The 10 Commandments of Startup

businessmeeting2
1. Expect rejection 
When looking for help and/or funding, you should expect some investors, mentors, or peers to say no. When you hear the word “no,” pay attention to what else is being said. This feedback can be one of the best ways to discern whether your idea is bad or simply something no one else has done before. If investors seem interested but are squirming in their chairs, you may be onto a great new idea that has them on the edge of decision. If they give you logical, valid reasons why your idea is flawed, it might be time to listen and pivot. 


2. H
ire like your life depends on it
Because it does. 
The first few employees you hire are critical to your startup, not only because you require quality people to help you grow your business, but also because they will be helping set the company culture. The CEO of Google, Eric Schmidt, believes that “persistence is the single biggest predictor of future success,” with a second predictor being curiosity. When hiring, these are the two things he looks for. The COO of Facebook, Sheryl Sandberg, has another suggestion to “hire people who are better than you are, and who are different than you are.” Doing this adds diversity to your business early on and provides a balance between personalities, cultures, backgrounds, and experience.


3. Do things that don't scale
Sometimes in order to scale, you have to do things that don’t scale. The founders of Airbnb started out by visiting every single home to take pictures for the site and interview the hosts. Obviously, this does not scale, but they used this opportunity to perfect their system like it was a prototype before they scaled it. Be involved in every area in the beginning because “the roadmap exists in the minds of the customers you are creating this for,” says one of the Airbnb founders.

 

4. Raise more money than you think you need 

While some venture capitalists might argue the exact opposite, you never know what might happen and should be prepared. If you have a good prototype, you can use it to get seed money and raise as much capital as you can after that. It is better to be prepared for unexpected emergencies or opportunities, than be forced to close down due to cash flow issues.

 

5. Release your products early enough that they might embarrass you
Reid Hoffman, founder of LinkedIn, once said “If you're not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you’ve launched too late." That first initial feedback from customers is crucial to shaping the future of your company and the products and services it offers. With that being said, make sure you are being selective about user feedback. You won’t be able to please everyone, but listening to what customers have to say can guide you along the path to success.  In order to move fast, you have to expect to make some mistakes along the way. Unlearn perfectionism. 

 

businessmeeting

 

6. Decide decide decide 
A lot of companies struggle because they don’t make decisions. Sometimes it’s not about making the right decision, but about making any decision at all. It is better to make a wrong decision rather than no decision. Things occur slowly in too many businesses because there are too many decision makers-lawyers, executives, etc. Just make the decisions that need to be made and keep things moving.

 

7. Be prepared to both make and break plans
Things change quickly in startup companies, but you still have to keep the team together and on the same page. Being able to pivot and make changes is crucial, and knowing when to launch and kill ideas is part of that. Decide quickly and act. Figure out early on what your business systems will be and implement them now.

 

8. Don’t tell your employees how to innovate
This is a lot like managing chaos. It’s a lot less about producing your own ideas and more about shepherding your employees' ideas instead. Google’s key to creating innovative projects is to allow its employees to spend 20% of their time working on whatever they want because it empowers employees.

 

9. Create a winning company culture
To do this, you have to ensure that every employee owns it. If you want the company culture that’s been created to stick, each employee needs to understand it and be proactive in maintaining it. Hold your employees to high standards, because if you dumb down the system, then you end up with only dummies working there and you will have the wrong employees.

 

10. Have grit and stick with your hero’s journey
This tip and all advice from this blog post were given by the podcast, Masters of Scale. In each episode, Reid Hoffman interviews other CEOs and influential business rockstars to get their opinions on various topics related to startups and scaling businesses.  The podcast these bullets points and notes were taken from can be found HERE