Founders’ Advice for New Entrepreneurs

This is a guest post by Robert Jordan.

Want to know how some of America’s most successful entrepreneurs made it? Here are some jolts of inspiration and shots of courage for new business owners, gleaned from interviews with 45 of America’s leading company founders.

Too little funding forces discipline.
The upside of having too little funding is that your business can grow organically, and you’ll stay very focused on making a profit and positive cash flow.

Always have a standby investor.
No matter how much you like each other, and how much time and effort you’ve invested in negotiating and paperwork, large financial partnerships can – and often do – fall apart last minute.

Create a business plan that’s a selling tool.
Venture capitalists look at hundreds of prospects, so your business plan has to be clear, credible, and able to demonstrate in 10 minutes or less your dedication to solving a crucial problem.

Be honest in all your dealings.
Running a business is no different than running your life. Founders should be honest in their dealings and in their assessments. Always look at facts, because facts don’t lie.

Start with what you have.
If you wait for the perfect solution to come along, you’ll never get your business going. Assume that the right tools, systems, and people will come along to refine it.

Make your employees shareholders.
When employees have a sense of ownership, it creates a kind of self-enforcement process. Give stock options to everyone at your company – all the way to the janitor. Owners think differently than employees.

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Fail fast.
What doesn’t work, throw away, and what does work, run with it. Knowing what’s going right and what’s going wrong – and doing something about it quickly – will put you at the front of the class.

Be willing to tweak your idea.
If you fall too much in love with your idea, you won’t have the capacity to take feedback from other people and from the market. The idea you start with is unlikely to be the exact idea you’re going to win with.

The above tips have been adapted from Robert Jordan’s new book, “How They Did It”, and these were the minds behind the advice!­­­­­­­­­

1. Viresh Bhatia, InstallShield
2. Jim Dolan, The Dolan Company (DM)
3. Donald C. Harrison, AtriCure (ATCR)
4. Mark Tebbe, Lante Corporation, Answers.com (ANSW)
5. Howard A. Tullman, Certified Collateral Corporation (CCC), Original Research II Kendall College, Experiencia, Tribeca Flashpoint Media Arts Academy, The Cobalt Group, Tunes.com
6. Dane Miller, Biomet
7. Scott Jones, Boston Technology, Gracenote, ChaCha, Precise Path Robotics
8. Steve Shank, Capella Education (CPLA)

Official bio: Robert Jordan has been launching and growing companies and helping other entrepreneurs do the same for the past 20 years. He is author of How They Did It: Billion Dollar Insights from the Heart of America (RedFlash Press, www.HowTheyDidItBook.com), a collection of interviews from 45 leading founders who created $41 billion from scratch.