17 Pithy Insights For Startup Founders

Regular readers of this blog will know by now that brevity is usually not one of my talents.  So, I thought I’d make an attempt at capturing a series of small entrepreneurial “sound bites”.  The idea is to have a short thought or pithy lesson from my 12+ years of working with startups.  I’m hoping that the value/word ratio is reasonably high.  Apologies if some of these sound trite, but I couldn’t avoid it

17 Pithy Insights For Startup Founders
  1. Seek transparency and understanding with your partners early.  Issues get harder as time passes

  1. Startup founders work long hours for a reason.  There’s more work than there are people.  If you’re seeking balance, seek it elsewhere.

  1. Bad customers will drain you of passion.  Really bad customers will drain you of both passion and profits.  Unfortunately, most bad customers will degenerate into really bad customers if you don’t do something about it.
  1. If you’re changing direction often, worry a little.  If you’re changing people often, worry a lot.
  1. It’s lonely at the top, but even lonelier at the bottom.  In the early days of a startup, hardly anyone wants to talk to you (except some desperate vendors).
  1. Eventually, your product will need to work and do something useful.  No amount of marketing or strategy will get you around this.
  1. At the end of each day, ask yourself:  “Did the product get better for customers today?”.  If you don’t have a good answer, stay up until you do.
  1. Until you are profitable, time is working against you.  Once you are profitable, time is on your side.
  1. Learn to take calculated risks.  The market rarely rewards safe bets.
  1. To improve the quality of your output, improve the quality if your inputs.  Read, converse and connect with the right people.

  1. Force yourself to write, as it will force you to think.  
  1. At least once every year or so, your startup will almost die.
  1. The problem you solve should be ugly.  The solution you build should be beautiful.
  1.  Even the most successful startup ideas had 100 reasons not to pursue them.  There is no perfect idea.
  1.  If the pain doesn’t kill you, it just hurts a lot.
  1.  You choose your destiny, because you choose your team.  
  1.  Be who you are.  Do what you love.  Join people you like.   

Hope you enjoyed them.  Feel free to share your own in the comments.  Would love to hear them.

If there are particular ones that resonate with you, and you’d like to read more, leave a comment.  There’s a potential article behind each of them.


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