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The Ultimate Guide for Entrepreneurs: Lessons, Advice and Best Practices from Experts who have Built Companies
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The Ultimate Guide for Entrepreneurs: Lessons, Advice and Best Practices from Experts who have Built Companies

The Ultimate Guide for Entrepreneurs: Lessons, Advice and Best Practices from Experts who have Built Companies

Entrepreneurship
August 4, 2021
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27 Jogs
Why it matters?

Starting a company is no easy task. Entrepreneurship takes hard work, dedication, and lots of patience to build a successful business that will last the test of time. But if you ever want to know how to start a company or what it takes to run one successfully then you should learn as much as you can from those who have tried before, implement best practices and avoid common mistakes. Whether it's creating a business plan or managing company culture, there is always something new to learn.

There are amazing resources available to you but where to start is a challenge and there is too much content to consume. To help you, we have collected insights from experts who have experience building successful companies that will provide valuable tips and best practices to help you on your entrepreneurial journey. The content is summarized so you can quickly find the right content for you to spend time on, and eliminate what you don't need. As entrepreneurs ourselves, we know how valuable time is, and we hope this saves you some, as well as highlight the amazingly generous advice available to you by some of the smartest business minds who've been there before.

The Content

Each link contains a summary produced by one of Joggo's geniuses so you can decide where to spend your time learning more

June 27, 2007
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Marc Andreessen
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Marc Andreessen

The Moby Dick theory of big companies

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The Summary

There are times in a startup when you have to deal with big companies (investments, alliances, buying outs). In the novel Moby-Dick, Captain Ahab goes in search of the great white whale Moby Dick. Captain Ahab is the startup, and the big company is Moby Dick - unpredictable and hard to catch.

The behavior of big companies is largely inexplicable when viewed from the outside

  • Its complex system consisting of thousands of people
  • You can't identify all the factors that will come to bear on a decision, so it’s difficult to understand, predict, or influence their decisions

What to do?

  1. Don’t do startups that require deals with big companies to make them successful.
  2. Never assume that a deal with a big company is closed papers are signed and/money is given.
  3. Be patient.
  4. Beware of bad deals.
  5. Never assume a big company will do the obvious thing.
  6. Be aware that big companies care a lot more about what other big companies are doing than what any startup is doing.
  7. If doing deals with big companies is going to be a key part of your strategy, be sure to hire a real pro who has done it before.
  8. Talk to big companies about all kinds of things but be ready to have the conversation just drop and to return to your core business.
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NfX

The New Rules of Growth vs. Profitability

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The Summary

There are new rules for building a business.

The key is balancing growth and profitability.

Examine your cash position

  • For companies that are cash-constrained:
    • If taking losses, reduce burn and extend runway
    • Early-stage startups that can’t cut costs must invest in growth instead
  • For companies that aren’t cash-constrained:
    • Achieve profitability in unit economics
    • Reach a strong CAC/LTV ratio with a payback period of less than 3-6 months

Take advantage of a crisis

  • A recession tests your product-market fit, greatest companies are forged during crisis periods
  • Set a cash floor and exercise extreme frugality to become cash neutral/positive
  • Iterate on product to identify profitable streams and scale business so revenue matches cost

Growth vs. profitability

  • Growth is generally valued more, but only if there is a visible path to profit
  • It’s a false dichotomy: you need both
  • Startup should “glide” toward moderate growth and profitability as business matures

Startup path

  • Early-Stage: Seed to Series A
    • First find a product-market fit 
    • Then achieve 3-5x annual growth
    • Unit economics is more important than overall profitability
  • Mid-Stage: Series B & C
    • Create conditions for optionality
    • Have efficient, scalable customer acquisition
    • Launch in adjacent markets, expand market share in existing markets
  • Late-Stage: approaching IPO
    • Growth is still more important than profits
    • Business model will determine how market reacts to rate of growth and profit
    • Weaker network effects = less tolerance for losses
    • Too much capital is a risk

Blitzscaling requires a network effect

  • Only then does capturing market share result in defensibility
  • Companies without network effect lose when they blitzscale
  • Regardless, environment is turning against blitzscaling
  • Value efficiency and ingenuity over pure growth

Takeaways for founders

  • Keep a cash runway to survive
  • Focus on improving position and capturing market share
  • It’s important to maintain profitability but don’t let that stop you from taking growth opportunities as they arise
September 14, 2020
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David Sacks
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Bottom Up

Product First

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The Summary

The most common way to create a good startup is to start with a product idea, and then learn the exact market, buyer, and business model. This process is often ignored but allows for growth as the startup develops.

