More on Entrepreneurship/Creators
1 year ago
After working at seven startups, here are the early-stage characteristics that contributed to profitability, unicorn status or successful acquisition.
I've worked in a People role at seven early-stage firms for over 15 years (I enjoy chasing a dream!). Few of the seven achieved profitability, including unicorn status or acquisition.
Did early-stage startups share anything? Was there a difference between winners and losers? YES.
I support founders and entrepreneurs building financially sustainable enterprises with a compelling cause. This isn't something everyone would do. A company's success demands more than guts. Founders drive startup success.
Six Qualities of Successful Startups
Successful startup founders either innately grasped the correlation between strong team engagement and a well-executed business model, or they knew how to ask and listen to others (executive coaches, other company leaders, the team itself) to learn about it.
1. Co-founders agreed and got along personally.
Multi-founder startups are common. When co-founders agree on strategic decisions and are buddies, there's less friction and politics at work.
As a co-founder, ask your team if you're aligned. They'll explain.
I've seen C-level leaders harbor personal resentments over disagreements. A co-departure founder's caused volatile leadership and work disruptions that the team struggled to manage during and after.
2. Team stayed.
Successful startups have low turnover. Nobody is leaving. There may be a termination for performance, but other team members will have observed the issues and agreed with the decision.
You don't want organizational turnover of 30%+, with leaders citing performance issues but the team not believing them. This breeds suspicion.
Something is wrong if many employees leave voluntarily or involuntarily. You may hear about lack of empowerment, support, or toxic leadership in exit interviews and from the existing team. Intellectual capital loss and resource instability harm success.
3. Team momentum.
A successful startup's team is excited about its progress. Consistently achieving goals and having trackable performance metrics. Some describe this period of productivity as magical, with great talents joining the team and the right people in the right places. Increasing momentum.
I've also seen short-sighted decisions where only some departments, like sales and engineering, had goals. Lack of a unified goals system created silos and miscommunication. Some employees felt apathetic because they didn't know how they contributed to team goals.
4. Employees advanced in their careers.
Even if you haven't created career pathing or professional development programs, early-stage employees will grow and move into next-level roles. If you hire more experienced talent and leaders, expect them to mentor existing team members. Growing companies need good performers.
New talent shouldn't replace and discard existing talent. This creates animosity and makes existing employees feel unappreciated for their early contributions to the company.
5. The company lived its values.
Culture and identity are built on lived values. A company's values affect hiring, performance management, rewards, and other processes. Identify, practice, and believe in company values. Starting with team values instead of management or consultants helps achieve this. When a company's words and actions match, it builds trust.
When company values are beautifully displayed on a wall but few employees understand them, the opposite is true. If an employee can't name the company values, they're useless.
6. Communication was clear.
When necessary information is shared with the team, they feel included, trusted, and like owners. Transparency means employees have the needed information to do their jobs. Disclosure builds trust. The founders answer employees' questions honestly.
Information accessibility decreases office politics. Without transparency, even basic information is guarded and many decisions are made in secret. I've seen founders who don't share financial, board meeting, or compensation and equity information. The founders' lack of trust in the team wasn't surprising, so it was reciprocated.
Finally. All six of the above traits (leadership alignment, minimal turnover, momentum, professional advancement, values, and transparency) were high in the profitable startups I've worked at, including unicorn status or acquisition.
I've seen these as the most common and constant signals of startup success or failure.
These characteristics are the product of founders' choices. These decisions lead to increased team engagement and business execution.
Here's something to consider for startup employees and want-to-bes. 90% of startups fail, despite the allure of building something new and gaining ownership. With the emotional and time investment in startup formation, look for startups with these traits to reduce your risk.
Both you and the startup will thrive in these workplaces.
Aaron Dinin, PhD
11 months ago
There Are Two Types of Entrepreneurs in the World Make sure you are aware of your type!
Know why it's important.
The entrepreneur I was meeting with said, "I should be doing crypto, or maybe AI? Aren't those the hot spots? I should look there for a startup idea.”
I shook my head. Yes, they're exciting, but that doesn't mean they're best for you and your business.
“There are different types of entrepreneurs?” he asked.
I said "obviously." Two types, actually. Knowing what type of entrepreneur you are helps you build the right startup.
The two types of businesspeople
The best way for me to describe the two types of entrepreneurs is to start by telling you exactly the kinds of entrepreneurial opportunities I never get excited about: future opportunities.
In the early 1990s, my older brother showed me the World Wide Web and urged me to use it. Unimpressed, I returned to my Super Nintendo.
My roommate tried to get me to join Facebook as a senior in college. I remember thinking, This is dumb. Who'll use it?
In 2011, my best friend tried to convince me to buy bitcoin and I laughed.
Heck, a couple of years ago I had to buy a new car, and I never even considered buying something that didn’t require fossilized dinosaur bones.
