How to 10x Your Chance at Startup Success | Below The Line

Key Takeaways

  • To 10x your chances at startup success: Fix a problem that you yourself have
    • Make a list of 15-20 problems in your life 
    • Rank them by the most painful 
    • Build a product that solves one of them
  • “Build a company around a problem that you yourself have” – James Beshara 
  •  Why build a company around a problem you have?
    • You’ll have a familiarity with the problem which will help you design a solution
    • You’ll have knowledge of existing solutions and what they lack
    • You’ll know about the space
    • Youll know about your target market and customers
  • When building a company, launch earlier rather than later. 
    • By launching early, you’ll get feedback from customers sooner and will be able to make adjustments to improve the product.
  • Once you get your company going, the next step is recruiting an amazing team
    • When looking for your first hires, you need to find people who are as passionate about solving that problem as you are
  • As a founder or executive, 25% of what you’re thinking about should be the current state of the company while 75% should be focused 90 days out and beyond
    • The managers in the company should be thinking 50% present and 50% future
      • The employees in the company should be thinking 75% present and 25% future

Intro

Books Mentioned

How To 10x Your Chances of Success

  • James has invested or advised 50+ startups in the last 10 years
    • A few of them have become billion-dollar companies
  • To 10x your chances at startup success: Fix a problem that you yourself have
    • Make a list of 15-20 problems in your life 
    • Rank them by most painful 
    • Build a product that solves one of them
      • “Build a company around a problem that you yourself have” – James Beshara
  • Why build a company around a problem you have?
    • You’ll have a familiarity with the problem which will help you design a solution
    • You’ll have knowledge of existing solutions and what they lack
    • You’ll know about the space
    • Youll know about your target market and customers
      • E.g: The founders of Airbnb rented out their space to make extra income for 2 years before founding their company.
  • Building a company for a problem you have > Building a company for financial reasons

Advice For Building A Startup

  • When building a company, launch earlier rather than later. 
    • By launching early, you’ll get feedback from customers sooner and will be able to make adjustments to improve the product.
      • Refine and refine your solution to better solve the problem your customers face
  • Once you get your company going, the next step is recruiting an amazing team
    • When looking for your first hires, you need to find people who are as passionate about solving that problem as you are
  • If you’re trying to build a startup in the software space but don’t have any coding experience, find a cofounder that does
  • Not every company has to be a venture-backed startup. You can build a successful small company that’s an awesome cashflow machine.

Common Startup Mistakes

  • At a certain point, your company will be too big for you to do everything. That’s where delegation comes in.
    • If you’re too much of a control freak, you won’t let others blossom and you’ll limit the growth of your company  
      • When you delegate, you won’t get 100% of the results you want, but you will get 90% of the results with only 5% of the work which is an excellent tradeoff
  • As a founder or executive, 25% of what you’re thinking about should be the current state of the company while 75% should be focused 90 days out and beyond
    • The managers in the company should be thinking 50% present and 50% future
      • The employees in the company should be thinking 75% present and 25% future
  • With any employee, it takes about a year for them to get comfortable with their role and really flourish
  • If you want your employees to think big, you have to be okay with them making mistakes

Los Angeles > San Francisco 

  • Why did James move from San Francisco to Los Angeles?
    • James felt there were more creative individuals in LA than SF
    • SF was an engineering-focused space that was very financially driven
    • The relationships in SF tend to be more transactional than anything else
    • The culture in SF was a serious city that didn’t value humor in people
    • In SF, there are 200-300 investors for every great idea which lowers returns and makes it harder to get into a deal
    • James believes that in 5 years, LA will become the creative capital of the world
      • LA already has a lot of amazing companies such as Snapchat and Honey

Additional Notes

  • As a founder, you need to know when enough is enough. 
    • If you want to sell your company and exit, you can do that. If you want to keep working and shot for an IPO, you can do that as well.
  • It’s easier to turn a $1 billion company into a $2 billion company than it is to start two separate $1 billion company
  • Trust and networking is a positive feedback loop. The more people trust you, the more people will want to network with you.
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Notes By Alex Wiec

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