How to create a startup “Product First”

  1. Create the product hook
    1. In simple terms, what is the value your product creates.
  2. Discover the market insight.
    1. Discover who uses the product and why.
  3. Operationalize the insight.
    1. Create data based on insight and plan growth accordingly.
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First Round Review

Hypergrowth and The Law of Startup Physics  

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The Summary

The Law of Startup Physics

  • The phenomenon of startup scaling-and-breaking under one main principle: “humans grow linearly, companies grow exponentially.”
  • While humans cannot be reengineered to grow faster, companies may grow from serving a hundred clientele to a million within the span of a year.
  • Humans formulate a vision for a startup along with an exciting story and organize an effort to produce the end result.

Companies will outgrow its people

Growth outpaces the ability of executives to manage the startup. 1. A company will turn its team over three times on its rise to scale, not because the lack of growth in the people, but rather because the speed in which their growing stalls progression. 2. As a result, a company has two options: - Fire the executive - when ego acts as a barrier to success - Hire above the executive Based on employment data, one may expect to stay with the company between 18 months and three years.

Founders should make a pledge

  • Sets expectations for an objective of growth
  • Provides career definition
  • Establishes trust

The founder is an exception to this law

The founder is responsible for exponential thought, fueling the company’s vision. Peak positive emotions through interactions with the outside world leads to peak performance. By making a pledge to “get out of the building,” the founder… - Sets an example that promotes the performance of the organization as a whole - Increases his or her personal performance - Stimulates creativity and problem solving

June 18, 2007
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Marc Andreessen
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Marc Andreessen

Why not to do a startup

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The Summary

The idea of starting a company is romanticized for the benefits it brings, including control of your own destiny, creating something new, having an impact on the world, building your ideal culture, and lots of money. Although these benefits can become reality, there are even more potential drawbacks to doing a startup.

Reasons not to do a startup.

  • You have to do everything. 
    • Unlike in an established company, if you don’t do it, it won’t get done.
  • People say no. 
    • Potential employees, customers and investors will all say no often.
  • It’s hard to hire. 
    • It’s difficult to find people that will thrive in the unstable environment. Also, it’s tough to get talented people to actually leave their secure jobs
  • Emotional instability. 
    • The inherent stresses combined with the boom or bust nature of startups create dramatic ups and downs.
  • Hours. 
    • With the huge responsibility, startups takeover your life, destroying work/life balance.
  • It’s hard to establish culture. 
    • The stress, uncertainty and workload in a startup make it difficult for a thoughtful culture to take hold.
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First Round Review

Here's How Women and Startups Can Accelerate Pay Equity in Tech  

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The Summary

The gender wage gap in the tech industry cannot simply come about when women advocate for higher pay for themselves.

  • Instead, it will require embracing and valuing diversity on both sides of the negotiating table. 
  • A three-pronged approach can be taken to help advance toward pay equity

How should underrepresented individuals approach a salary negation?

  • Figure out how much the people around you are making. Start with friends (of both genders) in similar positions and offer to disclose your salary as well. 
  • Look at pay datasets that have been compiled on Glassdoor and in VC firms and determine the salary range for your current position and the ones you want next.
  • Look up compensation laws in your state and leverage them to your advantage. 

What leads to a successful comp discussion outcome?

  • Consider this discussion in terms of your development at the company.
  • Give context for why you want a pay increase. 
  • Make it clear that you want to stay with the company and that the pay increase will correspond to increasing your value at the company
  • Don’t take a rejection personally. Instead, ask your manager to explain their context and reasoning for their decision.
  • Let this context be a new prompt to learn what changes you need to make to achieve the wage increase you want.
  • Be careful when mentioning other potential opportunities so your manager does not get defensive

What can startups do to lessen the wage gap?

