Startup Founder Credit

Do startup founder(s) get more credit for the startup’s success or blame for its failure than other members of the startup (managers, technical leads etc)?

We know of founder(s) who started companies but what about the initial 5 to 50 employees who helped the startup grow.

What contributes to a startup’s success? Is it the founder(s)’ idea, their execution, their initial key hires, or just the timing of their idea(s)?

How much should we praise founder(s), recognize their successes and failures, and attribute to the startup’s growth?

Are workshops the way to go?

Workshops are focused, interactive, and the results can be immediate.

With the current pace of technological advancements, workshops are more effective than year long programs to get faster and effective results.

The format of workshops enables participants to learn a new skill, become more knowledgeable about a topic/subject, interact with other team members etc. in a short time frame.

Online workshops can be as effective as in person workshops and can have participants from various parts of the world.

Which workshop(s) have you attended recently or planning to participate in?

Simple, easy, and best choice!

I love chicken wings!

Buffalo, NY has many restaurant and bar options to have the best chicken wings. There are favorite local chains as well as renowned food establishments. We recently visited The Nine-Eleven Tavern located in 9-11 Bloomfield Ave, Buffalo, NY. Established in 1981, the The Nine-Eleven Tavern is a Cash only establishment and opens on Tuesday through Saturday from 4:30pm-8:30pm.

In The Nine-Eleven Tavern’s menu, they offer Chicken wings – Wings are prepared mild, medium, or hot and include celery and bleu cheese or ranch dressing. For the sizes, you can choose 10, 20, 30 or 50 wings. They also offer Finn fries, Pizza Stix, Chicken Fingers, Corned Beef Sandwich and variety of extras. You can also buy a jar of their Wing sauce. I loved the chicken wings served on their special sauce. There’s only one sauce flavor you can pick and their wings are simply the best I’ve had so far!

From The Nine-Eleven Tavern, we can also takeaway some key business pointers.

Why offer too many sauce choices for the wings to customers when you can offer your best sauce and have customers come to enjoy what you serve best?

Why take credit cards if you can only take cash and avoid credit card transaction fees, credit card machines, and other credit cards related hassles that can come up?

Why open the tavern for long hours everyday if you can offer a window for customers to come and enjoy the wings?

Marketing or Product development – Which first?

Should you develop your product first or start marketing the idea first?

If the idea has some legs to become a business, building a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) first could help. Once you’ve build an MVP, you can test it out with potential customers. Collect feedback from early users of your product/service and continue developing it to create the best value to your product/service users. Marketing the product/service once you’ve built a user base would be prudent.

Product development and marketing will go hand in hand overtime. In the initial stages, product development should be prioritized over marketing. An excellent product/service will always be easier to market!

Skills over Location

A skilled professional should be respected, valued, and paid as much as someone that can be found in a particular region.

With remote work and freelancing work becoming more common than ever before, companies have a global talent pool to fill their vacancies. A skilled professional based in the US would generally get paid more than a skilled professional with similar qualifications in South Asia because the argument went that the cost of living in the US was higher so the professional needs to get paid more. Over the span of few decades, companies have been looking for talent in offshore regions for cost savings (primarily), time zones turnaround, work flexibility, proximity to customers etc.

The talent pool and the job/career marketplace is now global. Companies can have skilled professionals working on their products/services from anywhere in the world and the skilled professionals have a global job/career opportunity pool. Skilled professionals based in South Asia should get paid equally to a professional based in the US if the individual has similar qualifications, work ethic, quality of work produced and such. It’s a win-win for both companies and skilled professionals everywhere!

Skills Degree

What if we could have a Skills degree similar to a College degree?

A Skills degree would show all the skills you have accumulated over the years. Writing skills, editing skills, sales skills, Excel skills, technical skills, marketing skills and more skills. In a knowledge economy, our skills are our biggest assets. Skills are learnable and we can get better overtime with practice and repetition.

What skills do you have or working to be better at?

Silicon Peaks

Pukar C. Hamal, Founder and CEO of SecurityPal, recently coined the term Silicon Peaks to capture the growing startup ecosystem of Nepal.

On his LinkedIn page, Pukar wrote that “The Himalayas have always been a source of inspiration for me. And given that 8 out of the worlds 14 highest mountains are located here including the highest (Mt. Everest) and the 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, and 9th(!) highest, it only felt natural to pay homage to the incredible Peaks we have here! And thus ?️*Silicon Peaks* ?️ was born!”

