If you’re serious about starting a business, take a few minutes and read Paul Graham’s Web essay “What Startups Are Really Like.”

Graham’s essay collection site is a valuable resource. He tends to post essays–a lot longer, and usually a lot more thoughtful, than a standard blog post–about once a month or so. He has a large following for good reason.

The “What Startups Are Really Like” essay includes 19 points and a conclusion, so it’s more like a 10-minute than a two-minute read, but there’s a lot of real content there.

Not that I agree with everything he says there; hardly. But he sticks his neck out a lot, writes a lot of things that could sound wrong when quoted out of context, but even these–such as “don’t worry about competitors” or “investors are clueless”–make much more sense when you read through his explanation. And if it makes you and I think about it, it’s good stuff. There’s no clear, hard, fast truth in this subject area. Thought-provoking can be as valuable a trait as true.

There are also parts of this essay that are unmitigated pure gold. Read the section “Things Change as You Grow,” for example. Oh, and “Lots of Little Things,” and “Start with Something Minimal.” He really nails it.

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Tim BerryTim Berry
Tim Berry

Tim Berry is the founder and chairman of Palo Alto Software and Bplans.com. Follow him on Twitter @Timberry.