Tag Archives: startup

Thoughts on Building a Small Business Culture

TMBA300: Thoughts on Building a Small Business Culture
Date: 2015-07-16
Link: Tropical MBA
Tropical MBAEverybody who has a multi-million dollar business has a team.
Even if you can’t hire people now knowing that is the direction you are going will affect how you build your business.
Understand how much a time zone change can have an effect on a business.
If you’re going to have a creative business collaboration is key.
Having four hours of overlap a day is key to getting things done.
In the beginning cut your salary in half.
Pay your people more than you make (at the beginning) because you are building an asset.
Optimize for learning not for earning (when looking for a job).
Make the culture about the business.
At the end of the day you want to build a team around people who are super pumped about the work you are doing on a day-to-day basis.
Get everyone talking to each other and not through you.
Customers have more market intelligence than you do.
Group calls of more than two or three people are wildly inefficient.

Podcasts for Startup Founders

Episode 240 | Podcasts for Startup Founders
Date: 2015-06-09
Link: Startups for the Rest of Us
Startups for the Rest of UsListen to podcast episodes at 1.5x to 2x speed.
Bootstrapped Web (Motivational & Tactical)
Bootstrapped with Kids (Motivation & Entertainment)
Founder’s Journey
Product People
Rogue Startups (Motivational & Tactical)
Startups For the Rest of Us
Tropical MBA
Zen Founder
Nights & Weekends
Zero to Scale
The Rocketship (Motivational & Tactical)
Seth Godin’s Startup School
Startup (Entertainment)
This Week in Startups
The Art of Paid Traffic (Tactical)
Conversion Cast (Tactical)
Entrepreneurial Thought Leaders
Kalzumeus podcast

7 Takeaways from MicroConf Vegas 2015

Episode 233 | 7 Takeaways from MicroConf Vegas 2015
Date: 2015-04-21
Link: Startups for the Rest of Us
Startups for the Rest of UsRelationships are crucial.
If things are going wrong and nobody notices–things are going great.
If you have a product you need to find your fit first (before you start marketing).
Buttons matter. Test them in conjunction with headlines.
Even if things are best practices you still have to test them.
Don’t make big decisions when you are not at your peak level of performance.
HALT – Don’t make big decisions when you are hungry, angry, lonely, tired or sick.
The most important SaaS metric that no one talks about is profit.
You don’t have to spend money. You can just keep it.
If you are catering to everybody you are catering to nobody.

Breaking through SaaS Plateaus with Ruben Gamez

Episode 231 | Breaking through SaaS Plateaus with Ruben Gamez
Date: 2015-04-07
Link: Startups for the Rest of Us
Startups for the Rest of UsThe first plateau is higher if the price point for the product is higher.
Getting to product/market fit is harder than you think.
When it is just you you need to focus on one thing.
You need to get enough volume (of trials) before optimizing.
You can’t optimize your way into a $10,000 a month business.
You are probably not going to get pricing right when you launch.
It the first few weeks or months is when you need to be testing pricing the most.
You can forecast when you are going to plateau.
Unless businesses have zero churn they are going to plateau at some point in time.

Blue is Where You Should Be

Title: Blue is Where You Should Be
Date: 2015-05-06
Speaker: Mike Rothenberg (Rothenberg Ventures)
Link: Entrepreneurial Thought Leaders
The more stupid you feel asking questions the more you need to ask that question immediately.It is really important what people are trying to do and what their mission is.
Entrepreneurship is an incredibly exciting place to apply pattern recognition and problem solving because those are unsolvable problems.
Everybody is more complicated (than a resume).
What you have to decide is what are your values? Are they good for you and are they really what you should be pursuing?
Be relentlessly open to feedback.
The first time you ask someone for feedback, even if it someone you really trust, they will tiptoe.
The more stupid you feel asking questions the more you need to ask that question immediately.
Great founders are amazing at getting support.
Entrepreneurship is getting support outside of things that you can control.
You can observe who are good entrepreneurs by observing who they are building relationships with.
The network is the only thing that matters in seed.
Everyone in a network must benefit from it.
Some of the first choices you make matter a lot.
To engage a community you actually have to do things that people care about and you have to do it on a regular basis.
Everyone is rational. Everyone is an incentive creature. If you think someone is acting irrationally then you don’t understand them.
You know awesome when you see it.
Philanthropy is really awesome.
Execution is vastly more important than ideas.

Advice from Startup School 2014

Y Combinator’s annual Startup School is one of my favorite startup-related events. I haven’t been lucky enough to be picked to attend in person but have always tried to watch them live. They are so inspiring that I always want to get back to working on my startup before the intermission!
With this being the month that I’m clearing out a huge backlog of content, and with this being so much great advice, these notes from Startup School 2014 have got to be posted in the first week.
Enjoy and good luck with your startup!

