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How a 23-year-old CEO experimented his way into product market fit

Published on 10 April 18
Even with all of the latest advancements in enterprise technologies, your odds of starting a successful business are close to none. Not to discourage you, but before you dive into any new venture, understand that 9 out of 10 startups will fail, most of which only a year or so after funding. Realize that for every multi-billion-dollar unicorn, there are countless ideas, no matter how promising they may be, that never catch on with users.

For entrepreneurs, the sooner you realize that failure is a non-zero inevitability, the better, as setting expectations and getting your team on the same page is crucial to avoid burnout and maintain momentum The Odyssey Online. Bringing a sense of cautious optimism to the table will save many friendships and prevent complete chaos.

The problem with facing the bluntness (and bleakness) of reality is that sustained failure can be extremely challenging to deal with, especially with the odds seemingly always stacked against you. There is this wide misconception, proliferated by media and idolization, that successful entrepreneurs are all visionaries who preach pristine predictions about the future.

The reality is far different.

Besides the major factor of luck, realize that most founders are not necessarily intellectual geniuses, but rather obsessive makers who will not stop until they solve the problem they are so desperately trying to fix. They are hustlers. They are of a completely different breed. And they will not quit, no matter how many times they fail.

I got a chance to sit down with Nathan Resnick, the 23 year of Sourcify, a manufacturing platform, who embodies what it means to be a true entrepreneur.

Having failed his fair share of times while still in college, Resnick shared with me some of his insights and favorite learnings from his experience that has helped him get to where he is today. Here are 5 of them:

Learn By Doing

There are very few, if any, true shortcuts in the business world. Because of this, there are no full-proof replacements for getting raw, valuable work experience. Getting the right experience for the job, however, can be a challenge that will pressure you to go out of your comfort zone.

I went to learn by going out and just doing things, Resnick says, I was never that good in school. I had always found myself learning more outside the classroom than in the textbooks. So I just started trying things on my own. Just starting is a sure fire way to make sure you will learn something, regardless of the data forecasted outcome.

We all have the same 24 hours a day to spend however we please. As a former college entrepreneur, I was able to run a six figure business by balancing my time in and out of the classroom. College is one of the best times to start a company and if you really want to get something out of your education, I highly recommend you start a company while in school.

Don’t Be Afraid of Failure

Given the data around startups, failure is a likely outcome. You cannot be afraid of failure. In fact, most successful people only got to where they are today because they stared down the face of failure and overcame a large and fearsome challenge.

Resnick recounts to me, during my junior year of college, I started a mobile app called Push For Beer. It was a game like Fruit Ninja and we were going to enable users to win free beer. We would partner with local bars to drive traffic to their bars. Selling to bars was extremely hard and once we grew to 60,000 users, we couldn’t handle selling to bars across the country. The business didn’t last because we couldn’t find a sustainable way to work with bars.

Although the business failed, and ended up shutting down, would Resnick consider this a failure? Of course not. He not only applied concepts he learned in the classroom, but also was able to build his brand, learn how to work on a team, interface with customers, and so much more - all because he just started working on his ideas.

Avoid Excuses

Often times, you will hear potential founders wait around for the perfect time to start their dream company. The reality is that there is never going to be a perfect time to start your company, so what are you waiting for?

Before starting my first official company at the age of 19, I used to think I needed all the right mentors. I spent six months trying to land a meeting with the founder of a $400 million watch company. I thought this founder was going to provide me with all the keys to success. What I soon realized is that everyone has their own path to success and while mentors are important, they won’t do the work for you.

At the end of the day, no one is going to build your company for you. It is up to you (and your team) to really make things happen.

Invest in people

One of the biggest and most under prioritized investments a young founder has to make is in their very first few hires. Understand that early employees can make or break a company. And while most people rush through this process, eager to just hire someone, realize that this is one of the most important decisions you have to make as an entrepreneur.

Resnick learned, early on, that people are at the forefront of any great company. Without them, you won’t be able to grow.

Conversely, with the wrong people at the helm of your company, you are likely to fail quickly and waste lots of time and money in the process. Be cautious, yet excited to bring on new people to your project!

Avoid the glamour

The biggest misconception, Resnick says, is that being a founder is the glamour. You see it on the movies. You see it on the billboards. You hear about Elon Musk and expect Ironman when you meet an entrepreneur.

Real life, day to day, as a founder is not so pretty. When you start a company, you are always responsible. Even when you hire employees to distribute some of the pressure, you are, ultimately, the one to blame when things go bad. Yes you get the benefits of being able to set your own schedule, yet when a factory from Asia calls at 2am because there is a problem with production, you better be there to handle it.
This blog is listed under IT Strategy & Management Community

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