Taking the words of the architect Louis Khan, I marvel at beginnings. It’s a time of excitement, fast paced learning, intellectual challenge and very long hours. I’ve never worked more hours than in the first couple of years of a company. Most of the company shaping decisions are made in the beginning, because most of these decisions are so expensive to change, that you might as well assume they won’t be changed. Knowing the lessons in these quotes doesn’t grant you the power of choice in every situation, but at least you can stop and evaluate if you want to continue in case don’t get to apply them.
The arrow that has left the bow never returns — Buddhist proverb
Some decisions cannot be changed. Assuming this will help you make better decisions.
Never join a club that would have you as a member — Paradox by Groucho Marx
Early stage, almost every successful entrepreneur doesn’t care about the economic terms, as much as who they are going to be working with. — Keith Rabois, Koshla ventures
When raising capital, choosing co-founders and early team, you must feel as if you (or your company) is the side that makes the most out of the deal.
Be incredibly ruthlessly selfish with your equity — Pleonasm by Doug Leon, Sequoia
Founders who must sell 60% of their business in seed stage do not have the same incentives to persevere in tough times. — Jessica Livingston, Y Combinator
If everyone loves your idea, I might be worried that it’s not forward thinking enough — Chris Dixon, A16Z
Expect to be talked out of pursuing your endeavour by at least part of your network. Try to find out why.
There are no real rules, only laws. — Antonio García Martínez
Focus on value generation by ignoring the status quo, and if there is any value to be created, you’ll find a way to make it legal. Thats why non-domain experts work well as founders sometimes: they are unaware of rules…and laws.
Five year plans aren’t worth the ink cartridge they’re printed with — Michael Moritz, Sequoia
Every business plan is wrong. The moment an entrepreneur hits ‘save’ or ‘print’ the plan is out of date. — Josh Kopelman, First Round Capital
Shoot and then aim. Most people feel uncomfortable with this, but it’s the best way to gain visibility on the task in hand.
I generally disagree with most of the very high-margin opportunities. Why? Because it’s a business strategy tradeoff: the lower the margin you take, the faster you grow. — Vinod Khosla, Khosla Ventures
This one may only apply to VC backed businesses. The key takeaway is high margin business will be attacked, so if you are creating one, you better have a moat. If you are the attacker, you’ll probably attract VC attention.
The most important rule of raising money privately: Look for a market of one. You only need one investor to say yes, so it’s best to ignore the other thirty who say “no” .— Ben Horowitz
It probably will be 120 who say no, but this is still a great point.
In startups, you only ever experience two emotions: euphoria and terror. And lack of sleep enhances them both — Irony by Marc Andreesen
90% of the time, it’s terror.
Little companies have really two advantages: stealth and speed. The best thing for little companies to do is to stay away from the cocktail circuit. — Doug Leone, Sequoia
While building, put your head down and stay away from the press (unless it helps you grow, see growth quotes).
When building a company, microeconomics is fundamental, macroeconomics is entertainment — Naval Ravikant, Anglelist
Most startup ideas die right after explaining the TAM size (total addressable market). Work backwards, from the problem to the market.
The typical founder spends their time either picking an idea, starting a company (hunting for product — market fit), or scaling a company (growth). Most founders spend less than 5% of their time on idea selection, yet the pick accounts for more than 50% of success. Many founders rush the pick. Serial entrepreneurs are more likely to rush the pick due to high self-confidence and easy access to money. Mission driven entrepreneurs are more like the opposite. — Josh Kopelman, First Round Capital
Much more on this on the product quotes post.