One of the best ways you can become a successful entrepreneur is by listening to entrepreneurs who are already successful.

Eric Paley is one of those successful entrepreneurs.

Paley, who has been Managing Partner at seed-stage venture capital fund Founder Collective for more than 9 years, which has funded companies like Uber and BuzzFeed.

He has shared plenty of ridiculously great advice over the years. So listen up!

Here are 18 things you can learn from Paley about building a successful business, raising money, and leadership.

1. Busting a Big Myth in the Startup World

"[One of] the biggest [myths] in the startup world is it's about money. It's not about money. If you're starting companies because you think you're going to get rich, go do something else. Most startups fail. Do it because you have a passion to solve a problem and you couldn't think of anything more exciting than birthing something into the world." (via Startup Grind)

2. Seek Out the Best Advice

"As a CEO, you should never blindly follow the advice of anyone - be it a team member, a board member, or an adviser. After all, whatever the outcome, it ultimately belongs to you. But you do need to seek out the best advice you can get to figure out the right answer. Sometimes, the right answer comes from someone in a way that seems painfully obvious. But remember, just because it's obvious doesn't mean it's wrong." (via The Best Advice You Are Not Taking)

3. A Great Idea Is Never Enough

"Like scientists, entrepreneurs solve problems through a tremendous amount of work validating and invalidating early ideas - not from a single spark of inspiration. Great entrepreneurs build their success over time, not in a single moment. Ideas are static. Entrepreneurship is dynamic." (via A Great Ideas Is Never Enough)

4. Having a Great Co-Founder Helps

"Someone that you can't believe is willing to work with you (in a sense) because you're so lucky to have that person. I think it's easier to build a team when the starting point is two strong founders, instead of one. It's easier for other talented people to bet when they are betting on two impressive founders." (via AMA with Eric Paley)

5. Recruit an Awesome Senior Team

"Founders are frequently threatened by leaders with more experience. Perhaps you worry that the board regards senior managers as your potential replacements. In my view, however, the best evidence that you should stay in the CEO seat is if you demonstrate the ability to recruit and lead a team of experienced functional leaders. If outstanding talent is willing to work for a less-experienced but inspiring CEO, that's evidence enough that you are doing a terrific job as a leader." (via How Not to Get Fired)

6. Don't Wait to Build Your Business

"Many entrepreneurs seem to be waiting for their product to go viral before they actually build out their businesses. Although it's fantastic to see companies grow without paid marketing, many outstanding companies have been built on products that have never gone viral. Some products just require a more meaningful marketing investment to educate and acquire customers before they achieve success." (via Sometimes Good Enough Is Good Enough)

7. VCs Vet Businesses, Not Ideas

"VCs are not in the business of vetting ideas (contrary to conventional wisdom). We're in the business of vetting businesses. To get from an idea to a business, there is a big project that a founder needs to do. This is the customer development phase and it can't be skipped. This is what demonstrates that the customers will care about your idea (or do care)." (via AMA with Eric Paley)

8. Become a Better Leader

"Vision is the reason your company was born, but leadership will be the reason it thrives. Work at becoming a better leader." (via How to Transition from Visionary to Leader)

9. Great Founders Learn Fast & Adapt

"I never think to myself, that person was an amazing founder, but the market just didn't respond. That doesn't make sense. A great founder would react to the non-response to the market and shift to find something that the market is responding to. Learning quickly and minimizing iteration time is the key to finding those opportunities to win." (via AMA with Eric Paley)

10. Raise Less Money

"Irrationally raising money to scale something that doesn't work does not result in building a big business. Founders should focus on smart growth and use VC to support that -- instead of treating it like a steroid. Make efficient entrepreneurship your mantra. By all means, dream big -- I'm not arguing that founders build small companies, solving small problems. If you have a legitimate need for capital, by all means raise it. But on the flip side, don't sell your chance for success by giving up optionality and prematurely scaling burn rate in the name of fundraising glory." (via Venture capital is a hell of a drug)

11. Don't Expect Funding Just Because You're Meeting a VC

"Founders typically get in the door with a strong personal introduction from a mutual contact, which can lead to the assumption of real interest from the VC. Don't get excited about getting a meeting - VCs are paid to listen to you pitch." (via What to Expect When You're Expecting Funding)

12. What Makes a Good Pitch

"A good pitch usually requires a good story that really helps educate the investor about the opportunity. It requires some key nuts and bolts elements (team, market, product, etc) but hopefully packaged in a great story telling wrapper." (via AMA with Eric Paley)

13. Beware of Dangerous VCs

"Run when they don't take pride in their companies or founders. Those are the dangerous VCs." (via Twitter)

14. Raising Money Isn't a Competition

"Raising a big round because your competitor just did, essentially keeping up with the Startup Joneses, is an all-too-common waste of time that can cripple your company.

"Money should be raised with clear sight lines to how it will move the needle for your customers and your business, not as a reaction to competitors. Fundraising is not a legitimate forum for competition. Raising more money than competitors can give founders the false sense that they are winning. They aren't. As a result, founders lose sight of legitimate validation of winning the market." (via Wasting Time With the Joneses)

15. Vulnerable Companies are Unappealing to Investors

"Investors are motivated to write checks when they feel like your company presents a great opportunity to return multiples on capital. Investors believe in the opportunity because of the narrative of the company and the evidence that the company amasses validating that narrative. Companies rarely look less likely to return to investors than when they are about to run out of money." (via Running Out of Money Isn't a Milestone)

16. Why Companies Fail

"Either they don't learn fast enough that the market doesn't care about their product and quickly discover what the market does care about. Or they found something the market cares about, but they don't learn fast enough how to build a business that services that market need extremely well." (via AMA with Eric Paley)

17. Companies Are Sold Over Time

"Selling a business is a process that is executed with a long view and years of preparation. It's important to get to know buyers well before a company is interested in selling and build mutual respect over time.

"Companies may be bought in a moment, but they are sold over time." (via How to Sell Your Company Without a Buyer)

18. Exit Value Is a Vanity Metric

"If one of your goals is making money, focusing on the exit price is a bad idea. It's quite possible to sell a startup for a billion dollars and make less than someone who sells theirs for $100 million.

"Earning billion-dollar exits is startup nirvana, for sure. But selling for $500 million is a home run, $100 million exits are amazing and $50 million exits can change the lives of families for generations. Even a "humble" million-dollar exit can make a huge difference in a founder's life." (via Venture capital is a hell of a drug)

Published on: Jul 24, 2017
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