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Making the Leap: A Founder’s To-Do List

Read this before you leap.

There are countless pieces of advice available to new entrepreneurs. Guidance on how to efficiently manage time, how to network, how to find investors, and how to build and test a product that people want to buy. Frankly, it’s a lot to sift through. For a comprehensive guide to what every founder needs to do, look no further than our very own Leah Busque. In her latest Huffington Post column, “Making the Leap: A Founder’s To-Do List,” Leah compiled her twenty top nuggets of hard-earned wisdom for new (and veteran) founders. Whether you’re thinking of making the leap into starting your own company or you’re already half-way to the other side, this one’s worth a read.

Making the leap into starting your own business is a brave and bold move, and everyone’s path is different. There are plenty of things I wish I’d known when I decided to quit my position at IBM and work on the idea that later became TaskRabbit. Maybe that’s why one of the things I cherish most about being a founder and CEO is the opportunity to offer advice to new entrepreneurs. Here’s my ultimate to-do list for new and aspiring founders.

1. Let go. Life is like the monkey bars, you have to let go to move forward. Once you make the decision to leap into entrepreneurship, be sure to loosen your grasp on old concepts so you can swing your way to new ones.

2. Talk to everyone you know and everyone you meet about your idea. Doing this will help you gather feedback, identify problems and action steps, and bring the right people into your orbit. This type of hands-on networking still works. I met Scott Griffith, the CEO of Zipcar who helped propel my company in a huge way, through a mutual acquaintance I’d chatted up about TaskRabbit.

3. Trust your gut. It’s important to gather information and consider other points of view, but your gut calls will make or break your business. Learn to bet on yourself and have confidence in your own decisions. No one knows your business better than you.

4. Be passionate about the problem you’re trying to solve. Believing the world will be more awesome when your company succeeds gives you an edge — don’t lose it. Knowing that TaskRabbit is poised to revolutionize work as we know it is like rocket fuel to me.

5. Figure out what your personal runway looks like. Budget out how much money you can actually live on in the next 6, 12, and 18 months. Be really honest with yourself about how much you’re willing to change your lifestyle. Are you willing to go full ramen?

6. Be scrappy and lean. And don’t forget to test everything you can.

7. Build a support community full of innovators, creators, darers, and doers. Surrounding yourself with people who are actively and enthusiastically working toward their best futures will keep you moving toward your own goals.

8. Find advisers. Assemble a panel of people who know the things you don’t know, who’ve made the kinds of mistakes you’d like to avoid, and who are looking at your business from perspectives you don’t have — and get them involved every step of the way.

9. Set big goals, with small action steps. Your goals can be big, hairy, and audacious but the steps you take to get there should be specific and actionable. At TaskRabbit, we’re looking to revolutionize the way people think about work — pretty audacious — but we started at the hyper-local level and then iterated from there.

10. Use the resources in front of you, not the investment round you’re sure is around the corner. This one’s important. You may think your idea is worth millions, you may even have someone interested in writing that check, but don’t start spending like a Mega Millions winner. It’ll only distract you. Read the remaining 10 tips on Huffington Post Small Business

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