I'm no visionary. I don't anticipate the future. I focus on the present.
This tendency makes me a problem-solving entrepreneur. I identify entrepreneurial opportunities by spotting flaws and/or inefficiencies in the world and devising solutions.
There are other ways to find business opportunities. Visionary entrepreneurs also exist. I don't mean visionary in the hyperbolic sense that implies world-changing impact. I mean visionary as an entrepreneur who identifies future technological shifts that will change how people work and live and create new markets.
Problem-solving and visionary entrepreneurs are equally good. But the two approaches to building companies are very different. Knowing the type of entrepreneur you are will help you build a startup that fits your worldview.
What is the distinction?
Let's use some simple hypotheticals to compare problem-solving and visionary entrepreneurship.
Imagine a city office building without nearby restaurants. Those office workers love to eat. Sometimes they'd rather eat out than pack a lunch. As an entrepreneur, you can solve the lack of nearby restaurants. You'd open a restaurant near that office, say a pizza parlor, and get customers because you solved the lack of nearby restaurants. Problem-solving entrepreneurship.
Imagine a new office building in a developing area with no residents or workers. In this scenario, a large office building is coming. The workers will need to eat then. As a visionary entrepreneur, you're excited about the new market and decide to open a pizzeria near the construction to meet demand.
Both possibilities involve the same product. You opened a pizzeria. How you launched that pizza restaurant and what will affect its success are different.
Why is the distinction important?
Let's say you opened a pizzeria near an office. You'll probably get customers. Because people are nearby and demand isn't being met, someone from a nearby building will stop in within the first few days of your pizzeria's grand opening. This makes solving the problem relatively risk-free. You'll get customers unless you're a fool.
The market you're targeting existed before you entered it, so you're not guaranteed success. This means people in that market solved the lack of nearby restaurants. Those office workers are used to bringing their own lunches. Why should your restaurant change their habits? Even when they eat out, they're used to traveling far. They've likely developed pizza preferences.
To be successful with your problem-solving startup, you must convince consumers to change their behavior, which is difficult.
Unlike opening a pizza restaurant near a construction site. Once the building opens, workers won't have many preferences or standardized food-getting practices. Your pizza restaurant can become the incumbent quickly. You'll be the first restaurant in the area, so you'll gain a devoted following that makes your food a routine.
Great, right? It's easier than changing people's behavior. The benefit comes with a risk. Opening a pizza restaurant near a construction site increases future risk. What if builders run out of money? No one moves in? What if the building's occupants are the National Association of Pizza Haters? Then you've opened a pizza restaurant next to pizza haters.
Which kind of businessperson are you?
This isn't to say one type of entrepreneur is better than another. Each type of entrepreneurship requires different skills.
As my simple examples show, a problem-solving entrepreneur must operate in markets with established behaviors and habits. To be successful, you must be able to teach a market a new way of doing things.
Conversely, the challenge of being a visionary entrepreneur is that you have to be good at predicting the future and getting in front of that future before other people.
Both are difficult in different ways. So, smart entrepreneurs don't just chase opportunities. Smart entrepreneurs pursue opportunities that match their skill sets.
1 year ago
Why Now Is Your Chance To Create A Millionaire Career
People don’t believe in influencers anymore; they need people like you.
Social media influencers have dominated for years. We've seen videos, images, and articles of *famous* individuals unwrapping, reviewing, and endorsing things.
This industry generates billions. This year, marketers spent $2.23 billion on Instagram, $1 million on Youtube, and $775 million on Tiktok. This marketing has helped start certain companies.
Influencers are dying, so ordinary people like us may take over this billion-dollar sector. Why?
Why influencers are perishing
Most influencers lie to their fans, especially on Instagram. Influencers' first purpose was to make their lives so flawless that others would want to buy their stuff.
In 2015, an Australian influencer with 600,000 followers went viral for revealing all her photos and everything she did to seem great before deleting her account.
“I dramatically edited the pictures, I manipulated the environements, and made my life look perfect in social media… I remember I obsessively checked the like count for a full week since uploading it, a selfie that now has close to 2,500 likes. It got 5 likes. This was when I was so hungry for social media validation … This was the reason why I quit social media: for me, personally, it consumed me. I wasn’t living in a 3D world.”
Influencers then lost credibility.
Influencers seem to live in a bubble, separate from us. Thanks to self-popularity love's and constant awareness campaigns, people find these people ridiculous.
Influencers are praised more for showing themselves as natural and common than for showing luxuries and lies.
Little by little, they are dying, making room for a new group to take advantage of this multi-million dollar business, which gives us (ordinary people) a big opportunity to grow on any content creation platform we want.
Why this is your chance to develop on any platform for creating content
In 2021, I wrote “Not everyone who talks about money is a Financial Advisor, be careful of who you take advice from,”. In it, I warned that not everyone with a large following is a reputable source of financial advice.
