What is the right way to build a startup?

* Define a market problem that you believe you can solve
* Research this market by doing market sizing, looking at existing products, talking to customers and deciding how you will make money
* Validate that you can make money before starting. This means looking at what your buyer pays for similar products now, what the history of other people who have tried to monetize in this way have experienced, what your costs to acquire customers will be and what you believe you can make over the customers’ lifetimes. These are all assumptions – nothing more. I believe passionately that if you don’t do a financial model you shouldn’t spend any time or money building a product. You want to talk about the ultimate “fail fast” – how about if you fail before you’ve spent any money building product because you validate there isn’t a big enough market or you can’t make money?
* If you believe there is a market then build a prototype product that you can show customers, investors and potential employees.
* From there build the MVP (minimum viable product). I believe in launching with a small set of features and learning from the market before you spend too much money building out a feature rich product or before you put serious capital to work.
* If you validate that there’s a market then go for it! If you don’t believe that your product is resonating then pivot and find one!

from Mark Suster’s post Why The ‘Fail Fast’ Mantra Needs to Fail. Check out his article because it’s a well-written post against the “Fail Fast” idea.

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The secret history of Silicon Valley

from YouTube’s description:

Today, Silicon Valley is known around the world as a fount of technology innovation and development fueled by private venture capital and peopled by fabled entrepreneurs. But it wasn’t always so. Unbeknownst to even seasoned inhabitants, today’s Silicon Valley had its start in government secrecy and wartime urgency.

In this lecture, renowned serial entrepreneur Steve Blank presents how the roots of Silicon Valley sprang not from the later development of the silicon semiconductor but instead from the earlier technology duel over the skies of Germany and secret efforts around (and over) the Soviet Union. World War II, the Cold War and one Stanford professor set the stage for the creation and explosive growth of entrepreneurship in Silicon Valley. The world was forever changed when the Defense Department, CIA and the National Security Agency acted like today’s venture capitalists funding this first wave of entrepreneurship. Steve Blank shows how these groundbreaking early advances lead up to the high-octane, venture capital fueled Silicon Valley we know today.

5 quick tips for improving your writing

  1. Get rid of “that.”
  2. Nine times out of ten, the word “that” can be profitably eliminated from your sentence.

    Original: “Here are the key metrics that web analysts measure.”
    Better: “Here are the key metrics web analysts measure.”

  3. Do not invoke the future tense unless it is needed.
  4. Original: “Optimizing your web site will increase traffic.”
    Better: “Optimizing your web site increases traffic.”

  5. Do not capitalize words to emphasize their importance.
  6. Original: “It is the policy of the Company to provide up to 10 paid Sick Days.”
    Better: “It is the policy of the company to provide up to 10 paid sick days.”

  7. Say what you have to say in the fewest words possible.
  8. Original: “He was driving at an excessive rate of speed.”
    Better: “He was driving too fast.”

  9. Avoid dangling modifiers.
  10. Wrong: “As a policyholder, I want you to know that you can reduce your premiums by 50% this year.”
    Correct: “As a policyholder, you can reduce your premiums by 50% this year.”

From Bob Bly (“America’s Top Copywriter”)

7 signs that you’re a bad boss

#7 The creation of “boss rules”

The staff has developed guidelines for dealing with you and quietly passes them to new employees. “Never suggest that there might be another way of doing something,” they might say. Or “Act self-deprecating so he doesn’t feel threatened.”

#6 Employees start sucking up

You have one or two fanatical acolytes. Yes, such devotion may be a testament to your fabulousness. But often when a boss is perceived as universally loathed, the staff opportunist offers herself up as sole confidante and friend, seeking power and favor at the expense of more honest, critical employees.

#5 Your staff hides from you

You never see people walk by. Employees would rather circumnavigate the entire office to get to the coffee machine or bathroom than take the shortcut past your door and risk being invited in.

#4 Bogus reviews

Your 360-degree evaluations come back short and full of generically positive comments, with one very mild criticism (“Sometimes she works too damn hard for her own good”) thrown in for credibility’s sake.

#3 Apprehension

People don’t volunteer for your pet projects. The idea sucks, and they’re afraid to tell you, or it’s brilliant, but the consequences for letting you down are too terrible to imagine. And, of course, if it’s your pet project, you’ll probably work on it as well. Which means more time spent…gulp…with you.

#2 Former employees disappear forever

You have legions of former employees, but they rarely give your name as a reference for new jobs. Either they don’t trust you to give them their due, or they worry that because they were so miserable working for you, your recollections will also be dismal.

#1 The revolving door

You have legions of former employees, period. If your staff falls away like linty Post-it notes, ask yourself: Is high turnover the problem? Or am I?

[via Inc.]