The difference between being lying and optimism is often told in the outcome.
As Founders, we spend an inordinate amount of time telling stories about how the future of our startups MIGHT turn out. Often, those stories balance the line between being optimistic gestures of hope and a sordid tale of deceit.
When we tell our customers we'll be able to deliver a product we don't have the personnel to deliver (yet), are we lying? When we stand anxiously in front of investors boasting that we'll become a billion-dollar unicorn, are we misleading them? And when we recruit someone to leave their high-paying job to work for an idea we've barely proven, are we betraying their trust?
This is the moral dilemma we face as Founders every day while we con...
Startup culture has gone from glorifying victory to glorifying effort.
"Hustle Porn" has become more and more popular, particularly on social media, where would-be champions of entrepreneurship proclaim their insane personal sacrifices to the Gods of Startups. We're constantly wooed with tales of Founders putting in insane hours, risking it all, and coming away with the spoils of success to show for it.
How much of this is really a celebration of hard work and is how much is just the equivalent of giving ourselves a Participation Award for effort?
Let's start by debunking the myth that working 100 hours in a week is somehow a victory to be lauded — it's not. The intention is that we're SO dedicated to ou...
Sometimes our startup IS our social life.
When we put it like that, it almost sounds kind of sad. We're told by others (heretics!) that we need a life inside and outside of our startup. We're supposed to have families, loved ones, and friends who we create amazing experiences with that have absolutely nothing to do with work. And of course, that's important.
But our startups aren't just about work — they are also a very important part of our social fabric whether we want to believe they are or not. In fact, if we were to sell our startup and have nothing to do with it, many of us would miss the very real social connection we took for granted.
As Founders, we get to enjoy a very special kind of opportunity to build and expand our social live...
Startups can only be great at one thing — if we're even that lucky.
One of the greatest challenges in our early days is that our ideas for new features and strategies far outweighs not only our resources but the amount of progress we've made on our core product itself. We'll sit in strategy sessions saying, "Oh boy! What if we added this feature, or went down this path! Now that would be incredible!" without realizing our big ideas are actually going to be the death of us.
What we fail to understand is that great companies are built by maintaining a razor-sharp focus on their core product with an unrelenting drive to be the absolute best at that one thing, at the expense of all other distractions. Great Founders have the ability to never lo...
Living in an overpriced is now a choice, not a requirement.
That wasn't always the case, as startup Founders like us would flock to cities like San Francisco, Los Angeles, and New York to find the capital and people we needed to build something incredible (I lived in all of them). We'd convince ourselves that our 800 square foot apartment (with roommates!) made sense because if we weren't here, we would never have a shot a startup glory!
And we were mostly right — for a time.
But the requirements of being in a big, overpriced city have changed dramatically. For the first time in startup history, we can do nearly all of the things we once did in a big city from the comfort of our own (much cheaper) home. In a new era of Slack, Social, and Z...
A customer journey map can be an incredibly helpful tool for your business. These maps outline every step that your customer goes through while engaging with your company, from learning about you for the first time to making repeat purchases. A customer journey map helps ensure that your customers are the center of your marketing — it should include touchpoints, frustrations, purchasing motivations, and the like. Creating one can help you identify pain points and keep your customers engaged throughout their buying process.
In this article, we’re going to outline how you can create a customer journey map for your inbound sales funnel.
Before creating your customer journey map, you need to build and defi...
Startups run on money but survive by optimism.
The greatest currency in our startup is our wildly insane, totally manufactured optimism that things might actually work out, even in the face of everything taking a giant crap on us. That of course sounds inspiring, but when we're actually living in that position when everywhere we turn things are falling apart, it's hard to pretend we can just put on a happy face and make everything a resounding positive.
This isn't a pep talk though — it's a game plan. The difference between letting our startups implode and bringing them from the brink of destruction is how we plan through this mess. As a 9-time startup Founder myself, I can tell you it sucks every. single. time. There's nothing cool about ...
Great companies are born from dumb ideas.
That's now how we think about them, though. We all have this fantasy that great companies start with a clear, genius vision for the world, and the rest of our time is spent just realizing that vision. That sounds awesome, but that's not at all the way ideas work, and that fundamental misunderstanding by Founders prevents a lot of great companies from ever forming.
The reason as Founders we prevent ourselves from finding great ideas is that we're ashamed of pursuing dumb ideas. Facebook was a dumb yearbook app long before it became the most powerful social media tool in history. In fact, before I go listing a ton of examples of every major company you've heard of that was a dum...
No one cares what we have — they care that they don't have it.
That's a huge problem for Founders because we often have very asymmetrical compensation compared to the rest of our staff. We have more equity, we have a higher salary. We're on an investor retreat to some insanely cool resort while they are freezing their asses off in our cramped office. We're driving the new Benz while they're sharing a Kia with their roommate.
No matter what the delta is, what we have and what everyone else does not will always be a problem. As the organization grows, and the delta between our lifestyle and that of our staff increases, this situation only gets exponentially worse.
What we need to do is first understand why it's happening and then be mindful ...
What's the worst equity holder we could possibly have in our cap table? The one who isn't even here any longer.
We all know this, and yet for generations, we've built cap tables loaded with "absentee landlords" who provide no ongoing value but reap all the benefit of those that continue to drive the ship. Until recently the notion of "dead equity" has been just accepted and rarely challenged, leaving those that still work for the company to carry those that don't.
I'd like to poke a giant, trident-sized hole in this argument once and for all. And for my fellow Founders who are dealing with this issue at present, or soon will be, I want to provide you with some ammunition toward what will invariably be a tough and painful conversation.