11 things to do in the first 100 days of a startup

A founder should be mentally prepared for the challenges and also be prepared to make critical decisions, which would help the startup survive during turbulent times.
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Think of a startup like a newborn baby. 

It needs the right caregivers to nurture it very delicately in its initial days. Your startup, too, needs the right hires right from the beginning. It cries all night when the product/app has bugs or flaws. And more importantly, it needs constant care and attention as even a minor mistake might prove catastrophic. 

The first 100 days of a startup set the foundation of your business. A founder should be mentally prepared for the challenges and also be prepared to make critical decisions, which would help the company survive during turbulent times.

Here are 11 things you must do in the first 100 days of your startup.

Research, research, research!

Learn as much about your market as possible. You need to know the space you are catering to inside out so that you can mould your product for the best market fit.

What are the competitors doing? What do the customers want? How are the customers responding to the competitor’s products? What are the shortcomings of competitors’ products?

Once you figure out these questions, you can bridge the gap between what the customer needs and what is not done by the existing solutions. 

Get your goals straightened

As a founder, it is your responsibility to set the vision and goal for yourself and the employees of your company. These first 100 days will help you understand your area of focus and ways to deal with the challenges that get thrown at you (yes, thrown!).

Setting your goals will help keep you sane and aligned. When you set goals, don’t worry about achieving them. 

Create a blueprint

For the first 100 days, you should focus on creating a blueprint of the future — the product roadmap, potential revenue and expenses, and probable funding you need to achieve these milestones. This would be your compass for the way forward.

Your team is your pillar: Focus on building an A+ team

No one can whistle a symphony; it takes a whole orchestra to play it.

Building an A+ team is paramount to achieve your goals, and this is going to be super hard as without capital, it is extremely hard to build a team.

However, one needs to be ready to sell their vision to potential co-founders, core team members, or even middle or junior team members.

While you are trying to build a team, don’t get disheartened if people choose other well-funded startups and established companies instead of your startup.  

Have fun along the way: Build an awesome culture  

One does not need to write decks and blogs about company culture. Just figure out the right culture for your organisation. Focus on having fun, celebrate as a team on achieving milestones, and leading from the front.

Always keep the right frame of mind: Try to get family support

Building a startup is a roller coaster ride; make sure to keep your calm and remember why you are doing this. You need to be mentally stronger than ever during this period. Before you start, please discuss with all the important members of your family (especially, parents and spouse) and set their expectations right.

They may be the initial critics, but they would be a bedrock of support in times of crisis. Trust me, you will find yourself in such times often during your startup journey.

Make sure you keep your family constantly updated on your progress during these initial few days (and continue later as well), so they understand why you need to work extra hard and spend considerable time away from the family.

Build a thick skin

Building a startup means you will come across several naysayers, and one needs to build a thick skin to deal with them. Even your well-wishers may not approve of your plans. 

Fundraising

While it may seem too early, you would need to carve out your fund-raising cycles in the first 100 days itself. 

How much would you need to raise to hit a target of $XX? What are the valuation norms in your industry? Who are the active investors in your space? These are a few questions you need to answer.

It is best to talk to founders who have already gone through this journey. Research can also be of great help to know who are the right investors and what time one should start fundraising.

Always choose the right investors at the right terms and valuation. Getting the wrong investor can be catastrophic. Ensure you have done your diligence on the investor you choose. It is best to have a competent legal advisor, CS, or an experienced mentor/founder whet your docs before you sign the dotted line. 

Be laser focused

Given the resources are limited, the best currency founders have in the first 100 days is their own bandwidth and energy. Don’t let this get diluted in doing 10 different things. Just do one thing, and do that well.

Never stop learning

There is no end to learning for an entrepreneur who is setting up their business. In the first 100 days, the founder must have their mind open to excessive learning — be it from external stakeholders or internal.

There is so much to learn while interacting with people from diverse backgrounds that one can apply to their own product. Read a lot and read books every day about specific skills which you lack (for instance, hiring, product, culture, etc.).

Some of the books one can read in the first 100 days are: “Let's Build a Company: A Start-up Story Minus the Bullshit” by Harpreet Grover and Vibhore Goyal — a must-read book for first-time entrepreneurs. 

Get a mentor

One of the hardest things for an entrepreneur is to make critical decisions frequently, and thus, every first-time entrepreneur needs a sounding board or a mentor.

The ideal mentors may not necessarily be family members or the biggest names in the startup industry, but people who have gone through this journey before and can provide unbiased advice without being judgmental.

In the first 100 days of building your startup, try to actively seek an ideal mentor for yourself. This is going to be an iterative process so keep interacting with multiple people and analyse who seems to be a perfect fit for the role. 

Edited by Suman Singh

(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)