  • Consider which comp negotiations have resulted in increased pay for employees and which have not to determine if they are the result of underlying biases. 
  • Collect data on the market rate for the positions at your company, so you can justify your pay. 
  • Encourage senior women to talk about pay and provide transparency regarding pay and pay decisions. 
December 18, 2018
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Pardis Noorzad
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Medium

Management best practices. A list of 20 things

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The Summary

The following managerial practices should be implemented to promote happier employees, improved products, and more efficient use of capital. - Value long-term focus and ownership - Build on existing work practices - Initiate promotions - Utilize affirmations as incentive to execute company’s values - Connect higher salaries with greater responsibilities - Be consistent in judgement - Giving credit builds teamwork - Encourage collaboration - Delegate tasks based on talent distribution - Emphasize details at every stage - Act to resolve conflicts - Improve business practices instead of people - Keep calm under pressure - Be respectful to all coworkers - Hire those who may possess more knowledge than you - Maintain a flexible mindset to those with unique perspectives - Respect the hierarchy of leadership - Refrain from setting unmotivating deadlines - Keep the team up to date with the company’s strategies - Push towards solutions that benefit all parties

November 10, 2011
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Eric Paley
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Founder Collective

Startups rarely do anything well

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The Summary

Startup founders have limitless ambition, but need to get realistic about their need to focus.  - Startup key to success: become world class at something a large number of people value. - Big visions for success are contagious but misguided if there is not enough focus. - The range of products a successful company should offer should be focused and limited. Don’t start out with multiple products or multiple target audiences. - Success is contingent on focus & prioritization. Identify your biggest sole opportunity, and then dedicate all resources towards that.  - To become world class at what you do, dream big but focus small.

February 17, 2014
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Stewart Butterfield
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Medium

We Don’t Sell Saddles Here

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The Summary

Slack has seen tremendous success by creating a genuinely useful product. How?

Building Something People Want

  • People had no idea they wanted Slack.
  • Slack had to understand what people thought they wanted and then translate the value of Slack into their terms.

Marketing from Both Ends

Product End: They did a better and better job of giving people what they wanted. Market End: They communicated the above more and more effectively, so people knew they wanted it.

Selling the Innovation, Not the Product

  • Companies sell products (i.e. saddles) to address a need people already know they have. It results in small changes.
  • Companies sell innovation (i.e. horseback riding) to address a solution people do not know they need, which results in large-scale changes.

Finding PMF by Defining their Market

  • E.g., Imagine if Acme Saddles Co. sold horseback riding 4,000 years ago. It would have dominated by transforming systems of transportation.
  • Slack created a new market (centralized internal communication) and owned it.

Seeing their Work from the Perspective of a New Customer

Does it make sense? Can you predict what's going to happen when you click that button? Is it fast enough?

September 10, 2015
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First Round Review

‘Give Away Your Legos’ and Other Commandments for Scaling Startups

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The Summary

Scaling

If you don’t manage to scale proactively, you can end up in trouble. Scaling is like building one of those huge, complex towers out of Legos. 1. As you start to scale, everyone has so many Legos to choose from – many jobs. 2. You start to add people to help you build the Lego tower. The result: People get nervous. A week ago, someone might have told you they hate their Legos and want to get rid of them. But as soon as you hire someone else, they suddenly want to hang on to all of them.

It is key to start giving away Legos

  • Giving away responsibility/jobs — giving away the part of the Lego tower you started building — is the only way to move on to building bigger and better things.
  • Adding people doesn’t mean there’s less work for the people that are already there. It means that the entire company can do more. To get employees through the job-change anxiety:
  • Normalize what people are experiencing.
  • Help them picture the reality of their next job (preferably a larger project) and the size of the opportunity.

The Phases of Scale and How to Approach Them

30 to 50 Employees - Make a list of the qualities you want your company to embody. Who do you want to be? How do you want it to feel to work there? - Write down what you’re doing in the world. What’s your vision for the change you want to make? - Communicate these things again and again and again. Through all the channels. All the time. You can’t over-communicate these ideas. 50 to 200 Employees - Focus on hiring quality people rather than speed. Don’t lower your bar because you need to grow faster. It will come back to bite you. - Fire people. Just do it! 200 to 750 Employees - Hire amazing leaders as early as you can and help them grow their capabilities as the company grows. Over 750 Employees - Problem: people start to act in their own self-interest rather than the best interest of the company - Prioritize principles over process. - Keep giving away your Legos! And tell everyone around you to do the same. It’s going to be okay.

