In his book,Startup Best Practices: Conversations with Silicon Valley Entrepreneurs, management consultant and author, Cees Quirijns, goes searching for the dos and don’ts of starting a business. The importance of being passionate, customer centric, and having an excellent team in place, is seen as essential by many of the interviewees. I have read through a copy of the book and these insights and lessons were worthy of sharing. I hope you find them useful.

  1. An obvious lesson is to find people who have passion. If you don’t have passion, you will not be able to justify the effort it takes to make a successful entrepreneur.
  2. Traction comes in many forms so think of it as a pyramid of traction. At the highest level of the pyramid you have Purchase Orders, so actual revenue from a buyer in the marketplace buying your product.
  3. The higher you are in the pyramid of traction, the more fundable you are. Don’t approach an investor until you can show some traction.
  4. People will come to you because you have a strong vision and they believe in the vision and they believe in you.
  5. People can and should wear multiple hats in a startup company. Resist specializing functions in the early days; make the vice president of engineering take out the garbage and make sales calls; in other words, have flexible roles.
  6. Attract great people and don’t compromise. The A-players won’t join once they see it’s a B-player only company and you will quickly end up with a mediocre organization.
  7. As a growing company you tend to expand quickly in other countries. Make sure you have full control over such subsidiaries so that you know exactly what’s going on over there and that they are not overspending.
  8. Make sure your idea is really valid. Don’t make anything that has thousands of successful competitors already.
  9. Surround yourself with good people. Don’t be afraid to pay somebody more money than yourself if he has skills that are better than yours in certain areas.
  10. How you pick the board and the inside politics that affects your company. You might have the greatest passion and be a leader that your team loves, but one or two mistakes can be seen at a microscopic level by your board and create doubt if you are the correct person to lead the show.
  11. Build a team that is rock solid where the individuals are better than you, not equal or lower, but better than you. Then you grow with the team. Let it grow naturally and then build it up further.
  12. Competition is always healthy and it can actually benefit you. You can namely find out what certain customers like about their products and selectively adopt them.