I wrote about having to make 1000’s of decisions every day for my startup SpotHero. But what decisions specifically? There are so many to make for my Chicago parking startup SpotHero it can be overwhelming. Each decision made breeds more questions and more decisions. As time goes by these decisions have to be reevaluated, changed a bit, or completely thrown out. Some decisions you have to make knowing you can’t go back on. There’s so much uncertainty and so many unknowns it can actually be quite scary.
Venture Capital vs. Angel vs. Startup Accelerator vs. Bootstrapping
Which route to take? Do I bootstrap? I will have the most amount of control over my startup, but at some point I’m going to need extra money in order to take it to the next step. Venture capital will grow my startup the fastest, but am I willing to give up the amount of equity I need in order to secure this sort of financing? How do I know if an Angel is a good fit through the life of the startup? How will their objectives affect a later round of financing? A startup accelerator would be amazing, but competition is high and I cannot rely on that. Many other entrepreneurs I have come into contact with wonder if they are at too late of a stage to go the startup accelerator route. These are questions I have to ask myself. It can take 6 to 12 months to secure financing. Is it worth the time at this stage to spend away from the business?
Functionality of the website
I have a list of awesome ideas and functions for SpotHero that have come up either in conversations amongst my co-founder, programmer and I or feedback from others. There are so many things I’d like to add. However, I’ve had to scale back the scope and number of functions immensely in order to get SpotHero launched. It comes down to cost and time. Each function or option can add an exponential layer of complexity as it’s not so easy as simply adding a function without it affecting the entire project. Each function has to interact with the rest of the application. Then there is the support going forward which can add even more cost and time to the project. Since we are bootstrapping our startup we have had to focus on the core functionality in order to get our product to market.
What to do during the pre launch phase
How do I build buzz and get people ready and knowing that we are going to launch before we have an actual product? Many people talk. They have grand ideas of this and that and talk and talk about what will come. We’re used to this, and rightly so are skeptical when something new is talked about that is not yet tangible. Add to that the weight of statistics stacked against me that make it likely I will fail, and it becomes hard to get people to believe in it. So during this build out phase I have to get people to believe in SpotHero before they have even seen it.
Which came first the chicken or the egg? In a marketplace model which depends on both buyers and sellers of parking, SpotHero needs both in order to succeed. To start we have focused on obtaining a list of people willing to rent out their parking spots when they’re not using them. That way, when we do go live, we already have a stock of parking spots ready to go and can then focus on driving buyers to those spaces. But how to go about customer acquisition? What is the best route in order to obtain them?
Legal and Intellectual Property
There is much wisdom is setting things up early in this “department”. It can save headaches, pain, and disaster later on down the line. But anything related to law, legal, and lawyers is extremely expensive. How do you balance legal pragmatism? Capital is precious. Do we spend the money now to be pragmatic or “wing it” to conserve capital?
Putting together a business plan
Do I put together a business plan? What is the purpose of a business plan? So many people ask about the business plan, yet it is based on many assumptions that are complete guesswork. For this reason, many people say a business plan is unnecessary. I still haven’t decided how I feel yet. (It’s easier to make a decision in hindsight ) Right now, the business plan we have worked on has been a great exercise for ourselves and understanding certain aspects of the business and our market. Many people we talk to want different things and ask for concrete numbers. When working on unknown and untested scenarios there are a large amount assumptions that need to be made. Which assumptions are the right ones?
Which payments processor to use? I’ve spent countless days going over different ones. Which payment gateway? Which merchant account? Will they underwrite a marketplace business where we take a commission for facilitating a sale between two parties? Is their rate good? Are they trustworthy? How hard will it be to set up? How long will it take to get going?
Where do I focus my time?
This just scratches the surface. This is what I am thinking about this moment as I write this. There are many more things I think about each hour, each day, and each week. So, what do Entrepreneurs Have to Think About? We have to think about everything and all the time. There is no HR, sales, or IT department. There’s just you.