“I have a fantastic startup idea.”
You’d be surprised how often I hear this. When I do, it’s often followed by “All I need is a developer. Let’s partner up!”.
Now don’t get me wrong, I think entrepreneurship is a great thing, and I often hear ideas that are genuinely interesting. However, a great idea isn’t enough to justify taking on such an endeavor.
Over the years, through trial and many, many errors, I’ve developed a few rules to help filter these pitches. Here are some tips:
I’ve had someone pitch me their startup idea and tell me “Most of my friends are married and have kids. You’re still single, so I figure you have plenty of free time and could even quit your job to work on this.” Yeah, thanks for choosing me over all the qualified candidates.
Seriously though, even when it’s not that obvious, you should ask yourself if you’re really the right person for the job. Do you have the experience needed? Some things you can learn on the job, but if you don’t have what it takes to deliver, things will not be fun.
This is my favorite because it weeds out 80% of the pitches. A lot of people think they have great ideas, but are not really willing to put in the time and effort needed to succeed. Before committing to any project, try to determine how serious the potential partner is.
Have they done any serious research about their business idea? Ask them to write up a short summary of their idea or put together an excel sheet with some concrete numbers. Thinking up a storm of ideas and dreaming of wild success is fun. You’ll be surprised how many people give up when even the smallest amount of real work is required of them.
This one’s important because failing to catch it early can result in heartache after lots of wasted time and effort. If everything else looks good and you’re considering working with this person, you’re eventually going to discuss partnership details. Often this boils down to who owns what percentage of this theoretical non-existent venture.
If they try to low-ball or otherwise offer you much less than you deserve, just walk away and never look back. Here’s why: If they’re already trying to haggle with you over something that doesn’t yet exist, just imagine what will happen if any level of success is achieved.
Seriously, avoid this type of partner at all cost.
I hope these tips were helpful. This wasn’t meant to be a discouraging post. Entrepreneurship (or simply building things outside of your 9-5 job) is really fun and a great experience, even if you make a bunch of mistakes and fail along the way.