Rise My Venture

10 Most Influential Founders Strategies

Rise My Venture 10 Most Influential Founders Strategies

“You have to be fast on your feet and adaptive or else a strategy is useless” – Charles De Gaulle.

Entrepreneurs, in creating new business need to know various technical strategies that will help them grow. Some founders share their routes to success, talking about their goals, visions, marketing tactics, personal development, hiring procedures and so on.

1. CHRIS ANDERSON
FOUNDER: FUTURE PUBLISHING
CEO: TED TALKS
• VISION and MISSION
“Vision Is a Team Thing. Everyone knows that hiring the right people is critical to an organization’s success. But you won’t get the best out of them unless you let them help shape your vision. All the best strategic decisions at TED over the last ten years have emerged as a result of animated conversations with the amazing people who work with me. Ideas are not light-bulbs that switch on out of nowhere. They come when creative people spark off each other. You have to give that process every chance. You not only get better ideas that way, you also get buy-in.”
• LEADERSHIP
“Don’t Make Big Decisions at a Time of Weakness. When you’re under extreme stress, you’ll be tempted to say, “We’ll have to close this whole thing down” or “We’ll have to make this big gamble.” But you’re not mentally equipped to make smart decisions when you’re feeling weak and beaten up. The right strategy is to get through it; get yourself to a place, psychologically, where you have some perspective and make the big decisions when you’re strong.”

2. CHARLES BEST
FOUNDER: DONORSCHOOSE.ORG
• VISION and MISSION
“Purpose Is Central to Motivation. The motivation for founding a company should be the fun of constructing and building something, and the feeling that you’re making an impact. For me, the goal is to help kids from low-income families get the materials and experiences they need for a great education. Making a social impact in the world is a metric of personal worth that is as important, or more important, than the money you’ve made.”
• BUSINESS OPERATIONS
“Crowd-source, Front to Back. Crowd-sourcing is not original, but we’ve pushed it across multiple dimensions. We crowd-source the labour of classroom teachers designing microsolutions for the students they serve, and we crowd-source to donors the labour of deciding which microsolutions should be brought to life. Of course, front-end crowd-sourcing isn’t revolutionary. With organizations like Kiva or Kickstarter, peer-to-peer” philanthropy has become a movement. But we also implement crowd-sourcing at the back end, behind the scenes: teacher-users volunteer time to review other teachers’ requests and vet them for integrity and quality. We’re now pushing crowd-sourcing even further by deploying an API and asking the developer community to share the labour of making the DonorsChoose.org website an even richer experience.”

3. SARA BLAKELY
FOUNDER: SPANX
• WORKING FOR YOURSELF
“Money Is a Magnifying Glass. Money makes you more of who you already are. If you are a jerk, it will make you a bigger jerk; if you’re insecure, you become even more insecure; if you are generous, you become even more generous; if you are nice, you become even nicer. Making money is like holding up a magnifying glass to who you are, personally and professionally. It creates a lot of energy and power, and it’s up to you to use that in a really good way.”
• FAILURE
“Don’t Be Afraid to Fail. When I was growing up, my dad would encourage my brother and me to fail. We would be sitting at the dinner table and he would ask, ‘So what did you guys fail at this week?’ If we didn’t have something to contribute, he would be disappointed. When I did fail at something, he’d high-five me. What I didn’t realize at the time was that he was completely reframing my definition of failure at a young age. To me, failure means not trying; failure isn’t the outcome. If I have to look at myself in the mirror and say, ‘I didn’t try that because I was scared,’ that is failure.”

4. STEVE BLANK
FOUNDER: E. PIPHANY
AUTHOR: THE FOUR STEPS TO THE EPIPHANY, THE STA RTUP OWNER’S MANUAL
• VISION & MISSION
“Know Your History. Whether you are a domain insider or an outsider, you need to really achieve an understanding of how your sector has evolved into being what it is today, when your new company is entering it. Not only does looking backward provide you with an understanding of what segments want most for innovation, but it will give you a perspective on how to grow and overtake a greater share of your market in the future.”
• BUSINESS OPERATIONS
“Make “Good Enough” Daily Decisions. Start-up founders need to make very fast decisions. If someone comes into your office with a question, they should leave with an answer. I call it ‘good enough’ decision-making. You have to be comfortable with the fact that there are no right answers to the questions you get all day, but you still have to answer them in real time. There are rare cases where this isn’t true, and they’re easy to spot. Is this a revocable decision, or is it an irrevocable decision? If it’s a revocable decision, just do it. You’ll unwind the architecture or the feature later. Deciding whether to fire ten people or sign a five-year lease; those are irrevocable decisions. They can’t be ‘good enough.’”

5. RODNEY BROOKS
FOUNDER: IROBOT HEARTLAND ROBOTICS
• CUSTOMER DEVELOPMENT
“Find a Match Between Your Talents and Your Customers’ Needs. If you’re not bringing value to customers, you’re not going to succeed. That doesn’t mean you should identify potential customers and do whatever it takes to give them value. It means that you should identify what you have that’s of value, find the right customers, and tweak things accordingly. It’s not just about going after customers, but finding a match between what you’re good at and what will provide value.”
• LEADERSHIP
“Be an Unreasonable Man. George Bernard Shaw said, ‘All progress depends on the unreasonable man.’ One of my jobs is to be the ‘unreasonable man’ at my company. I have to pull people just a bit beyond their comfort zones so we can truly make an impact. The trick is to get really good people, empower them, listen to their ideas about what’s actually practical, and then push them beyond that.”

