They don’t always tell you what to expect when it comes to being an aspiring entrepreneur. And there are always things you wish you’d known before you started. That’s why I wanted to share with you today my top five tips:

1. Learn to live with feeling a little bit sick most of the time

Starting a business, and especially cutting edge software, it seems, is not for the faint-hearted. Every day is a roller coaster of extreme highs, extreme lows and adrenaline. I’ll be honest, I’ve had to learn to live with it, but I still wake up in the middle of the night sweating.

2. Don’t test – do it!

The Lean Start Up Methodology tells us to create a minimum viable product (MVP), release it and get actual customer feedback, rather than traditional Alpha/Beta testing.

It sounded like a good idea with iConsult, so we did, and the MVP did its job perfectly: it generated revenue, but ultimately failed. We gained so much real usage data that we were really able to validate the customer demand, and learn what we call the “Fundamental Three”.

These underpin everything about iConsult: Speed – has to work quickly, Ease – has to be easy to use, and Power – has to add value to the business, the patient and the practitioner. I’m convinced that without actually going for it with the MVP we would not have got this real world quality in the feedback and would have missed this important learning experience.

3. Tell everyone what you are doing

There are two schools of thought on protecting yourself and your IP: tell no one, or tell everyone, and I’m with the latter. Of course there is always the risk that you tell someone who will steal your idea, but isn’t the bigger risk here that you miss getting a really useful bit of guidance, advice or feedback just at the right time? If you are too cautious, maybe you’re not as far ahead of the competition as you think. I really don’t mind telling people about iConsult, our goals, where we are currently, or even about the next planned update. I’m the company founder, I should be shouting about how great we are and what a great product we have. So should you.

4. Move quickly

This is key, you must be quick and nimble. Opportunity presents itself all the time, and I’ve seen first-hand individuals and companies fail to take advantage, and it’s primarily down to the length of time it takes to make a decision. If you imagine that each decision you make is going to be 50:50 in terms of its success, your intelligence and judgement need to improve the odds.

The question to ask: “Will it drive us forward?” if yes, go for it; if no, don’t bother.

5. Have a mantra. 

This helps deal with Tip one!

“One can choose to go back toward safety or forward toward growth. Growth must be chosen again and again. Fear must be overcome again and again.” – Abraham Maslow

What would your top five be?

*Bonus Tip: Be grateful.

Remember that everyone you meet is fighting their own battles and trying to get on, so be grateful for your successes, act with integrity, be kind, and be generous. It will be repaid.