Straight Up Startup Advice from 150 Entrepreneurs

Do you think you know everything about what it takes to start and build a startup? It’s okay if you don’t – there’s a huge community of entrepreneurs out in the world that are likely willing to offer you some startup advice. But in case you don’t have access to this kind of community, or if you just want real startup advice from seasoned entrepreneurs, read the Clarity’s Straight Up Startup Advice from 150 entrepreneurs.

Clarity’s Straight Up Startup Advice is a collection of startup advice from 150 entrepreneurs – from the likes of Tinder founder Sean Rad to Twitter cofounder Biz Stone. The quotes collected in the free, downloadable feature advice on everything from marketing and growth, to team building and venture capital. We’ve gathered a few of those quotes below:

On Customer Acquisition:

“Business goes where it is wanted. Business stays where it is appreciated. Business flourishes where it is nurtured.” – Howard H. Thaw, Managing Director at

“It’s okay to have a long-term goal of wanting to help a wide range of people. It’s important to realize, however, that often, trying to help all of them up front isn’t an efficient customer acquisition approach. Start with a specialized product, on the most focused niche within the larger group that you want to reach. The group that has the biggest pain as a result of the problem you’re trying to solve. Build your product and trust for your brand there. Then expand to other niches within that larger group until eventually, you’ll be helping all of the people that you originally envisioned.” – David Spinks, Founder of CMX

On Entrepreneurship:

“One of the most important and powerful tools every entrepreneur possesses is their attitude. How we respond to opportunities and challenges, wins and losses,ups and downs plays a tremendous role in whether we succeed or fail.” – Ian Yates, Cofounder of Fitzii

“Don’t fall into the trap of confusing activity for achievement. Pause during your day and ask: ‘Is this helping us build sh*t or sell sh*t?’ If the answer is no, then you’re working on the wrong things.” – Christian MacLean, Cofounder of BeauCoo and Decoder

“Know what you get yourself into. Don’t be naive. Go learn something. Soak in your failures. Test often. Iterate all the time. Dream about it. Iterate some more. Convince them to give you funding. Freak out because you got funding. Iterate some more. Stay hungry even if it’s tempting not to. Stay in the ‘let’s build this startup’ frame of mind. You’re just getting started. Entrepreneurship isn’t for everyone. Not even for entrepreneurs.” – Eyal Toledano, Founder of International Gaming League, CEO at Catnap Games

“Beware of ‘witches’ broom missions’ (think: Oz in the Wizard of Oz) from prospective investors. Your job is to ruthlessly gut check ALL the ideas people give you. Only execute on the ones you would execute on whether or not anyone told you ‘they would invest if….’ you did x, y and z.” – Laura Fitton, Founder of One Forty (now HubSpot Platform)

“The best thing you can do if you want to become an entrepreneur is just share your ideas with people. Few people can execute on a great idea that you had without you and, contrary to popular belief, ideas are rarely stolen. Instead, they are collaborated on, fleshed out, and brought to life.” – Ryan Paugh, Cofounder of Young Entrepreneur Council

“Doubt is born out of fatigue and loneliness, and there is a lot of both when you are
running a startup.” – Mike McDerment, Cofounder of FreshBooks

On Design:

“Design is more important than technology in most consumer applications.” – Dave McClure, Founding Partner at 500 Startups

“Design is a career where you learn creative decision making.” – Biz Stone, Cofounder of Twitter

On Innovation:

“When choosing a startup idea, the ones that scare the crap out of you in their magnitude are the ones you want to take note of.” – Andrew Cross, Founder of GooseChase

“Don’t rush. Don’t rush. Don’t rush. When it comes to finding co-founders, take your time. When it comes to nailing the idea, take your time. When it comes to funding, take your time. Sometimes we mistake action with progress. And it is lonely sitting there all by your (Type A) self, wondering what you should do next. Do whatever you want (eat, go for a run, ping a friend, get depressed), but don’t let the world tell you that you should have figured it out already. If the time has not come, accept the fact that the time has not come.” – Nazila Alasti, Founder of Jooners, Head of Brand at eBay

On Leadership:

“Don’t be a martyr. If you were to get hit by a bus, make sure your company can survive beyond you. If it can’t, then you’ve failed as a leader. While hustle, drive, determination and a kick ass work ethic are key to being successful, acting like a superhero who is the only one capable of saving the day isn’t helping anyone. Find team members that are smarter than you and have strengths that compensate for your weaknesses and complement your strengths. Then delegate and give them autonomy. It will only make your company stronger.” – Caitlin, MacGregor, Cofounder of

“People think being CEO is all bright lights and glamour. They don’t realize that being CEO is working 14 hours a day, every day for three years; waking up at 2 a.m. with your heart pounding, wondering how you are going to make payroll; getting yelled at by your Board for not bringing in that next round fast enough, but still convincing your team that the Board is 100% behind the company; slogging through yet another investor pitch or sales call when you can see on their face that they just don’t get it…yet you keep going. That’s why you are the CEO – not for the bright lights and glamour, but because you hate to lose.” – Lyssa Neel, Founder of Link Itz

While Clarity was acquired last month, the Clarity Straight Up Startup Guide is still available for everyone to download. To find the rest of the guide, you can download it now here.



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Written by:
Ronald Barba was the previous managing editor of Tech.Co. His primary story interests include industry trends, consumer-facing apps/products, the startup lifestyle, business ethics, diversity in tech, and what-is-this-bullsh*t things. Aside from writing about startups and entrepreneurship, Ronald is interested in 'Doctor Who', Murakami, 'The Mindy Project', and fried chicken. He is currently based in New York because he mistakenly studied philosophy in college and is now a "writer". Tweet @RonaldPBarba.
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