Reid Hoffman is the co-founder and executive chairman of LinkedIn, partner, Greylock. Reid has completely changed how companies find employees, how employees find jobs and how business people stay connected. He has spoken on topics of starting a business, running a business, growing a business, managing people, and hiring great talent for your existing business.
Hoffman started LinkedIn on May 5, 2003 and took the company public on May 19, 2011, an exit that made him a billionaire. Today he’s an investor, an entrepreneur and knows how to start and grow a successful internet empire.
You have to be paranoid that you’re not going to succeed.
According to Reid, entrepreneurship is difficult but he says failure is a part of every business and every life:
“One of the things that makes entrepreneurship difficult is that there are multiple areas you can fail,” said Hoffman. “You have to hit all of them somewhere between good and great. And then there’s a bit of luck.” “You have to have a big idea. If you don’t have a big idea, your chances of achieving something great are very, very small,”
Entrepreneurship is about jumping off a cliff,” Reid says. “You have to figure out what kind of founder you are: Design, Product or Engineering? Once you know, then acquire the other skills you need to get to the next level.
Treat yourself as entrepreneurs
In his book “The Start-Up of You” Reid encourages his readers to treat themselves as entrepreneurs
Yes, your aspirations shape what you do. But your aspirations are themselves shaped by your actions and experiences. You remake yourself as you grow and the world changes. Your identity doesn’t get found. It emerges.
5 Tips from “The Startup of You”
1. All humans are entrepreneurs
2. Differentiate or die
3. Pick a market niche where you’re better than the competition.
4. Plan to adapt
5. Opportunities are linked to people, so make as many contacts as you can
On Seed Startups
According to Hoffman, one big mistake is listening to others talk too much about making money. He once said:
“People frequently try to talk about business models too early. The question comes down to, when you’re a seed stage company people say, ‘Well what’s your business model?’ And the answer is, as a seed stage consumer company, you hopefully have some puzzle pieces and you’re thinking about what the business model might be, but if you say it with confidence, you’re wrong. Because most often those change.”
Reid Hoffman’s 10 rules of successful entrepreneurship
1. Look for disruptive change.
2. Aim big. What is “big?” It is a new product or service that creates or dominates a significant market.
3. Build a network to magnify your company. The most successful entrepreneurs bring in advisors, investors, collaborators and early customer relationships.
4. Plan for good luck and bad luck.
5. Maintain flexible persistence. “Be persistent! Stay committed to your vision!
6. “Be persistent! Stay committed to your vision!
7. Pay close attention to culture and hires from the very beginning. Your first hires set your culture, so make them good ones.
You may not win every battle you start in life, business or your career. But failure is not the end. You have only failed when you refuse to pursue the vision after a few setbacks.
How to keep a realistic sense that you might fail
The recommendation that I make to entrepreneurs and what I do is I say, look, you have to have a very strong belief in what you’re doing, a strong belief that you yourself have a much higher … chance of succeeding than other people. If you didn’t think that you had a differential competitive edge in doing this — well, then you shouldn’t be doing it because it’s very hard and low probability. On the other hand, while you’re playing for it, you should be thinking a lot about what your variations are in Plan B. What are the risks…? What are the things that can blow you up?
Well, you may be thinking of increasing your contacts on LinkedIn, but Reid says:
Don’t say yes to every LinkedIn request you get
You should say yes to the folks you know and trust and like well enough. What I do is look at them on a case-by-case basis and say to myself, is this someone who I would introduce to other people and give them some level of positive reference for what they do? If the answer is yes, whether it’s a diligent college intern who’s worked for me or a hedge fund manager, it’s the same process. Are they good at what they do? But it doesn’t have to be someone I’d want to leave my children with!
Advice he shared from his start-ups
1. Think about how your product will evolve and plan for it.
2. Think about how and where you’ll raise your next round as soon as you’ve finished raising your first round. If you’re not, you’ll die.
3. Hire people with deep expertise in areas you don’t have but really need.
4. Hire really fast learners
5. Hire people who are smart collaborative team players. Ask yourself: can they navigate, learn and adapt quickly and shift gears when you change a strategy overnight.
6. Three things you must have is virality, SEO and differentiators so you can build a set of products that can be built into an ecosystem.