What's some good advice for first-time entrepreneurs when it comes to building and scaling a company? originally appeared on Quora: the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world.

Answer by Stuart Landesberg, Co-founder & CEO of Grove Collaborative, on Quora:

The most important thing in building a company is the people. The team, your customer community -- in my experience (and in most industries) this truth matters at all stages. After that, I think the next two things are picking a mission that matters deeply to you, and listening to customers. So, 1) people, 2) mission, 3) take feedback.

  1. My journey has not always been easy. But having people I genuinely love and respect around me has made all the difference. The people will shape the culture and also the kind of results that your company creates. I happen to have known my two co-founders since I was a teenager, but we weren't close the whole time -- we got together to start this company, and it clicked. And since then, we've brought in other amazing folks to the team -- and has been truly impactful.
  2. Your mission will in large part determine the people. If you have a mission that is about creating social change, you will get people for whom social change is important. Create a mission about getting money, you will get people for whom money is the priority. Grove's mission is about health and sustainability -- this has really helped in identifying the kind of people we want on the team for the long term. Yes, of course money matters -- we're a for-profit business, the team has equity and I care deeply about making sure we all win together -- but I think shared mission is the best motivator. When we see stories of folks who had a cancer diagnosis in their family and were prompted to "clean up" their routine; Grove is a part of that, in teaching their children about sustainability, that's what builds deep commitment for the long term.
  3. This one is different from the top two. Much more tactical. You should get in front of your consumers early and often. Reid Hoffman says if you are not embarrassed about your beta you launched too late. Great advice. But you should not just launch, get in there and LISTEN to the feedback. It is a gift! In the early days of Grove, I gave away about 500 Starbucks gift cards as my co-founders and I listened to random people tell us what they thought of a crappy prototype of what is now Grove. We actually built it in PowerPoint because I can't code! But, that consumer insight is still a differentiator for Grove. You don't need money or expertise to do this, just a willingness to be super awkward in asking someone to take 15 minutes looking at your laptop while they are drinking their coffee.

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Published on: May 10, 2019