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ArticleSmart Founders Stay in Customer Support

Smart Founders Stay in Customer Support

Founders ask the big questions for our startups. Customer service answers them.

In nearly every startup I've ever built, I've always stayed incredibly close to our customers. In fact, if you're reading this via our email list, which goes out to over 250,000 Founders like you every week, you'll notice that's my name on the reply button. That's actually me. If you're one of the brave souls who have attempted to contact what you were probably assuming was a bot or some customer service queue, you were probably surprised to get a message from me instead.

We've got over 200 people, a team of marketers, a team of customer support folks, and an insane amount of infrastructure. I also own a personal assistant business in Zirtual.com — so why am I a...



ArticleWhy culture is just as important for tech startups as tech

Why culture is just as important for tech startups as tech

When a well-known brand like IBM or Nike is recruiting new people, they don’t only have the advantage of the brand but also of high salaries and good perks. An employee signing up at Microsoft essentially gets paid while learning and building up a good CV. And if she would want to leave later, she is well-positioned.

As a startup, you have to compete with this, with no initial brand, no impressive salaries, and no perks. Therefore, you need to deliver something else. What you can deliver is a superior culture.

Culture is one aspect where it should be easy for startups to compete with big corporations. Because startups are small and young, they can be innovative, flexible, fast-moving, and fun. They can be more grounded in their values and b...



ArticleHow We Built an 8-Figure Business by Saying “No”

How We Built an 8-Figure Business by Saying “No”

At Startups.com, we built an 8-figure business by saying "no" — a lot.

We knew going in that if we’re going to have 100% control of our destiny now and in the future, that would only work if we could constantly say "no" in a disciplined manner.

But you know what? Saying "no" sucks. Just like saying "no" to delicious glazed donuts sucks. We know that we want them, but we also know the cost of saying "yes"! Now I'm hungry for a glazed donut. See what I mean? We knew that controlling our destiny would mean an insane amount of discipline, across the entire organization. In order to prepare ourselves for this discipline, like any good regimen, there were a few things that we'd have to stay incredibly focused on.

We had to be OK with things takin...



ArticleLeadership From The Trenches

Leadership From The Trenches

Ben Horowitz recently published his book The Hard Things about Hard Things. It’s no exaggeration to say I love it. As a third-time founder having experienced many of the challenges firsthand, I wish that book had been written 15 years ago, when I was trying to build my first company (although I’m not sure I would have read it back then; learning seems to be easier in hindsight). One of the great things about Ben’s book is that it focuses on sharing the hard lessons when it’s not all smooth sailing.

Inspired by this, I thought I would add some of the lessons from Tradeshift. Just like Opsware, Tradeshift is a company in wartime, as are most B2B companies try- ing to break into highly entrenched software markets controlled by incumbents with ...



ArticleGiving is Our Future

Giving is Our Future

I had the pleasure of talking to Blake about his ideas and experiences as a social entrepreneur. I started by asking him about how TOMS started.

Blake: I started TOMS after a trip I took to Argentina in 2006. I noticed that many of the locals wore shoes that I learned were alpargata. I also noticed that in rural villages there were many children who were without shoes and how that was affecting their daily lives. I had to come up with a way to help and knew that relying on donations alone was not a sustainable solution, so I used my knowledge of business to come up with an idea. The result was a for-profit business model that empowers customers to help children through their purchases. For every pair of shoes purchased, a new pair is given ...



Article6 Ways Overwork Harms Your Business

6 Ways Overwork Harms Your Business

In America, we tend to value workaholism.

We often admire someone who works long hours and talk about how amazing it is that someone is a “machine.”

But is it really best for you and your business?

Research indicates that overwork harms your overall productivity and can even cause problems for your business. Chances are, instead of working more, you probably need to take a break from work.

Before you get too excited about working long hours, consider some of the ways that overwork harms your business:

1. Leadership Deficit Comes with Overwork

You’re the leader in your business. Overwork harms your business by creating a potential leadership deficit. According to an article in the Harvard Business Review, working too hard c...



ArticleDo Founders Need to be Good Managers?

Do Founders Need to be Good Managers?

Being a Founder doesn't imply one is a good manager. It just means we were around when the company was formed!

Sometimes Founders do grow into great managers — and sometimes they were great managers already. But the real question is: "Do Founders need to be good managers?"

Ideally, yes. But it's not a requirement.

We can fake it for a minute

In the formative years, when we only have a small team, we can usually get by without being great managers.

That's because the team is still small, and mostly operates in a flat "team" structure without a lot of management to be had. That's also why Founders often don't realize they are shitty managers until later on because they ran for so long in an unmanaged structure.

Eventually, though, it catch...



Article5 Steps for Earning Respect as a Leader

5 Steps for Earning Respect as a Leader

Every few days, my tech-savvy father sends me a simple reminder via text—an image, a saying, a blessing or a piece of wisdom to remind me about what’s important in life. The other day, he sent me this powerful quote from Bryant McGill: “You have to accept that you’ll never be good enough for some people. Whether that is going to be your problem or theirs is up to you.”

This message was especially well timed, as I had recently been doubted and disrespected. I was told that my dreams were too big and that I was naive to think I could be part of pulling off the proposed vision with my level of (in)experience. As much as I proactively fine-tune how I present myself, being doubted because of my age was not a first-time occurrence. I’m convinced...



Article“Be Powerful”: How the Women Leaders at Plated Built a Culture of Female Empowerment

“Be Powerful”: How the Women Leaders at Plated Built a Culture of Female Empowerment

Data has shown that companies with more women leaders are also more profitable. At Plated, an NY-based company that delivers pre-portioned ingredients and recipes each week, women leaders are committed to growing and developing a culture of female empowerment and leadership from the bottom up.

BAWS (Bad Ass Women’s Society), Plated’s internal women’s group, was born from the realization that Plated was a first job or a first startup environment for many of the women working in HQ.

“Having this group here to meet and do things every week makes us happier employees who work better together on their own, so the return on investment is clear. Having a support group helps us all work better,” said Elana.

Besides helping the team work bett...



ArticleThe 20 Best Startup Podcasts for 2020

The 20 Best Startup Podcasts for 2020

The past few years have seen an explosion of podcasts — it seems like everyone wants to get in on the audio. And startup founders (many of whom have probably been listening to podcasts since they started in the early aughts) are no exception! But how do you know what to listen to in this vast sea of startup podcasts?

Don’t worry — we have you covered. Here are the top 20 best startup podcasts as we head into 2020. Grab your noise cancelling earphones — and get listening.

1. Startup Therapy

Hosted by Startups.com founders and serial entrepreneurs Wil Schroter and Ryan Rutan, Startup Therapy is an inside perspective on issues startup founders really care about. From what to expect in your first year after launching to how to deal with the e...



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