ArticleInvestors will be Obsolete

Investors will be Obsolete

Today's investors are like the dinosaurs of old, looking up at the sky and saying, "Hey, look at that bright shiny thing cruising right at us..."

Back then it was a meteor that created an extinction-level event for the T-Rex. Today those dinosaurs and their Patagonia vests are watching AI about to make them extinct. What it means to be a VC investor is about to change forever, not because of anything the VCs have done wrong, but because the need for them is quickly evaporating.

For a very long time, building a startup company was insanely expensive and risky. We had to pay for a ton of people, marketing, and infrastructure in hopes that the upfront investment would be worth it. But what happens when those costs plummet? What happens when we...

ArticleWhy is a Founder so Hard to Replace?

Why is a Founder so Hard to Replace?

There are a ton of jobs we can hire for — a "Founder" isn't one of them.

Nearly all of us, at some point, dream of replacing ourselves with someone else, ideally someone that's a big level up, so that we can take the pressure off of us and enjoy the good life. But over time most of us arrive at the same conclusion — back-filling the role of "Founder" is nearly impossible.

Why is it so hard? Clearly, there are more people out there substantially more qualified than we are to run our companies. Yet, time and time again, Founders try to recruit the "perfect replacement" only to find themselves right back in the leadership chair before they know it.

The answer lies in the fact that while we can hire capabilities beyond our own, there are a few ...

ArticleWe Can't Grow by Saying "No"

We Can't Grow by Saying "No"

If we ever plan on growing our startup, we're going to have to start saying "Yes" to a whole bunch of stuff that terrifies us.

That's right. We're going to make bold commitments to customers, investors, and even our own staff regarding stuff we're not entirely sure we can pull off. I know, I know, it sounds scary.

Any rational Founder would be asking: "How can I tell an investor we're going to grow to $100 million if I can't possibly see how we'd get there today?" or "How can I tell a customer we can do the work if we don't have enough people available right now?"

It's called "figure it out," and it's been the growth strategy of every successful startup since the dawn of time. It takes some getting used to because it logically feels disinge...

ArticleMore Money (Really Means) More Problems

More Money (Really Means) More Problems

Every Founder wishes they had more money, but we often don't realize what happens when we spend it.

There's this fascinating transition point that we go through as Founders where our problems start with income (because we always start with zero) and then quickly transition to debts (because someone always needs to be paid).

We put ourselves in this dangerous loop where instead of getting ahead on that next round of income, we actually dig ourselves deeper into a hole by adding exponentially more costs—and those costs aren't just financial.

We don't just grow income; we grow problems, and sometimes, way faster.

The Weight of Zeroes

When I was building my first startup with just a couple of college kids on payroll, I was terrified that I woul...

ArticleCommittees Are Where Progress Goes to Die

Committees Are Where Progress Goes to Die

The fastest way to kill progress is to form a committee.

I can't stand committees. They have become a catch-all way to defer hard decisions and accountability while simultaneously looking democratic and inclusive. I've spent 30 years on committees ranging from public company boards to popular non-profits, and I can tell you this—I have yet to see a single decision improved by a committee.

As a startup Founder, I never form committees, and I'd like to take this opportunity to warn you against doing it as well. Maybe your experience is different, and I totally respect that. But the seduction of groupthink and bureaucracy can quickly dilute even the smartest and most well-meaning startup, and that's a big problem.

Why Committees Make Sense on ...

ArticleWait a Minute before Giving Away Equity

Wait a Minute before Giving Away Equity

The most expensive decisions we will ever make as a Founder all come at the beginning — when we are most vulnerable.

The problem for us as Founders is we don't realize at the time just how expensive those decisions are, or that our vulnerability will dissipate over time. All we can see in that very moment is that we need "everything all at once" and anyone who is willing to take our fake Monopoly money (equity) to get it is doing us a favor.

They are not doing us a favor.

Founders can easily lose half of their company in the first year by making huge equity decisions that feel like the right decision at the time, but when looking back, become the most expensive decisions they will ever make, and ones that we can't get back.

The McRib of Co-...

ArticleWhy do Founders Suck at Asking for Help?

Why do Founders Suck at Asking for Help?

Why do Founders seem so reluctant to ask for help?

We'd think in a business that involves nothing but unanswered questions, our arms would be tired from raising our hands to ask for more help. But instead, we tend to constantly motor through problems that we have no idea how to solve, or have very little experience with, as if we're the best person to solve them.

The source of this tends to be a lack of understanding. In many cases we simply don't realize that the problems we are solving already have readily available solutions, and more so, super experienced people who are more than willing to hand them to us.

It's All Been Solved Already

What if I were to tell you that nearly every problem that you're solving is only new to you as the Fo...

ArticleThe Value of Actually Getting Paid

The Value of Actually Getting Paid

All startup hype aside, actually getting paid kinda matters.

The short line of highly visible, massive startup successes is vastly overwhelmed by the long, long, long line of Founders (and their staff) who racked up all kinds of debt with nothing to show for it. That's the part of the story no one likes to talk about — actually getting paid.

Building a startup is synonymous with deferred compensation and equity fortunes, but it masks a very real truth which is very few of those paper fortunes every become liquid. As Founders, while we benefit from amassing those paper fortunes, we need to be entirely focused on the real paper — getting paid with cash money.

Watching Monopoly Money Millionaires

It's so easy to get caught up in the value of "...

ArticleWill Investors Bail Me Out?

Will Investors Bail Me Out?

Some investors may be considered "angels" — but they are no saints!

That's why when it comes to getting "bailed out" by future investors, whether it be compensating us personally for money we've lost or helping to get our startup out of debt, we're entirely on our own. We've helped thousands of Founders raise capital, and invariably, many ask whether new investors would be willing to cover their previous losses or investments. The short answer is "absolutely not." But the longer answer may help you understand exactly why.

What Debts Are We Talking About?

The most common debts Founders ask about are personal debt they've created in financing the company or forgone compensation. The question often looks like, "I've put in $100,000 of my own m...

ArticleIs the Problem the Player or the Coach?

Is the Problem the Player or the Coach?

Founders — at what point is the problem our ability to manage versus the capability of the talent we manage?

Our entire startup is fundamentally limited by the quality of our talent and the quality of our management. So how do we know when we're tapped out on either? If we don't have a firm understanding of where our team is limited, we can't address fundamental issues that prevent us from growing.

Yet it's easy for managers to blame talent and for talent to blame managers. How do we as Founders assess both to determine who needs attention? First, we need to understand what the limiting factors are.

Turning Water Into Wine

At some point, no matter how good of a manager we are, we cap on the quality of our talent. For example, if LeBron Jame...

Copyright © 2024 LLC. All rights reserved.