Category: On Startups

Remove the stress, pick a deadline

David Heinemeier Hansson: The purpose of a self-imposed deadline is to sharpen the edge of your prioritization sword and stake a flag of coordination for the team. It’s not a hill to die on. It’s not a justification for weeks of death marching. It’s a voluntary constraint on scope. Yes, deadlines are wonderful! They’re the tie-breaker on feature debates. They suck all the excess heat out of the prioritization joust: “Hey, I’d love to get your additional pet feature into the first release, but, you know: THE DEADLINE”. The opposite of the deadline, the once much heralded When It’s Done,

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Margaret Gould Stewart on Product Design at Scale

Des Traynor at Intercom recently did a podcast with Margaret Gould Stewart, directory of product design at Facebook. It’s an interesting podcast and worth a listen to. Margaret Gould Stewart has more than 15 years experience leading design, research and UX teams at some of the world’s most influential tech brands. Currently Director of Product Design at Facebook, Margaret oversees UX for all of the company’s ad products (mobile alone is a $2.9-billion business). She previously held senior user experience roles at YouTube and Google, and you might have caught her giving a Ted Talk or two. I caught up with Margaret to talk about the pressure of

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The Startup Framework To Validate Your Idea Before You Spend $1

Mitchell Harper: “If your startup failed, it’s because it didn’t solve a tier 1 problem for a large enough audience — here’s how to never make that mistake again.” Today I want to share the simple framework we used to validate our first idea, in the hopes that it will help other entrepreneurs avoid failure. For reference, this is the exact same framework we used to validate the idea for Bigcommerce (which I co-founded) back in 2009. Today Bigcommerce has over 100,000 paying customers, 500 employees and $125M in VC raised. Validating the demand for your product is more important than ANYTHING.

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Shouting into the Wind

Seth Godin: Anything worth shouting about is worth shouting into the wind. Because if enough people care, often enough, the word spreads, the standards change, the wind dies down. If enough people care, the culture changes. It’s easy to persuade ourselves that the right time to make change happen is when it’s time. But that’s never true. The right time to make it happen is before it’s time. Because this is what ‘making’ means. The most devastating thing we can learn about our power is how much of it we have. How much change we could make if we would

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Rick Spence on the Innovation Race

“It’s not just a job. It’s a way of thinking. It’s a way of living your life.” This is how Rick Spence describes entrepreneurship. He should know. He has been writing about entrepreneurship and innovation for over 25 years. He currently contributes to the National Entrepreneurship Column in the Financial Post and is writing a book for veterans on entrepreneurship. Spence has interviewed many of the most successful innovators in Canada. There is a particular mindset that Spence believes will help grow the next generation of entrepreneurs. “We’ve got to create confidence in people so that they can make a

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Putting On The Shipping Goggles

Jason Fried: One of the biggest challenges of shipping a product is knowing when to put on the shipping goggles. The shipping goggles make you less sensitive to little nits and scrapes and things that might be able to be a little bit better, but really don’t need to be right now. Stuff that we could tweak, but really shouldn’t be grabbing our attention given all the other high value bits we need to hit. It’s sort of like squinting – you lose the detail, but you can still see the overall big picture shape, form, and function. Your peripheral

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Code Values

Adam Wiggins, one of the co-founders of Heroku, and one of the authors of the The 12 Factor App content, has a gist that contains his Heroku Values. Make it real Ideas are cheap. Make a prototype, sketch a CLI session, draw a wireframe. Discuss around concrete examples, not hand-waving abstractions. Don’t say you did something, provide a URL that proves it. Ship it Nothing is real until it’s being used by a real user. This doesn’t mean you make a prototype in the morning and blog about it in the evening. It means you find one person you believe

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Rocketships & Bicycles

Jason Lengstorf: I spend a lot of time with my head in the clouds. To me, the best ideas are the ones unhindered by trifles like logistics. Or reality. The question I always start with is: If I had unlimited time, capital, and resources, what would I build? It’s impractical, sure, but to me it removes a critical barrier in my planning process. Instead of asking, “What am I capable of?” I ask, “What’s possible?” Jason’s post has some inspiration in it for learning to combine a head-in-the-clouds mentality with a slow-and-steady work ethic to achieve your goals effectively. This

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11 Encouraging Quotes for Entrepreneurs Facing Challenges

Heike Young: Being an entrepreneur can be thankless work. According to a recent report, top challenges for entrepreneurs include: Growing revenue. Businesses employing between 11 and 100 workers cite this as their top challenge. Increasing profit. “Companies with fewer than 50 employees struggle more than larger organizations to increase profit and sustain a viable cash flow,” the research explains. Government regulations. Depending on the products or services you’re offering, it can be confusing to constantly self-check a new business for regulatory compliance. These stressors combined with others — like not having a regular paycheck or healthcare — can make some small business owners feel

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A Way To Prioritize Customer Ideas For Your Product

Natasha Awasthi: The dreams of product managers die in the gap between what customers say and what they actually do. Product ideas gathered from customers are crucial. But they are not universal proof of what they actually need. In a similar vein, complaints from users often compel product teams to react at the expense of hitting long-term goals. That is lazy product management. Product managers must diagnose customer complaints to fix the root of a problem — not just soothe a symptom on the surface. They must also scrutinize requests through the lens of a products’ strategy. Applying this philosophy hinges on

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