What happens to funded startups that can't raise any more funding?
We enter the funding "No Man's Land" where startups go to linger and eventually die a very long, unceremonious death. No one talks about it — certainly not the Founders who are left with the breathing corpse that was their once-hot startup. Certainly not the investors who have written off their investment long before anyone else.
Yet everyone knows we're digesting in the Sarlacc pit for a thousand years without any idea what to do about it.
Having been in this fiery wasteland more times than I care to admit, I learned that at some point Founders have pretty much three options to escape, and "we'll just hold out for funding" isn't one of them.
Let's start with per...
Founder success is almost never what we picture it to be.
When we think of wildly successful Founders our minds easily jump to billionaires like Branson, Blakely, and Musk, balancing a life of magazine cover story photoshoots with keynote presentations and TV interviews. Our most "successful" Founders often have this air of glamour around their success.
But as it happens, Founder "success" feels way less glamorous. In fact, the most exciting success milestones are often so mundane when they occur that we don't even realize they happened. But this success is a culmination not of a single event, but a series of tiny events that we later look back and realize was when our success was truly defined.
For most of our journ...
The most expensive time to raise capital is when we're most vulnerable.
This paradox is the heart and soul of where we get leveraged as Founders, particularly when we're giving up valuable equity. What we need to do in those vulnerable moments is step back and ask ourselves "Is this the best possible time to take on dilution or can we find a way forward that costs us less later?"
If we've never built a startup before, we may not even realize how important this question is. For those of us that have, we're hyper-aware of how badly we get beat up in our previous startup by not being more mindful of protecting ourselves when we were most vulnerable.
Our goal then should be identifying our moments of vulnerability and crafting a more viable pat...
Sometimes a vacation isn't enough — we need a hard reset.
The game we play as Founders has massive costs to our emotional, mental and physical well-being, so thinking we can replenish all of what's lost in a "sweet trip to Mexico" is almost certainly not going to do the trick. What we need is a full life reset — we need a sabbatical.
We almost never hear the term "sabbatical" mentioned in any part of the startup universe and there's a good reason — we're way too needed at our startup! et it's that very notion that prevents us from ever replenishing our reserves, which are the very thing we need to effectively build our startup.
Our sabbaticals don't have to be a ridiculous amount of time off — they ...
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...