Turning Stupid Start Up Founders into Real Players

I think most startup founders are a bunch of stupid people, inexperienced, arrogant and for the most part terrible at making money.

They have such a high esteem for themselves and their shitty little product that they make me puke. No wonder why most of them never get funded.

My 10 basic tips for all those delusional entrepreneurs if you want to get somewhere in life:

1. Stop believing all the stories you tell.

If you are not brutally honest with yourself, you can’t make informed decisions that will truly improve your company. You need a healthy dose of skepticism to make real forward progress. Founders often highlight what looks good and hide what looks bad. This is fake traction. Try to avoid it at all cost.

2. Swallow your stupid ego.

Startup envy isn’t a good enough motivator to get you through the tough times. Thinking that such-and-such startup was just acquired for hundreds of millions of dollars and you are so much smarter than them is not a productive thought.  Swallow your stupid ego and get real.

3. Stop this passion crap.

I have seen many founders blind with passion. Passion can blind you to know when you need to pivot or change your product. The trick is to get passionate about product-market fit, not about the product as it is today. Keep tweaking until you find the fit.

4. Stop being so secretive about your pathetic idea.

Most founders I meet are scared shit someone will steal their idea. This is the most stupid beginner thought one could ever have and frankly just thinking about it totally turns me off. Smart operators should, in fact, do exactly the reverse and talk about their value-proposition to everyone out there to perfect their idea to the max. Besides, the people you are so afraid will steal your idea is too busy working on their own big ideas to steal yours. So please do yourself a big favor and stop asking people to sign those useless NDAs before discussing your startup.

5. Start thinking about building a real company instead of the quick flip.

Startups are a marathon, not a sprint. The average successful exit takes 7-10 years. If you don’t have the time and patience to build such a business full time, don’t waste your time and others trying to find a bigger moron to back your business. A total exercise in futility. Take your time to build an excellent team, a motivated team, the right team … All the rest will come to you manifold.

6. Start delegating.

Some people think that being a company’s CEO means being involved with everything. But what they are really doing is getting in the way and usually just slowing down progress. Surround yourself with super smart and trustworthy people and start delegating moron. There are only a few things you should not delegate in the early stages of a business like customer engagements, raising capital and finding product-market fit.

7. Start listening to professionals.

You are running a complicated entity that may take funding from individuals and VCs, and could eventually IPO or be acquired. This is not a mom-and-pop business. Start listening to professionals who have been at it much longer than you. In most instances, you know shit and the best decision you can make is to surround yourself with smart financiers and advisors whom you can trust and who have done it before. Pick their brains. Offer them stock in your new venture. Hustle smarter, not harder.

8. Stop being delusional.

Your company is the value you’re provide to your customers, not your product. So do yourself a huge favor and start focusing on making your team happy and your customers happy and all else will follow. Just talk to them honestly and ask them how they think you could improve. Stop lying to yourself when things are not right.

9. Start building your “ideal” customer base before raising any outside money.

A founder, and especially a CEO, has no excuse not to be in continuous communication with customers. Don’t have customers yet? Call your prospects and start building your customer base before raising any outside money. Start by creating fans, not just users. Most startups don’t even try. Richard Branson built a billion-dollar business without venture capital. Start building your base from now.

10. Start thinking cash flow not revenue.

Growth is great, and great growth can be wonderful to experience, but cash-flow is king for almost all startups. Don’t tell yourself that you are an exception, you are risking too much if you are wrong.

Bottom Line:

There is nothing wrong if your goal is to create a small business that augments your income or might even support your whole lifestyle. But that kind of business will never get venture capital, nor should it, so don’t even try. A real startup’s goal should be to change the world for the better. If increasing Twitter followers is a temporary revenue-generating bootstrapping step to a next-gen marketing platform that improves the connection between brands and customers … that is a big problem to solve. That is an investible idea.

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Written by

Ziad K Abdelnour is a Wall Street Financier, Author, Philanthropist, Activist, Lobbyist, Oil & Gas Trader & President & CEO of Blackhawk Partners, Inc.,