13 Tips on how to be a successful entrepreneur from guru Steve Blank
May 10, 2014
He is considered to be the founder of the lean start-up movement and methods as well as the customer development methodology. He is a serial entrepreneur and master at getting people to buy into ideas that quite essentially turn into money making presses. He is Steve Blank and while we have profiled him on EntreHub before we wanted to select snippets of his most sage advice for entrepreneurs and try and compile them in such a way as to make you think about where your own start-up is heading.
Here are our top 13:
“Start-ups are painful, stressful and at times demoralizing. You need to be a true believer in the vision of what you are doing. You need to be passionate about it and love what you’re doing.”
“Disruption on the first day always looks like a toy…”
“More often than not, the DNA strand that makes entrepreneurs great is the one that’s their undoing when confronted with “flatlining” user adoption, growth, referrals, or frequency. These entrepreneurs need to switch smartly out of “do” mode and return to the earliest “discovery” steps to find a distinctive, exciting solution to a seriously painful customer need or problem. It’s the only way to make a startup not suck.”
“At the end of the day, you can decide whether you want to be an employee with a great attendance record, getting promoted to ever better titles and working on interesting projects – or whether you want to attempt to do something spectacular – this be or do should be a question you never stop asking yourself — for the next 20 years, and beyond.”
“You need to ask yourself, ‘Where do you want to work: startups, mid-size or large companies?’ …If you find yourself debating the ‘startup versus large company’ choice you’ve already chosen the big company. Entrepreneurship isn’t a career choice it’s a passion and obsession.”
“Building a successful business model isn’t about changing your company based on every bit of feedback: It’s about understanding whom to listen to and why.”
“Don’t confuse “raising money” with “building a sustainable business.” In a perfect world, you would never need investors and would fund the company from customer revenue. But to achieve scale, startups need risk capital. Raise as much money as you can after you have tangible evidence you have product/market fit, not before.”
”My position is fairly radical… that says, ‘No.’ Most of the things you learn on how to execute (at) a company are actually destructive in the first year or two at a startup; eventually they converge. But you need a different body of knowledge that you will not get as a business school professor consulting for large corporations. This is why entrepreneurship (programs) in universities… are helped when they are taught by adjuncts with startup entrepreneurial experience either as venture capitalists or as retired entrepreneurs.”
“After you’ve raised money, shut up, put your slides away, stop selling, and start listening to your customers.”
“Success is predicated on too many factors for one methodology to guarantee that any single startup will be a winner. But on the basis of what I’ve seen at hundreds of startups, at programs that teach lean principles, and at established companies that practice them, I can make a more important claim: Using lean methods across a portfolio of startups will result in fewer failures than using traditional methods.”
“In a startup no facts exist inside the building, only opinions.”
“My advice was to start a policy of making reversible decisions before anyone left the meeting or the office. In a startup, it doesn’t matter if you’re 100 percent right 100 percent of the time. What matters is having forward momentum and a tight fact-based data/metrics feedback loop to help you quickly recognize and reverse any incorrect decisions. That’s why startups are agile.”
"In a start-up no business plan survives first contact with customers"
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