Don't be underfunded and don't leave your main job until you reach profitability, or generate enough income to sustain. if you are underfunded, the stress alone will sink you, or you won't be able to focus on any thing. An average product with big marketing dollars can succeed but the greatest of the products without sufficient marketing dollars won't go anywhere. Marketing needs as much money as you can afford to put in. That is where people underestimate and get in trouble all the time.
I would agree with Rick. I have been involved with a few start-ups since the economy went backwards. I lost my job as a consultant for a major world-wide bank. I could not find a job after almost a year 1 /2 of looking and I had to do something. I then started a business with client who became a friend. However, we had agreements but he would always say that I was a partner with him as far as he was concerned.. However, every time I asked him for this paperwork he kept on saying, he is working on it, it will be done soon. Well he never did get it to me and I ran out of money. I had to stop doing what we were doing. That was the worse 2 years of my life, as I wish I had money saved to do this, but I didn't. I also thought because he was a friend I would get a % of the company, but found out later that no, he never "said that" . So lesson learned.
Single most important lesson is to keep your expenses as low as possible when your starting up, this will insure that you can last long enough to grow that seed. Once you have grown the seed to a viable business then you can spend to grow the business.
Having started 5 companies, performed financial turn-arounds and currently assisting small companies to thrive in a harsh economy - the biggest challenges I see business owners succumb to are: 1) Neglect the intellectual capital around them missing out on viable experience which would shorten their learning curve which is critical. 2) They are working IN their business, not ON their business. When Finders are Minding or Grinding their business - it inevitably shrinks. Stay focused on growing your organization and pioneering innovation. 3) They don't pay attention to their report card which are their financials. This tells a business owner what happens in their company from when the lights are turned on in the morning to when they are turned off at night. 4) They pay too much for too little. Again, tap into the intellectual experience in your circle to ensure you are rightsizing your expenses and paying attention to your top line. - - Danita Harn, Harn and Associates
Just one... That's tough.
If I have to give just one... Things are probably going to get really tough at some point and you likely to seriously consider giving up. Just remember, you learn more by failing than quitting so keep plodding along until you either succeed or they pull the rug out from under you. Either way, be sure to carefully review the path you took to determine where you might have been better off to change directions for future reference.
If allowed a second piece of advice... No matter how much you think you know, you know less than you realize. The key is to surround yourself with people who know more about things you don't know and who challenge your way of thinking about things you do know then listen to both.
Problems are a part of business.
You have to plan. You have to keep your books. You have to build your business. You have to liaise with customers. I think a lot of new bosses see all of those things as their business, and then when a problem happens (bug, customer complaint, lose a customer) it's very stressful and disconcerting. No - problems are a part of your business - no different than keeping hot coffee brewing.
Just accept that there will always be problems, consider them part of your business, and deal with them as they arise. Don't hit the panic button every time - trust your instincts - you will now if a problem is REALLY a problem. Sometimes problems are in fact opportunities, chances to learn, etc. Just part of business.
This is probably nothing of what you expected for an answer, but my best suggestion would be to invest in good clothes. Far too many budding entrepreneurs think that being an entrepreneur means fulfilling the image of showing up to important meetings wearing a golf shirt.
I recently read "The Magic of Believing" and his advice is to buy half as much while spending twice as much. Also, the story of "The Psychology of Good Clothes" in Napoleon Hill's "The Law of Success" is a must read - it's in the chapter on enthusiasm.
Having the right image not only impresses others favorably, but it creates a strong impression on YOUR mind and gives you a feeling and persona of power you can't get otherwise.