About every week, one of the mentors supporting our teams will come to our office and give a presentation based off of their expertise during our lunch hour. Yesterday, we learned from Morris Wheeler, an entrepreneur, angel investor and founder of the investment management company Drummond Road Capital.
Morris shared the “Top 10 Lessons” he’s learned from his experience as an entrepreneur–we thought they were very thought-provoking and decided to summarize them in this post.
10. An idea is not a startup.
A startup is an organization formed to search for a repeatable and scalable business model (Blank, Steven. “What’s a Startup? First Principles”). Your idea is not fundable–startups and companies are fundable. Ideas can be copied, but execution cannot.
9. Building a great business should be your sole, committed focus.
Fundraising is a means, not an end. Successful exits are a byproduct, not a goal.
Work with partners, investors and advisors who excel where you lack. Keep your competitors close and listen to them.
7. Be transparent.
If you can’t trust a co-founder, partner, investor or employee with details about your business, then you have chosen the wrong people. You will learn far more than you thought by being transparent, than you could lose.
6. Know your partners.
Find a co-founder. Make sure your ideals, expectations and incentives are aligned. Know and understanding their angle.
5. Equity is your most valuable currency.
Don’t raise money unless it is going to make your company more valuable, or it is going to help you scale faster when time is limited.
4. You are responsible for ALL the business terms.
Do not let others dictate your business terms. Know the ins and outs of every agreement.
3. The buck stops with you.
You are the CEO! Do not delegate essentials like leadership or fundraising, do not outsource core functions.
2. Not succeeding is not failure.
Not trying is failure. Refusing to see your startup cannot succeed is failure. Misleading employees, partners and yourself is failure. Making mistakes is not failure.
1. Be a cockroach!
If your business is worthy, do whatever you need to do to survive–even break all of the preceding rules.