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First Round Review

What Sweetgreen Can Teach Startups About Scaling Intimacy  

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The Summary

Scale and intimacy are hard to balance

Sweetgreen uses intimacy at scale to expand while maintaining relationships with customers, partners & employees. There are 4 core principles: 1. Slow down to speed up. 2. Study the community. 3. Embrace modularity. 4. Thrive on collaborations. Sweetgreen goes straight to farmers instead of centralized distributers. Their complex supply chain reinvented fast-food business. There are 2 tactics for transparent local sourcing: 1. Go deep to build supplier relationships that last. 2. Open up with blockchain.

Sweetgreen maintains intimacy through technology

Around half of orders are from their app. Their digital process focuses on: 1. Content forward: customers “order with their eyes” with good descriptions and photos. 2. Personalization: experience can be maximally customized.

Sweetgreen invests heavily in local social impact projects

“Leave people better than they found them” is Sweetgreen’s mantra. Leaders focus on retaining employees in a supportive environment & building a team that thrives with change. There are 4 tactics for nurturing a community culture that scales: 1. Intention to kick off the day: build team with daily ritual 2. Shark Tank for salads: encourage team to contribute ideas 3. Nudging with new tools: improve team experience with software 4. Staying tethered as a founder: stay well-versed in the whole business as a founder

Focus on getting stronger & saying no, not just expansion.

Meaningful connections & relationships with internal and external customers are key to intimacy at scale.

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Paulina Welnic
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Intercom

Motivate your star performers with meaningful career conversations

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The Summary

Retention is something all managers have to deal with. However, understanding the long-term career goals of your team can allow you to anticipate changes to your team and perhaps even keep your star performers. 

Facilitate discussion about goals and long term plans

  1. Schedule repeated one-on-one discussions to talk about team members ultimate goals. 
  2. Ask questions that help them determine what aspects of the job they like to do and what skill they want to develop
  3. Figure out ways for team members to take on more/different responsibilities that align with their goals and the skills they want to hone. 

Ultimately it is up to the team member to have the drive and skills to balance additional responsibilities.

  • Be open with them about your expectations and reactions.
  • Be open to transfers within your company to different teams, and celebrate when your team members achieve their personal goals. 
June 9, 2020
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Alexa Collins
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Intercom

Strategies for building a resilient business

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The Summary

Recent times have demonstrated the importance of building resilient businesses that can withstand difficult periods. - During a crisis, the first steps taken must address the immediate challenges facing employees, customers, and the business. - After dealing with near-term challenges (i.e. cash management), it’s essential to form broader resiliency and reinvention plans as existing industry structures are permanently altered and a new normal is shaped.

Apply these strategies to ensure long-term success beyond crisis

  1. Make quick decisions with enough information to support them
    1. Avoid waiting for perfect information or unanimous consent
    2. Communicate decisions quickly and clearly to all those involved in the business
  2. Consider needs of employees and how they may shift during a crisis
    1. Have managers individually check in with employees and offer to help
    2. Prioritize employee well-being by finding new ways to support those working from home
    3. Adjust working norms to make remote work simple and practical
  3. Understand what customers need now and in the future
    1. Find new ways to connect with and receive feedback from customers to better understand customer needs
    2. Collaborate with your teams to determine the best response
  4. Invest in partnerships
    1. Partnering with businesses will benefit both parties, creating resiliency and collective financial success during difficult times The businesses that seize the opportunities to improve performance by listening to customers, prioritizing employees, and partnering with other businesses are the ones that will endure the crisis and future crises as well.
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First Round Review

The Best Approach to the Worst Conversation: "You're Fired" 

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The Summary

Letting an employee go is a painful yet unavoidable situation for a leader. There are different ways to deal with poor performers:

Early action and being proactive

  • Inaction allows the problem to worsen beyond repair and will also hurt leadership’s credibility
  • Leader’s job is managing their people, so until you sit down and address things, you are the problem

Prevention

  • Ensure your managers receive training necessary to deal with these situations independently
  • Empathy is required for conversations about performance, so team leads should take responsibility for these situations
  • HR is only there to assist
  • Developing a protocol that managers can refer to when in these circumstances

Performance improvement plan (PIP)

