10 Entrepreneurs Give Tips For First-Time Startup Founders

First-time startup founders have it rough. They are forced to endure the tests and the failings of their company without any previous knowledge. And with startup failure rates being far too high to make anyone feel good about their decision on a regular basis, a little advice can go a long way in making first-time founders feel a little more comfortable.

Fortunately, a Quora post has surfaced that has experience founders dishing out free advice faster than we can write it down. Big name founders and small time entrepreneurs took to their computers to give tips to first-time founders that are worried about starting up.

Check out the tips below and feel better about your journey into the startup world.

Cathy Han, founder of 42 and a Y Combinator alum

Make decisions quickly. This can be hard for first time founders, but remember that time is a cost. There are 24 hours in a day, and only about 10% of the information needed to make most decisions. Understand the magnitude of decisions you are required to make and prioritize accordingly. Train yourself to become decisive, so you can move forward with execution.

Gary Vee, best-selling author of Crush It! Why Now Is The Time to Cash In On Your Passion

Be practical about your money. The first and most important thing that I tell new entrepreneurs is the importance of practicality when it comes to to money. I’m blown away by all the “entrepreneurs” who start businesses and at launch, don’t realize the importance of generating money and how to manage profits. Instead of focusing on the present financial needs and building an actual company, they are too busy thinking about how much money they’ll be making four years from now. It’s a complete lack of practicality. Remember, cash is oxygen.


Tim Westergren, founder of Pandora

Don’t be self-conscious. You are going to go through periods where you feel like you’ve made a big mistake. As your friends progress along more established paths, you’ll often feel like you’re falling behind. Get comfortable with it.  It’s the life you’ve chosen.  And when you do go through those times, just remind yourself that you won’t be the one, fifty years from now, telling your grandkids you wished you tried starting a company.

Mark Otero, angel investor and former CEO of Klicknation

Hire for passion over experience. When you can afford it, hire employees who have both.  Never, NEVER, lower your standards during dry hiring spells. If you do, you will learn to regret it later – always.

Bob Pritchett, founder and president of Logos Bible Software

Keep making changes. The space between here and your goal is not filled with time; it is filled with changes. There is no way to know what’s going to make your business succeed — or even what business you’re going to end up in. (I thought I was building a diversified consumer software company; now I have something of a digital-first Christian publishing house.) Constantly changing and adapting — while always turning towards your goal — beats pounding away on your initial plan.

Quincy Larson, founder and teacher at Free Code Camp

Utilize support staff in the long-term. Doing a stint in support will only give you a peek at your customer’s problems for one sliver of time. Instead, be patient and gradually develop an understanding of what your customers need and how they approach your product.

Eiso Kant, CEO and co-founder of source{d}

Just pick up the phone. I want to stress that, with a few exceptions, almost no one is out of reach these days. Want to talk to a prominent investor, or potential client? Do a quick Google search to get there mail and phone details. Send an email, with the expectation that it might be briefly read but not replied to, and call the next day. If you politely say who you are and ask to be connected with Mr/Mrs. X, you will most likely be put through. Only call though when you have value to add to the other person’s time.


Chris Parjaszewski, co-founder and CEO of SkyGate

Find a co-founder. Try not to be a single founder. Find a co-founder, and the more they are different from you the better. Listen and express your opinion, never compromise but cooperate until you both find a common ground.


João Romão, CEO at GetSocial.io

Customers are your investors: In a perfect world, investors will help you accelerate your business, not create it. A paying customer, someone who is genuinely interested in trading money for your product or service, is your best investor: he or she will give you feedback on product, insights on pricing and most of what you need from several stakeholders, in a centralized way. If you’re launching a startup, invest most of your time getting to know this ‘customer,’ getting to know his needs, his frustrations, his expectations, and make sure that in everything you do, that your higher purpose is to provide the highest value to that customer and profit with that. Simple formula, great outcome.

Oliver Staehelin, founder of Pomello and a Y Combinator alum

Focus on your team. Once you get a little momentum going, you’ll want to enlist the help of others to join you on your insane quest (starting a company is in a lot of ways an insane quest). Make sure these early hires are right. More than anything, this initial team will set the foundation for your company’s culture. Understanding their intrinsic motivators and core values, and how those fit with you (and your founder/s) is the foundation for pretty much everything else to come. This is also an area you’ll want to keep close tabs on as you scale your team and culture.


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Written by:
Conor is the Lead Writer for Tech.co. For the last six years, he’s covered everything from tech news and product reviews to digital marketing trends and business tech innovations. He's written guest posts for the likes of Forbes, Chase, WeWork, and many others, covering tech trends, business resources, and everything in between. He's also participated in events for SXSW, Tech in Motion, and General Assembly, to name a few. He also cannot pronounce the word "colloquially" correctly. You can email Conor at conor@tech.co.
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