


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