Because we have over ten years of entrepreneurship and because over these years we have worked on many incipient projects, we thought we should write down some of the things we have learned.
So we spoke to Stefan Iorgulescu, the founder of Control F5, to find out what advice he would offer to other entrepreneurs who are just starting out.
1. Don't Invest a Lot of Time and Money in Your MVP If You're an Early Start-Up
Always look for solutions that shorten your MVP implementation. Look for existing solutions and adapt your product to them because, after all, the purpose of the MVP is to validate a concept. It doesn’t make sense to be very complex and expensive from the start. You give up on feats for which you get negative feedback and only for what is positive you start and develop in detail. We have seen many start-ups that wanted to develop a complex solution from the beginning and failed to launch, ran out of money or been surpassed by the competition .
An MVP for an average project should be ready in two to three months. When a project takes a long time to be in the MVP phase, it affects the entrepreneurs, the team, and the investors as they lose their enthusiasm.
2. Communicate Often with Partners and Suppliers: Be Transparent and Foster Strong Relationships
One of our five values is communication, and when I talk about communication, I mean including partnering with employees and collaborators. Transparency is essential because every time problems have arisen, analysing them, we realised that the reason why it got there was a lack of sufficient communication. For example, if you give a deadline to a customer but realize you can’t finish on time, the best decision is to be transparent and say what’s going on. Transparent communication should be a goal for the internal team, partners, and customers.
3. Go for Professionals
We often see clients who initially worked with companies or freelancers who offered them services at lower prices. The initial thought is to go for the cheaper option; still, very often, you end up ignoring the rules of quality, experience and the ability of the supplier or person to deliver. Always choose professionals. We have sometimes found ourselves not choosing experienced enough people for senior positions, thinking that those people were intelligent and willing and would compensate. But experience matters a lot, and when you need to fill a senior position, even if it costs a lot more, take it on. In the end you will pay less. And validate that the person you choose is indeed senior.
4. Don't Underestimate Security Issues
When discussing security, I don’t necessarily speak about coding issues. There are adjacent things that are in other departments that are ignored. I’m talking about the system infrastructure, about how passwords are stored, about the fact that remote work involves specific security details. We’ve had situations where clients have had their servers infected with viruses, their website – which was one with a high audience – was down for two days and business was very much affected. In certain segments, as security, you should think that everyone wants to hurt you.
5. Automate as Much as You Can
In general, in a business, many repetitive tasks take up a lot of your time – like gathering and entering data. But now, there are many process automation tools, and time is the most important variable and resource, especially in a startup. Especially if you’re in the MVP phase and it’s vital to get to market as quickly as possible, faster than the competition. No matter how good an idea is when entrepreneurs have it, other businesses may come up with something similar if they don’t develop it quickly. So time becomes critical and automation can help us enormously to save time.
6. Constantly Do Research
I’ve seen so many projects where entrepreneurs didn’t know who their competitors was, didn’t know there were better solutions than theirs, didn’t know the monetization model and how much they could sell for because they didn’t know their market. First, you have to do general market research, and then research different details, such as the technologies used. Most entrepreneurs don’t do this and have much to lose – actually, many don’t survive in the market. You constantly have to monitor your competition, the market, and trends if you want to be and stay on top.
7. Create Documentation for Your Projects
I have seen many situations, and this lack of project documentation is at the root of many problems that may arise later. Nobody will know the whole picture if there is no reference or set of information that can be a source of truth for the entire team. Sometimes some people launch a project, and the whole project team is different after a while. It’s about a set of information maintained consistently and the benchmark by which any new member understands what it’s all about. It needs to be as well structured as possible and to give as much detail as possible – info about the project architecture, features, objectives and about the market structure. Everything needs to be written and constantly updated. It’s hard to maintain this habit, but it helps tremendously. I know how much it helps us when a new colleague comes in. When we take over a project from a client, it is the first thing we start. It’s like a project manual.
8. Use for Your Plans the Greater Part of the Estimates
It’s always good to expect a project to cost or take longer. The more complex a project is and the more parties involved, the more cost and time can go up compared to estimates because situations change along the way. In this industry, things change quickly, meaning estimates, delivery times and complexity change. It’s good to be more flexible in your approach and not assume that all things will only happen in the most optimistic scenario, because it’s the least likely. In general, people tend to choose the optimistic side and if you always think of the favorable variant related to the completion of a project as time and money, you will be disappointed, in the best case. But if you’re prepared for the more flexible version, in the end you’ll be surprised that things went better than you expected.
9. But If I Were to Offer One Piece of Advice, It Would Be Always to Be Persistent
I mean, after every thing that doesn’t go as it should or as you expect, go the extra mile, don’t give up. There have been times with projects that didn’t go how we wanted them to, with people we didn’t find when we wanted them to, or just economical difficult periods but we have persisted in finding and implementing solutions. In the end we managed to surpass every challenge and grow.