As we start 2014, we wanted to reach out to the community to see what kinds of lessons founders learned from 2013. As you all know, entrepreneurial education is a huge focus of Verge, and we’re excited to celebrate and share that learning. Here are four big lessons that our community has learned this year.
The Importance of Team“Keep looking for the right team.” – Dave Gibbs
A common refrain I’ve heard in listening to investors is that they don’t invest in an idea, they invest in a team. Verge member Dave Gibbs advises new entrepreneurs to make sure to put the right team in place when starting a new venture.
Sales and Marketing Can Be Tough“Sales and marketing takes a lot of energy. More than you expect. Either your energy or you money.” – Tony Unfried
Tony hit the nail on the head, and this is an issue many startups with technical founders face. Often times, a founder who is entrenched in the technical side of the operation isn’t used to the sales and marketing components. As Tony put it, it will cost you either your energy or your money, so you have to make sure you’re prepared.
Don’t Count Your Chickens“Plan for bad debts and don’t spend the money until it’s in the bank. In 2013 we had two large setbacks. One client had promised to renew an annual 6-figure contract and left a voicemail to cancel the day before it renewed. And another large client basically went out of business and still owes us a large chunk of money. We built our cash flow projections and business strategy around those payments and conveniently they happened within the same 10 days so we had to make significant changes to weather the storm.” – Jayson Manship
Jayson is the founder of a really cool company called inSourceCode and he brings us a really valuable lesson that many entrepreneurs have learned the hard way: Money isn’t money until it’s in the bank. Because you’re used to planning in the future, it can be easy to base your projections on agreements that aren’t quite finalized yet, but you need to resist that urge. Remember, promises to buy your product don’t pay your mortgage, purchases do.
Keep Your Head Up“Cynics are slaves to their skepticism. You, keep going.” – Max Yoder
Max is the founder of a company called Lesson.ly, aiming to revolutionize the world of education within businesses. His ambitions are high, but anyone with high ambitions is going to face their fair share of skeptics. If you’re one of these ambitious people, take these words to heart. Get them painted on the side of your house if you can. Keep going.