Paul Graham’s Startup Survival Rules 

When things get difficult, sometimes you have to whip out the old survival guide to make sure your startup gets through a challenging phase in your business. That’s why we are sharing this guide with entrepreneurs, based on Y Combinator’s cofounder Paul Graham‘s “Startups in 13 Sentences“.  He shared 13 tips you every entrepreneur should live by:

Pick Good Cofounders

Sometimes the problem lives within. Finding a good cofounder is not always easy, and just like finding a partner in love, finding the right business partner takes time. Graham says that, “the success of a startup is almost always a function of its founders,” and we couldn’t agree more.

Launch Fast

You don’t really know what your customers want until you launch. Launch before you get used to not being useful.

Let Your Idea Evolve

Many successful startups changed their ideas fundamentally. Pivoting is part of your startup growth, and sometimes you just have to let that initial idea go.

Make Users Happy 

You know you are making your users happy if they are giving you time and money. Also, if they trust you. How you do this is by solving a problem they have and something providing new users lack.

Better to Make a Few Users Love you Than a Lot Ambivalent

Sometimes, startups are so focused on growing that they forget about their base customers. Initially you have to choose between satisfying all the needs of a subset of potential users, or satisfying a subset of the needs of all potential users. Take the first.

Offer Surprisingly Good Customer Service

Be attentive to your first customers, they are like investors, but instead of money they give you their time. Learn from them, and give them the best you have.

You Make What You Measure.

Merely measuring something has an uncanny tendency to improve it. Make sure you know what you want to measure though, you can’t get distracted.

Spend little

This is why so many entrepreneurs bootstrap; it helps you get used to not spending too much money (even when you get funded). Remember: your investors’ money is the money you don’t have.

Get Ramen Profitable

Graham explains that “Ramen profitable” means a startup makes just enough to pay the founders’ living expenses.

Avoid Distractions

In your startup trajectory, sometimes you get distracted. Funding is a distraction. Side job is distraction. Magazine photoshoots are a distraction. These may be useful distractions for your business (and even personal life), but if they take the time and attention away from building the product, you need to be aware of them.

Don’t Get Demoralized.

Here at Tech.Co we are all about celebration, so I couldn’t agree more with this point. Starting a startup carries a huge moral weight, and you need to make sure keep morale up. It’s all up to you to get things going: nothing will happen until you make it happen.

Don’t Give Up.

Keep trudging through until you find what users need. If you don’t believe in your business, no one will.

Deal Fall Through

Don’t allow morale to depend on deals closing; not just because they so often don’t, but because it makes them less likely to. Finding the right investor and raising funding is not easy, so keep moving if you believe in your business.

startup survival graham

startup survival


Infographic by Funders and Founders



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Written by:
Camila has been heavily active in South Florida’s tech startup community, where she is a co-host of a local radio show called pFunkcast. Camila previously worked at Greenpeace International and the Organization of the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in various communication roles. A proud Brazilian who spent most of he life in Peru, she is passionate about traveling and documentaries.
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