Silicon Peaks is here and will continue to grow! #SiliconPeaks

Engaging Company Culture

Engaging company cultures have empowered, creative, and growth oriented team members leading company culture events. Through empowerment, employees are given the decision making authority and independence to decide what activities bring out the best in the team. Through creativity, employees can be resourceful and come up with activities that are out of the box and meaningful for the team. Through a focus on growth-oriented activities, employees can initiate programs that integrate both learning and fun.

What’s your company culture like?

Starting your venture

Bill Gross said in a TEDTalk that timing was the single most important attribute to startup success.

There’s no science to when’s a good time to start a venture. However, waiting for the idea to be perfect, or wanting to have all the “necessary” data points in the world to make the launch decision or just plain waiting probably won’t do much good to your “exclusive” idea.

Ship your idea. Gather feedback from prospects/customers. Iterate based on learnings. Keep going!

From Entrepreneur to Empowerer

How can entrepreneurs grow their startup?

The qualities that help entrepreneurs start their businesses might not be the same that will help take the startup to the next level.

There will still be challenges that entrepreneurs will face when they have hired all the “right people” for the different roles of the company. If the entrepreneurs continue to become heavily involved in decision making of the different functions even when they have put “right people” in those positions, the company will be limiting itself. The entrepreneurs’ efforts might actually be counterproductive then.

For entrepreneurs to grow their company, most times they themselves become bottlenecks to the growth. It’s time to switch from being an entrepreneur to becoming an empowerer (one who empowers others to do their best). If entrepreneurs have empowered other leaders in the best way possible, the company will experience growth in many ways.

Greatness through Giving

We can achieve greatness by focusing our energy on helping and supporting others.

When we focus on helping others through what we can give, we put good energy into the universe.

To achieve our goals, we collaborate with people because greatness is not a sole journey or destination.

The more energy you commit into inspiring and helping others, the more you will receive in return.

How are you inspiring and helping others today?

1,000 business cards

We were new to entrepreneurship.

My friend was starting to sell custom made jewelry.

He reached out to me to help him with business development work.

One of the first purchases we made was to put an order of 1000 business cards, each.

Well we ended up using probably 50 a piece in the next few months.

Sometimes we can get caught up doing all the fancy activities that seem important at first but not doing much to increase sales or build a business!

The island without sandals

There was an island called Without Sandals.

A budding salesperson from a nearby Town A visited the island and saw that no one at this island was wearing sandals. The salesperson went back to the town and concluded that there are no opportunities to sell any sandals because no one would wear them.

Another budding salesperson from a nearby Town B visits the island and makes the same initial observation that no one in the island was wearing sandals. The salesperson goes back to town and concludes that there is an abundance of opportunity to sell sandals in this island because everyone can wear them.

Why pay for it?

There’s a big difference of results between doing it on your own (for something you’re not so good at) compared to hiring a professional to do it.

For tasks that you could kind of do it, have an idea about it or know a little bit, it’s better to go with a professional most times. There might be some exceptions here and there.

Recently we hired some professional movers for a few hours to load our belongings in a Pod.

Could we, ourselves have moved the belongings to a Pod? Perhaps yes.

Yet the time saved for the few hours, no physical or mental tiredness from moving, having the belongings efficiently put in a Pod and a general peace of mind made hiring professional help for moving totally worth it.

You actually don’t know the overall benefits of getting professional help until you get one.

What work/tasks can you do best and what can be outsourced to someone who can do it much better than you?

The best time to do a startup is…

NOW.

Literally now.

If you are thinking about doing a startup, want to be an entrepreneur or create something of your own, there is no better time than RIGHT NOW.

There is no uniform age, timeline, state, region, phase, moment or any other factor that guarantees the best time to do a startup.

I like to watch this Ted talk by Bill Gross from time to time to remind myself why start-ups succeed.

I used to have an illusion/perception that I need to have a decent amount of money to start a business. Yet when I did start a business, it was more than just money that I needed. I learned about the importance of having a solid business and technical team members, balancing product development and marketing, public relations and network and countless other valuable lessons that I learned only because I started the business.

I believe that if you are thinking of doing a startup or want to go into entrepreneurship, the earlier the better.

For example, let’s say you are 25 now, have an idea and want to build your own company. If you wait 5 years (at 30 years old) to start implementing that idea, the market might have changed, other companies might implement similar idea(s) and you are late to the market, you have other priorities now (family, job etc) among others. On the flip side, if you wait you might be gaining experience in a particular domain that can help build your company or have more financial resources to venture on your own.

