A Selection of Invaluable and Bloody Brilliant Articles for Founders (2015)

November 27, 2015

Is there a certain book, article, quote or talk which keeps on having steady positive impact on your thoughts and actions ever since you encountered it? The following list contains a small, business focused personal best-of, of articles, books and talks which have had this effect on me. I have recommended all of them, repeatedly, and probably will keep doing so. For most of the items listed, I wish I could have discovered or been confronted with these ideas and understood them about ten years ago. And then executed on them consistently of course. Luckily, it’s never too late to do better.

Regarding Mindset

Why should one optimize for the amount of money earned when choosing a profession? Why are 40 hour work weeks for “middling-good” salaries something people tend to take for granted? Patrick McKenzie has written many beautiful, long articles over the years, but his piece on Business Psychology is my favourite. There are many gems in it, but what strikes home every single time is: “[…] if you’re not happy, and you’re not moving to happy, you should do something else. We should be happy.” Also, yes, you can start a business and there is pretty much noone’s permission you need for it, given that it brings people who are ready to pay for it tangible value.

The thoughts of Leo Polovets on “Startups And Stoicism” will be worth your time a dozen times over, with “The Road to Success is Paved with Discomfort” as a strong contender for the same level of mind-opening insight. If the ideas resonate with you, be sure to check out his excellent book notes on the book “A Guide to the Good Life” which was authored by William B. Irvine.

“Psychology is the most under-appreciated, yet most important part of building a company.” is how Mitchell Harper starts off his fantastic article on “How to deal with “shit” as a CEO — strategies for managing your psychology”. In it, he goes into details on effects and proposes countermeasures, which everyone who has ever been responsible for the success of a business or project has experienced. This advice does not apply solely to CEOs.

When Starting A Business…

Jason Cohen gave a talk titles “Designing the Ideal Bootstrapped Business“ at MicroConf in 2013. It is a marvelous perspective and a great set of criteria to consider when thinking about bootstrapped business ideas and businesses in general. The presentation contains an awe inspiring amount of experience and insights, you would have to scrap together from a dozen sources otherwise.

The was a revelation for a “let’s build something, wait, why doesn’t it sell” type of person as yours truly happened to be. Amy Hoy has many articles, which are basically gold, so I will limit the mentions to the two first ones I got referred to by a marketing-minded friend. “Why you should do a tiny product first“ and “How to create a product people want to buy”. Basically, you should do proper research, get to know what it’s like to be in the shoes of the people you want to work with and be genuinely interested in actually HELPING them. Everything else follows from there. A very compelling approach to work and business.

If you are a freelancer or consultant, or are considering in working as one. Please, do yourself a favor and give Brennan Dunn’s materials a read. Start with “How To Start A Freelancing Business That Won’t Fail”. It’s a good first overview over some of the methods and ideas which he teaches in his paid courses. I started out freelancing having literally no clue how to sell and what people are looking to buy, while still in University. With his work, I was able to change this, by achieving a better understanding of the non-technical parts of my chosen occupation, having a clear direction to aspire to and being able to learn from true peers in the process.

Understanding Startups

You probably already encountered YCombinator and/or Paul Graham’s essays. In his article, “Paul Graham’s Startup Advice for the Lazy” Stelios Constantinides presents a concise overview of a selection of ideas that are contained therein. A good time investment, even though you might not agree with every single point made.

The Four Steps To The Epiphany” by Steve Blank and “Lean Startup” by Eric Ries are considered to be must-reads for anybody who wants to really get the current generation of startup companies. You can take a look at an excellent set of notes about the former book by Jake Simms in his Medium article.

Educational Content Marketing And Better Interviews

When most people start freelancing, they don’t want to focus on anything in particular or exclude any possible customers. While the sentiment is understood, please don’t be this kind of person. Philip Morgan has a lot of content on the whys and why nots on this topic, but I really like his other articles which are dealing with being a better interviewer, creating great educational content and his case study of working on his own mailing list.

These are, by themselves, great examples of educational content marketing done right, and contain LOTS of actionable tips. If you ever want to interview an expert in a field, and maximize the quality of your performance as an interviewer - please do listen to this podcast episode “The One Thing I’ve Never Heard Anywhere Else About How to Do a Great Interview”. If growing the number of members of a highly focused mailing list is something you are currently working on, this reviews his “Journey From 121 to 1,016 List Subscribers“ is something which WILL bring you value. His article on “CTA-able Content Marketing” is diamonds.

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