Other writers hated this post and said I was wrong.
People don't want Jeff Bezos or Elon Musk's counsel, they said. They prefer to hear about their neighbor's restroom problems or his closest friend's terrible business.
Real advice from regular folks.
And I found this was true when I returned to my independent YouTube channel and had more than 1000 followers after having abandoned it with fewer than 30 videos in 2021 since there were already many personal finance and travel channels and I thought mine wasn't special.
People appreciated my videos because I was a 20-something girl trying to make money online, and they believed my advice more than that of influencers with thousands of followers.
I think today is the greatest time to grow on any platform as an ordinary person. Normal individuals give honest recommendations about what works for them and look easier to make because they have the same options as us.
Nobody cares how a millionaire acquired a Lamborghini unless it's entertaining. Education works now. Real counsel from average people is replicable.
Many individuals don't appreciate how false influencers seem (unreal bodies and excessive surgery and retouching) since it makes them feel uneasy.
That's why body-positive advertisements have been so effective, but they've lost ground in places like Tiktok, where the audience wants more content from everyday people than influencers living amazing lives. More people will relate to your content if you appear genuine.
Influencers are dwindling. People want more real people to give real advice and demonstrate an ordinary life.
People will enjoy anything you tell about your daily life as long as you provide value, and you can build a following rapidly if you're honest.
This is a millionaire industry that is getting more expensive and will go with what works, so stand out immediately.
You might also like
10 months ago
The direction of the economy is as follows.
What quarterly bank earnings reveal
Big banks know the economy best. Unless we’re talking about a housing crisis in 2007…
Banks are crucial to the U.S. economy. The Fed, communities, and investments exchange money.
An economy depends on money flow. Banks' views on the economy can affect their decision-making.
Most large banks released quarterly earnings and forward guidance last week. Others were pessimistic about the future.
What Makes Banks Confident
Bank of America's profit decreased 30% year-over-year, but they're optimistic about the economy. Comparatively, they're bullish.
Who banks serve affects what they see. Bank of America supports customers.
They think consumers' future is bright. They believe this for many reasons.
The average customer has decent credit, unless the system is flawed. Bank of America's new credit card and mortgage borrowers averaged 771. New-car loan and home equity borrower averages were 791 and 797.
2008's housing crisis affected people with scores below 620.
Bank of America and the economy benefit from a robust consumer. Major problems can be avoided if individuals maintain spending.
Reasons Other Banks Are Less Confident
Spending requires income. Many companies, mostly in the computer industry, have announced they will slow or freeze hiring. Layoffs are frequently an indication of poor times ahead.
BOA is positive, but investment banks are bearish.
Jamie Dimon, CEO of JPMorgan, outlined various difficulties our economy could confront.
But geopolitical tension, high inflation, waning consumer confidence, the uncertainty about how high rates have to go and the never-before-seen quantitative tightening and their effects on global liquidity, combined with the war in Ukraine and its harmful effect on global energy and food prices are very likely to have negative consequences on the global economy sometime down the road.
That's more headwinds than tailwinds.
JPMorgan, which helps with mergers and IPOs, is less enthusiastic due to these concerns. Incoming headwinds signal drying liquidity, they say. Less business will be done.
I don't think we're done. Yes, stocks are up 10% from a month ago. It's a long way from old highs.
I don't think the stock market is a strong economic indicator.
Many executives foresee a 2023 recession. According to the traditional definition, we may be in a recession when Q2 GDP statistics are released next week.
Regardless of criteria, I predict the economy will have a terrible year.
Weekly layoffs are announced. Inflation persists. Will prices return to 2020 levels if inflation cools? Perhaps. Still expensive energy. Ukraine's war has global repercussions.
I predict BOA's next quarter earnings won't be as bullish about the consumer's strength.
Jano le Roux
1 year ago
My Top 11 Tools For Building A Modern Startup, With A Free Plan
The best free tools are probably unknown to you.
Modern startups are easy to build.
Start with free tools.
Web development — Webflow
Code-free HTML, CSS, and JS.
Webflow isn't like Squarespace, Wix, or Shopify.
It's a super-fast no-code tool for professionals to construct complex, highly-responsive websites and landing pages.
Webflow can help you add animations like those on Apple's website to your own site.
I made the jump from WordPress a few years ago and it changed my life.
No damn plugins. No damn errors. No damn updates.
The best, you can get started on Webflow for free.
Data tracking — Airtable
Airtable combines spreadsheet flexibility with database power without code.
Airtable is modern.
Airtable has modularity.
Scaling Airtable is simple.
Airtable, one of the most adaptable solutions on this list, is perfect for client data management.
Clients choose customized service packages. Airtable consolidates data so you can automate procedures like invoice management and focus on your strengths.
Airtable connects with so many tools that rarely creates headaches. Airtable scales when you do.
