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What Problems DO Just Go Away With Time?


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Every Founder feels like their startup must be the one company that is a total shit show compared to how those other startups must be running.

We believe that if we can just get past this next set of challenges, things will finally be smooth sailing.

What we don't realize, especially if we've never done this before, is that the problems never really go away. It's just a never-ending "whack-a-mole" game with different problems.

Problems Don't Go Away — They Just Change Names

When we're small and scrappy, our problems are all about survival. How are we going to meet payroll? How are we going to land that one early investor?

They feel weighty and life-threatening — and to be fair, they are. But those formative years are stressful in the wa...



Article

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 Product-Market Fit


  

What is product-market fit?

While the term “product-market fit” gets thrown around a lot in the startup world, it’s not always very well understood. In fact, we can’t even agree on who created it! Some people say that the concept of product-market fit was first developed and named by entrepreneur and investor Andy Rachleff. Others give credit to famed investor Marc Andreessen, who at the very least popularized term product-market fit when he wrote about in a 2007 blog post. He said, “Product-market fit means being in a good market with a product that can satisfy that market.”

In other words: You could have an amazing, sophisticated, well-thought out idea — and people just don’t get it. (Think: That first focus group for Pied Piper on HBO’s ...



Article

Should Big Competitors Scare Me?


  

Think of big companies like the Death Star.

On the outset, it's a planet killer. But its weakness, (other than a really questionably-architected ventilation system), is that it moves at a glacial pace.

I spent 10 years running a digital agency working with these Fortune 500 giants like BMW, Best Buy and Eli Lilly.

What we don't see on the outside is how impossible it is for these companies to move internally and how we can use that lack of mobility to our advantage versus worrying about our home planet of Alderaan getting blown up.

Big Companies Face Inward, Not Outward

The first thing we need to know about big companies is that their culture is almost always faced entirely inward.

That means their staff, unlike ours, spends more time co...



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

When Will My Startup Make Me Happier?


  

We often think about this concept of our startup "making it" through a sale or some other outcome and then we get to be truly happy.

But that's not how it works.

Our "success" actually comes gradually, day by day, at a glacial pace so that we never actually notice it. Until one day, we wake up, and things don't suck anymore.

So we can't think of our startups driving happiness as being a definitive moment in time. We have to think about it as little pieces and parts that gradually — but noticeably — get better.

When we can say "No"

If we think really hard, we can probably remember a time when we actually got to use the word "No" to things.

You know, like working all weekend, draining our bank account to keep the company afloat, or simply ...



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

Celebrate the Tiny Wins Like Super Bowls


  

When we talk about celebrating startup wins, it's not about a big funding round. It's the fact that we just made payroll again.

Along the way, we forget to celebrate those tiny wins. Instead, we get distracted by the day-to-day problems, the emotional roller coaster, and the grind that is startup life.

What Kind of Wins Should we Celebrate?

Every possible positive step.

We just shipped a feature. We increased site traffic by 10% over last month. Our last customer just sent us a glowing review to the team. Every last one.

Each of those victories compounds into the overall goal. When we overlook them, or worse, fail to recognize them within our team, we lose out on the opportunity to build positive morale and momentum.

In a startup, morale...



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