Last week was my final week in the TechStars Austin 2019 program.
Austin is an incredible city.
The people and mentors I’ve had the chance to meet are exceptional. (My favorite part, by far)
And I won’t lie, the pace of work was intense. But there was also something refreshing about only having a very finite amount of things to focus on.
Here are the lessons I learned along the way:
(Note: These are my observations, not official endorsements of TechStars)
1. The people you surround yourself is a massive factor towards your success.
The people you surround yourself matter.
When it comes to business and all creative endeavors, there will be ‘good’ people and ‘bad’ people.
Bad people will tell you every reason why your idea won’t work, but won’t have an alternative solution. Surrounding yourself with these types of people can create doubt in what you are doing and stifle your progress. They may even want to see you succeed, but the way they can talk to you drains you of wanting to try.
Good people will challenge your assumptions and push you forwards forward. They can rip your idea apart, by giving you alternative solutions to try and different perspectives to think about, all in the name of making your ideas better. They believe in you, despite the potential negatives.
Communities enable individuals to succeed. When you surround yourselves with likeminded individuals fighting for their own dreams, you naturally want to help each other become better.
2. You need people to talk to openly
Starting a business is hard on the easiest days. Without help to open up to about problems you are facing and pressures you are feeling, you’ll eventually implode. Or at the very least you’ll feel isolate. ‘I feel so alone’ ‘I feel like no one is helping me’ ‘I’m so stress out’. Take a break. Find someone to talk to, be it a therapist or someone else in your community who is trying to build their own dreams. Hard work makes a difference, but shouldn’t come at the expense of your mental wellbeing. No one gets anything accomplished if you stress yourself into oblivion.
3. It doesn’t take much money to start
Don’t get me wrong, money can help. A lot. Especially when it comes to peace of mind and wellbeing. But it doesn’t take much to validate your ideas. Anyone with the will and a couple hundred bucks can set up a website and get making.
Money isn’t a barrier, it’s an amplifier. There are exceptions, of course, but exceptions aren’t great excuses to not try. You can be flat broke and still be creative and innovative. In fact, you’ll probably be more innovative because you’ll have to think differently and come up with interesting solutions to your problems, beyond just throwing piles of money at it.
The question to ask yourself is, “Is money what’s really holding me back or is it fear?”
Sometimes it might be in fact money, but often it’s the latter.
4. Your idea doesn’t have to stay the same
Or in other words, you can change your mind about it.
Actually, you need to be open to changing your idea.
Because ideas aren’t fixed. They morph and grow based around the market, the information you have, and who you are. All good things.
But if our idea need to grow, yet our mind is fixed and made up about it, then we’ll likely get nowhere. Everything changes, eventually. So must we and our ideas.
And last but not least,
5. Give First
The biggest lesson of them all.
givefirst is even on the walls of the TechStars office.
Give first means to help others without expectations of anything in return. Helping shouldn’t be about what you get out of it. You might naturally benefit from helping others, but that shouldn’t be the reason why you do it. It’s the same as donating to charity. You should just be giving to charity just so you can get a tax right off. If you do your missing the entire point (and benefit) of giving.
Giving first is the reward. To see others succeed and to be grateful that you made a small invisible contribution to make it happen.
STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner
Daily Blog #545