VIDEO: Survive Or Die
Teaching Startup: The Show - Episode 1.6
click an icon above to see more posts on that topic





You hear this all the time as a cautionary tale in startup -- Survive or Die! There will be times when you have to make the decision to power through all of your mistakes or give up under the weight of them. Unlike a corporate job, in startup, there's no structure to blend into, nothing to hide behind, and no one is going to swoop in and save you.

That's part of the growth process of becoming an entrepreneur. It's hard to do and not always fun to talk about, but we found a way.

read the rest


Kick Off Your Summer Of Startup


Starting June 6th, Teaching Startup will be reposting every single chapter of Everything You Should Know About Startup as well as reposting every single episode of The Show to keep you educated and motivated.

One catch! In order to get ALL the content, you need a free Teaching Startup beta account.

Get started by entering your email address. You'll get an email which will guide you through the rest.

Email Address
Caveat: By joining, you'll opt-in to our weekly email update. It's valuable, and it's MailChimp, so you can cancel at any time with one click.

Then follow us on Facebook or Twitter for daily new content updates.



Five Roles of Startup: Vision
Founding, Leadership, Management, Product, Future
click an icon above to see more posts on that topic
One of the truest descriptions of an entrepreneur is a person who has to do a lot of different things at the same time. The term for this has always been "wearing a lot of different hats." I don't like this term, mostly because it implies that you have to take your leader hat off to put your builder hat on.

The truth is you have to stack several hats on your head at once. Like Bartholomew Cubbins.

On any given day, an entrepreneur must be a leader, a builder, a salesperson, an accountant, and do several other jobs. As the company grows, you can hire other people to do some of these jobs for you. Hopefully, the people you hire will be better at these things than you are.

If you think about all the things an entrepreneur has to do, it can be overwhelming. Maybe you're an expert at one or two of them, or maybe none of them, and that's OK. Maybe you're good at a few others. Maybe you stink at finance, or sales, but if nobody is paying the bills or bringing in money to pay those bills, your company is not going to last long.

I'm not going to talk about every job at once. Much like when I wrote about the Five Stages of Startup and broke the timeline down into a simplified roadmap, I'll reduce the dozens of jobs an entrepreneur needs to do down to five basic roles you have to fill.

The five roles I'm discussing are general, but intended to identify everyone inside and outside the startup's organization. You must have someone playing all five roles, and most of the time two or more of these roles are going to be played by the same person.

First off, here are all five roles, because before you dig deeper into any of them, you should be aware of what they all are:

Vision -- Founding, Leadership, Management, Product, Future. This is the one I'm talking about now. There is also:

Build -- Design, Engineer, Perform, Deliver, Support

Sales -- Salespeople, Marketing, Business Development, Public Relations

Operations -- Human Resources, Finance, Legal, Administration

Growth -- Investor, Advisor, Mentor, Service Provider, Community

Vision determines company direction and momentum, primarily focused on making the product better, the sales stronger, and the company bigger.

read the rest


Be a Better Entrepreneur
Join Teaching Startup


More content. More interaction. More education. Sign up here to get a free beta account for Teaching Startup.

Email Address
Caveat: By joining, you'll opt-in to our weekly email update. It's valuable, and it's MailChimp, so you can cancel at any time with one click.



What's Your Biggest Weakness?
Teaching Startup: The Show - Episode 1.5
click an icon above to see more posts on that topic





In this episode we focus on our weaknesses. Not necessarily our failures, but those pieces of us that we're bad at. Startup doesn't talk about weakness much. Failure stories are great, but 90% of the time they're humblebrags -- "We flew too close to the sun like Icarus!"

Honestly, that's not helpful. What we do is talk about what makes us fail, and succeed, in terms that everybody here can easily understand.

read the rest





Five Stages of Startup: Level 5 -- The End
Exit, Failure, Graduation, Next, Giving Back
click an icon above to see more posts on that topic
The five stages of startup I'm discussing are not THE five stages of startup. They're just landmarks, broken down and generalized into something that we can all hopefully use as a guide, not gospel.

This is the final stage of the generalized startup timeline, and with this, we've now covered the entire roadmap, from humble beginning to glorious end. Level 1: The Jump is the period of time when you have a great idea that will become a great product. Level 2: Start is when the company is formed, it figures out how to operate, and launches that great product. Level 3: The Journey is about running and growing your company and selling your product. Level 4: The Grind covers all the ups and downs along the way.

But all good things…

The End can happen a few different ways. There are happy endings, horrible endings, and endings where you just shrug your shoulders and move on.

You shouldn't really do a lot of planning for the end. Your goal is to build an incredible business, one that you want to work on every day for the rest of your life. But let's face it, you're an entrepreneur, and you might find that there are other ideas you'd like to pursue -- ideas that may be totally different from the one that got you where you are today.

If you've done your startup right, there will be several knocks of opportunity at your door, people who want to buy everything you've built, and you'll need to listen to most of those offers. If you've done it wrong, failure -- inevitable, heartbreaking failure -- will come calling instead, and that's a call you've got to answer too.

Oh, and I need to tell you that you can do everything right and failure might just show up anyway. He's kind of a jerk.

Regardless of how you close the curtain on your startup, the end is also a new beginning, and you'll need to know how to start over.

read the rest





One Bad Early Hire Can Kill a Startup
It Comes Down to Managing Expectations and Staying Agile
click an icon above to see more posts on that topic
Two years ago, an entrepreneur came to me with a dilemma. She had been approached by another entrepreneur who was being forced to wind down his own fledgling startup as his funding dried up. He was a one-person shop, he had made a decent run of it, but time was up.

Now he wanted to go to work for her.

