Now that I've started a business (whether or not it is successful is yet to be seen), I have found myself in the strange position of giving advice.
I recommend two things:
1. Find mentors.
2. Find a partner.
I put mentors before finding a partner, simply because I think it's good for everyone to have a reality check before they drag someone else into something possibly disastrous, possibly wonderful (but definitely, in all cases, something all-consuming).
I started working with mentors almost a full year before opening this business (I found mentors through SCORE). They scrutinized my numbers, told me I needed to pay myself more, told me point-blank that the likelihood of finding outside investment was next to none. These were all very useful things to hear.
I can't remember if they told me to find a partner.
But I knew I needed one.
Benefits of having a partner:
1. Accountability. Accountability. Accountability. You said you were going to do that thing you didn't do, and she knows.
2. Support. Everyone needs to be reminded that what they're doing is good and worthwhile. Starting a business is scary at times. There is a lot of risk, financial, emotional, and otherwise. It's good to have someone in your corner fighting with you.
3. Sharing the emotional burden. There are so, so, so many decisions you are going to have to make. Your brain will get tired. You won't know if you're making the right choice. If you have a partner, you share that strain, and you have someone to question your judgement when it needs to be questioned.
I am really lucky that my eventual business partner sort of came to me. Lis joined nido when it was in its infancy. She showed up at my door, full of energy and excitement, ready to get started. Every interaction I had with Lis was positive and left me feeling uplifted and motivated. I knew pretty quickly that she would be instrumental to nido's success in some way. Then I pondered for awhile if I should ask her to go in with me as a partner. After all, I'd only known her for a couple of months.
But I knew two things: 1. I knew we were mission-aligned, and 2. I knew she was willing to work hard. I know we could have done an in-depth analysis of our strengths and weaknesses, but I honestly think those two things are more important than anything else.
I am so glad I asked her, nervously, over a glass of wine, if she would join me hand-in-hand in this crazy endeavor. And I'm glad she agreed to do so. There is no way nido would be where it's at today if Lis and I weren't working together on it.