Monday, November 14, 2016

How to start your startup right

I received a request this week from a financial professional for some advice on how to advise an Internet company being started by a friend. He asked: "Can you suggest some books/blogs etc to help guide me? Any guidance would be greatly appreciated."

So here is my response:

Hi, xxxx. Great to hear from you.

There are so many resources out there.

First, looking at books, The E-Myth Revisited is a classic book on the true role of the entrepreneur: ie, adopting systems so that you are working ON your business, not IN it. 

The Lean Startup (Eric Reis) and The Startup Handbook (Steve Blank) are the contemporary bibles for tech startups.  Both authors have also published many additional articles that are very useful and informative, and are available for free around the Internet or on their own websites. The important point of their models is that startup entrepreneurs must spend much more time testing their ideas with customers and prospects, rather than fiddling with their products or trying to "perfect" them without continuous feedback. 

There are many organizations that can help your friend get off on the right foot. If they live in or near Toronto, they should check out MaRS, Startup Grind AND Startup Toronto. They all offer regular meetings with experts sharing important information, as well as opportunities to network with and learn from other startup entrepreneurs. 

Your partner might also look to rent a co-working space in their community, so they can work side-by-side with other entrepreneurs trying to master similar problems. Entrepreneurs tend to be very open and sharing about the startup process, so you can save a lot of time (and possibly cash) by finding people who are going through the same things you are - or, best of all, went through it only a year ago (so they know what works and doesn't, but their information is still relatively fresh).

Every startup entrepreneur needs a mentor or accountability coach to keep them on track. 

If your friend is under 40, they might find useful resources at Futurpreneur. They offer funding for startups, and, more importantly, they find each startup a personal mentor to work closely with over the next two years or so. I've known many entrepreneurs who didn't need the money, but took it anyway as it allowed them to access Futurpreneur's mentor pool.

I hope that helps. I might also suggest your colleague go to the Financial Post site and re-read my recent profiles of startups. As you may know, my stories focus heavily on the how-they angle: how these entrepreneurs overcame the typical hurdles and challenges faced by most startups. I think he or she will get lots of road-tested advice to shorten their learning curve.

Hope this helps. Do keep me updated on his or her progress!


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