Ten things about being a founder I wish I knew when I first started #blindpost

by Jeff Hilimire on September 10, 2013

As I embark on founding a new company, I have become very aware that technically I haven’t done this since 1998 when I started Spunlogic with Raj. We grew Spun to about 75 people, sold it to Engauge, and then I worked at Engauge until we sold it a few months back to Publicis Group. And while I certainly helped lead Engauge and felt like I was able to help steer the ship, I wasn’t a founder of Engauge (though I was part of the founding acquisitions).

Side note: When we were going through the process of selling Engauge, I was asked by a colleague what job would be interesting to me at the acquiring company and what title would be exciting. I commented that the only title I want next, and ever again, is “founder”. That’s my goal going forward, to only work at companies I am part of founding. 

Then I saw this article, Ten things about being a found I wish I knew two years ago, and thought it would be both a great blindpost as well as a good exercise for me to go through as I start this new journey.

Ten things about being a founder I wish I knew when I first started

1. Start with the best team you possibly can. I should note that I was lucky enough to start with a few amazing co-founders with my first company, but it took years for us to realize the unmeasurable impact that each bada$$ you add to the team can make

2. Have a laser-focus on growth. Always. Never let up on the gas. It’s too easy to be distracted by, you know, the actual work you’re producing. And that’s understandable, but you gotta strive to keep focused on the growth and sales side of the house.

3. Ask for help and get advice from everywhere. This is easier for me this time as I’m entering into a completely new area (mobile apps for consumers vs. digital marketing for businesses).

4. Start with the end in mind. Know the end-game and point everything toward it.

5. Understand the market. When we first started Spunlogic we didn’t know much about the digital marketing industry, the players or how the market works. Understanding those dynamics is critical to success. We didn’t see real growth until we began to appreciate the market itself.

6. Culture first.

7. There’s no such thing as failure. There are only learning opportunities and chances to improve. The key is the scale of the fail.

8. Save the lore. One thing I regret from the past is that we have one picture of us in the basement of my parent’s house, one shot of us in the dorm room and only a few of our office in the back of the fitness center. This time around I’m going to make sure I get photos and video of the early days/months/years. That’s the good stuff you want to be able to look back on.

9. Celebrate the successes. I’m bad about not wanting to dwell on the past, good or bad, and instead I’m always focused on what’s next, what wall we need to climb or barrier do we need to destroy. When you’re founding a company, its important for both you and your team that you remember to celebrate the successes and have fun.

10. Understand the importance of cash. Cash is the life blood of any business, whether that cash is in the form of profitable revenue or an investment into your company. If you don’t know the importance of cash when you start your business, you’ll know very quickly after you get going. The path to profitability is the holy grail of most startups and understanding that – and measuring your progress – is key.

If you’ve founded a company before, I’d love to know what you’d add to this list!

~ if you liked this blindpost, here are more you can check out. And a handful of my friends will suggest blindposts for me to write from time to time, please feel free to do that too!

  • Richard Warner

    Make the tough decisions about whether to retain someone sooner rather than later. Yes, sometimes on rare occasions, sticking with someone who isn’t working out will pay off. But far more often, you’re just avoiding the tough conversation by retaining someone who isn’t effective. And that impacts everything. The people who are performing…inefficient use of cash…performance issues with clients…and you’re not doing them a favor by keeping them around anyway. [Boy have I made this mistake too often.]

  • http://www.jeffhilimire.com Jeff Hilimire

    Amen brother ;)

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