This list is more or
less a curation of tips I've surfaced from my reading or research and from what I've observed from being around some incredible investors and successful entrepreneurs. Note, this advice is geared towards ideation through product-market fit level startups, but the life tips are universally applicable I would say. When possible, I tried to make the tip "actionable", which I define as something that's able to be done; or an action having practical value. So, in no particular order, I give you the Startup and Life Tips for Entrepreneurs: a Journal of Thoughts...
4Findoutifpeople wantsomethingby interviewingthem. Not a
novel idea anymore, but the lesson is don't just stop at the initial interviews. Ash Maurya talks in his book Running Lean about the whole lifecycle of interviews.Also, use a tool like Intercom to keep a regular dialogue going with your customers.
It's so much better when
you can empathize with your users. Not 100% necessary, but helpful. 5Whenpossible, solveyour ownproblem.
10Findaco-founderwith complementaryskills. Kind of obvious,
but once you know your weaknesses, choose someone that has a strength in that area. The big lesson is: choose your co- founder(s) wisely because you'll be spending a whole lot of time together: do the 6-hour road trip test: can you stand being in the car with someone for 6-hrs?
You can have "too many
cooks in the kitchen" and too many shares spread across the large founder group making it harder for a sizable return. This is not a hard and fast rule, but from what I hear from seasoned investors 4+ is problematic, 1 is a basic non-starter but can be done at least at the beginning. 11Trytonothavemore than3co-founders.
12Getaccountabilityearly. Noah Kagan recommends setting
a goal and emailing a friend every day to benchmark your efforts and maintain social motivation and pride to Get Stuff Done. He did this with his friend Neville Medhora as discussed in the #coconog webinar this past holiday season.
Someone is building what you
are building, you probably just don't know it. It's shocking how little people actually spend searching for information on their idea or company. They assume that if they've never heard of it, it can't be that big. Don't be that guy. 15Getreallygood atgooglingstuff.
16Payattentiontoyour competitorsearly. They impact your
customers. I think this is more true today than maybe 5 years ago. Hiten Shah recently talked about this in a 20 Minute VC episode as well. The ease of which people can launch software now, means competition can crop up real quick.
It's called the lean startup
methodology, you may have heard of it: applying the scientific method to startups. Instead of bunsen burners and beakers in a lab; markets and customers are subject to testing as well. This advice is applicable at any stage of a company as scrum and agile deployments (micro projects and teams) statistically outperform bloated, waterfall developments. 17 Build something. Measure it. DocumentyourLearning.Repeat.
Best way to see if
someone really wants to use your product is to ask them for money. If they're willing to pay, others will be as well and you're on to something. This de-risks the idea and development investment cost. 19Chargeforyour productearly.
20.Trynottohaveamarketing budgetforaslongaspossible. Do your best
to let the product speak for itself. Focus your time on finding the online communities where your customers hangout and be a contributing member of those communities. Then reach out to patronage opinion leaders who have a following to try out your product, you can be a blog first company too (like these guys). So much "free" and unpaid efforts that can have high return. And of course, focus on building a bomb diggity product! Because if you don't have that right, no amount of marketing gasoline will help; it will just burn cash.
Control your own destiny, utilize
revenue to grow your business. Shows you have a real business. Gives you leverage as the entrepreneur. Ultimately it can come down to what your goals are and how fast you want to grow. In order to grow fast, you'll probably need to take outside investment. But a lifestyle business can be a beautiful thing. 21.Bootstrapifyoucan foraslongasyoucan.
Investors see too many deals
and are in no way interested in having to sign an NDA to have a conversation about your business.At some point,NDA's may come into play but definitely not in the initial conversations. Just shows naivete and is a red flag. 23Neveraskan investortosignanNDA.
30CreatealistofKPIstotrack (remember,accountability). What gets measured
gets managed is the old saying. How do you measure success and keep accountability? Data and numbers that will meaningfully drive your business forward and can tell you right away the health of your business at any given point in time. There's leading indicators and lagging indicators. Know the difference between the two and make sure you're KPI's are a short list at the beginning, not a spaghetti on the wall approach.
Early employees are like your
co-founders / owners and are taking risks to join you. They should believe in your vision and be aligned with the founders. 37Spendalotoftimehiringthebest people(talent,andculturalfit).
This I found in the
Greylock Partners video on Technology enabled Blitzscaling Lecture 01. Their Greymatter series is a podcast / video series of a Stanford course by Reid Hoffman and crew. 39Remember:Family,Tribe,Village, Citywhenyourstartupscales: Beadvisedyourprocesseswillbreak.
Tim Ferriss has a good
recipe for being efficient and doing more with less. Read his book. Despite it's over-marketed hype, it's very tactful and practical and Tim's got a bigger vision at play when you look at all the things he's got going on. 43Delegate,Eliminate, Automate,Liberate.
