Four things every startup founder should do

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Bill Gates and Paul Allen - Ultimate Startup Co-Founder

A friend and professional colleague recently asked for feedback on what things a startup founder should know. He had a good list already and I provided a few more to him, which I’ve listed below. This list is not meant to be the only things a founder should know. It’s just a few that I thought of that were not already on his list.

  • Every founder should have a co-founder.
    • I’m a big believer that two brains are better than one. Especially with complimentary skills or styles that fill each others gaps and form a trusted relationship.
  • Every founder should form an advisory board (if in lieu of a real independent board)
    • From a control perspective, a real independent board may not be desired, but similarly to the co-founder point, an advisory board will help keep the founder from building his or her own private Idaho. The advisory board will hold the founder accountable while providing support, functional expertise, and networking help, among other things.
  • Every founder should think hard, and then think hard again about whether they really need to raise capital.
    • I’m a huge fan of customer cash. It makes the business real. Obviously some sectors require huge up-front investments. But many do not and the business will change upon acceptance of other people’s money, and not always for the better.
  • Every founder should have a clear understanding of who their perfect customer is and align their product or service to make that perfect customer a raving fan; a customer emotionally invested in the success of the founder’s company.
    • It’s easy to fall into the trap of “Everyone is a potential customer!” I’m guilty of having done it and so are many others. While this seems like a way to open the top of the funnel, it instead de-focuses the team towards a non-specific approach to customer acquisition.

Well, there it is. Four things (but on the only four by any stretch) a startup founder should do.

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