Start-up Lessons

I usually tell people that everything I learned about being an entrepreneur I learned by F’ing up at my first company.  I think the sign of a good entrepreneur is the ability to spot your mistakes, correct quickly and not repeat the mistakes. I made plenty of mistakes.

Below are some of the lessons I learned along the way.  If there’s a link on a title below I’ve written the post, if not I plan to.  The summary of each posting will be here but the full article requires you to follow the links.

For now it’s mostly an outline for me to follow (in no particular order).  I’ve now started so be sure to look for links.  If you want me to do one sooner rather than later leave a comment.  If the topics seem interesting to you please sign up for my RSS feed or email newsletter on the home page.

Disclaimer: I ran two SaaS software companies.  My experiences come from this.  I can’t say they’re applicable to all businesses but I think many of the lessons will be applicable to most tech firms.

0.5 In the Beginning (most common early mistakes) – Many founders make mistakes in the first 12 months of business that cost them dearly as they build their companies.  These mistakes revolve around intellectual property, founding team members, initial product that is built and market validation.

You also need to consider founder scenarios, ownership, prenuptials and stock options.

1. Good Judgment Comes from Experience, but Experience Comes from Bad Judgment

2. Beware Rocket Fuel

3. Naked in the Mirror – Most companies have growing pains and moments of intense self doubt.  It is compounded because you read your competitors press releases yet you still stand naken in the mirror every morning.  This post talks about this issue and how to get over it.

4. Punch Above your Weight Class


6. MVP

7. Elephant, Deer and Rabbits

8. Embrace Losing – I hate losing.  I really hate losing.  But you need to embrace losing if you want to learn.  Channel your negative energy.  Revisit why you lost.  Ask for real and honest feedback.  Don’t be defensive about it – try to really understand it.  But also look beyond it to the hidden reasons you lost.  And channel the lessons to your next competition.

9. You’re Most Vulnerable Just After You Win

10. Crossing the Chasm

11. When you’re a Hammer Everything Looks like a Nail

12. Flipping Burgers

13. Crocodile Sales

14. The End of the Mexican Road

15. Beg for Forgiveness

16. Cutting into Muscle

17. Rolling out the Red Carpet on the Way Out the Door

18. Boards & Board Meetings

19. Advisory Boards

20. The Burning Platform

21. The Firing Squad

22. Easy Money vs. Pure Strategy

23. Missionaries vs. Mercenaries

24. The Fallacy of Channels

25. Demo booths

26. International Licensing


8 Responses to Start-up Lessons

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