While we often paint a rosy picture for the entrepreneurial journey, the truth is that behind the excitement of new funding rounds, startup coverage in TechCrunch or Tech In Asia, and keynotes at local conferences, there are tough critical decisions that entrepreneurs face that are often not discussed.
Who should you start your company with? How should you split your equity? Who should you let invest in your company? How do you resolve conflict? Your answers to these questions can determine whether your ship sinks or finds the promise land. Yet, we rarely hear these topics debated out in the open.
But we should, because there is much more than just money at stake. Valuable relationships, lifelong friendships, and reputations can be ruined in the process, regardless of whether your company succeeds or fails.
One of the best beacons can be an advisor that offers firsthand experience. The problem is that not all of us have someone a phone call away who fits that description. One alternative is to read books. There are a lot of great resources on these topics, but here are a few I recommend:
The Founder’s Dilemmas: Anticipating and Avoiding the Pitfalls That Can Sink a Startup
Perhaps one of the most comprehensive books in this area. Noam Wasserman goes through his decade of research, drawing on real world examples throughout.
Startup Boards: Getting the Most Out of Your Board of Directors
While putting energy into building a stellar board may seem trivial when you are trying to get a product off the ground, the effort can mean everything to your company in the long run. The board is your sounding board, and provides a lot of the guidance for you and the company (not to mention they can fire you).
Hatching Twitter: A True Story of Money, Power, Friendship, and Betrayal
While it doesn’t offer any actual advice, Hatching Twitter takes us through the (probably dramatized) founding story of Twitter. Hearing stories like these provides a reality check to the honeymoon phase founders go through when they first start working on an idea. Drama can and will come up, so it is best to be mentally prepared.