Two Years of Part-Time Work to get to Launch is Tough

Recently I talked to a sharp entrepreneur with tons of energy. Over the past year he’s been working part-time on a startup with a couple friends that had already been at it for a year before he joined. Product launch is right around the corner and exemplifies the challenge of working on startup part-time: taking two years of working part-time to launch a mobile app is a recipe for a slow death. I hope they succeed, I truly do. It’s just that products need oxygen (users) and founders need faster iterations to figure out what works and doesn’t work.

Most tech startups fail, that’s a fact. With high risk (and reward) comes a high likelihood of failure. Most startups fail with entrepreneurs working full-time on them, so how much more difficult is it to be successful working part-time on one? Another big challenge working part-time on an idea is that you don’t make enough progress either way. A major progress milestone is when you realize an idea isn’t going to work and it’s time to shut it down — that’s much better than taking three times as long to get there working part-time on it. Ideally, the startup does work out and you figure out what works as fast as possible, helping to reserve stamina for the long haul (it’s a marathon, not a sprint).

What else? What are your thoughts on working part-time vs full-time on a startup?

3 thoughts on “Two Years of Part-Time Work to get to Launch is Tough

  1. Working on a startup part-time is truly tough. You must have laser focus and try to completely eliminate the breaks in momentum (toughest part IMO). Outsource where you can and where applicable. Take advantage of IaaS startups that have formed over the last 18-24months (Parse, Appcelerator ACS, Kinvey, StackMob, etc.). If you’re in the B2C space, then is there something that you are building that can benefit a paying B2B customer right now? If so, then grow it to generate enough income to be able to sustain key team members on the B2C project full-time. Market size is less important than paying customers and covering expenses in this case. A product/service making a $200K/year should be all that you need for a team of 3. Give yourself a hard time line. No exceptions.

    Ask yourself these questions everyday: “Is our progress enough to complete this in our desired or required time frame?” “Am I putting my team in the best position to succeed?” “Can we out execute our competitors at this rate?”. If the answer to either one of those questions is no, then you need to reformulate and create a strategy that will lead to all yes for all questions. I can go on and on, but it all starts with an honest evaluation of the business, industry, and goals.

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