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…
Have you ever bought a product that you expected to be great, but when you used it you were really disappointed?
I know why this happens. I know because I’ve built awesome products that nobody wanted. In fact, I’ve done it enough times to know that when it happens, it usually comes down to the same problem:
The product was nothing more than a great collection of features.
When you read those most basic definitions, the gap between builder and customer becomes a lot easier to…
Last year, I founded the Teaching Startup project using only no-code tools, just to prove it could be done. Within a month, it was profitable, growing, and yesterday, the app was named Bubble’s App of the Day.
No-code is no joke.
No-code tools have quickly become powerful building blocks for both technical and non-technical creators alike. They’re especially helpful for quickly and inexpensively standing up web-based or mobile applications.
But can a non-technical founder use no-code tools to create an entire tech-based startup? It seems the answer is unequivocally yes.
Earlier this month, I wrote an article calling for teaching…
In this week’s issue of Teaching Startup (#73), I answered a startup CEO’s question about when to start working on their startup’s second product. My answer dove deep into who should be dedicated to the new product, how much time should be spent, and when to start.
But I offered this warning first:
Keep 100% of your focus and resource utilization on the thing that makes the money.
That statement seems like common sense, right? But if you’re an entrepreneur, it’s one of the hardest things in the world to do. …
Have you ever asked your paying customers how much your product or service is worth?
I do this a lot, and it’s not as scary as it might seem. Often, the majority say the product is worth more than what they’re paying for it. And that’s a good problem to have, right?
Well, yes and no. On one hand, it proves my business offers a lot of value. But it also shows that I’m leaving money on the table. In some cases, lots of money.
Undervaluing a product or service is a common startup pricing mistake. Once I understood why…
Growth hacking isn’t just a marketing concept. And it’s more than just trying idea after idea until something goes viral. Growth hacking is an ongoing process that starts with innovations in your product and ends with a larger customer base.
A lot of talk around “growth hacking” makes the concept sound like wizardry. It isn’t. So how do you do it?
I’ve often taken the lessons I’ve learned from successful growth stories like AirBnB, Hubspot, and DropBox, and applied them to my own startups. …
In this week’s issue of Teaching Startup (#72), I answered an entrepreneur’s question about when to establish his C-Corporation. Since I know entrepreneurs aren’t coming to Teaching Startup for basic information that anyone can find with a quick web search, I dove into all the reasons WHY a founder needs to establish their business entity.
A surprising number of those reasons have to do with the founder’s personal and professional protection.
At the end of my answer, I pushed the founder to seek out and hire an accountant, at least part-time, to lock down the financial protection that he and…