The Startup Operator's Manual

Published on December 21, 2019 • 2 min read

This is an ongoing collection of various startup tactics that I think are particularly valuable.

  • Build the absolute smallest thing that can be considered a useful application and ship it. Don't fall into the trap of intellectual indulgence with over-engineering.
  • Product development doesn't start until you launch. Think of your initial product as a means to get your users to talk to you.
  • Be willing to change your idea. Determination without flexibility is a greedy algorithm that will lead to a mediocre local maximum.
  • Fast iteration on both your product (the solution) and market (the problem) is the key to success. You should adopt two day ship cycles to keep things moving fast.
  • Create a product people love before you focus on growth. If your users are spontaneously telling other people to use your product, then you've built something people love.
  • Find a hidden need; everyone will tell you the idea is dumb. If the need were obvious, then many people would already be working on it.
  • Almost all CEOs know where the problems are, but only the truly elite ones run towards the fear. Run towards what you fear the most.
  • Don't clone an existing product. Do work on something you believe will be a valuable and original contribution to the world.
  • Don't worry if what you're building doesn't sound like a business. Nobody thought Facebook would be a $500 billion dollar company. It's easy to come up with a business model once you've made something people want. (You can even make pretty web forms and turn that into a 200+ person company.)
  • You create value in proportion to how well you understand the problem you're solving, and the problems you understand best are your own. The most successful startups seem to have begun by trying to solve a problem their founders had. You must have a specific user in mind.
  • The startup game is all about risks. If you aren't taking risks, and your startup already exists, then you're just copying something else. But if you're creating something new in the world, there shouldn't be a week that goes by without feeling anxiety about the risks you're taking.
  • All startups that grow really big do so in only one way: people recommend the product or service to other people. If you want to be a great company some day, you have to build something so good that people will recommend it to their friends.