Inside the Mind of a Startup Entrepreneur

A great infographic suggested by a Project Eve member, Emily Edwards from Reading, UK and created by Dylan Orlady about being an entrepreneur. The quotes about two-thirds of the way down are particularly revealing. Here are two:

“I never took a day off in my twenties. Not one.” Bill Gates, co-founder, Microsoft

“You may think using Google is great, but I still think it’s horrible.” Larry Page, co-founder, Google


[embedit snippet=”inside-the-mind-of-an-entrepreneur”]

Startups are fast paced, small, and ever-morphing. And, they’re almost always built around the idea of one or two founders.

Transactional leaders excel in well established businesses where they work within a pre-established system. When they go to lunch, they complain about the management.

Transformational leaders shift the paradigm. They are often startup founders and entrepreneurs. In this case, the founders are the management…

Founders must deal with:

  • Doubt – He/She is responsible for putting up a confident front in public, but does their idea really stand out?
  • Bankruptcy – Founders often invest everything they have in their own idea, with no idea whether or not there will be a return.
  • Loneliness – They are the management, and at the tip/top of the food chain, they don’t have many peers.
  • Fear of Failure – Lost money, wasted time, ruined reputation are just a few of the fears of founders.
  • Inescapable situation – Your workers can find other jobs. When the ship sinks you’re left with the three-year lease on your building, remaining property or debt.

As a lot, founders play by their own rules…

Many founders are hypomanic and fanatically believe in their own idea.

Hypomanic behavior involves

  • Grandiosity
  • An elevated expansive mood
  • Racing thoughts
  • Little need for sleep

When the going gets rough, many founders can do it all…

What a founder should be able to do:

  1. Development
    • Write Code
    • Build a server
    • Design a splash page
    • Assemble an email blast
    • Scale
  2. Analytics
    • Develop and track a funnel
    • Make decisions off cohort tracking
    • Become a Google analytics expert
  3. Marketing
    • Write a blog post
    • Deliver a keynote
    • Build Links
    • Conduct customer interviews
    • Network
    • Segment a market
  4. Legal
    • Understand a term sheet
    • Recruit and Train
    • Train an intern
    • Hire A Players
    • Replace B Players
  5. Sales
    • Cold call C level executives
  6. Writing
    • Write a novel
  7. Raise Money
    • Bootstrap
    • Build an advisory board
    • Tell an investor they’ve lost all their money
    • Command a board room
  8. Financial
    • Analyze a balance sheet
    • Make a budget
    • Ignore a budget
    • Balance the books
  9. Personal
    • Stay up 36 hours straight
    • Lead
    • Follow
    • Find a mentor
    • Stay creative
    • Act alone

Startup founder quotes:

“I never took a day off in my twenties. Not one.” Bill Gates, co-founder, Microsoft

“I’m convinced that about half of what separates the successful entrepreneurs from the unsuccessful ones is pure perseverance.” Steve Jobs, co-founder, Apple

“You jump off a cliff and assemble an airplane on the way down.” Reid Hoffman, Founder, LinkedIn

“Think big. Start Small. Iterate quickly.” Slava Rubin, founder, Indiegogo

“If you’re not making mistakes, then you’re not making decisions.” Catherine Cook, Founder, MeetMe

“I mean, the real story is actually probably pretty boring, right? I mean, we just sat at our computers for six years and coded.” Mark Zuckerberg, Founder, Facebook

“You may think using Google is great, but I still think it’s horrible.” Larry Page, co-founder, Google

But as many founders know, that’s often not enough.

  • 75% of startups fail, with 30% being complete failures in which even the founders lose equity and everything is sold off to pay creditors.
  • Many other just have no exit plan, don’t scale well, etc.


Inspiration-> Concept -> Prototype

  1. Bootstrap (using the money, time and expertise of the founders)
  2. Angel investors (single investors that believe in the idea)
  3. Venture Capital (generally more than angel investors, with mentorship, feedback, incubator opportunities

Beta Launch-> feedback -> public launch

  1. Scale
  2. Exit plan
    • Trade, sell
    • Go Public
    • Continued growth


  • Not knowing the product/market fit
  • Most startups fail not from product development, but from lack of consumer interest
  • Wasting money on premature scaling.
  • Renegotiating share of business
  • No exit plan


  • 182 venture capital raised $20.6 billion dollars in 2012
  • The potential payoffs are huge
  • Do you have what it takes to take your idea global?





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