May 13, 2019

What advice has made a difference to your business?

Abdo Riani @abdoriani

Have you ever gotten advice from a mentor or a founder that really made a difference in your business? If so, who gave you that advice, and what'd they say?


  1. 2

    I heard a long time ago that sometimes you have to fire the customer. Don't let your customers dictate your day to day business to the point where it's really troublesome. I have had the pleasure of firing some customers and businesses so that I can get along better.

    1. 2

      100% true @abeLuna. I've also learned that a "bad customer" doesn't necessarily have to be "bad" per se. I was reviewing my numbers beginning of this year and realized that a few customers were taking close to 70% of my time not asking for features or anything related to the product, they just needed a lot of hand-holding and that took a lot of time. I had to let go of many of them as I was able to accomplish the same results with others while investing 70% less time. Firing this type of customers is also important.

      1. 1

        I'm glad you were able to figure this out early enough to remedy it. I would hate to be caught in something like that and not even realize it.

  2. 2

    One that comes to mind is: "Once your business starts getting customers you are no longer a developer, chef or painter. You are a marketer for your business."

    1. 1

      @oceanring, also someone once advised me, "Get your hands dirty now [early stage], you're going to lead and market later."

  3. 2

    "Communicate to resonate, not to impress." - Barack Obama

  4. 2

    "Ideas are just a multiplier of execution" -

    I used to think that the right idea is all that matters. Now I understand that execution is what's crucial.

    Just remember to not take it too far and don't become a perfectionist! :)

    1. 1

      @mikedarkowski I learned a lot from Derek myself. The quote you shared says it all. I believe any idea is a good idea. At the end of the day, an idea is a hypothesis that a certain approach can solve a problem. The difference between good and not as good ideas is in my opinion how educated the hypothesis or guess is, how big, underserved and underrepresented the market is. But the truth like Derek says, none of this matters if the execution is not right and consistent.

  5. 1

    The culture makes the true unfair advantage, this is from Dan Levin.

    1. 2

      Yoshua, absolutely. Early on, I used to document our company principles, aspirations, beliefs, etc. and frequently share them with the team. I realized no one paid attention or retained anything. I quickly learned the importance of what I did as a founder not what said needs to be done to convey the culture of the company. It's those set of unwritten rules that team members live by. In the beginning, I strongly believe the company's culture = the founder's beliefs, behavior and attitude. Let me know your thoughts on this.

      1. 1

        Yeah, good point.

        But sometimes it's not. BOX Inc. was not good culture when Dan became COO, there were 40 members and the product was good.

        But in this situation, the product would be going wrong, the company will collapse.

        So Dan re-created the culture and becomes a strong company.

  6. 1

    Some of the best advice I've ever had was to understand Opportunity Cost.

    As Entrepreneurs, we often try to do and learn too much on our own. Where it's best to concentrate on the vision and finding the best people to buy into that vision to help us plug the gaps.

    Opportunity Cost = Benefit or value of something that must be given up in order to acquire or achieve something else.

    1. 1

      @vdruts definitely a key business AND life lesson. I'd like to add the importance of differentiating between opportunity cost and investment. I used to be told, "man, you're on your way to getting a PhD, think about the money you're leaving on the table building a product no one is paying you for." I thought a lot about those comments until I learned to differentiate between investment in the future and today's opportunity cost.

      When it comes to advisement and mentoring, a few years ago, when I started my first venture as a Sophomore in college, funding was the biggest problem I had since I barely had enough to fund life. 8 months fundraising and 70 meetings later with investors seeking traction before investment, someone once told me, "you're doing great but instead of focusing on X, I recommend you focus on Y execution approach." That advice, helped me raise over $20,000 in presales from the customers in just 3 months, an amount that helped me continue to bootstrap the business without outside capital.

      Now, if this successful founder came up to me a few months earlier seeking equity or money for his time, I would have completely ignored him. But the advice he gave me later, taught me how much time, money and sleepless nights I could have saved if I got an opportunity to speak with him and others sooner.

      In fact, this short story is what led me to create a few years later.

      1. 1

        Absolutely agree!

        PS- Startupcircle looks incredible. Congrats on your success! <3