Why Founders Shouldn’t Trust Their Intuition

Oct 11, 2016 Blog  Start-up; Founder



Start-ups are very counterintuitive, this is an area where you can’t always trust your intuition. What you feel might be right doesn’t always mean that is indeed correct, you need to learn to supress your intuition. This is necessary to prevent yourself from going astray.

Why do founders always ignore their partners’ advice? The advice might be different from what your instant feeling is telling you and that is advice worth listening to. You can however, trust your instincts about people. It is a mistake to not trust your intuition enough when it comes to people as you have been dealing with people your whole life. Choose people the same way as you would choose friends – the same qualities. It is important to work with people you genuinely like and respect, even if you have to get to know them for a while initially.

What you need to succeed in a start-up is not expertise in a start-up. What you need however, is expertise in your own users. Mark Zuckerberg wasn’t great at starting his start-up but he understood his users really well. It is unnecessary to learn in depth mechanics about start-ups because you first need to make a product people want. Young founders impulse is figure out the tricks, but don’t make things complicated.

Starting a start-up is where testing the system stops working. Testing the system might work in large companies, but in a start-up environment this does not work. There is no boss to trick, it is only your users. You have to have something that people want. Somebody who knows nothing about fundraising but has made a product users love, will have an easier time raising money than somebody who knows every trick in the book but has a flat usage graph.

Start-ups are all consuming and if it’s successful it will take up time in your life for a very long time. All founders say the same thing, it never gets easier. The nature of the problems may change but the total value of worry never decreases. This is why you should never start a start-up when you are in college. There are only a certain number of things which you can do when you are in your twenties and if you decide to start a start-up, those opportunities are gone. It is the same concept as having children, do what you want to do before starting your start-up.

You can’t tell if it’s going to work or not. There is no correlation with attitude and how the start-up turns out. There are only two things you will need at the very beginning stages of start-up, an idea and a co-founder. In order to get that initial idea, you must learn a lot about things that matter and work on problems that interest you, with people that you like and respect and that in turn, is also how you get your cofounders.

This article is based on the Podcast ‘Before the Start-up’ by Paul Graham. You can read the full transcript here.


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