Our take: A key characteristic of successful entrepreneurs is being humble and hungry. Understand that you know little and where you need to learn. We help you close some of the gap.
Do you reflect on what you don’t know? Startup success is also driven by regularly questioning your level of knowledge and perspective. You might be lucky enough to have a mentor. Or you might be a quick reader and thus inclined to frequently read books. Even so, it takes time to write a book. So book knowledge is more static and based on a higher level of abstraction.
Articles are different: They can be easily updated. And they are read by far more people. Pair them with upvotes and mentions in trusted newsletters and you get a pulse of best practice knowledge coming your way. This is our take on outstanding articles. If you disagree or would like to recommend another one, please let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
When scrolling down, expect articles on:
- We do appreciate Stratechery. If you work remotely on digital strategy, you need to understand Ben Thompson’s concepts of Aggregation Theory and, lately, Integration: Zillow, Aggregation, and Integration
- Every industry has its own value-added curve. Understanding it is a pre-requisite for bundling your product (skills) effectively and for concentrating on areas that generate long-term profits : Intel, Mobileye, and Smiling Curves
- Oldie but goldie, especially when investing money in startup ideas / hypothesis: what matters most? Product or market or team? The only thing that matters
- What, exactly, is the high-level relationship between software decisions and long-term cost and accumulating strategic debt? It’s a long, but very fine read for everyone making product strategy decisions: Complexity and Strategy
- “In startups, being defensible means competitors can’t catch you once you’re ahead. There are two kinds of hardness: Math hard – the hardness of working something out; and Bodybuilding hard – the intrinsic hardness of doing certain things.” It’s super helpful to reflect on this for your business model: Hard is not Defensible
Either we are short on sales best-practice articles or there are few good ones out there.🤔 This article by Ben Horowitz is beautifully simple and ready-to-implement. “When designing a distribution strategy, one should never begin with the sales channel itself. A properly designed sales channel is a function of the product that you have built and the target — i.e., customers or market — that you wish to pursue.”: Distribution
- Great article, founders! Paul Graham should know when he writes “I have never once seen a startup lured down a blind alley by trying too hard to make their initial users happy.” He manages to connect his line of reasoning with Steve Jobs attitude around “insanely great”. This is an inspiring read if you wanna maximize your chances of success: Do Things that don’t Scale
- Without much more prose, the title says it all. Question yourselves, founders! The Illusion of Product/Market Fit for SaaS Companies
- Another favorite article: growth hacking broken down to its elementary parts: plain and simple and without buzzwords or fancy claims. What kind of (small) team is needed? What kind of (growth) experiments to run (exactly) – and how? How to measure ‘success’? And more: Answers To Your Tough Questions About Growth — Learned While Scaling Eventbrite’s $5B+ Growth Engine
- A very good first and second overview of how to approach and understand minimum viable products: MVPs and Excellence
- This says it all: “The key psychological insight here [there is an experiment] is that people have no trouble turning any information into a coherent narrative.” We at Beam love structured, competence-based interviews. Strikingly, we know next to no startups that practice them. We help our startups do it right: The Utter Uselessness of Job Interviews
Leadership, culture, corporate governance
- One of our absolute favorites. We would go so far as to label it ‘must-read reading’ – and part of a playbook – for startup leaders: Thoughts on Building Weatherproof Companies
- Do you plan to have a board? Do you use it effectively? It’s a great lever for your startup’s success! This article nicely sums up all the best practices we know: Investor and Board Communication — Make it Worth your Time
- Nice: Ben Horowitz again. “If you lead an organization, being dishonest can be fatal, because the quality of the organization’s execution is a function of the quality of its communication and the key to communication is trust.” Or, as we picked up somewhere else: Trust and the amount of communication are inversely correlated between us humans. So if you wann communicate not too much and get stuff done, do.. build.. trust: How to Tell the Truth
- Best article we know concerning “org charts”. And, as the saying goes, ‘you always ship the org chart’. This is a must-read for everyone deciding on organizational setup: Functional versus Unit Organizations
- Understand the difference between the two primary kind of schedules in a startup and how to empower both to get their job done: Maker’s Schedule, Manager’s Schedule
- We are very much into the topic and consider this to be the best article but the one we are eventually going to write about it 🤓: Productivity
- “Relentlessly prune bullshit, don’t wait to do things that matter, and savor the time you have.” A great wake up call to reflect on how (and on what work) you spend your time : Life is Short
- “Deep work” is a favorite book pick of ours. Use this article as further reference and as a first toe in the water on understanding your daily attention and productivity restrictions:Beyond #DeleteFacebook: More Thoughts on Embracing the Social Internet Over Social Media
- 🥦 Here’s the thing with any advice related to food: It’s the same as with religion and politics. Everyone has an opinion. And thinks he knows enough to be right. We very much care about how and what we eat. Startup life is mental high performance sports. It’s long-term and very intense. The healthier you are and the better you feel, the better for your thinking and behavior. We have read a lot of books on nutrition. This article is as sound and “basic facts only” as it claims: The Last Conversation You’ll Ever Need to Have About Eating Right
- Need to better understand blockchain? This very good list, compiled in July 2017, will get you started based on your level of understanding: The Top 10 Cryptocurrency Resources for Non-Technical People
- And in late 2017 a16z followed suite with this very long list of recommended blockchain reading: Crypto Canon
Reading is great. But don’t forget to set yourself up for serendipity and keep track of (the few) events and meetups worth going to:
We often overestimate the value of access to information and underestimate the value of access to each other.
Books are great. But they take a lot of time to read. Also, most business books are full of platitudes and superficial 'knowledge'. We would like to help by suggesting classics with spectacular content.