Ron Conway

You are an entrepreneur for life.
Most entrepreneurs correctly self-select.
Entrepreneurs are born with some of the basics.
Starting a company is the hardest thing on earth to do.
You have to learn to hire a management team.
The really great entrepreneurs are 24/7.
You have to be a good communicator. You have to get others as excited as you.
Your idea has to be infectious enough to find a co-founder.
A need and an idea are what big companies are based on.
The realization that other people might want it comes afterward.
After serendipity you have to start working on product/market fit.
Most co-founders end up collaborating and come up with the idea together.
A lot of ideas that seem like they are bad end up being huge. It is about persistence and conviction about your idea.
Have rifle focus on the product.

Danae Ringelmann

If you are that pissed off about something then do something about it.
When you care about something and you spew it to the world people that also care about it will join you.
The Internet is the most democratic tool out there.
Focus on your why.
There will be dark periods.
Your why gets you through the early years.
You have to be passionate about what you are doing in spite of reason.
In order to empower the word you have to be everywhere in the world.
Having a really good why attracts amazing people.
The best people can work anywhere.
Your why attracts your customers.
Be intentional with your culture.
Culture is who you are and how you are. It is the people within your team and it is how you behave every single day.
A culture is happening whether you know it or not.
Find partners and team members that are nothing like you.
Values and behaviours start with you as the founder.
Over time revisit behaviours.
Culture is not a top down thing. It is not something (as a founder) you can create. It is something you can influence.
Technology is not the end–it is just the means to an end.

Kevin Systrom

You don’t have to be the best but you have to be dangerous.
You need to find people drawn to the idea you build and they will take it and make it better.
What people tell you and how people act are very very different sometimes.
Sometimes it is not about the idea you are working on but about the skills you learn while working on it.
There is no perfect next move.
It take trying, trying, and trying again.
Every little experience adds up.
Go to where the people are (that you want to be around and learn from).
Hiring starts well before you need people.
Be relentless.
99% of ideas don’t work.
You have to be your own advocate.
It takes a lot of hard work once you are lucky.
You can’t build a community from scratch easily.

Reid Hoffman

Think in term of economic ecosystems.
If you don’t get the first million then the hundreds of millions don’t happen.
You really have to think about how to break through the noise.
The number of companies (started) that really matter every year is between one and five.
Look where other people really aren’t.
What problem do I need to tackle aggressively to think I am on the right path?
You want to raise more than you are going to need to get to a milestone that is going to make a major difference in the company.
The money isn’t what gives you the time–it is the market.
Just because you say you have a network does not mean you have a network.
With integrity appearance matters as well as substance.

Jim Goetz and Jan Koum

Lack of focus creates challenges for a company. (Jim Goetz)
Focus on your existing users. (Jan Koum)
To get it right is a lot of hard work. (Jan Koum)

Eric Migicovsky

You have to launch early and often.
If you are looking for press there is no wrong way to do it.
Every hardware company is going to be asked if they can become a software company.

Andrew Mason

You don’t need to be reading business books on how to get good at business.
Most startups have this phase when things are not working.
Come up with a playbook you can rinse and repeat and use over and over again.
People aren’t usually evil, crazy, or stupid.
It is the million little decisions that really make the difference between success and failure.
Think of a business as an opportunity to inject an idea into the world that hopefully makes a difference.
Values are the behaviours or principles you religiously adhere to in your company. NO amount of data will sway you from those principles.

Michelle Zatlyn & Matthew Prince

There is no silver bullet. (Michelle Zatlyn)
Sweating the little details make a significantly bigger difference in being successful. (Matthew Prince)
Eventually you have to ship product. (Michelle Zatlyn)
If you’re fighting with your co-founder about who does what you probably have the wrong co-founder. (Matthew Prince)
Sharing the same vision, and trusting one another, makes a great founding team. (Michelle Zatlyn)
As a startup your greatest asset is momentum. You have to make product. (Michelle Zatlyn)
Momentum is how really big companies get built. (Michelle Zatlyn)
Sometimes when you know a lot about an industry you don’t check your assumptions enough. (Michelle Zatlyn)
Good engineers want to work on hard technical problems. (Michelle Zatlyn)
If you can see all of the problems it probably isn’t a big enough of an idea. (Matthew Prince)
When you think about the idea you’re working on make sure it is big and it matters. (Michelle Zatlyn)
Pick something you’re going to put your blood, sweat, and tears into because there is going to be a lot of blood, sweat, and tears. (Michelle Zatlyn)
Once you make a decision about who to take money from–it is very hard to get out of that decision. It is okay to ask questions up front. (Michelle Zatlyn)

Hosain Rahman

If you believe in what you think is right…then stay the course.
When you actually go focus on–ruthlessly–what you are trying to solve–you can transform your business overnight.
Don’t forget the lessons from when you are on the ground getting your teeth kicked in.
You have to make stuff that people will pay more than you pay to make it.
Emmett Shear
Don’t give up.
Four-person founding teams are generally a bad idea.
Identify the users that are the most important.
Don’t do business development deals. As a small company they are useless.
If you keep at it you will get better.
Make sure you take care or your mental and physical health because it is a long road.