Airtable's flexibility makes it a potential backend database.
Design — Figma
Better, faster, easier user interface design.
First, design in Figma.
Export development assets.
Figma lets you add more team members as your company grows to work on each iteration simultaneously.
Figma is web-based, so you don't need a powerful PC or Mac to start.
Task management — Trello
Tacky and terrifying task management products abound. Trello isn’t.
Those that follow Marie Kondo will appreciate Trello.
Everything is clean.
Nothing is complicated.
Everything has a place.
Compared to other task management solutions, Trello is limited. And that’s good. Too many buttons lead to too many decisions lead to too many hours wasted.
Trello is a must for teamwork.
Domain email — Zoho
Free domain email hosting.
Professional email is essential for startups. People relied on monthly payments for too long. Nope.
Zoho offers 5 free professional emails.
It doesn't have Google's UI, but it works.
VPN — Proton VPN
Fast Swiss VPN protects your data and privacy.
Proton VPN is secure.
Proton doesn't record any data.
Proton is based in Switzerland.
Swiss privacy regulation is among the most strict in the world, therefore user data are protected. Switzerland isn't a 14 eye country.
Journalists and activists trust Proton to secure their identities while accessing and sharing information authoritarian governments don't want them to access.
Web host — Netlify
Free fast web hosting.
Netlify is a scalable platform that combines your favorite tools and APIs to develop high-performance sites, stores, and apps through GitHub.
Serverless functions and environment variables preserve API keys.
Netlify's free tier is unmissable.
100GB of free monthly bandwidth.
Free 125k serverless operations per website each month.
Database — MongoDB
Create a fast, scalable database.
MongoDB is for small and large databases. It's a fast and inexpensive database.
Free for the first million reads.
Then, for each million reads, you must pay $0.10.
MongoDB's free plan has:
Encryption from end to end
field-level client-side encryption
If you have a large database, you can easily connect MongoDB to Webflow to bypass CMS limits.
Automation — Zapier
Time-saving tip: automate repetitive chores.
Zapier simplifies life.
Zapier syncs and connects your favorite apps to do impossibly awesome things.
If your online store is connected to Zapier, a customer's purchase can trigger a number of automated actions, such as:
The customer is being added to an email chain.
Put the information in your Airtable.
Send a pre-programmed postcard to the customer.
Alexa, set the color of your smart lights to purple.
Zapier scales when you do.
Email & SMS marketing — Omnisend
Email and SMS marketing campaigns.
This is an excellent Mailchimp option for magical emails. Omnisend's processes simplify email automation.
I love the interface's cleanliness.
Omnisend's free tier includes web push notifications.
Send up to:
500 emails per month
60 maximum SMSs
500 Web Push Maximum
Forms and surveys — Tally
Create flexible forms that people enjoy.
Typeform is clean but restricting. Sometimes you need to add many questions. Tally's needed sometimes.
Tally is flexible and cheaper than Typeform.
99% of Tally's features are free and unrestricted, including:
Tally lets you examine what individuals contributed to forms before submitting them to see where they get stuck.
Airtable and Zapier connectors automate things further. If you pay, you can apply custom CSS to fit your brand.
Free tools are the greatest.
Let's use them to launch a startup.
9 months ago
CES 2023: A Third Look At Upcoming Trends
Las Vegas hosted CES 2023. This third and last look at CES 2023 previews upcoming consumer electronics trends that will be crucial for market share.
Definitely start with ICT. Qualcomm CEO Cristiano Amon spoke to CNBC from Las Vegas on China's crackdown and the company's automated driving systems for electric vehicles (EV). The business showed a concept car and its latest Snapdragon processor designs, which offer expanded digital interactions through SalesForce-partnered CRM platforms.
Electrification is reviving Michigan's automobile industry. Michigan Local News reports that $14 billion in EV and battery manufacturing investments will benefit the state. The report also revealed that the Strategic Outreach and Attraction Reserve (SOAR) fund had generated roughly $1 billion for the state's automotive sector.
Ars Technica is great for technology, society, and the future. After CES 2023, Jonathan M. Gitlin published How many electric car chargers are enough? Read about EV charging network issues and infrastructure spending. Politics aside, rapid technological advances enable EV charging network expansion in American cities and abroad.
Finally, the UNEP's The Future of Electric Vehicles and Material Resources: A Foresight Brief. Understanding how lithium-ion batteries will affect EV sales is crucial. Climate change affects EVs in various ways, but electrification and mining trends stand out because more EVs demand more energy-intensive metals and rare earths. Areas & Producers has been publishing my electrification and mining trends articles. Follow me if you wish to write for the publication.
The Weekend Brief (TWB) will routinely cover tech, industrials, and global commodities in global markets, including stock markets. Read more about the future of key areas and critical producers of the global economy in Areas & Producers.