Last night, a very svelte Jason Nazar gave an inspiring talk about the “10 Strategies for Startup Success.” Using self-deprecating stories, examples from docstoc, and the knowledge that comes from experience, Jason offered a realistic perspective of what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur.
For those of you that were not able to attend, I’ve summarized my notes on the “10 Strategies” below:
Jason discussed “The Entrepreneur’s Dilemma,” which he described as the hard decision of whether to stay steadfast on your startup’s current path, or to pivot. His advice was, “to stay attached to the problem, but be flexible in the solution,” and to “not let your ego get in the way.”
#2 Pitching Investors
There are 4 P’s to keep in mind when pitching investors:
#3 Building a Team
Every company needs a set of values. Jason’s “3 Golden Rules” are “Smarts, Ethics, and Drive,” which can be translated into:
#4 Getting Customers or “Put the Rocks in First”
This is where you should be spending at least 75% of your time, because it will make the biggest difference in the success of your company. Jason was obsessed with driving customers the first few years, and you should be too.
#5 Online Traffic (or so eloquently articulated by Jason, “How are you going to get people to show up and use your shit?”)
Docstoc utilizes a matrix that leverages seven ways to drive traffic including:
Warning, shameless plug ahead: Silicon Beach Marketing specializes in all of these traffic drivers!
#6 Monetization (Show Me the Money!)
Startups need to grow & track online revenue. Docstoc’s business model illustrates how to get a lot of people to give you a little bit of money. And because it is an Internet company, there is no incremental cost of goods, or distribution costs.
Jason also suggests start charging as soon as possible, and to charge for everything (no freebies!). In addition, focus on what’s working and then go deeper. This is similar to the Heath Brothers philosophy about focusing on the “bright spots.”
#7 Business Development (BD) – Listen, Don’t Talk
According to Jason, the single biggest mistake that BD people make is “not knowing when to shut the f— up!” The best salespeople first listen to find out a potential customer’s issues, needs and wants, before pitching an idea that may have zero relevance.
It’s also a good strategy to provide as little information upfront as possible. If they are interested, they will ask for more. And, if you get a live prospect, you should handhold them through the whole sales process, like “a kid in a summer camp.”
#8 Strategy – 4 Factors to Factor
All that matters is results, and strategy is really just a means to an end.
An entrepreneur’s most precious resource is time, so each decision you make should be put through some sort of matrix that looks at; potential upside, likelihood of success, effort involved, and strategic value.
#9 Managing the Board
The sales process doesn’t end when you get funding – - it begins. If you constantly set expectations, and then over-deliver, you will quickly build trust and value.
#10 Finding Balance
If you’re set on being an entrepreneur, it’s time to face the fact that you are not going to have a life. The “unintended consequences of startups” is that you are going to have to give up a lot – - your relationship, your health, your friendships, and maybe even your sanity.
The good news, according to Jason, is that it is all worth it. Because once you build something, no one can ever take that away from you!