How to Deal With Haters

Episode 227 | How to Deal With Haters
Date: 2015-03-10
Link: Startups for the Rest of Us
Startups for the Rest of UsThe first type of hater is a bean counter. They count your expenses for you and make you afraid of what you are doing.
The second type of hater is expert spectator. They look at the things you are going through and learning and dismissing them as obvious and asking why you are wasting your time and effort doing them.
Feedback can be constructive assuming it is communicated well.
Don’t speak to people that are toxic.

An Audio Response to Alex Blumberg and Gimlet Media’s “Startup” Podcast

TMBA286: An Audio Response to Alex Blumberg and Gimlet Media’s “Startup” Podcast
Date: 2015-03-19
Link: Tropical MBA
Tropical MBABook: Traction
Have your distribution strategy mapped out before you build your business.
Launch your business by telling a story.
What is scarce isn’t great stories it is great storytellers.
There is a real value in being transparent.
Startups infuse you with purpose and excitement.
Once you’ve raid venture capital you can never walk away.

The Startup Journey: A Marathon, Not a Sprint

Title: The Startup Journey: A Marathon, Not a Sprint
Date: 2015-02-25
Speaker: Joshua Reeves (ZenPayroll)
Link: Entrepreneurial Thought Leaders
The magic of entrepreneurship is the idea of wanting to take the impossible and make it real.Academics tie to what you do in a work environment.
(For college) the actual mindset is more valuable than the coursework you are going through.
Discover who you are. Discover what you care about. Understand the things that interests you. That requires experimentation.
With school there is no right or wrong answer.
When you choose what you want to do when you graduate think about who you want to become like.
There are two main types of learning. There is academic learning and there is tactical learning.
Tactical learning is learning whatever it is you need to learn to overcome the obstacle in front of you.
You can have ten years of work pass by without ever taking a step back to determine if you like what you are doing.
Set up your own quarter or semester system. Set up that (introspective time) otherwise life will pass you by.
Solve a problem that you can imagine spending the rest of your life working on.
Deciding who you are going to start a company with matters way, way more than skills or expertise. Understand what their motivations are and that they align with your motivations.
Solve a problem by creating a business rather than creating a business to solve a problem.
Payroll is more about people than payments.
Don’t be intimidated by your lack of knowledge. It can be a huge asset for you as well.
Starting a business is a labor of love.
Celebrate the human aspect of what it means to work.
It is a very intense experience to build a company.
Fundraising is not about capital–it is about people.
You can almost apply the same lens to fundraising as you do to hiring.
It is not a zero-sum game.
We can always get better.
Values are who you are. They are what you stand for.
Giving equity aligns economic outcomes and every person is an owner of the business–literally. Nobody should be treated as an employee. Nobody should be treated as if they are there to complete a single task.
Building things that are really great, and have a big impact on the world, take time.
Trust your team.
Fire yourself from as many jobs as you can.
It is an incredible time to be in technology and startups.
There are a lot of problems out there and a business exists to solve problems.
As long as there are problems there are opportunities for new businesses to be created.
Find a problem that really matters to you.
There are a lot of problems out there waiting to be solved.
The magic of entrepreneurship is the idea of wanting to take the impossible and make it real.
Interviewing isn’t just them learning about you. It is you learning about them.
If you are in a business that doesn’t have a lot to do then you are probably not in a very interesting business.
Mentorship can happen in many ways.
All that matters is the way that you spend your time.
It is not just what you do but who you do it with.
It is not just about accomplishing the goal but how you accomplish that goal.
You can never go wrong by overly focusing on people.
Heroism doesn’t scale. Heroes become martyrs.

Putting Startup Success in Perspective

Title: Putting Startup Success in Perspective
Date: 2015-02-18
Speaker: John Collison (Stripe)
Link: Entrepreneurial Thought Leaders
Question the way things work.Startups over time tend to get higher and higher up in how they describe themselves.
A challenge you will face as you go through the early stage with your early customers is figuring out what is core to the product and what is not. What should be part of your vision and what will need to change as you hit obstacles with your customers?
Vision is what you are not willing to change.
There will be things that make sense in the early days that don’t scale later on.
Obvious in hindsight doesn’t really help you.
Be mindful in the day to day life you live.
We live in a world that is completely broken in a lot of small and big ways.
Question the way things work.
Companies that are successful in changing an industry are often not started by insiders.
We are all swimming in opportunity but it is often really, really hard to see it.
Bad ideas take a lot of time and often never achieve escape velocity but good ideas take a really long time to achieve escape velocity too.
It is important to be really clear in your own mind, and as time goes on be good at communicating, about what is unique about what you are doing.
The Internet economy should not be the U.S.–it should be the world–and we need to fight really hard to make that happen.
Product strategy is always going to be really hard.
You have to get good at pretty quickly learning new skills.
A bad mistake when it comes to hiring is so demotivating–it can spread badly to the rest of the company.
The correct way to do hiring is branches of a tree–when you hire someone you are not just bringing them you are bringing their effect on the culture and all of the other people they are going to bring in with them.
It is important as you grow to become more metrics driven.
The quality and tenor of your personal interactions matter a lot.