Top 10 Takeaways from The Founder Handbook

Over the upcoming weeks, we’re going to share a summary of each of the chapters from the Founder Handbook – how to get to your first 10 Enterprise customers.  A weekly digest of learning and action. Of course, you can always download a pdf copy the full book through the following link https://thefounderhandbook.org/ 

First and foremost – the top 10 takeaways and one question from us: 

  1. Customers, Customers, Customers.
    1. You cannot build a company in customer vacuum.
    2. You need to learn how to listen to them because they are going to make or break your company.
    3. We are all in sales.
  2. Most failures (e.g. outcomes like no financing, out of time, poor sales or marketing execution) are consequences of lack of business development (i.e.g not understanding your customers well).
    1. Business development helps to nail down the right message, product, market, channel, implementation, process, value proposition…
  3. Business is a big fly wheel – all parts need to work in sync. So are many business processes , like business development.
    1. You never stop talking to customers and learning.
    2. Success is everyone’s responsibility, and so is failure.
  4. Business development is NOT sales!
    1. Business development is a process of discovering WHAT and WHERE.
    2. Sales is a process of taking the WHAT and WHERE and making it SCALE.
    3. Your goal is to learn problems, not to sell a product (that you don’t even have).
  5. Early stages are very unscalable, but that is where the most learning comes from.
    1. By skipping grunt work of business development, you will not have anything to scale, or worse, will try to scale the wrong thing.
    2. Most of your assumptions will be challenged.
    3. Think about the exponential curve – in the early stages the growth is very slow, and then it explodes.
  6. Competitors are just another tool, so learn from them to accelerate yourself.
    1. The bigger the market, the more competitors, the more opportunities to differentiate, which in turn attracts more customers by catering to more specific needs, making the market bigger.
    2. You are unlikely to afford to start a new market.
  7. Actions speak louder than words and what actions matter will change over time.
    1. Measure actions that matter and not hypothetical situations.
    2. Base your metrics on KPIs that actually bring you closer to your overall goal (ultimately it’s making money), not on what feels good or is “trending up”.
    3. Think about exponential curve – slow at first and then explosive. The right metrics early will help you see trends and insights that indicate whether your hypothesis can grow.
  8. Product-market fit (PMF) is a process rather than an event
    1. You cannot just ‘achieve it’ and be done with it
    2. To generalise, PMF is a continuous process of uncovering problems (the ‘market’ bit), creating solutions to them (the ‘product’ bit) and measuring how much value someone gets because of it (the ‘fit’ bit), in that order. 
    3. It is more of an art than a science, a matter of combining all the different tools. It is a skill that you will hone as a founder. 
    4. Once you in the right direction the signal will resonate & amplify itself.
  9. You are the hero.
    1. Getting to your first ten enterprise customers will demand all your drive, all your energy, your passion and instincts.
    2. We’ve shared our experiences, the tools, frameworks and methodologies to get there.
    3. Now YOU are the one who has to make it happen.
  10. Time is scarce and focus is the name of the game. Speed is your biggest asset.
    1. There is no big launch.
    2. Disagree and Commit (pivots are a full commitment, can’t execute if some of your energy is wasted on something else — focus on build-test-learn cycle and move on).
    3. Do not look for solutions to keep the old clients, rather than being laser focused on executing your new vision.
    4. Perfect is the evil of good enough – it’s usually the procrastination manifesting itself.
  11. P.S. Most innovation does not come through innovation teams.

Until next week….one question from us

Where are you spending the majority of your time on business development?  Is it really the right customers that will take you to your next major milestone?

Why enterprise sales is hard

Luke Kanies: My Losing Battle with Enterprise Sales (lukekanies.com link)

Steven Sinofsky: A Product Person’s Perspective on Enterprise Selling (a16z.com link)

TechCrunch: The 3 biggest sales mistakes enterprise software companies make (techcrunch.com link)

Cover art by: https://avenuetalentpartners.com/2021/01/27/what-is-enterprise-sales-complex-sales/


If you would like to expand on the topic as a guest post, know of more resources/posts/essays/etc that we should share here or simply spotted an error, please get in touch with us!

Ode to the founder

Ode to the Founder Here’s to you, Mr. and Ms. Founder… (startupsanonymous.com link)

Cover art by Warner Bros, The Great Gatsby.


If you would like to expand on the topic as a guest post, know of more resources/posts/essays/etc that we should share here or simply spotted an error, please get in touch with us!

Do things that do not scale

One of the most common types of advice Y Combinator gives to founders is to do things that don’t scale. A lot of would-be founders believe that startups either take off or don’t. You build something, make it available, and if you’ve made a better mousetrap, people beat a path to your door as promised. Or they don’t, in which case the market must not exist.

Actually startups take off because the founders make them take off. There may be a handful that just grew by themselves, but usually it takes some sort of push to get them going (paulgraham.com link)

Paul Graham: What does it mean to do things that don’t scale?

Do Things That Don’t Scale: a crowdsourced collection of unscalable startup hacks and stories (dothingsthatdontscale.com link)

Cover art by https://www.quora.com/What-is-the-meaning-of-Paul-Grahams-advice-for-startups-and-entrepreneurs-quoted-as-do-things-that-dont-scale-How-will-it-inspire-them/answer/Michael-T-Foster


If you would like to expand on the topic as a guest post, know of more resources/posts/essays/etc that we should share here or simply spotted an error, please get in touch with us!

Software is eating the world

Marc Andreessen penned his famous “Why Software Is Eating the World” essay in The Wall Street Journal in 2011. Today, the idea that “every company needs to become a software company” is considered almost a cliché. No matter your industry, you’re expected to be reimagining your business to make sure you’re not the next local taxi company or hotel chain caught completely off guard by your equivalent (techcrunch.com link)

Original essay by Marc Andreessen “Why Software Is Eating the World” (a16z.com link)

Cover art by https://andrebartholomeufernandes.com/why-software-is-eating-the-world/


If you would like to expand on the topic as a guest post, know of more resources/posts/essays/etc that we should share here or simply spotted an error, please get in touch with us!