  • A manager-employee agreement to improve performance without threatening aspect
  • Provide specific and immediate feedback and end criticism with potential solutions
  • Have employee repeat expectations back to you to ensure understanding
  • Write down measurable goals
  • Be patient throughout process

If PIP is necessary, it shouldn’t be unexpected

  • Use a 3-month plan with monthly checkpoints
  • Phase 1
    • Be extremely involved; micromanage
  • Phase 2
    • Give them space while observing closely
  • Phase 3
    • Grant full autonomy If same behavior arises again in the future, it’s time to have the tough conversation and let them go. All in all, take a tougher stance in the beginning and invest in fixing problems early on to prevent more problems down the line.
June 4, 2013
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Eric Paley
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Founder Collective

A great idea is never enough

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The Summary

In entrepreneurship, the initial idea rarely dictates the success of the startup or what the execution will be. Success is about the thousands of ideas and decisions that are made along the way and the speed at which those insights are implemented according to customer needs and feedback. 1. Dig into the original hypothesis 2. Learn 3. Adapt

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Dave Girouard
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First Round Review

Speed as a Habit  

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The Summary

In any market, the fastest company has the best chance to win. This defining factor of market leaders can become habitual, built into the culture of a company. In business, the faster a company can make decisions and execute on them, the faster the company is. Often, decisions are debated over and drawn out, but most decisions aren’t worth more than 10 minutes of discussion. When a company operates with urgency as a habit, quality and speed can coexist.

Strategies to make speed a habit

  • Realize that very few decisions can’t be undone, so, when a decision is made is more important than what decision is made.
  • Set deadlines for decisions.
  • Recognize where you can turn slow steps in a process into simultaneous action.
  • Strive to set the pace of the market.
  • Take care of complicating parts early so they don’t slow you down later.
  • Get team support for decisions and make it the case that each member benefits from the urgency.

How to know if you’re moving fast enough

  • Always ask “Why can’t this be done sooner?”
  • The team should feel stretched by the speed that’s expected. Push decisions.
  • If clear discomfort can be seen in the team members, recognize that and respond accordingly.
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Florent Crivello
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Florent Crivello

General Magic and Silicon Valley Common Wisdom

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The Summary

General Magic was a company founded in 1990 that set out to create smartphones. They were ahead of their time and employed people who went on to have major roles with Apple, Android and the US Government. Their visionary approach couldn’t overcome the fact that they were too early, and their product was too expensive.

Lessons from General Magic

  1. Early is the same as wrong.
    1. A good idea doesn’t ensure success.
  2. Don’t try to boil the ocean.
    1. Set practical goals.
  3. Talk to users.
    1. To make a great product, you must understand the customer.
  4. The importance of good managers.
    1. General Magic didn’t have managers, which led to some operational blind spots.
  5. Big companies aren’t your friends.
    1. General Magic signed deals with companies like Sony, AT&T, and Apple. These companies had conflicting missions and motivations.
  6. What makes Silicon Valley special.
    1. Despite the commercial failure, the innovative spirit of General Magic is what makes Silicon Valley special.
May 18, 2018
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Ruth O'Brien
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Intercom

Your growth requires taking risks with your hiring strategy

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The Summary

For long-term growth, transition from hiring superstars with little risk to hiring for potential when your team is mature enough. 

Early-stage strategy

  • First employees should be independent, thrive under pressure, and succeed with  little support
    • Must hit the ground running

Scaling up

  • Stagger promotion dates to pool a backbone of capable mentors
  • Provide mentoring program to enrich onboarding experience

Evolving criteria

  • List down “must haves” (essential qualities) and “nice to haves” (coachable)
  • Widen criteria in areas where your team can provide support
  • Hire with long-term view: too many superstars may strip your company
    • Necessary if you want to continue growth and retain talent
March 24, 2020
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Camille Ricketts
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Femstreet

Leading through periods of crisis or intense growth

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The Summary

Design for growth so you integrate and onboard new hires effectively

  • Batch new hires into monthly start dates
  • Pair new hires with "buddies" on the team
  • First time managers should receive manager 101 training

Hiring operators: focus on qualities first, then functional expertise, then fit

  • Rate of learning
  • Resilience
  • Intellectual curiosity
  • Relevant work or functional skills
  • Passion for the problem and role fit
September 26, 2017
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Gustavs Cirulis
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Intercom

When collaboration becomes a chore

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The Summary

Collaboration is easy when companies are small - all decisions can be made quickly. As companies scale this mindset will slow companies down.

