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How to Start a Startup Week 10: Top Three Takeaways

Last week we published our Top Three Takeaways from Week 8 of Stanford’s How to Start a Startup course. If you are sitting hear wondering, “what the heck is How to Start a Startup?” see below. Otherwise, scroll down to see our top three takeaways from week 9 of How to Start a Startup. Learn lots and enjoy!

Over the next several weeks, Y Combinator President, Sam Altman, is teaching a Stanford course lecture series designed to be a one-class business course for people who want to start startups. It is “everything [they] know about how to start a startup, for free, from some of the world experts.”

The caliber of founders and startup gurus lined up to talk is impressive. Several of our Maestronauts decided they wanted to follow along and learn from the successes and challenges that are shared. So over the next several weeks we are meeting before work to watch and discuss the lectures.

1. Passion trumps sales experience.

Typically founders think, “We are just going to work, work, work on our product. Then, when it’s ready, we will hire the sales force.” In reality, YOU are the salesman. You go out and get the sales. You sell the dream and the passion that you feel for the product/service you made. You get your hands dirty and bring in the first clients. Go out and work.

2. Keep it simple.

Be clear. Be concise. Say what you are going to do, don’t skirt around it. Make a 30-second pitch and a 2-minute pitch, nothing more. Tell me something I don’t know in one sentence. Tell your mom exactly what you do in one sentence.

Why is it so important to keep it simple? The more you talk, the more opportunity you have to say something people don’t like. Keep it simple.

3. Write down how you do things and why you do things.

Speaking from experience, Sam Altman of Y Combinator said, “every founder I know wishes they would of done this when they first started out.” From the very, very beginning write down the how and the why.

After growth, you won’t have the time or the resources to explain to each new employee how and why you do things. Instead of leaving it up to chance and gambling with oral tradition, write down how and why you do things and make everyone read it. That way the 4th employee and the 400th employee know that same thing and you have created your company law.

This is the a recap from the last lecture of the series, but if you want to watch the previous lectures catch up on Sam Altman’s page or subscribe to the YouTube channel

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