Ask anyone who’s worked at more than one startup and they’ll probably tell you the same thing: Young companies start to go off the rails once they hit 50 employees. I call this the “teenager” startup phase, and I’ve been there several times, both as an employee and an executive.
What does this look like?
Employee one through 10: At a certain point, the original employees stop learning new people’s names. They won’t come right out and say it but they start to resent having to show yet another noob how to do the same simple things. …
If you want to give your new business a decent shot at success, you need to build traction — clear, measurable evidence that people are interested in what your company is offering. And that won’t happen on Day One.
So why do startups make big, splashy announcements the day they launch? Because that’s the way it’s been done for ages. But that strategy can actually do more harm than good.
When no one knows who you are or what you do, you need to buck conventional wisdom and launch quietly, without fanfare. It took me almost 20 years and a…
Let’s talk about how much you should charge customers for something when you’re not totally sure what that thing is yet.
A startup has to get its pricing right or the product will be dead at launch. The problem is, there aren’t a lot of hard and fast rules for pricing a brand new product. It’s an individual exercise, and the right answers are specific to your market, your company, and the as-yet-unknown value of the product to your customers.
Throw in the uncertainty surrounding a minimum viable product, and the pricing process usually generates more questions than answers. I…
At startups, the difference between survival and running out of runway always comes down to taking our eyes off revenue.
We don’t want to do this, and we certainly don’t do it on purpose. But when we’re in the middle of the startup run, it’s pretty easy to fall into a trap of wasting time on feel-good tasks that feel like progress but don’t bring in any money.
No entrepreneur is immune to this trap, myself included. It’s part of the drive that makes the successful entrepreneurs successful.
I’ve founded, worked at, and advised a ton of startups, and each…
Last week, Teaching Startup, my project to make entrepreneurs better by answering their questions, ran a poll asking where automation would best help their businesses. The results sparked an eye-opening discussion.
We have all kinds of different entrepreneurs in Teaching Startup — at all different stages, each with a very unique solution. So as you might imagine, the answers were somewhat all over the place, but not as random as I would have originally thought.
The top answer was not just a plurality but a majority. 55% of respondents want to apply more technology to operations.
No matter if your…
Let me ask you a quick hypothetical. If you could fire off an email to 1,000 people who might be interested in your product or service, how many of them would convert and buy?
You might not have a ready answer for this question, and that’s OK. Most of the time, I can’t put a hard number on it either, especially early in the life of the product. But it’s an important question to ask and answer.
What comes out of that answer is product-market fit, and that’s one of the most difficult concepts for any startup to nail down…
There has never been a better time to start a business. These days, almost anyone can quickly set up an infrastructure that can automate most or all of the business functions around marketing, producing, and even delivering a product.
There’s just one area that hasn’t caught up yet. Even with all the advancements in technology that have brought about automated marketing solutions, no-code software development platforms, and point-and-click fulfillment options, there’s no magic bullet out there that will sell your product for you.
So even though it’s never been easier to start a business, it’s still just as difficult, if…
One of my favorite Teaching Startup members sent us a nice, out-of-the-blue email this week, telling us how much she liked “lurking” in Teaching Startup to get answers to pressing questions her peers were asking.
I had never thought of it as “lurking” before, but as soon as she said it, it made total sense.
I’m a hands-on learner, as are most entrepreneurs. I’ve never been a fan of classroom learning in general, but I understand why it’s important.
I’ve been an Entrepreneur-in-Residence in the classroom for an entrepreneurship program at a well-known business school. I’ve had multiple dialogues with…
Before we get into this, I’m going to first clarify that you should do everything in your power to satisfy every single one of your customers.
It’s hard to argue against making customers happy, but I’m going to do it anyway, because living by the rule that the customer is always right is a dangerous game when you’re trying to innovate.
I’m not talking about Henry Ford pushing forward with the automobile while his customers allegedly clamored for faster horses. I’m asking you to decide whether you’re willing to bet everything on your solution.
I get negative customer feedback quite…
Take a few minutes to think about what you’re selling. The tech behind your product is probably pretty slick. But you’re probably selling that technology, and that needs to change.
Understanding tech is both a blessing and a curse. Company leaders who have a solid grasp of what’s fueling their product — whether it’s software, hardware, hard science like chemistry, or soft science like psychology— these folks can get a concept working and into MVP quickly. But they also tend to fall into the sales trap more often than others.
It happens to new and veteran entrepreneurs and leaders alike…