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…
Meme stocks are yesterday’s news. The hype machine on Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs) is at full tilt. So is there something of value here for an opportunistic entrepreneur?
After spending a couple months down a serious rabbit hole on NFTs and digital assets, I can give you a qualified definite maybe. I can even tell you where I think the more tangible and realistic opportunities are.
But I’ll also warn you that there is already a great deal of chicanery happening in the space, some of it going down right out there in public.
My entrepreneurial dive into NFTs and digital…
Teaching Startup hit a paid customer milestone this week. It’s not a big “blast-it-out” kind of number because 1) Who cares? and 2) We’re still in a pilot phase.
But it’s a number that brings paid customer data to a next level of statistical significance. And that’s critically important for the customers.
See, my customers are entrepreneurs. And my product is on-demand advice and answers about building and growing their business. …
When an enterprising young entrepreneur introduces me to a new product or startup idea, one of the things that always makes me cringe a bit is when they describe their venture as: “It’s this, but for that.”
“This” is usually a loosely copycatted version of an existing successful product, reimagined to serve the distinct needs of “that,” which is usually a super-niche market segment. College students. Marketers. Athletes. Stay-at-home moms. Stay-at-home everybody.
And about a million more.
This is a mistake waiting to happen. And it’s actually not one of those train wreck mistakes that makes a lot of noise…
The tricky thing about launching a new product to market is that it’s barely even a milestone worth celebrating. What comes next is a series of chicken-and-egg problems and snap decisions on the way to product-market fit.
Then on to traction, scale, and ultimately growth.
One of the most difficult decisions a leadership team needs to make is what to do with the resources that built the product now that the product is built.
Do you focus those resources on strengthening the infrastructure that sells and supports the product? …
Can you feel the thaw coming? I mean, it’s got to happen sometime, right?
While a lot of the changes forced by the pandemic and quarantine will be permanent or long-lasting, a number of the stricter lockdown regulations imposed across the country are finally starting to thaw.
The vaccine is coming, slower than it should, but at least people are getting shots. Schools are opening, at least part time. Bars and gyms are opening, at least in small doses. Sporting events will have fans, at least until they can’t.
These “green shoots” aren’t by any means a “return-to-normal,” but as…
If a startup spends all its time chasing jackpots, it’ll just bleed its runway to death.
This is a lesson most first-time entrepreneurs don’t learn until it happens, but even experienced startup leaders can succumb to the lure of opportunity or the weight of desperation in a way that turns a risk-tolerant strategy into high-risk gambling.
There’s a huge difference between those two paths.
I’m a poker player, I have been my whole life. And while I do most of my poker playing in various casinos, I will state emphatically that what I do isn’t gambling. I’m experienced and I’m…