I strongly believe that if you have an idea and want to build a company, the best move you can make is to start it. The immediate benefit of starting now will give a lot of momentum to your idea/venture, you will learn tremendously by experimenting and getting feedback from the market/customers/non customers etc. The learnings from starting a business will be exponential. If you start as early as you can, you will gain experience that will be very valuable to the success of your idea/business and also as an entrepreneur.

Doing entrepreneurship is both an art and a science.

I can’t wait to see what you create in the world. Now.

Transitioning from an employee to an employer

Entrepreneurship can be a beautiful journey.

Many individuals enter the workforce and work for several years before striking out on their own. Some individuals go straight into entrepreneurship before working for anyone else. There are several questions/scenarios that an aspiring entrepreneur(s) considers when deciding to stay in the current job (if working) to going completely in on their business opportunity/venture.

Few of the questions that can come up during this transition phase are:

Is this the right time to quit the job and focus completely on the business opportunity/venture?

Do I really need to quit my job to work on this business opportunity? Can I do both at the same time if I prioritized my time better?

What is the minimum monthly revenue I should be earning from my business before leaving my job to do the venture full-time?

How will I manage my daily/monthly/yearly expenses before the business really takes off?

When will I realistically get my first customer?

At what point will I actually make more money from doing entrepreneurship than when I was working for someone else?

There’s no exact science or art in when the best time is to launch a business. People launch businesses at all different times/seasons/economic cycles etc. Companies have started in recessions, economic growth cycles, pre-Covid era, during Covid era, post-Covid era. Here are some numbers around Small-Business Statistics. Note that 4.3 million new business applications were filed in 2020.

Is success really “self-made”?

We often see the below headline in the media (blogs, magazines, articles etc.) to describe an individual or founders’ success.

They were self-made billionaires. They were self-made entrepreneurs.

Then the rest of the media coverage goes something like this…

Person A’s company is now worth a billion dollars. Having started in her garage four years ago, Person A has disrupted the industry and won every industry award.

Person B had a dream to change the industry and with another co-founder, they developed a MVP over a weekend. Now their work has become an industry standard and they are pioneers in helping to move the industry forward.

Using the word “self-made” to describe individuals running successful organizations does not provide the full picture. We have fallen so much in love with the narrative of a solo entrepreneur or visionary who did it all. From having nothing at all to now running one of the biggest so and so company in the world. However, it’s rarely one individual who does everything and becomes successful. There is always a team who is helping to run the company and making sure everything is operating as smoothly as possible. That team could be a handful of individuals or a few hundred or thousand. Yet the credit or the media coverage usually goes to the founder(s) who took the risk, “sacrificed” almost everything, and made an impact.

Maybe it’s about time we find a different word to describe this type of success than calling them “self-made.”

What’s a word that celebrates the individual’s work plus highlights the contribution of the team?

Reflections from running a startup

Once upon a time, I was very passionate about creating a better platform for writers of Nepalese origin. I pitched the idea at a Startup Weekend event, met my team members there and then eventually registered a company.

Reflecting on my startup journey, I can share some learnings.

-Move fast with your product/service idea. Develop the product or at least a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) before doing too much marketing.

-Seek help in areas that is not your domain expertise.

-Research and understand the challenges in the industry or the market you are entering.

-Understand the market size of your product/service.

-Collaborate where possible.

Some valuable wisdom…

I love this paragraph from Phil Knight’s Shoe Dog. It’s about the time when he wrote about the long-term prospects of Blue Ribbon and how he saw the future.

“This last line was wholly truthful. It was worth shooting for. If Blue Ribbon went bust, I’d have no money, and I’d be crushed. But I’d also have some valuable wisdom, which I could apply to the next business. Wisdom seemed an intangible asset, but an asset all the same, one that justified the risk.”

Until it’s done

The risk takers love the challenge. Sometimes the “challenge” is handed to them; other times they chase the challenge. While the risk takers are busy chasing the challenge/opportunity, the other 80% are looking to do what everyone else does.

I sincerely feel it’s rare that one achieves huge success on the first try. The risk takers accept whatever comes their way. It’s the way it is. Even if the first try is not a success, experience is the best teacher. They keep going. While others are getting comfortable in their daily lives, most of them slowly start to “admire”, “wish” or even feel “invigorated” when they talk to the risk takers. Risk taking is not everyone’s cup of tea. Anything great that has ever been achieved is mostly from the risk takers. At first, it’s seems all risky, challenging, and impossible to attain it until someone does it.