I walked her through the dilemma. The guy had great tech and had been able to do a lot in a short amount of time with limited funds and resources. His was a tragic and all-too-common story. He raised a small seed round, crushed his milestones, a lot of investors were saying "maybe," and he just ran out of runway.

Happens.

So I asked her: Where's the dilemma? He didn't want a lot of money or equity. He wasn't looking for a specific role, but he came with ideas. He had connections, experience, and he filled a gap in a place she wasn't super strong. He came with zero baggage. He wasn't a jerk, no blemishes on his personal record.

She then explained, in a long, roundabout way, that he didn't fit the plan.

read the rest





The Crumbling of Corporate Culture
Teaching Startup: The Show - Episode 1.4
click an icon above to see more posts on that topic





I founded Teaching Startup because I believe we're on the verge of a new era of entrepreneurship.

Those jobs we lost in the Great Recession? They're not coming back. They're being automated and streamlined out of existence. Then you've got all these kids coming out of higher education, hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt in some cases, who can't find a job worth their degree.

read the rest





Five Stages of Startup: Level 4 -- The Grind
Growth, Culture, Change, Trouble, Pivot
click an icon above to see more posts on that topic
The five stages of startup I'm discussing are not THE five stages of startup. They're just landmarks, broken down and generalized into something that we can all hopefully use as a guide, not gospel.

This is the fourth of five stages that make up a generalized startup timeline. You don't have to read the previous installments, but it will help, especially if you're just starting out. Level 1: The Jump is the period of time when you have a great idea that will become a great product. Level 2: Start is when the company is formed, it figures out how to operate, and launches that great product. Level 3: The Journey is about running and growing your company and selling your product.

So far, everything about startup is straight-up awesome. The early days are the reason most entrepreneurs start their own companies in the first place. It's living the dream, writing your own ticket, creating your own destiny.

But not every day is going to be your favorite day at your startup. Sometimes, it's going to feel like a job. And there will be those rare times when it's going to feel like the worst job you've ever had.

Let's deal with that.

The Grind is the part of startup that is the least glamorous, the most difficult, and probably lasts the longest. Now, nothing about startup is easy. Coming up with a great idea is hard. Turning that idea into a product is hard. Building a company to sell that product is hard. Getting your first few customers and funding is hard.

But once all that machinery is in place, it's time to make it better, faster, stronger, and more efficient. This is the point where the steady state changes, and it changes often. Customers won't be happy, investors will meddle, competition will appear out of nowhere, costs will rise, employees will quit, and everyone around you will, at some point, stop caring about the success of your startup.

Did I talk you out of it? No? Good. Here's how to get through the rest of your startup's life cycle.

read the rest





Why Do We Make Startup So Damn Boring?
The Show - Episode 1.3
click an icon above to see more posts on that topic





That time we talked about sucking all the fun out of startup, keeping people out of the club, and Joe's cut-rate accelerator idea.

Startup can be like a club where the people who are behind the velvet rope keep talking about how much it sucks in order to keep people from wanting to get in. It shouldn't be like that. We should keep preaching about how awesome being an entrepreneur is.

read the rest





Five Stages of Startup: Level 3 -- The Journey
Leadership, Making, Hiring, Funding, Customers
click an icon above to see more posts on that topic
The five stages of startup I'm discussing are not THE five stages of startup. They're just landmarks, broken down and generalized into something that we can all hopefully use as a guide, not gospel.

So far in this series, I've covered the first two of five stages that make up a generalized startup timeline, beginning with Level 1: The Jump. This is the period of time before the thing is actually a thing -- when it's just a great idea that will become a great product. After that, the startup moves to Level 2: Start, when the company is formed, it figures out how to operate, and launches that great product.

Now we embark.

The Journey begins when the startup looks, acts, and feels like a real company. There is a product or service out there on the market, and customers are now the most important factor in determining success.

The Journey is the best part of startup. It's the early days when there are few rules and everything feels new and fresh and within your control. The Journey can last a few weeks, a few months, or a few years. Enjoy it. It's why you did this.

But the journey can't last forever, and you can't coast through this level. You're building on what you've accomplished and driving forward at top speed, trying to perfect the product, sell the product, grow the company, and scale the operation. Here's what you'll need to do that.

read the rest





My Employer Terminated Me Two Weeks Ago So I Am Building My Own Office In My Backyard
And They Are Not Invited
click an icon above to see more posts on that topic
I heard someone say the other day: "researchers found that the more you swear, the more honest you tend to be." No source cited, of course. But it sounds effing reasonable.

(And because I want you to believe everything I say, I will try to squeeze in a few F-bombs).

Now, before I continue, let me pause briefly to tell you how I effing got here.

• I started this and grew it over three years before I made one strategic error too many and had to effing close it down.

• Having been an entrepreneur for almost two decades (that includes the landscaping business I started when I was 12 and loaded my parents' push-mower into my mom's minivan and "ubered" to one of two gas stations whose ~acre of knee-high grass got the business from my dull blade every two weeks for what amounted to $10/hour, before deducting effing expenses), I was torn between diving back in to my next venture right away and going on a sabbatical to work for someone else for a change.

• I was conflicted by these two choices, and then I read this and decided to take a job with an older, wiser, more established startup who could offer me some semblance of stability for awhile--I do not really know what stability feels like; that is the effing downside of being an oft-romanticized "serial entrepreneur."

read the rest





Pick a Topic
Get Educated


Teaching Startup has lessons -- written, video, and audio -- covering 25 important foundational areas of startup: Stages, Roles, Kinds, Funding, and Reasons.

Each lesson on the site covers at least one and up to five of these areas. Pick and choose what you need to know and how you want to learn it.

Click here. Choose a topic. Read, watch, listen, and learn