He's shared all the secrets


When chatting with a software developer a few months back about credit card fees, merchant processing and software products, I learned about a chapter of Garrett Dimon’s e-book, Starting + Sustaining. After reading that specific chapter, I went back to page one to read the whole thing.

From hardware infrastructure to processing tough feedback; from raising money to marketing, Dimon shares the challenges he faced along his journey of founding and growing his company

If you want to launch a company — any company — this is a great way to get started. If you are building a cloud-based software company, this is a must read. We loved this book, and want to share a few key takeaways.

Build a vision and a following
Nothing helps clarify your thinking more than having to explain and justify your decisions to others. When preparing to start a business, make sure that building a company website is an integral part of your launch plan. Your website should talk about your product or service, and share updates on your business as you grow. You should also consider launching a company blog — explaining to someone else what you are doing will help you build your product. Don’t forget to collect email addresses from key stakeholders and contacts for when you’re ready to announce your launch.

Invest in your business
The value of your company is in its infrastructure and its ability to grow. You’ll want to reinvest all you can back into your business; don’t pull all the money out. There are many tools that lead to building your product — software, in this case. Spend money on the best tools and use them!

Strategically build your team
Assembling a team can be as tricky as a marriage. Consider the following factors as you begin to build yours:

  • Investors and founders are not the same. Founders work full-time, investors do not.
  • Treat your vendors like your partners.
  • Hire people smarter than yourself.

Know yourself
Before you even start, accept that you cannot know everything. You need all the skills to build your business, so be ready to leave your comfort zone and find them, either through acquiring them yourself or hiring experts. When it comes to distinguishing between doing something yourself or outsourcing/delegating, if you’re doing something that doesn’t get you to your customers, it’s a bad use of your time.  

Learn from others 
When it comes to providing customer support, don’t outsource too early. You’re going to receive feedback that you, the founder, need to hear and understand. Answer support requests immediately, and write a blog post about issues that come up the most frequently so that you can better serve your audiences. Here’s more on handling feedback:

  • Try to respond to every idea. The conversation might not go anywhere, but it may help a customer better understand your vision — or help you better understand their need.
  • Talk to customers, don’t just email. Phone calls will shed new light on how people are using your product and help people provide feedback.  And don’t just wait for the phone to ring — reach out.
  • Just because someone does a poor job of providing feedback doesn’t mean that his or her opinion is baseless. If you can get past the delivery and focus on the underlying issues, there's a chance you can find value in even the most negative feedback.
  • And remember: getting criticism is rarely pleasant, but the fact that you're receiving it at all is a sign that people care. 

Set the right price
As you price your product, think of the value it provides. Your business has value — validate that worth by asking people to pay for it.

Always grandfather in your current customers' pricing — they deserve it, and you don't need the distraction.

Beta clients should not get your product for free. Here’s why: 1) you risk attracting those who won’t be serious about testing your product, and 2) it’s very important to test your credit card payment area prior to launching.

If you (like Quincy CFO) are in the business of helping people grow their business, you’ll enjoy Starting + Sustaining as much as I did.

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