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…
Listen, I’m not your boss. I’m not trying to bludgeon you with a motivational hammer. I’m coming to you as your friend. And I’m telling you the same things I had to tell myself not too long ago.
It’s time to get back to work.
It’s time to personally reintegrate with the professional world and figure out how to operate in the new normal — which, coincidentally, is looking like it’s not going to be too different from the old normal.
That said, one of the main differences between now and then is that there are shards of opportunity scattered…
In today’s issue #60 of the Teaching Startup Premium Newsletter, I answered two new questions from working entrepreneurs.
The first was about how much marketing you should do for a new website launch, and a few questions you need to ask about your company, your product, your website, and your goals.
The second was about how to create a “full stack” customer experience without spending a ton of time and money getting it started.
There were also results from a poll about how customer prospects first see your product, because that’s as important as how they’ll use it when they…
I’m willing to bet that there’s at least one software app that you use regularly for work that got on your radar because someone you know was already using it.
The most obvious culprit is Zoom, which became the de facto means of remote communication during the pandemic lockdown. Even though GoToMeeting and Webex were already the industry standard for company web conferencing and Microsoft’s Teams and Google’s Meet had begun their evolution from personal video chat to business tool, Zoom became as ubiquitous to video meetings as Google was to search.
But there are a host of other apps…
There are two distinct schools of thought around the concept of Minimum Viable Product (MVP).
Some people think MVPs are the scourge of tech startups. They’ll point out that there’s a growing swamp of hastily-thrown-together apps, which constantly lower the quality curve of the ecosystem by purposely offering substandard builds.
Harsh, but not wrong.
Others believe that MVPs are the single best way for an entrepreneur to prove product-market fit without sinking a ton of time and money into overbuilding a complete product that may never sell to a single customer.
They’re actually both right, but all that tension between…
Digital marketplaces have been a popular startup trend for a while, and there doesn’t appear to be an end in sight.
I still get a couple questions a week from founders of two-sided marketplaces (2SMs), the digital middleware between customer and vendor that takes a cut of every product or service transaction conducted within its digital walls. In return, said marketplace purports to make each transaction frictionless and cost-beneficial to both the customer and the vendor.
2SMs seem like a no-brainer of a business model that can be applied to any field or industry. Put psychiatrists or plumbers or dog-sitters…
In this week’s issue of Teaching Startup, I answered an entrepreneur’s question about how to find more time.
See, when you’re an entrepreneur, time is your most valuable asset. You can raise money, you can hire talent, you can generate new ideas. Time, on the other hand, can’t be bought, copied, or outsourced.
This entrepreneur’s particular time problem was one I hear a lot. He already owns and runs a steady consulting business that’s paying the bills and even scratching his entrepreneurial itch a little. But he also has a dream idea for a product. …