23 important takeaways from this video:
00:00:51 How do you identify what are the fast growing industries over the next ten years? Basically, trust your instincts. As students, you’re poised to be able to see the future coming. Older people have to guess about the technologies that the younger people are now using.
00:01:30 How do you deal with burnout as a founder? It sucks and you keep going because you’re in real life and you just have to get through it. Being able to rely on people is really important at this point. Focus on addressing the things that are going wrong and you will eventually feel better.
00:02:00 Recall the utmost importance of Choosing Your Idea and Your Product first, otherwise neither your team nor your execution will save you.
00:02:50 Tension growing among your team and co-founders is important to look out for. This is true – the number one cause of eary-death for startups is co-founder blowups.
Choosing your co-founder is more important than choosing your team, and is detrimental to the life or death of your startup. The track-record for co-founders that don’t already know each other is really bad. It’s better to have no co-founder than to have a bad co-founder, but having no co-founder does put you at a disadvantage.
00:06:05 Ideally, you need someone who is smart, tough, technical, calm, resourceful, unflappable, decisive and act quickly, creative, and is ready for anything. Ideally, you need someone who behaves like James Bond to help you run your company. Being able to macro-manage is important, but software people really should be starting software companies; media people should be starting media companies. 2-3 co-founders who really know, compliment, have a long-term relationship with each other would be the ideal number of co-founders for your company
00:07:25 Try not to hire. People ask you how many employees you have because it is a sort of concrete way to judge how successful and cool your startup is. The more number of employees you say, the more impressed they are. However having few employees makes you come across as a little joke.
Aim to be as efficient as you can with as few amount of employees as you possibly can for as long as possible. Eventually you’ll need to learn how to hire fast in order to scale your company, but at the beginning you should stay as small as possible for as long as you possibly can. A bad or a wrong hire at the very beginning of your company can be enough to actually kill your company. The people you hire go on to define your company, so hire people who believe in your company almost as much as you do.
00:10:30 Your number one job when you are in hiring mode is to get the best people. Don’t underestimate how difficult it is to recruit.
People are not dumb. The best people know that they should join a rocketship. As a recruiter, you need to convince the very best people that you offer them somehting that nobody else can offer them. This comes back to the importance of why your idea and product are the most important elements of your startup.
[EDITOR’S NOTE: For more information on recruiting, watch the lecture Human Resources Management: Candidate Selection From Attraction To Offer.]
00:11:20 As a startup in hiring-mode, either spend 0% of your time hiring, or 25%. 25% is already a huge amount of time spent in finding and hiring new people.
00:12:00 Mediocre engineers do not build great companies. In large companies, medocre employees can fall through the cracks and won’t necessarily kill your compay, but with startups, you will always regret hiring mediocrity because they can poison your company’s culture.
If you’re hiring your first five or so employees, and you must choose between hiring a mediocre employee and losing customers to a competitor, be willing to lose those customers to a competitor. Remember that a wrong hire at the beginning of your startup can kill your company.
00:13:30 The best source for hiring is by people who you and other trusted employees in the company already know. Never underestimate the power of personal referrals with regards to recruiting.
00:15:00 Three important things to consider when hiring are:
- Are they smart?
- Do they get things done?
- Do I want to spend a lot of time around them?
[EDITOR’S NOTE: I wrote a similar article on this for Joshua Waldman’s blog Career Enlightenment on The Two Most Important Questions You Should Answer In Any Job Interview.
Also, Timoni West, Product Designer and Julien Hérrison, Freelance Art Director offers good advice on how to identify mediocre people from the bad.]
00:16:50 Good communication skills is extremely important. If someone is difficult to talk to, or cannot communicate clearly, it’s a real problem in terms of their likelihood of working out.
00:18:45 They have to earn it, of course, but you should aim to give about 10% of your company your first ten employees. Don’t be too stingy with equity.
[EDITOR’S NOTE: For more information on equity and rewarding employees, watch the lecture Human Resources Management: Motivation Through Compensation & Benefits by Armin Frost.]
00:20:00 Now that you’ve hired the best, you want to keep them around.
00:22:20 Firing people is one of the worst parts of running a company, but when you do you need to do it quickly. Let go of people to play to office politics and who are persistently negative – all your other employees are aware of them and they are completely toxic to the company.
00:25:15 If you’re not willing to give your co-founder nearly equal equity in the company, you should really think hard about whether you really want this person as your co-founder. In any case, equity split is something you should address and settle at the early stages of your company, not later.
00:28:35 In the early days where communication and speed outweigh everything else, remote teams who communicate through video conferencing or calls don’t work that well.
00:29:15 Execution isn’t the most fun part of starting a company, but it is often the most critical. Everything in a startup gets modeled after the founders; whatever you do becomes the culture.
00:35:00 Have the right metics, and be focused on growing those metrics. Momentum and growth are the lifeblood of startups and should be among your top metrics. Justifying that you’re not growing in this moment because you’re focusing an a rebrand or some other side-project is usually a bad thing. Don’t let yourself get distrated or excited by other things.
[EDITOR’S NOTE: For more information on metrics, read my interview with Benjamin Descazal, Data Consultant.]
00:35:25 Don’t let yourself get excited about public relations. It’s really to get excited with public relations that gets no results, but in a year you’ll still have nothing and at that point you won’t be cool anymore, and you’ll end up being the entrepreneur talking about these articles that were published about you a year ago.
00:35:30 Startups are not a good choice if you want to balance your work and private life. The good news is that a small amount of work on the right thing makes a huge difference:
If each user brings in .99 other users, your company will eventually go bankrupt. But if each user brings in just 1.01 other users, your company can grow to be successful. Such an insignificant number that can lead to such a different future.
00:39:00 The best predictor of success is whenever you talk to a person, they’ve gotten new things done.
00:45:00 Don’t worry about a competitor at all until they are really beating you with a shipped product. “The competitor to be feared is one who never bothers about you at all, but goes on making his own business better all the time.” Henry Ford.
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