21 Lessons B2B Startup Founders Need to Learn to Make Their Business Successful

If Startup = Growth then Entrepreneurship = Self-Growth.

As businesses scale, grow and mature, their founders need to grow and adapt their skillsets.

The skills and knowledge that got them to product-market fit, won’t necessarily get them through scale and beyond.

To keep up and stay ahead of the game, entrepreneurs need to constantly be learning. There’s going to be thousands of lessons along the way, but here are 21 I feel are key to ensuring business success:

  1. Your most valuable asset is your network:
  2. Use your professional network. Ultimately, it’s your best asset.

  3. You need to hustle:
  4. Silence is not rejection. If someone doesn’t respond to my calls or emails, I simply assume that they are busy and that I need to follow up until they have a moment to respond. — Steli Efti, Close.io CEO

  5. Advisors are not real victories. Funding is not necessarily progress. Keep your eyes on the real prize:
  6. The only things that matter early on are product-market fit and not running out of cash. — Fred Lalonde, Hopper CEO

  7. Shorten the time to product launch:
  8. If you don’t have a product, you don’t have a business. — Tara Hunt, Truly Social Founder & CEO

  9. Be lean:
  10. Details only matter when they can have an impact on real people. — Flagback

  11. You don’t need to reinvent the wheel:
  12. New business opportunities can come from changing just 5% of an existing product. — François Lane, Cakemail CEO

  13. It doesn’t have to be complicated:
  14. Complex ideas are almost always a sign of muddled thinking or a made up problem. — Sam Altman, Y Combinator CEO

  15. Good partners are worth the equity:
  16. It’s better to have 50% of a big thing than 100% of nothing.

  17. Promotion matters:
  18. 90% of startups over-promise. — SaaStr Conference Panelist

  19. Retention matters:
  20. Don’t sell people a one-time thing. Make sure you always have recurrence. — Bill Aulet, Author & Entrepreneur

  21. Technology won’t be your competitive advantage:
  22. As a small business, your ability to hustle is your competitive advantage. — Ken Morse, MIT Entrepreneurship Centre Founder

  23. You need to solve a real problem:
  24. It’s really hard to bring something to market without an initial pull like an already-addressed market need or an important problem.

  25. You need to build a machine:
  26. If you don’t find a way to make money while you sleep, you will work until you die. — Warren Buffett, Berkshire Hathaway CEO

  27. The CEO needs to focus on the magic:
  28. You can do everything in a startup, but doing everything will prevent you from being strategic with your actions. — Jean-Philippe Gousse, Product Advisor

  29. You can easily be led on by customers:
  30. “Interesting” is a distraction. Watch out. — HireVoice

  31. Company culture can easily break down:
  32. Every single person you bring on in the early days changes your culture, in a good or bad way. — Moritz Plassnig, Codeship Founder

  33. Not everyone is worth your time:
  34. Do not over-communicate with low-profit, high-maintenance customers. — Tim Ferriss, Author & Entrepreneur

  35. You need to make money:
  36. Don’t try to start something if you don’t know how you’ll make money. — François Lane, Cakemail CEO

  37. You can charge more than you think:
  38. The fully-loaded cost of the lowest-paid employee is $4000 per month. At a minimum, your pricing assumptions should use that as basis. — Patrick McKenzie, Serial Entrepreneur

  39. It’s very hard to avoid services:
  40. The moment one customer pays you a lot more than any other customer, you’re no longer a product company, you’re a services/consulting company. — Jason Fried, Basecamp CEO & Founder

  41. If you build it, they won’t necessarily come:
  42. The hardest part of any business is the marketing/sales cycle, not building the thing. — Martin-Luc Archambault, AmpMe CEO

Anything missing? What other realizations do you think entrepreneurs need to have to make their businesses successful? Tweet at @LeanB2B

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