8 most important things I learned in building Cogno AI from scratch to a multi-million dollar revenue Business:
1. Take help from a good quality lawyer in all your contracts so that your interests are protected when things go wrong. I could protect half of my company when my cofounder exit only because of the Founders Agreement we signed.
2. Stop chasing Investors and focus on Customers. As Mark Cuban says - 'Sales cures everything'. If you have paying customers who love your product, it'd be easy for you to get good employees, advisors and of course, investors. If you don't have paying customers, no investor can help.
3. Hire generalists in the early phase and specialists in the growth phase. Generalists can help you with a lot of stuff in the early days - from getting customer feedback to building the product to building the process and executing it. Hiring specialists in the early days is the best recipe for killing your startup.
4. Focus on your mental health as a founder. In a startup journey, anything that can go wrong will probably go wrong. I had a co-founder exit, I had employees fool me, I had customers default my payments, I had customers back off after issuing the purchase order, and whatnot. The earlier you get used to handling your emotions, the easier will be your life as a founder.
5. Don't sweat about small things. As your startup grows, you'd realize that every little thing that you were worried about a year ago, doesn't really matter today. A good analogy would be that in your Stock portfolio, some stocks might be in loss, and others will be in profit, but what matters is that the net portfolio should be growing at a reasonable CAGR. Same with your startup.
6. Think big, act small. Small, incremental steps are much more sustainable than giant leaps. So while you should think of larger goals, you should break them down into smaller action items that you/your team can execute on a daily/weekly basis so that the overall process can be sustainable and you are able to maintain consistency.
7. Start tracking metrics as soon as possible. For Sales Team, it could be revenue. For the Customer Success Team, it could be NPS. For the HR Team, it could be eNPS, etc. Start tracking the numbers as soon as you have 10 customers or 10 employees. Don't obsess about the perfect metric on day one. Start with something and then iterate towards what is relevant for your Business.
8. Don't get into analysis paralysis. Many founders see things from a really narrow perspective and then they get worried about all the problems in that and don't even start executing. It's better to start with something raw, get feedback, and iterate than to find out the perfect solution before even starting. As they say - 'done is better than perfect'