Maintaining Creativity while Being Nimble

  • Learn to let go and trust your colleagues are competent and will do an excellent job
  • To keep company alignment set clear and actionable team values
  • Be clear and deliberate about who is involved for which decisions
  • Choose the right medium for collaboration. Meetings are expensive and often times not necessary. Use emails or posts to a project management tool to collect feedback.
  • Make a decision and move on. Don't include others to sway the decision or delay the inevitable. Disagree but commit to the decision.
  • Decide what is worth collaborating on and what is not
  • Protect your time and respect others' time
September 17, 2019
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Lenny Rachitsky
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Lenny's Newsletter

The Power of Performance Reviews: Use This System to Become a Better Manager

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The Summary

Bottom Line

  • Performance reviews done well, improve performance, align expectations and accelerate your report's career. Done poorly, they accelerate their departure.

Prepare

  • Where most of a manager's time is spent
  • Ask people to review their performance and ask your employee to review their own performance
  • While waiting for feedback come up with your own point of view so you're not too swayed by other's opinions
  • Highlight and prepare their accomplishments, superpowers, overall feedback, areas for improvements and timeline until promotion

Deliver

  • How you message the feedback is often more important than the actual content itself
  • Schedule the meeting and set aside time to prep
  • Prepare your narrative for how you will walk through the document
  • Send the document to the employee ahead of time so they can be aware
  • Bring paper copies to mock up and highlight importance
  • Start by sharing the rating, then describe the feedback, include any compensation changes and end with a follow-up action plan

Follow-Up

  • The conversation is just the beginning of the performance development process
  • Ask the employee to put together a two-sided action plan that you and they will complete in the following weeks / months / years
  • Schedule check-ins to assess and give feedback on performance (i.e., what's going well, what's not going well, where to improve)
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Pete Flint
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NfX

The Hidden Patterns of Great Startup Ideas

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The Summary

At the initial stage of a startup, the core idea makes a huge difference. Small changes in your initial idea/direction will make a big difference to where you end up. Five Frameworks to Refine Startup Ideas:

Innovate Just Enough

  • Novelty is a risk.
    • The biggest ideas often strike a balance between what has been proven to work and something totally new. 

Leverage Technological Shifts

  • Without a big tech shift underlying your idea, it’s less likely to be a breakout hit.

Take More Risks

  • Contrarian ideas allow you to compete in a less crowded market.
    • This is particularly helpful in network effect businesses and in consumer businesses.
    • The biggest ideas are not consensus ideas

Solving a Problem vs. Creating Opportunity

  • When evaluating ideas, you should certainly think about how much they are solving a clear problem.
    • Think about what new opportunities they might be creating. 

Market Risk vs. Execution Risk

  • Market risk is when you don’t know if anyone will want what you are building.
  • Execution risk is when you don’t know if you can execute at a world-class level on the idea.
  • Evaluate your ideas to see how much of each of these two risks it takes on and which you are better suited to solve.
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First Round Review

Unpacking 5 of Atlassian’s Most Unconventional Company-Building Moves

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The Summary

The following are 5 unconventional principles to keep in mind when growing your company, according to Jay Simons of Atlassian. 1. Build on the backbone of product-led growth. Don’t scale your manpower - instead, focus on building a remarkable product that brings people to your company. 2. Launch a 2nd product early on and learn when to let go. Sometimes, new upstarts will enter your market. Believe in your company and keep your offerings fresh instead of dwelling on the competition. 3. Hand over the reigns to channel partners. Hiring your own sales people might be tempting, but building channel partnerships will allow you to grow with greater velocity. 4. Defer a play for enterprise. Keep things simple and try to improve on your current task rather than jumping to the next potential project. 5. Put a premium on first-principles culture. Don’t settle for less than you’re expecting, and be prepared to lose customers along the way - it will be worth it.

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First Round Review

This is Why People Leave Your Company

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The Summary

Across sectors, the reasons people love and hate their job are the same. It is important to understand why people quit and what startups can do to ensure employees are happy and engaged. 

