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How to Survive Your First Year as a Founder


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Six startup founders and CEOs share their best advice to navigate the first year launching and scaling your business.

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How to Survive Your First Year as a Founder

  2. This presentation consists of insights inspired by 33voices® interviews with Jenna Abdou.
  3. Table of Contents Page 4 Page 5 Page 12 Page 20 Page 28 Page 35 Page 43 Page 45 What Businesses Are Made Of, Micah Rosenbloom Don’t Stand in the Way of Starting, Julia Pimsleur How to Navigate the Early Days Being CEO, Natasha Case Absorb the Stress and Uncertainty, Jonathan Eppers Minimize Uncertainty with Stable Routines, Marcela Sapone Lead With Vision, Katherine Power The Best and The Very Good, Adam Liebman Credits
  4. Micah Rosenbloom @fcollective Managing Partner at Founder Collective @micahjay1 “Startups are built on blocking and tackling. That’s what businesses are made of.”
  5. Julia Pimsleur @LittlePim Founder of Little Pim and Author of Million Dollar Women @JuliaPimsleur Don’t Stand in the Way of Starting WITH
  6. Stop worrying about being number one. You can’t win the game if you don’t start playing.
  7. “No one is going to tell you ‘It’s time!’ You have to make that decision yourself. Silence the voice that you aren’t ready for primetime.”
  8. Whether you’re publicly sharing your idea or meeting with your first investors, it’s important to remember that the heart palpitations and sweaty palms aren’t unique to you.
  9. “Everyone who has done something big and ambitious heard all of those same voices. They just found a way of silencing them. Have the fear and do it anyways. It’s okay to be afraid. Don’t let it stop you from taking action.
  10. Say goodbye to your limiting beliefs by writing them down and recognizing their invalidity. Whether you’re writing ‘I’m not smart enough,’ or ‘I can’t raise capital,’ seeing the statements on paper diminishes their truth and encourages you to prove yourself wrong.
  11. Constantly challenge yourself by asking: “Where could my business go if I had twice the resources?”
  12. Natasha Case @COOLHAUS Co-founder and CEO of Coolhaus How to Navigate Your Early Days as CEO WITH
  13. Don’t beat yourself up about the things you don’t know. And, be patient as you learn. “Embrace what’s good about being younger and inexperienced. When you just go for it you may not realize all of the rules that you’re breaking. Use the naivety as an advantage.”
  14. “You can walk through a wall when you don’t know it’s there.”
  15. While you should always accept the unknown, don’t reinvent the wheel. Seek mentors who can help you shape your company.
  16. Make it a life value that nobody, from your customers to your team members, feels left out. “I hate feeling like an outsider. I knew when I created my brand that I wanted it to be a place where no one is an outsider. In fact, you’re cooler by association. To me, that’s the way things should be.”
  17. No matter how small your team is, “you have to be a motivational speaker and therapist for your company.”
  18. One size doesn’t fit all. “You have to be insightful. Figure out where a team member is on a project and whether you need to support them or let them run with it.”
  19. As a founder, it’s your responsibility to understand what makes each person feel appreciated and motivated. “Take the time and thank people.”
  20. Jonathan Eppers @RadPad Founder and CEO of RadPad @jonathaneppers Absorb the Stress and Uncertainty WITH
  21. “If you’re lucky to be around in 100 years no one is going to remember you or anyone here today. What they will remember, and be a part of, is the culture you create that drives the innovation engine of your company.”
  22. Never sacrifice quality for speed. “Don’t cut corners. It’s easy to do as a startup when you’re fighting against capital and competitors. It requires more work and creativity. We’re building for a sustainable future. Doing it right may take longer but that’s value.”
  23. “Someone once described to me that working at a startup is like being a cocaine addict. You have really high highs and really low lows. You’re trying to shoot for somewhere in the middle.”
  24. Regardless of how high you get, you’ll always fear that something negative will happen. Build a core and diverse group of advisors who you can rely on at any time.
  25. Always pull yourself out of your daily routine to objectively answer: Are we doing this right? Does something need to change?
  26. Despite navigating the emotional rollercoaster yourself, strive to keep your team from feeling unnecessary stress that will distract them from their daily work.
  27. Always rise to the occasion but don’t put too much pressure on yourself. “It’s a startup. You’re learning as you go. The key thing for successful startups is when you make a mistake you fix it, fast. Don’t sit and dwell on it. Admit when you’re wrong. Let the team know, ‘Hey I made a mistake. I shouldn’t have done that or invested there’ and course correct.”
  28. Marcela Sapone @HelloAlfred Co-founder and CEO of Hello Alfred @MsSapone Minimize Uncertainty with Stable Routines WITH
  29. Commit to daily and weekly meetings where the team can openly share their goals.
  30. Use a channel like Slack to optimize constant communication, share updates, and default to transparency.
  31. Use a channel like Slack to optimize constant communication, share updates, and default to transparency. “It’s a level of transparency where if you haven’t hit the goals you projected for yourself in the morning, people are asking for help and ideas on how they could have done it better. There’s no judgement for not hitting your goals. We are always improving together.”
  32. Adopt a similar routine for yourself by emulating captain’s logs. Spend your mornings identifying three personal goals for the day. To lead by example, share them with your co-founder and team. At the end of the day, document your progress, the challenges you faced, and what you learned.
  33. Reflection is crucial for improvement. Make it a habit that your team is constantly reviewing their daily intentions.
  34. Stimulate an electric culture where your team is striving to be better athletes. “It’s a day by day battle where you show up and bring your best. It requires you to break a lot of things, make mistakes, and react to those things very quickly. You have to start with conviction because everything else will change. Give yourself permission to be the best.”
  35. Katherine Power @WhoWhatWear Co-founder and CEO of Clique Media Group @KatherinePower Lead With Vision WITH
  36. “We’re constantly asked: Did you ever think that the company would be this big? Or, that you would be getting into this business and have these lines? The truth is: Yes, I did. I always wanted it to be a very big business. I knew exactly how we were going to get there and what we would do along the way.”
  37. Think Big. Operate Deliberately. “Everything we’ve done is carefully plotted out. Done in our own way and on our own time. We’ve always had our eye on the prize and we continue to do so.”
  38. Always be driven by focus, ritual, and a quivering distaste for the status quo.
  39. The only way to be decisive in an industry that can literally change overnight is to silence the never ending mind chatter that accompanies being CEO. “You have to be mentally clear and in a present mind space to make a decision.”
  40. “You have to have balance. I know exactly how many hours of sleep I need to get. I have to work out for my mind. I have to eat certain foods. Everything is very scheduled and regimented to create a stable and consistent environment for myself.”
  41. While scaling is often marked by outward achievements, like fundraising and expansions, a company’s most critical evolution is the one experienced by the CEO.
  42. As your company grows, work on the parts of the business that you are best at. “I don’t live and die for fashion. I live for making money on fashion. When it comes to business I’m sort of missing that part of my brain that tells me that I should care about what other people think and be afraid of taking risks.”
  43. Adam Liebman @getsquadapp Founder and CEO of Squad @AdamLiebman Understand the Difference Between The Best and The Very Good WITH
  44. “Everyone can start something, but it takes a lot of effort to finish it. It’s easy to have an idea. What it comes down to is the execution. Only the best are able to push through. Most people quit in the middle. That’s where success comes from, in the most traditional sense. The pain is what separates people.”
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