Entrepreneurs, What’s the Best Bit of Advice You’ve Been Given?

September 24, 2011

This question was posed on Quora, and received a ton of answers, including my own. Given how popular it is, I thought I’d go back to all the advice I’ve been giving on my blog over the last few years, and pick out the more popular ones.

So here it goes… my advice to entrepreneurs:

1. Focus on the few things that matter. A CEO does only three things: 1) Sets the overall vision and strategy of the company and communicates it to all stakeholders, 2) Recruits, hires, and retains the very best talent for the company, and 3) Makes sure there is always enough cash in the bank.

2. Trick to raising money? Easy, don’t do it.  Too much money on the balance sheet is the worst thing you could do to your company. The more money there is, the louder that money begs to be spent. The more you spend, the more  mistakes you make and the more hooked you get on spending more money.  Money does not solve operational problems. If you don’t have a profitable distribution model, spending more money won’t make it more profitable. If your product is not solving the customer’s pain point, more money won’t create a better product.

3. Make sure your customers are PASSIONATE about your product. I’m talking about being really passionate. Passionate to the point where they enthusiastically solicit others to use your products. Passionate enough to go out of their way to write a blog post or tweet or whatever else they can think of to promote you over the social and business networks.

4. Avoid bad hires. The number one goal of recruiting is to make sure that who you hire is absolutely the best fit for the role. Achieving that goal is not just about interviewing more candidates, recruiting efficiency, or attracting the most talented people (not that any of those are unimportant). It actually starts with figuring out the true ROLE that you expect the hire to play, and the MEASURE of success to that role when the person actually fulfills it.

5. Fire bad hires — FAST. Sounds harsh, yes. But there’s nothing worst than holding on to an employee who is not a good fit. It takes a lot of precious effort to rehabilitate a poor performing employee (time and energy you can’t afford wasting). Bad hires also sap the morale of the rest of the team. I have never regretted firing a poor fit employee; I only regretted not doing it earlier.

The Chief Executive Officer

Firas was previously a venture capitalist at Openview. He has returned to his operational roots and now works as The Chief Executive Officer of Everteam and is also the Founder of <a href="http://nsquaredadvisory.com/">nsquared advisory</a>. Previously, he helped launch a VC fund, start and grow a successful software company and also served time as an obscenely expensive consultant, where he helped multi-billion-dollar companies get their operations back on track.