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Don't Work Long Hours, Work Efficient Hours


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Let me first admit: I am a recovering long-hour champion.

For nearly 3 decades, if you asked me how many hours I work, I would just say "All of them." I wore it as a badge of honor. For almost 20 years it never occurred to me that you could drive to or from work in daylight. For my first three years of my startup career I didn't see my family or celebrate Christmas.

Now let me admit what a colossal flipping waste of energy that was.

Yes, I created great startups and had some success. Yes, a lot of that "hard work" was necessary. But now, with the benefit of history and having watched thousands of startups go from zero to something, I've come to learn something:

Those long hours were a symptom of inefficiency, not a default badge of honor ...



Article

Is It OK To Admit I Have Flaws?


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We're all freaked out about sharing our flaws.

We're worried that employees, investors, customers and just about anyone else will think less of us. Maybe they won't invest, maybe they won't buy our products, or maybe they won't come to work for us.

Sharing our flaws is terrifying. But it's also one of the most liberating things we can do not just as Founders, but as the weirdo humans we all are.

You're the Founder/CEO of Startups — do you have flaws?

Geez, where do I begin?

I've been building startups for nearly 3 decades and I have tons of flaws. I've got massive ADHD (I can't even proofread this sentence without losing focus), terminal pain, crippling anxiety — and I can't dance to save my life.

For a long time I would have never even...



Article

What Should We Teach Kids About Startups?


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Imagine what would happen if we spent as much time trying to teach kids to become entrepreneurs as we did trying to get them to prepare for the SATs?

Let's remember that a disproportionate amount of our academic focus is around a series of standardized tests designed in an era where homogenizing the workforce was our number one goal (side note: it worked).

Now our goal is the polar opposite: differentiating our workforce. The only way our kids will succeed is if they can stand apart from others and chart their own course.

That's the essence of entrepreneurship, and it's something we can absolutely teach.

Why should we start with kids as entrepreneurs?

Kids are natural entrepreneurs.

They possess the most powerful skill any of us can have...



Article

How Do I "Buy Out" An Equity Holder Fairly?


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Getting equity back from an existing stakeholder isn't easy — but it is possible.

It's a situation that very few Founders have ever been through before, so no one really knows how to go about it. Let's talk a bit about how the situation develops and what we can do to get some of that precious equity back into our coffers.

Remember, Equity is a Promise of Payment

More than anything, equity isn't just a stock issuance. It's a promise that at some future point that stock will be worth cash money — maybe.

When we think about pulling the equity back, we have to think in terms of how to redeem that promise of payment in some capacity. It's not just a matter of "taking it away" per se, it's a matter of trading the terms of the initial agreement ...



Article

How Much Should I Budget For An MVP?


  

App development is not a straightforward process, despite how much "process" developers add to the equation. There are basically 3 things that are never working in our favor:

First, the idea is in our head, not in the developers head, so the translation is a huge, time consuming challenge.

Second, we're building an app that has never existed before, so we don't actually know how people are going to use it or what features are required.

And last, we're assuming that our developer is capable of completing a working app. All of these are giant issues that should give us pause (and keep our cash in the bank for a minute!).

Focus on Milestones

We have to think about building an app in stages — not the whole enchilada all at once. To do that, w...



Article

Will Investors Fund a "Small" Business?


  

Funding doesn't make a lot of sense to first time Founders. In our minds, we think, "Hey, investors want to make money, so if my startup can make money, who cares how big it gets?"

Unfortunately, that thinking overlooks one big fact: that for every one investor check out there, there are hundreds of startups competing for it.

In order to understand how investors look at one deal versus another, we first have to understand how investors look at deals in the first place.

The thinking goes that all investments are high risk, so if you're going to risk your money, you may as well make the bets that are big enough to wipe out all of your bad bets.

So Who Does Fund Small Deals?

Actually, lots of people, just not most "traditional" investors.

M...



Article

Does Having a Diverse Team Really Matter?


  

When it comes to building a startup, you are who you hire. Not only do the people you bring onto your team determine the direction and destiny of your product; they also shape what it will be like to come to work every day. So as you get started on the process of “who” your startup is going to be, we want to make sure you’re thinking about something major: team diversity.

What is team diversity?

Team diversity refers to differences between members of startup team. Those differences can include demographic differences (like age, race, sex, ethnicity), personality (extrovert, introvert, and differing Myers-Briggs types) and functional (as in skill sets, like engineering, design, copywriting, and marketing).

Types of diversity

When we think a...



Article

Will Someone Steal My Startup Idea?


  

The myth of the "stolen startup idea" somehow continues to live on, despite an insane lack of proof to the contrary. The thinking goes that if someone else hears our idea, they will simply take it and create a billion dollar business from it.

On paper (and in movies) that can happen. In reality, it's basically a Sasquatch myth.

Just having an "idea" for something accounts for nothing. Great companies aren't built because someone had an idea for something that no one else thought of — we all have novel ideas.

Great companies are built through an insane amount of dedication and execution that (rarely) leads to a big outcome.

By the way, plenty of people had the idea for a social network — and built them — before Facebook was ever "stolen."

...


Article

What Problems DO Just Go Away With Time?


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Every Founder feels like their startup must be the one company that is a total shit show compared to how those other startups must be running.

We believe that if we can just get past this next set of challenges, things will finally be smooth sailing.

What we don't realize, especially if we've never done this before, is that the problems never really go away. It's just a never-ending "whack-a-mole" game with different problems.

Problems Don't Go Away — They Just Change Names

When we're small and scrappy, our problems are all about survival. How are we going to meet payroll? How are we going to land that one early investor?

They feel weighty and life-threatening — and to be fair, they are. But those formative years are stressful in the wa...



Article

How Do I Design My Startup Around My Life?


  

Building a startup that drives our lifestyle choices is incredibly hard, no matter what that care-free Founder's Instagram might suggest.

In order to make our startups work around our lifestyle, we have to make a deliberate choice to bend the fabric of reality to meet our demands.

It's crazy hard. But it can actually be done.

It Starts With Strong Commitments

The foundation for having a startup that supports our dream lifestyles is making really strong commitments to those lifestyle choices. For example, if we're parents and we want to make sure we never miss our kid's soccer game, we have to publicly make that commitment and stick to it.

Sometimes just announcing those commitments is a great way to get the ball rolling. When we launched...



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