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Five Stages of Startup: Level 4 -- The Grind
Growth, Culture, Change, Trouble, Pivot
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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.

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Teaching Startup: The Show -- Trailer
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So, you're one of the first people on the planet to see the humble beginnings of what will eventually become Teaching Startup: The Show.

Teaching Startup: The Show is a bunch of entrepreneurs talking about startup, among other things, and discussing real, relevant issues in an honest and open way. This is not Shark Tank. This is real startup talk. DIY startup. Punk startup.





The Show opens up startup to everyone. We talk in frank, easily understandable, no-bull terms, with content delivered by actual entrepreneurs with real-world startup experience. The target audience is from middle-school to middle-age, whether you're just thinking about jumping into startup or you've sold a couple companies and maybe want to give back.

This is a new way of doing things, and I know it seems a little crazy.

But if you get it, if you dig the vibe, if you think you connect with what we're trying to do, there are couple ways you can get involved.

Sign up for the beta program waiting list. Invites will start going out in late December.

Give us a thumbs up on YouTube and subscribe to the Teaching Startup channel.

Follow the @TeachingStartup Twitter or like the Teaching Startup Facebook page.

Tell your friends -- just the cool ones -- not the jerks.

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The Show: Episode 1.2 -- Are Startup Accelerators Worth It?
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Startup accelerators are all the rage -- hard to get into and seemingly a one-way ticket to success. Colgan has been through 500 Startups, and Andy is on his way after a successful stint at The Startup Factory, so we have a conversation about the pros and cons.

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What's Your Biggest Weakness?
Teaching Startup: The Show - Episode 1.5
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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.

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VIDEO: How To Build Relationships With Investors
Teaching Startup: The Show - Episode 2.4
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Just because your startup landed venture capital, that doesn't mean you're successful. And just because you've been offered investment doesn't mean you should take it.

If you and your investors don't have a solid relationship, it could spell the end of your startup. Or maybe just the end of your leadership there.

What starts as a discussion about emulation versus experimentation (and maybe a little man-crush from Colgan), turns into the finer points of authenticity, honesty, and relationships with investors. Investment means the clock is ticking and the runway is getting shorter, every day. Those relationships are going to get real critical, real quick.

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One Bad Early Hire Can Kill a Startup
It Comes Down to Managing Expectations and Staying Agile
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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.

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