6. JEFF BUSSGANG
FOUNDER: OPEN MARKET, UPROMISE, FLYBRIDGE CAPITAL PARTNERS
• FOCUSING TIME & ENERGY
“Address Problems That Nobody Else Can Solve. I learned an important coaching lesson from a peer who took me aside and said, ‘You need to hang back and let your people come up with the solutions themselves. If you don’t, you’re going to get sucked into their problems as opposed to focusing on things that are really going to move the needle on the business.’ If you’re obsessed with problems that other people should be dealing with, you’re not using your time well.”
• WORKING FOR YOURSELF
“Don’t Neglect the Contract with Your Family. The best advice I received early in my career is not to forget about the contract that I made with my spouse when starting a company. As I’ve said earlier, building companies is impossible. Everything is working against you. Unless you have an agreement with your life partner about the roller-coaster ride ahead, you can really get into trouble. You’re strongest as a professional and as a person when you have a strong family foundation to rest on; you’ll be able to handle criticism and all the setbacks that you’ll have to face.”

7. MARC CENEDELLA
FOUNDER: THELADDERS
• COMPETITION
“Build a Multiyear Barrier to Entry. Every business will have a lot of competition in the early days, so it’s important to select a marketplace where you can differentiate yourself significantly. When you reach a certain scale, competitors can copy your offer, but they can’t do it as well as you. You want to find a business where the initial barrier to entry prevents competition for a few years. That allows you to build a position that’s very defensible. Ultimately, there are no real barriers to entry expressed in terms of decades; they are expressed in terms of years.”
• MARKETING
“Paint Word-Pictures. Einstein was brilliant and saw things that other people didn’t see. Maybe others may have had the same thoughts before him, or simultaneously, but Einstein was the best at painting word pictures. Explaining relativity, he asked people to imagine two passengers on opposite ends of a train and think about what it would mean for them to do something ‘simultaneously.’ Suddenly, a complex idea made sense to everyone. Not just in proof, but in argument, he saw the value of word experiments, like Schrödinger’s Cat, that could reveal logical absurdity. That kind of storytelling is powerful; it comes up with analogies that help people understand what you’re trying to express.”

8. ROBIN CHASE
FOUNDER: ZIPCAR
• VISION & MISSION
“Never Hold ‘Immutable’ Principles. A lot of entrepreneurs fail because they hold something in their minds as an immutable principle. The idea that your values should never change in the face of data is nonsensical. You have to recognize failure wherever it happens and look it straight on. When the evidence says that you’re wrong, you have to be willing to relinquish even your most deeply held beliefs.”
• DEPLOYING CAPITAL
“Be Frugal, Personally and Professionally. In startups, every penny counts: you can’t squander money when you don’t have a lot of it. You’ll still make mistakes, but the learning experiences won’t be as costly if you’re doing things as cheaply as possible. I’m very hard on my staff about costs. I insist that we spend as little money as possible, and it sometimes drives them crazy. But I hold myself to the exact same standards. I don’t have a fancy car, take taxis everywhere, or go out for expensive dinners. I model the behaviour that I expect. Frugality has to be a pervasive value.”

9. CHRIS DIXON
FOUNDER: SITEADVISOR, FOUNDER COLLECTIVE, HUNCH
• TALENT
“Find Partners Who Compensate for Your Weaknesses. Before you can select a partner, you have to understand your weaknesses. I, for instance, am an ‘INTP’ (stands for introversion, intuition, thinking, perception) on the Myers Briggs test. I’m an introvert; I’m bad at making lists and getting things done on time in general. Therefore, it was important for me to find somebody who compensates for those weaknesses, like Hunch’s cofounder Tom Pinckney. If we were both Js or both Ps, we wouldn’t be as effective.”
• CULTURE
“Don’t Underestimate the Value of Ambient Learning. I no longer believe in the wisdom of having remote product development or remote employees. Especially in the early research-and development phase, you need a small group of people rapidly cycling through iterations of your idea. That team needs to meet in a single place, overhear each other’s conversations, and develop the same set of rhythms. Until you try remote development and fail, you simply can’t understand how important ambient learning is.”

10. KEVIN EFRUSY
FOUNDER: IRONPLANET CORIO, GENERAL PARTNER: ACCEL
• HIRING
“Interviews Are Worthless; References Are Everything. Forget the interview. The interview is worthless. I don’t care how smart someone seems or how many spreadsheets they show you or how much they wowed you with their intellect in an hour. The only thing that matters—the only real predictor of the future—is a potential hire’s references. Most often, references don’t say bad things, but they also don’t say good things that aren’t true. Silence can be very telling. It gives you hints, and your job is to probe those hints. Make sure to find references other than those supplied by the candidate.”
• SALES
“Create Self-Serve Tools. If you’ve created a new market or reinvented an existing one, you’ll find yourself with an open field and a clear value proposition. In those situations, you won’t need a sales team. The best software companies, Dropbox for instance, don’t have salespeople. They have self-serve products that are clearly valuable.”

This article has been well researched and written by Rise My Venture content writer Intern Shreyashi Chakraborty.

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