You don’t respect their time

  • Employees have lives outside their work, their time should be respected
  • People should choose whether they want to work on weekends

Employees usually don’t leave because of their boss

  • Rarely do employees leave due to mismatched chemistry - it usually stems from a lack of confidence

Counteroffers

  • If employees are unhappy, counteroffers will not fix the problem and are an expensive ordeal

Build a community with purpose

  • Ensure people feel as if they’re part of something bigger
  • Ensure your hiring process incorporates cultural fit
  • Build trust between managers and employees
  • Consider a “work from home” policy to increase employee happiness

Mentorship programs

  • Mentorship should be directed by employee interest and growth
  • Good mentorship happens organically
  • Mentorship can shorten feedback cycles and potential retention issues can be spotted earlier

HR

  • Invest in reliable and trustworthy HR employees
  • Empathy is important
  • Recruit someone who will tell you hard things you don’t want to hear
June 10, 2009
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Andrew Chen
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Andrew Chen

Creating value versus optimizing revenue

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The Summary

There are limitations to quantitative testing when building a business.

Focus on value-creation

  • Viral companies can become siloed into doing the minimum to satisfy a large base, rather than the maximum to wow users.
  • Focus on a cohesive product rather than many small experiments that fragment experiences.
  • Revenue and traffic should be consequences of value A numbers centric model can lead to virality, but it doesn't automatically create value that can be recouped.
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Building a Growth Framework Towards a $100 Million Product

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The Summary

Market Product Fit

  • Define your category, who, product, motivations
  • Identify core value prop, hook, time to value, stickiness

Product Channel Fit and Channel Model Fit

  • Make sure your channel hypotheses aligns with Channel Model Fit on the ARPU/CAC Spectrum

Revisiting Target Audience, Model Market Fit

  • Model Market Fit states that ARPU x Total Customers In Market x % You Think You Can Capture >= $100M

Introducing A New Tier, Lack Of Channel Model Fit

  • Talk to your paying customers, and gauge their willingness to pay depending on additional features and product pricing tiers.

Strategy Shift, Changing Everything

  • There are really only two choices: choose the model or choose the market.

Takeaways:

  1. You need all four fits to align to be able to grow into a $100M+ company in a venture-backed timeframe.
  2. When you change one component within the framework, you need to revisit and change the rest.
  3. The fits are always changing and evolving.
  4. If you are building a new line of business inside a larger company, avoid pursuing a path where all the components of the framework are different than those of the existing core business.
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First Round Review

This GTM-Leader-Turned-Investor Crowdsources Early Lessons From Stripe, Figma & More

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The Summary

Meka Asonye shares the lessons he has learned over the course of his career and the realizations he has made based on his myriad of startup and founder experiences.

If It’s Hard to Compete in the Early Days, Get Creative for the Customer

  • Meet your customers where they are.
    • Ask, what are their goals and what is standing in their way?

Apply First Principles to Re-Think GTM Solutions

  • Do what is right for you, not what is familiar.
  • First Principles: Pricing
    • Determine the right model for your business.
  • First Principles: Comp
    • Give your early salespeople lower leveraged compensation plans to allow them space to experiment and learn.
    • Know that sales compensation plans will evolve over time.
    • Lock down the metrics for keeping score for the business and orient metrics holistically.
  • Trying It Out
    • Do a dry run before deciding to hire.

Beware of Abandoning Founder-Led Sales Prematurely, but Be Ready to Scale Immediately Once You Find True Market Pull

  • Founders Who Hang on to Sales Too Long…
    • Hire someone to handle sales early on.
    • Know when it is time to hand it off to someone better experienced and with more time.
  • Founders Who Give Sales Away Too Early…
    • Know your value and vision before hiring someone to take on sales.
  • Founders Who Make the Wrong Kind of Hire...
    • Recognize when you need growth or marketing hires before sales hires.
    • Do not hire the big name(s) too early.
    • Do not overlook the skills needed outside of sales.

Product-Led and Self-Serve is En Vogue, but Remember It’s Not the Only Way to Grow

  • Good sales leaders focus on building as well as the craft of the sales.
  • Create a list of what you need to sell your product.

Tying It All Together

  • Recognize when you have gotten a product or company as far as you can take it.
  • Do not be afraid to hand off the reins.