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Startup Advice in just three words (onstartups.com)
86 points by smartbear on Jan 8, 2010 | hide | past | web | favorite | 53 comments

Very nice. I liked all of these.

Before I scrolled down the page, I wrote down a few that I expected to see. Oddly, none of mine were on OP's list. (Am I that weird, or do we just think differently?)

Here are mine:

  - Find a customer.
  - Satisfy their needs.
  - Get their money.
  - Use their feedback.
  - Improve your software.
  - Hit your deadlines.
  - Never give up.

you don't think differently at all...

  find a customer = sell something today (22)
  satisfy their needs = support customers maniacally (7)
  get their money = recognize revenue consistently (19)
  use their feedback = decide with data (17)
  improve your software = improve product daily (18)
  hit your deadlines (nice addition)
"never give up" is "persist through downturns" (16), but I'll give you this one for improved wording

I don't think they fit your list because they're supposed to be standalone ones. Your second one is actually six words, not three, because it needs the first to have context and make sense.

Still great advice though. "Find a customer" is definitely a winner.

Satisfy Customers' Needs. (this makes it three)

'Never give up' is also awesome.

"Never give in. Never give in. Never, never, never, never--in nothing, great or small, large or petty--never give in, except to convictions of honor and good sense. Never yield to force. Never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy."

- Winston Churchill http://www.school-for-champions.com/speeches/churchill_never...

The philosohpy he used in leading the greatest empire the world had ever seen to a humiliating dissolution.

Personally I think "never give up" should be the one tip given to founders if there can only be one.

I went to a residential school whose motto was "Never Give In" I was there for 8 yrs. Luckily, this trait is instilled very well in me. Our school song might be worth a read for some.


Wow! Yours are really good, and have a nice rhythm to them.

If I had to get it down to only 3 words, they might be "iteratively satisfy users." Awkward, bad rhythm, and prone to double entendre, but you have to compromise to get all that into 3 words. (My first try was "understand your users," which sounds better but says less.)

How about "Keep satisfying customers"

By using the 'keep' twice you can compress more meaning in to fewer words.

It also works better for people that don't understand the word iterate, which is in common use in English but not one that non-natives or non-programmers would get immediately.

How about "Keep satisfying customers"

Less information. "Keep" doesn't necessarily mean changing what you do. In other words, "keep" could mean "x, x, x,...", while "iteratively" definitely means "x1, x2, x3,..."

The greater precision is worth the awkwardness, and anyone who is unwilling to look up a word probably shouldn't be doing a startup.

True, it spells it out. But you won't be keeping them without adapting.

Satisfy users. Iterate.

Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

"Make something wanted", which is the passive voice for your "Make something people want." It's also technically more accurate, as many dog food and pet supply companies have found out. ;-)

How much dog food do dogs buy?

Is it the dog owner or the dog who determines how much dog food gets bought?

I can't boil this down to three words, but "Make something that people who can spend money either want, or think is wanted by people--or pets, or perhaps robots--about whom they care."

Like yours a lot.


iteratively create awesomeness

create happiness iteratively

Watch your back.

(Sorry, I am a lawyer).

I can't upvote this enough. Learned some real sad lessons this past year.

Le sigh....

There should be a startup `oblique strategies' (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oblique_Strategies) app somewhere to give you a little something to reflect on when you are stuck. Brian Eno's original ones would probably work, but maybe there are better ones for startups?

My own contribution to this amazing list is "Avoid Negative People". When we do startups, we don’t just leverage. We levitate. We “will” our startups into existence. And we do so by defying all laws of physics and by tapping into the positive energy of our surrounding. We create opportunities; we don’t destroy. Be careful with whom you hang out with. Unfortunately, my own experience is to stay away from other failed entrepreneurs (who tend to be negative until they bounce back). And in particular stay away from people who hold a grudge on you or whom you have a grudge with. Don’t get mad; don’t even try to get even. With success, you can get them all. Misery breeds misery and success breeds success.

Omit needless features.

"Omit needless..." was the first thing that came to mind for me before I even started reading the list. It applies to so many things. Words, features, expenses, options, etc. If it isn't absolutely necessary, omit it. You'll know soon enough if it turns out to be absolutely necessary, whatever it is.

"Omit everything needless".

Clearly it should be "omit needlessness", otherwise you're adding something just to fit a silly rule.

An exceedingly good one, both for the advice and the reference.

Kind of skewed to software startups :)

Lose the dresscode.

Use Best Tools.

Dual Monitors. Period.

Listen, Sell Later.

Ignore Everybody, Create.

Limit the features.

Live = Real Test.

No C Levels.

Distribute Authority & Accountability.

Don't over engineer.

Don't debate forever.

Share the Champagne.

Not bad, but personally, I prefer four words: "Build something people want."

Build something desirable.

Beware of advice.

Ignore silly lists:-)

Spell-check your posts.

Fixed, I think. Sorry about that.

My three words appear to be 'waiting for onstartups.com'.

I like this post, but I don't like the self-promoting aspect of the whole post-to-twitter thing...

Don't Outsource Programming

Nothing is absolute.

The following are often just wrong:

Hire generalists early. Hire specialists later. Write a blog. Avoid business plans. Delay raising capital. Make decisions swiftly.

Moreover, I don't even know what "invest in culture" means.

#48: "Everything is debatable"

#49: "Beware trite advice"

Moreover, I don't even know what "invest in culture" means.

Supply free sodas?

Forget about competition

Focus on customers

Don't cut corners

Stay agile forever

Eschew government customers

The long drawn out purchasing cycles and arcane requirements will suck time and attention that most startups can't spare.

One word: persist.

No more advices.

Please no more.

Make epic products.

Ramen is delicious.

Breathe. In. Out.

Roll your own.

"be relentlessly resourceful"


Solve a problem.

Make a market.

Follow your dreams.

Just do it.

Go team Go

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