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Taken from Alexander Muse of Texas Startup Blog. Martin Plaehn presented the following list of ‘Do’s and Dont’s of Entrepreneurship at the University Venture Fund’s annual conference. Pay attention:
Do ensure for yourself (as founder or chief) that you are addressing a real market and a sustainable one; where the exchange of value is transacted and measured in U.S. currency
Do only hire for pre-identified expertise, operating need, and the energy to accomplish excellence; if you get more, great; don’t hire otherwise
Do always know your cash level, weekly cash spend and receipt rates, cash-runs-out date, and close-up liabilities amounts; start finding funding choices when you hit t-minus 6 months until operating cash runs out
Do money deals with money people (e.g. Angels, VC’s, banks, and credit unions); do product deals with product people (eg. Commercial companies); and do risk deals with risk people (e.g. Insurance companies). Don’t get these confused. If a product company wants to invest in your company, can they afford to take the whole thing? If not, then not.
Do ensure that at least one of your early formal investors has the financial wherewithal to keep investing in subsequent increasing rounds many years down the road; do make sure your different investors are really compatible
Do always accumulate choice; two by definition, three of four is better; then make decisions and have a back-up
Do let the stress of overload and/or capacity strain the triggers for expansion; demand flexing the edges of the system is usually the truest sign of real growth
Do track revenue and cost per employee; have trigger thresholds for when to add staff or subtract. Human efficiency and innovation is what creates value
Don’t hire of goodness of heart or friendship
Don’t hire anyone who you and your team are not genuinely excited about
Don’t tolerated mediocre engineers; for that matter, mediocre anyone. An early sign of mediocrity is when you downgrade tasks and expectations to align with an employee
Don’t count on your investors to take care of you when things get rough and/or protracted
Don’t over interpret or count on the stated operating “value-add” from investors during their solicitations during fundraising
Don’t build out your staff or infrastructure in expectation of rapid growth; be strong enough and tolerant of market back-pressure or order/service backlog
Don’t keep the same sales and marketing execs if the business isn’t growing or charging for growth; no sales and marketing VP was ever fired prematurely
Don’t over-delegate to consultants, accountants, or lawyers; even the great ones are only as good as you are as an engaged client; read and understand everything; if left alone, you must have a point of view, right or wrong