Monday, March 10, 2008

My Startup Rules

Here my first crack at a list of startup tips:
  1. Love what you're doing passionately enough to not sweat the short term pain of things going wrong and not having much cash.
  2. Learn how to explain what you're offering to non-industry people in under 10 plain English words and make that your whole company's mantra.
  3. Love your customer and provide something of incredible value to them. If you would be a passionate buyer of your product/service then you're probably on the right track.
  4. Hand pick a team that really believes in what they're doing and confront them with kid gloves regularly if they seem distracted or disinterested. Discard bad apples QUICKLY!
  5. Build a cult around what you're doing. If you, your team and your customers believe strongly in what your doing then nothing can stop you (See point #1).
  6. Read as many books as you can about your field and people that have succeeded, learn from others successes and mistakes.
  7. Buy cheap stuff and have an ugly office if you never have customers come over. You can buy tables for $100, chairs for $250 and computers for $1000. Get furniture at office refurb/recyclers cheap if you need a pretty office. Get as much software as you can for free/cheap from Microsoft/Oracle/Whoever dev programs.
  8. Get to cash flow positive as quickly as you possibly can unless you are ready to hand over some of your company to investors.
  9. Don't give everybody a phone extension until they are talking to paying customers regularly.
  10. Forget about hype and tons of tiny customers and find yourself a really nice big reference account that loves what you're doing and will fund your new projects. This is of course assuming you're not starting a dollar store or micro commerce business.
  11. You don't need a full time accountant but you'd better have tight control over your pennies because they'll evaporate quickly.
  12. Try to do the rounds and talk to everybody in your office at least twice a week to see how they're doing.
  13. Pair people up in teams that depend on each other so people don't slack off on their own moods as much.
  14. Experiment with variations of what you're doing if it isn't working well.
  15. Don't work crazy hours + weekends non-stop all the time unless you want to miss out on life and be a bitter rich asshole, there's a time to walk and a time to sprint. Choose them wisely. Same goes for your team, don't burn them out unless its worth it for everyone. At the same time, don't let opportunities pass you by because you don't want to work nights and weekends.
  16. Ignore trends, listen to your customers pain (needs) instead.


Anonymous said...

How about what you name your start up? There is a whole lot to be said about a name. What it implies, it's relevance etc...

sanj said...

A good name is a plus but you can always change the name within the first 6 - 12 months if you think of something better before the cement hardens. I'd rather have a great business with a crappy name then a great name with a crappy business.

Having said that, I've mostly picked pretty good names from the get go and have a bank of names/domains set aside to pluck from when I start something new.