Shortcuts

So, Finally exactly six months after my last post, I finally managed to get my head over the water and write something.

I thought to tell all about the busiest months, and the hardest ones so far (since going into entrepreneurship), but then I figured it’ll be a much better use of your time (my several readers) to read about how you can actually save time for yourself, make things work faster, and develop your business instead of wasting time with all kinds of service providers. These are just shortcuts to your product (while “taking shortcuts” may have some negative PR, using shortcuts is actually sometimes very useful).

When you start something new the thing you want to accomplish is to have some kind of product out there, the sooner the better. Then, see how it works and improve it accordingly. You can call it MVP (minimum viable product), or lean, or whatever. It’s simply smarter. To do that there are a bunch of useful services out there that will save you the time and hassle of setting up everything yourself.

Some of the best services are in this awesome Quora thread: http://www.quora.com/Startup-Advice-and-Strategy/What-are-the-best-productivity-tools-for-entrepreneurs#ans920005

To elaborate on a few use cases for these services :

  • Web site – you can get yourself a beautiful website just using WordPress (or a few other platforms). If you can code  it’ll take you a day, if you’re a dummy like me it’ll take you a 3 days. Unbounce can help you create an awesome landing page in an hour.
  • Mailing stuff – Mailchimp and some other services do the job of designing and sending mass emails in a few minutes.
  • Design- you can find resources for a design job so easily on the web. If you want something basic you can just buy a template (whether it’s a web site, an app, or just a pitch presentation), if you want something more you can use sites like 99Designs, or even Elance to hire a freelance.
  • Managing sales/CRM/Support – Highrise, Zendesk, Campfire, and so on and so on.
  • Legal stuff – If you’re US based there are several sites that offer simple seed funding level legal documentation . The most recent I’ve heard of is Angelist (which btw also helps you find potential investors)
  • QA/Usertesting – you can get someone to test your web site and give you feedback on various sites from as low as $49 per tester.
  • Marketing – at the very beginning you can probably handle this yourself, but as you grow a little there are lots of site that help with this – Wildfire, Hubspot etc.
  • Coding – Do it yourself. But in case you can’t, and you fail to have a technical co-founder, you can find someone through Elance or other sites that can create a prototype for you, without paying too much.  This is hardly recommended though. If you have no other choice, make sure you at least have someone technical that can advise you.

I can go on, but the point is clear I think. Just need to look for a shortcut.

And Shana Tova!

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What I’m Trying To Say

This is a post by Ashkan Karbasfrooshan, it really sums up nicely a few of the things that I’m trying to say once in a while here. So instead of reading me, just read this post.

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Figure out the lingo

This is a short one, mainly for non-native English speakers, but true in general.

When you try to learn about a certain subject (hopefully doing research for your idea), you HAVE to know the proper terminology in the field. If you don’t know the right terms to look for you won’t find anything. This is a non-brainer, but so many people (including myself at times) just assume they know what they’re looking for and when they find nothing (because they looked for the wrong thing) they’re sure they stumbled on an untapped market..

To share the point when I fell into this trap for the first time –  I once had an idea that involved Point Of Sale software. Took me about 7 hours to finally figure out it’s not called “cash register”, but POS. Every now and then I meet cool people who have great ideas nobody thought of before, just to google it and find an identical idea – as a first result. It’s just a matter of lingo sometimes.

 

 

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Get a Mentor

So first of all, I’ve been badly neglecting this blog for a while now. That means two things :

1. I’ve been shit busy  (which is good because it means things are moving forward).

2. I had nothing to say (which means I had no time to stop and reflect on how and what I’m doing).

So, thank you 8 loyal followers who stuck around (who are you btw??) – as a token of my appreciation you will receive a free coffee voucher redeemable if you’re ever in Tel-Aviv :)

And to our business today – my first few posts focused on how I personally see the transformation into an entrepreneurial state of mind. Now that I’m there I’ve been wanting for a while to write about how to do it right. I couldn’t really focus on what I want to say though until I read This article by James Altucher. He talks about the things you need to do to really improve your skills as an entrepreneur. So first of all go and read the article (instead of me telling you about it). When you’re done come back here and read my personal take on the points he makes. I intend to write a short post about each point hopefully elaborating and giving examples.

The first point I’d like to refer to is Tutor/Mentor. Learning from someone experienced is probably a smart move in any job, but the interesting thing I noticed during my first year in start-ups is the willingness of people from the field to help and advise. Perhaps it’s their understanding of the difficulty or maybe it’s just cool people, but I’ve yet to ask someone for advice and be refused. Moreover, most people are happy to feel that someone actually wants to learn from them!

Here’s how it works – when I think there’s something I need help with, or someone I want to learn from, I just ask him/her for coffee and talk to them about what they do or have done. Most people like to tell their story, and you get a priceless lesson for a price of a coffee. I’ve also stayed in touch with most people I’ve met over the past year, and one of them is even in my advisory board.

Bottom line – Mentoring helps, and people like doing it so don’t be shy and approach whoever can help you.

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Two Interesting Perspectives About Startups

I’m attaching two interesting posts that relate to things i’ve writen before :

One about Eric Ries and his very hyped lean startup approach. Not to much info there but I like the idea and it’s worth looking into his new book. Will read post my impressions of it.

http://www.wired.com/magazine/2011/08/st_qareis/

 

The second is by Nick O’Neill, and he talks about how incubators can help entrepreneurs believing that hard things are possible to achieve.

http://nickoneill.com/believing-your-own-bullshit-2011-08/

 

 

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Startup: A manic depressive company

So it’s been a while since last post, meaning I’ve been busy. Things have picked up their pace, slowed down again, and then again moved forward rapidly. About 10 times..

Most entrepreneurs talk about the experience as a roller coaster. I like to think of it more as a manic depression state. In the manic state you feel like you’re going to change the world – many of companies set out to do exactly that – disrupt a whole industry and change the rules of the game (Square is a good example I guess). You really have to be a megalomaniac fucker to try that. In the depressed state you’re stuck, with no idea where you’ll get any money or users, and a faint memory of how you got there or why. Also, on top of that, the smallest event can through you from one state to the other, and it can happen as often as twice a day :).

The trick is to keep the depressed times as short as possible, and focus on your mania.

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Keep Hustling

Here’s what I knew but didn’t feel so much up until now – having a startup is a never ending nonstop job. After working for 3 months, reaching amazing growth, setting ambitious goals and outperforming yourself, you’d think you can lay back and relax for a while. Wrong.

After preparing a week for a huge investor presentation, giving a great show, and being written about in all the leading business newspapers, you go home and you realize that nothing really happened. You got a few interesting connections and leads, but other than that you go back to work in full power – and you still have no idea what will happen with you next week. And it sucks. But you knew it’ll be that way.

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