I’ve never written a post solely telling readers to read someone else’s work, but Paul Graham‘s newest essay called “What Startups are Really Like” is so good I’ll break my rule. Graham is the founder of Y Combinator, a company that funds startups and gives them guidance, money and a community for to help them start their startup. Graham emailed all of the founders of the companies Y Combinator has funded asking them what was the most surprising thing about their experience:
I’m in the unusual position of being able to test the essays I write about startups. I hope the ones on other topics are right, but I have no way to test them. The ones on startups get tested by about 70 people every 6 months.
So I sent all the founders an email asking what surprised them about starting a startup. This amounts to asking what I got wrong, because if I’d explained things well enough, nothing should have surprised them.
He took the most interesting responses and wrote an essay reacting to it. If you run a startup, are interesting in starting one or are just interested in what entrepreneurs go through to start a company, this article is a must read. Pretty much everything he says rings true to my experiences and would be advice I would give, so I will just let it stand on its own.