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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...



Article

Everything You Need To Know About Pitching Investors


  

The investor pitch. It's feared. It's desired. It's terrifying.

But don't worry: We've got you covered. Here's everything you need to know about that all-important investor pitch.

What should your investor pitch include?

Invisu.me Co-Founder and CEO Donna Griffit is a master pitcher who has helped countless founders distill their pitch down to exactly what they need — and nothing they don’t. She had the opportunity to sit in on a private pitching event where a delegation of startups had the opportunity give a five minute pitch and receive direct feedback from a group of top-tier Silicon Valley VC’s. (So top tier that she can’t even say who was there but, trust us, you will want to memorize this section before your next pitch.)

Here’s what ...



Article

Is a $0 Founder Salary a Badge of Honor?


Wil SchroterFounder + CEO of Startups.com

  

There's a weird discussion around Founder compensation, especially when the number is a big fat zero. We read about famous Founders from Google, Facebook, and Tesla taking $1 salaries, while earning millions in stock.

For early-stage Founders, we often can't get paid (so it's not much of choice!) but there's also this presumption that if we're forgoing personal compensation to roll all the profits back into the company, then we must be really committed.

It Buys Us Nothing

There's no argument out there that Founders shouldn't be paid, so taking compensation to zero is just a silly move.

The only time Founders or execs get the stink eye is when they take inordinate salaries compared to the rest of the staff or relative to the stage of the ...



Article

How to Get the Best Auto Insurance Quote for Your Startup


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Shopping for personal auto insurance can be a pain, and it only gets more difficult when you’re shopping for your business. It’s almost like playing a game of chess against Bobby Fischer: No matter what you do or say, you still feel like you’re going to lose.

So how can you make it easier? When researching auto insurance options for your business, the first road you should take is one you’ve already been down. Start by investigating the provider you currently use for personal home, auto, and general business liability insurance.

Providers love to offer discounted monthly premiums to people who bundle accounts with them, and while commercial and consumer auto policies are two completely different animals, most companies provide both.

Get add...



Article

How Can I Creatively Pay My First Employees?


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Somehow the startup world has convinced people to work for "free" on a regular basis, with the theoretical benefit of some big payout on equity later.

The truth is, those bets rarely work and once the pixie dust of the new startup wears off, what's left is a bunch of frustrated employees who can't pay their bills.

Although we have little to no money to pay today, we should always try to incorporate some level of cash compensation, even if it's incredibly small, to help offset the cost of life that our team is going to inevitably face.

When our team is more focused on going broke than contributing, we're not really doing anyone a favor!

Use a Compensation "Ramp Up"

Compensation doesn't have to be "all or nothing."

Just because someone mak...



Article

10 Aspects of Starting Up That You Shouldn’t Dread


  

Question: What is one part of starting up that was easier than you anticipated?

Finding a Support Network

“A support network of other entrepreneurs will make any journey a lot more enjoyable—and a lot easier, too! By joining key networking groups, like YEC, and moving into a co-working space, building a support group of like-minded entrepreneurs after starting ZinePak was easier than I would have imagined. I never expected to make so many close friends so quickly!”

Brittany Hodak
ZinePak
@brittanyhodak

Forming the Business Entity

“What I initially believed would be the most difficult part about starting a business for myself, which I would say is the process of coming up with and registering a name, filling out the prope...



Article

What Happens After I’ve “Made It”


  

I grew up ridiculously poor.

By the time I was 19, I founded my first startup, with less than $20 in the bank. I chose the one career that could somehow make me way, way poorer.

Within the first year I had racked up over $100,000 in personal debt, which took me from "poor" to "infinitely poor.” Today we call that college debt.

Sometimes "The Bet" Pays off

Within a few years some of the startup bets I had made began paying off.

Before I knew it, I was shopping for exotic cars, a new home (I was still living in a campus apartment at the time) and writing a single check to payoff all my college debt (a smaller check since I dropped out so quickly).

In my mind, I had made it.

But then a funny thing happened... nothing. Nothing at all. I woke...



Article

What Is Product Differentiation?


  

What Is product differentiation?

Product differentiation is process used by companies to clarify the differences between their products and other products on the market. Those other products can include competitors but also a company’s own products, to prevent overlap between the offerings. The goal is to find a product’s unique selling point (USP).

Why is product differentiation important?

Product differentiation is important because it makes your product stand out from the crowd! It’s easier and easier to create a company or sell a product or connect directly with factories in China these days. So what makes your housewares product or dating app or SaaS product different from all of the other housewares products, dating apps, and SaaS pr...



Article

The Secrets to Crafting an Irresistible Elevator Pitch (With Examples)


  

What is an elevator pitch?

Stop us if you’ve heard this one before: a Founder and a VC walk into an elevator…

In all seriousness, if you’ve spent any time swimming in the startup waters, you’re probably familiar with the idea of the elevator pitch. But in case you missed that day in Founder School, the scenario is this:

Say you got in an elevator, and standing in that elevator was the one person that could make or break your business. You have the length of that elevator ride to convince this person to get on board. And no, the electricity can’t suddenly cut out and leave you with a couple of hours to fill instead of a handful of seconds.

Well — What the @#*! do you say?

We’ll get to that.

Why are elevator pitches important?

There’s a reas...



Article

My Startup Stalled — Now What?


  

“When we first launched things were going gangbusters. But since then, things have kind of flat-lined. The business seems stalled. What do we do from here?"

Is it a blip or a trend?

Part of the challenge with running a startup is that we simply don't have any history of whether past performance was the future of our business or "just a really good quarter.”

For this reason, it's hard to tell whether we're really stalled until enough time has gone by that we can see the writing on the wall.

We imagine a "successful startup" always has a stout growth trend that runs "up and to the right" on every chart. But that's actually not really true.

Yes, there are some standout companies that smash records, but most companies grow slowly over a long ...



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