Business · Business Development

What's the one piece of advice you'd give yourself when starting your second business?

Chris Edmonds Cofounder @ innerAthlete, Entrepreneur, Product Manager & Developer, Stanford, MIT, ex-Googler

Last updated on July 12th, 2017

Let's assume you started one business, that could have succeeded or failed. What was the most important thing you learned to bear in mind when starting another company / launching another product or service?

Gary MacDougall Technology Entrepreneur in retail / e-commerce

Last updated on July 12th, 2017

I had a semi-successful exit with a company I started in 2000, which was acquired by a company in 2014. It was a good thing and I was happy at the result. But there are things I'd definitely do differently now from what I've learned.


They are:


Follow a LEAN model of product development. Meaning, if you have an idea for your product, test it. Get some folks who would be your customer demographic, then run the product by them -- if you have a prototype, let them play with it, let them tell you if it's something they'd spend money on, how much, what would they like to see changed or improved -- do a total "customer development" process. This will ensure that you're not building a product first then finding customers -- which is the WRONG way to do things and unfortunately is what everybody does. If you find that customers love what you've got an will spend money, move to the next phase. If not, you need to make a quick decision based on the feedback as to "fish or cut bait". To me, this is the #1 mistake most startups make -- they build something THEY think will sell then get to version 1.0 and then hire sales. This is backwards... Customer development should happen long before the product is released...


- Choose a partner or co-founder wisely. Pick someone you gel with but also has skills that are not skills you have and need in the business. Also pick someone who's got the same mindset about the business and will be "in the trenches" with you. Partnerships fall down quickly when one feels the other isn't giving it 100%.


- Do it right on the funding part. I bootstrapped my company initially and took no outside investment -- which was fine, but it was a slog, it was hard and I had trouble growing the business beyond 3 or 4 people. If have a good business model, you have a story and a message, go get funding and don't be afraid to give up a piece of the company to do that.


- Hire amazing people. I can't stress this enough. People are the single most important part of the equation. They are the "secret sauce" and in my opinion are the single most important "product" your company can be selling. You can have a mediocre strategy and product, but if you have great people, you'll execute and do great things. But then again, if you have a terrific product and strategy and a "home run" on the product side but had lousy people? You'll fail. People, People, People.


Richard Strickland Interested in building businesses around chat bots and IOT

Last updated on July 12th, 2017

You are not just going to wake up and have the business you dream of. You are going to have to wait to do half the things you want to do. Be obscenely pragmatic and focus on that one thing customers will actually pay you for now (not what you WANT them to pay you for). Then sell as much of that as you can until you are in the black.

And read "The E-Myth Revisited" by Gerber. It's a must. You have to find out which 1 or 2 of the the 3 archetypes best represent you: Entrepreneur, Manager, Technician. Understand that and find partners & managers who compensate for your weaknesses.

Rob Hirsch Traveler, nature lover, storm chaser, entrepreneur, & epic sleeper

July 16th, 2017

Get customers before spending more than $500 on the product. Build a basic website, begin marketing, & start populating an early access / interested people email list. When you have 500 people on the list, start thinking about an MVP.

Steve Owens

July 12th, 2017

Find the very best people regardless of how difficult it may be and work very hard to make sure they function as a team.

Mark Rome CFO, Director of Finance, Controller, Manufacturing, Aerospace & Defense, Construction, Logistics, Software & SaaS

July 12th, 2017

Traction... finding your first paying customers before you spend money to develop your MVP.

Dmitri Toubelis

Last updated on July 12th, 2017

I would not take any investments until I have customers and generate revenues. This serves several important purposes - it validates the idea, it confirms that founding team is up to the task and it saves time from managing investors expectations and committing to THEIR deadlines. I would have a board of 3-5 trusted advisors instead with whom I touch base at least once a month and take every bit of advice I can.

Austin Johnson Free Agent - AustinJohnson.me

July 12th, 2017

My advice: be very careful and diligent about the people whom you extend opportunity to with your business. Whether they are co-founders, employees, vendors, or investors - when you start to gain traction, many people will want to be a part of your success. Do not use the opportunity that you are creating as a charity for undeserving friends or family.

Anonymous

July 12th, 2017

the first important think we have to make sure that , a capable team in place to execute the product features or strategies whatever it may be.. a good team is always required to start anything...

Brom Mahbod President at Mavatar Technologies Inc

July 12th, 2017

Chris, All you learn from your mistake is not to do the same mistake again! It does not necessarily tell you what you need to do. I suggest you read the book REWORK by Jason Fried. As he clearly describes, a success does not mean you will succeed a second time, and a failure does not mean you will not fail a second time. I think the advice he gives you in that short book is very valuable.

Mandip Kanjiya Entrepreneur & Technology Evangelist

July 13th, 2017

Chris from my view it will be depends on your first experience if its succeed business then you have to achieve more into next venture and need to ask to your self why you want to start something new instead of expanding current one and its failure then you have to learn from the mistakes which you did and which others did on your next business model ... :)