Be a problem-solver, not a company starter: Zuckerberg’s three top tips for aspiring moguls

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has imparted some new words of wisdom to start-ups and SMEs, insisting the desire to solve a problem must always be greater than the desire to start a company.

Zuckerberg, who took to the stage at an annual start-up event held by US incubator Y Combinator, spoke about the foundations of Facebook with Y Combinator founder Paul Graham.

Here, we highlight three top tips you can learn from “the Zuck”.

1. Don’t “decide” to start up

“So much of the lesson I’ve learned is that it’s really hard to decide to start a company,” Zuckerberg said.

“[With] Facebook, I didn’t start to ‘start a company’… It was mostly just through wanting to build it and having it be this hobby and getting people around me excited.”

“It eventually evolved into a company… But I never understood the psychology of wanting to start a company before deciding what you wanted to do.”

“I started building Facebook because I wanted to use it in college… We weren’t looking to start a company.”

“I had this one friend who I went to have pizza with almost every night; we did all our computer science problem sets together at Harvard.”

“I remember telling him that I was working on this Facebook thing, and I thought it would be cool [as a service] for Harvard.”

2. Confront the competition head on

Zuckerberg and his team purposely decided to launch Facebook at other colleges that already played host to social networking sites, thus taking on the competition in the most direct manner.

This decision was made in order to determine whether Facebook was, in fact, something worth pursuing.

“I wanted to go to schools that would be hardest for us to succeed at. I knew if we had something better than the others, it would make it worth putting time into,” Zuckerberg said.

3. Be extremely flexible

“Explore what you want to do before committing. Keep yourself flexible… Starting a company too rigidly is going to change what you can do,” Zuckerberg said.

In particular, Zuckerberg said start-ups need to be able to adjust to their audience.

For example, Facebook noticed early on people were changing their profile picture on a daily basis. It was this realisation that prompted the company to place greater focus on photos.

“Our takeaway was there’s very strong demand for people to share more photos,” Zuckerberg said.

This article first appeared on StartupSmart.


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