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ArticleThe Benefits of a Hard Reset

The Benefits of a Hard Reset

Sometimes having to burn it all down is the best medicine our startup can take.

It sure doesn't feel that way at the time. When we're sitting across from an income statement that's been decimated and thinking of having to go back to our team, investors, and partners to tell them some truly horrible news, the last thing we're thinking is "Hey this might be great!"

But for those of you that have never been through it, I'm here to tell you, it may in fact be the best thing that ever happened to our startups.

That's because a Hard Reset gives us the one opportunity to go back and reset all of our decisions that we've made, teeing us up to build a far more efficient and capable startup going forward. It sucks — like I said — but it also has som...



ArticleWhen is the Right Time to Give Up Equity?

When is the Right Time to Give Up Equity?

As Founders, when we give away equity determines how much we're going to lose.

That's because the equity game, and our job of holding on to it for dear life, is really about vulnerability. The more vulnerable we are, the more we give away. The stronger our position is, the more we retain. It's really that simple, and yet, especially if this is our first startup, it's hard to realize when we're giving up too much too early.

There are really three moments in time where we have to really consider our timing and our approach — when we add co-founders, hiring early employees, and when we take on seed capital. What we often don't realize is that there is a lot of strategy to when and how we pull these triggers, while a lack of strategy has massiv...



ArticleWe are NOT Our Startups

We are NOT Our Startups

For a very long time, I felt like my startup was a direct reflection of my worth as a person.

When my startup was doing well, I felt on top of the world (this was rare). But when my startup was struggling, which was 99% of the time, I felt it was a direct reflection of my own incompetence as a human, and I felt like hell. And so by way of that, I usually felt shitty.

It wasn't until I started exiting startups (good and bad exits) that my startups were just a moment in time. While they were a reflection of my output, they weren't a reflection of me. It took a few decades to figure that out, so let's see if I can help you do it in the next few paragraphs instead.

Our Startup is the Work We Perform — it's Output

I'm a Dad, a carpenter, a crea...



ArticleWhy No One Tells Founders "It's over, move on."

Why No One Tells Founders "It's over, move on."

No one tells Founders "Hey, you know what, it was a good run but you should probably stop killing yourself and just take the mulligan on this one." No one ever actually tells us it's OK to quit.

Instead, we build up this narrative in our head that we've got to burn through all of our savings, exhaust our health, and basically run ourselves into the ground to prove we didn't give up. But here's the problem — everyone else gave up a long, long time ago. They just never told us — and never will.

Investors Have No Incentive to Tell Us What's Up

When we were kids playing sports, and we were obviously winded, our coach would pull us out and tell us to take a breather. If our investors were our coaches, they'd hand us some amphetamines and tell us...



ArticleTrust everyone!

Trust everyone!

The following is a piece of really bad advice. If you follow it, there’s a large risk that you’ll be cheated, deceived, run over, and on the whole look like an idiot. I’d regret that, of course. But it is also really bad advice to urge good people to become entrepreneurs, as it’s almost dead certain you’ll fail. So if you nevertheless have taken the chance and thrown yourself into a new adventure, you may just as well place all your jetons on red and follow my advice: Trust everyone.

Trust is a mirror.

In 2002, I was a young, newly trained journalist with a blank CV and without much chance of a job in that branch. I, therefore, chose to change direction, and I called Morten Lund, a well-known Danish entrepreneur (co-founder of Skype), and a...



ArticleAt Some Point, Founders Become "Just Employees"

At Some Point, Founders Become "Just Employees"

Yesterday I was talking to one of my good friends, a Founder, who built a wildly successful startup doing 8-figures in revenue that said "The company is doing great, but after all of our rounds of investment, I've got a tiny sliver left of this company. I feel more like an employee than a Founder now."

What many Founders don't realize, is that this happens all the time. I've gone through it myself. In our efforts to grow our startups and in some cases just trying to keep them alive, we sacrifice that juicy "Founder equity" that we disproportionately award ourselves and all-too-often plunder in the name of growth.

Do Most Founders Lose Tons of Equity?

Not "most", but certainly an awful lot, even in what looks like a successful startup. This ...



ArticleWhat Founders Learn From Growing up Broke

What Founders Learn From Growing up Broke

Growing up broke was one of the most valuable assets to shape me as a startup Founder. At the time it didn't feel too valuable (it sucked) but I'd come to learn later that it burned specific traits into my behavior that served me insanely well in building startups from scratch.

Many of us have had the same challenges, coming from disadvantaged upbringings that felt like a setback at the time but also became crucibles of learning and adaptation that actually made us far more capable when our skills were put to the test later on.

We're Forced to Become Experts

When we're broke, we can't afford to pay anyone to do anything. Plumbing breaks? We become a plumber. Car won't start? We become a mechanic. We just don't have a choice, so it forces us...



ArticleA Growth Marketing Stack for Startups

A Growth Marketing Stack for Startups

Startups.com marketing technology stack

What is a Martech Stack?

First up, what even is Martech? This is an abbreviation of “marketing technology.” It’s the tools and software you use in your day-to-day sales and marketing.

The reference to the “stack” has been used by developers for years, in reference to the technology and codebases they use within the products they build. Martech Stack references the marketing technologies and tools you use within your marketing infrastructure set-up.

By stacking these tools together and integrating them you create a consistent, automated flow of data between your tools.

The benefits of setting up a Martech Stack

The likelihood is that you already have some form of Martech Stack in place, even without...



ArticleWhat do We "Owe" Our Employees?

What do We "Owe" Our Employees?

There's a more implicit social contract at a startup, which says that if our teams are going to kill themselves and take on risk to build something amazing with us, they rightfully expect some rewards for that risk. Let's take money off the table — because anyone can pay money and we all understand that.

What payback do our employees want that wasn't in their offer letter?

We Owe Them Our Attention

Nothing sucks worse than not being heard. We can almost map every major problem back to someone genuinely feeling like what they have to say just never really had an ear. The biggest casualty to startup growth is internal communication, but we're not really just talking about meetings and Slack messages. We're talking about folks no longer having...



ArticleUsing a "Safe Space" to Develop Diversity

Using a "Safe Space" to Develop Diversity

One of the challenges we've been tackling internally at Startups.com, and I'd imagine lots of other startups, is breaking down how we communicate in a diverse workforce. We feel that diversity shouldn't just be about hiring, it should be about understanding.

In fact, it stands to reason that the more diverse our workforce becomes, the less implicit understanding we will have amongst ourselves. Our backgrounds will become so different that what we say and how we respond will have less and less common ground.

I wanted to share one step we're taking to address this challenge in hopes that others will share their experiences too (by the way, the "reply" button on these goes directly to me, the Founder). One of our focus areas has been creating ...



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