Marc Hedlund at O'Reilly Radar has a great post with advice for entrepreneurs. There is a lot of advice, all on the money. I really have nothing to add to his list. Well, that's not true. Here are some additions of my own:
Work with people that you like, respect and trust--It's going to be tough going, everyone is going to be challenged, and pressure wil run high. Everyone has to wear multiple hats and you have to be able to trust your colleagues to pick up the slack that others can't. The ups and downs are infinitely easier to handle if you can, at the end of a killer day/week/month, enjoy the journey with your colleagues regardless of the final outcome.
Do one thing and do it well--Don't create a business plan that is going to launch several different products simultaneously, go after several different markets, or create a product that meets several different consumer needs. Focus on one thing like a laser and execute. If you are successful at that one thing, there will be time to expand to other opportunities.
Be nimble in your pitch--Some investors really want to dig down into the details of the technology, others trust your expertise and want to dive into the financials. Read your audience and adjust your presentation accordingly. Don't act like you're reading a script.
Don't back down--VCs will demean your plan, technology, forecast, experience. They are testing you to see how you react, whether you properly defend yourself, and whether you have the spine to stick with your vision. If you are worth their money, you should be able to respond to whatever they throw at you. Stand by your plan, be confident and be able to back everything that you say. You should be the expert at what you are pitching--show it.
Here are a few items from Marc's extensive list:
Prudence becomes procrastination -- it's great to research your market and talk to potential buyers about your ideas. It's terrible to let an excess of this become a impediment to getting started. Too much prudence edges away from research and into procrastination.
Build the simplest thing possible -- engineers have the hardest time with this, with not overdesigning for the need they're addressing. Make the simplest possible product that makes a significant dent in that need, and you'll do far better than you would addressing two or three needs at once. Simplicity leads to clarity in everything you do.
For investors, the product is nothing -- the classic engineer's VC pitch has ten slides about the product and two about the academic achievements of the founders. That's a terrible pitch. One slide should be about the product, while the rest cover the market, competitors, financials, funding history, and the relevant experience of the team. The product matters far less to most investors than the reactions of customers, the properties of the market, and the credibility of the team. Obsess about the product on your own time; present your business in all of its parts.