The ancients did it. The
top performers do it. You should do it. A brief philosophical point: I see prayer as a "checking in for duty" with the Lord, not a laundry list of what He needs to do for me. The Christian perspective on prayer in some sense I see is seen in the apostle Paul when he says, "I die daily". Another scripture says "Humble yourself in the sight of the Lord and He will lift you up." Prayer inherently is a humble activity and an emptying of your heart to the Lord so that he may fill you with his Holy Spirit. There's a mindset that you should "pray without ceasing", which is another Scripture. But purposeful time set apart is what I'm talking about here. Meditation, on the other hand, I see as emptying yourself of distractions through incantations, practices, etc. I'm of the opinion, both have a place, when employed with the right heart and perspective. More to come on this in another post. Ok... moving on. 45Prayand/ormeditatedaily.
It saves money and will
make you eat healthier. Eat your lunch outside, weather permitting. Or you can work for a startup that has bomb lunch plans and a gourmet chef, that works too. 48Planaheadand packyourownlunches.
Hire people for their talent
and passion for your company. Give them a beautiful and inspiring place to work, but don't make it such a point with the management team in the early days that it's distracting and detracting. Design of an office can be additive and highly relevant to how your culture is. Make it reflect that, but don't spend $1,000 on the perfect stools for the kitchen. I heard a story that Amazon took old doors and put them on work benches. That's scrappy and awesome. 49Don'tpayforofficespace untilyouabsolutelyhaveto (andwhenyoudo,staycheap).
Just something I've heard over
and over that it's very gratifying to have a physical thing that you've created. Near immediate gratification / sense of accomplishment. Oddly enough, I think those in the ministry or psychology are similar. They work on building people and sometimes you don't see progress at all so it can be frustrating. But hey, I built that lego train set today with my own hands! 51Ifyou'reinasoftwarestartup, haveahobbythatyouuseyourhands tobuildsomethingtangible/physical.
For instance, "I'm going to
work out of the Tokyo office this week". Which is a personal favorite of mine, and was originally quoted by Phil Libin, CEO of Evernote on a TWIST episode. 55Havealistof3- phrasesyouwantto beabletosayoneday.
56Taketheeffortto buildapersonalbrand. It will be
more important than you realize. This is just a general tip. It shouldn't be an over-emphasis, I just see it as a must for any workers in this day and age. You don't have to actively do the over the top branding, just own a web presence that you can show the world who you are.
Getting all spiritual on you
again, but it's so important to take regular times to review. Reflection and introspection are marks of maturity. 57Taketimetoreflect.
I've been reading in Joshua
in the Bible recently, and in like 5 chapters there's literally half a dozen references to "And Joshua arose early in the morning". Look at most successful people: they get up early. Now, you may say that you work best at night - and that's fine, again this is a general piece of advice. It also has to do with the principle of "first fruits" which I won't get into here but maybe at a later date. 59Wakeupearly.
Get stuff done that's individually
important to you. I don't check email until after I've read my Bible and prayed. I'm trying to write more in the mornings. I would venture to say almost every daily blogger / vlogger does this. 61Designateyour morningsas"metime".
62Keepmeticulousrecords. It will pay off.
Setting up processes and structures both in personal and professional record keeping will make your life so much easier when tax season rolls around or for those times when you need to find that one invoice. Easier said then done, for sure.
Both personally and as a
company! If you're not slightly uncomfortable and scared at what you're doing, then you are not pushing the boundaries and getting outside your comfort zone enough. 63Getoutsideyour comfortzone.
64Travel. Ah, Venice! Travel provides
perspective and stories. Irreplaceable, really. Now, there is a time and season so don't go galavanting to conferences or on a 4- week trip through South America right before a big product launch.
By incorporate, I mean as
a business. It's such a small thing, just do it right, and don't rush it though. When you take investment, you'll have to incorporate and you'll need to do it regardless at some point for legal and practical purposes but don't rush to do all the paperwork when you should be building an MVP and proving if your idea should be a company at all. 65Don'tincorporate untilyouhavetoo.
I listen to lots of
podcasts and talk to high performers. Almost to the man, they all do the 2x audiobook speed and most of their content is being read to them through the illustrious ear buds. 68Listento audiobooks on2xspeed.
This list is more of
a running note pad of things that I've seen, heard, read, or observed. It's in no way meant to be me preaching as I don't have the soap box to do so, but as I've said before I hope my blog can be a resource - One beggar telling another beggar where they found food. So, here's 69 morsels of bread that I've found. Go forth and prosper. Until next time, @LukeTucker - Sultan Ventures, CEO Aloha Squared