Starting a startup – or any kind of business – is hard. Not only does it require hard work, it also requires making a lot of decisions, often with incomplete or ambiguous information and there’s often a fair amount of anxiety that can accompany the endeavor.
Fortunately, there are many people who have tackled similar problems to the ones we face – both personally and professionally.
As one who has spent the past 4 years (holy crap, has it been that long?) ensconced in the startup universe, I’ve had the opportunity to participate in an accelerator, attempt fundraising, fail at one startup, and, ultimately, start another small business (which I would not necessarily describe as a startup). Through these experiences, I’ve come to learn a lot about entrepreneurship.
In many ways, experience is the best teacher.
But it needn’t be the only one.
Or, better yet, one’s own experience needn’t be the only teacher.
In my career, I found a few people whose experience is so relevant to me that it nearly always merits consideration. Thankfully, some of these people have been generous enough to share their experience with the world via their blogs, so that folks like myself can benefit.
So, who do I follow? In no particular order, my favorite entrepreneur blogs are:
1. David Cummings
David Cummings was one of my mentors through the Flashpoint accelerator I participated in Atlanta. He founded his first company, Hannon Hill, right out of college, which he grew to be a successful company in its own right. A few years later, he founded Pardot, which he exited to ExactTarget for ~$100M (yes, that’s million) in a cash transaction. Oh, and he bootstrapped it.
He blogs every day at davidcummings.org about business, entrepreneurship, and investing. His posts are short, but insightful and incisive, as you might expect. They are almost always relevant and almost always wise, but easy to digest. In fact, when people ask me for advice, I often refer them to something he’s written.
2. Steve Blank
If you’re serious about startups, you should follow Steve Blank. Known for his book, “The Startup Owner’s Manual,” (which is one of the books I think every entrepreneur should own) Steve is considered one of the pre-eminent minds in entrepreneurial education. To his credit, he has started, exited, and invested in dozens of companies and, as an educator and investor, helped hundreds more.
His chief claim to fame, in my opinion, is popularizing a systematic method for pursuing customer development alongside product development, to ensure that the product being built is worth the investment. Oh, and if you didn’t know it, customers really are the most important part of being a startup.
Steve blogs roughly every week or two and his posts are always interesting.
3. James Clear
James Clear doesn’t really write about entrepreneurship directly, but rather habit formation and performance. And I’d argue that habit formation and performance are essential to any entrepreneur’s chances of success. In fact, I think many entrepreneurs fail because they lack the requisite fortitude needed to endure the vicissitudes of entrepreneurship – they’re easily distracted/lose focus, etc.
I know I am.
Lest James’ area of focus sound kind of ‘fluffy’, everything he writes is backed by science and some of the latest insight into psychological research. If you’ve ever felt like you aren’t performing to your maximum – you should follow James.
4. Nir Eyal
If you’re building an app or a product that needs users (and many of us are!), you need to follow Nir Eyal. Like James, Nir’s area of focus is on habits. While James focuses more on habits vis-a-vis individual performance, Nir focuses more on creating “habit loops” in your products or on your websites. Habit loops are mechanisms consisting of a trigger-behavior-reward pattern that results in a dopamine release. And dopamine makes us happy. And when we’re happy, we seek the loop.
See the applicability for your app?
If you’ve ever wondered how you’re going to get people to engage your app and keep coming back to it (which, by the way, is the lifeblood of a successful app), you should follow Nir.
5. Noah Kagan
Noah was an early employee at Facebook, and early employee at Mint.com, and is now the founder of BuzzSumo and App Sumo. He has hundreds of thousands of people who subscribe to his newsletter and follow him on social media.
And for good reason.
Noah is an excellent marketer and a sharp, gritty business guy. And the guy can clearly grow a following.
With a more personal and conversational style than David Cummings, he offers a similar kind of practical-gosh-this-seems-stupidly-simple-and-obvious kind of advice that makes startups seem less mystical, and *gasp* actually fun. His tone bespeaks the fact that he’s just a regular dude. And it makes you feel like “hey, if this guy can do it, I can do it too.”
Follow him and you’ll learn all sorts of growth hacks to increase user engagement and get more leads.
6. Alex Turnbull
I’ve only started following Alex recently after he blogged about how he grew Groove to $500k/month in revenue.
Alex is the non-technical (co?)founder of Groove, which is a helpdesk software. One of the things he set out to do in his blog is catalog Groove’s journey to $500k in revenue. Which, by the way, they achieved in 18 months (verify this).
Like Noah Kagan, his style is personal and he writes long-form content. Even cooler, he’s cataloged the rise of his startup from birth to success, including his take on raising money, interacting with customers, and pivoting.
Clearly versed in Lean Startup methodologies and other “common” SaaS growth tactics, he puts some of the “conventional wisdom” to the test, with often surprising results. If you want to know what your startup could look like in 18 months (oh, and he’s not in the Valley, either. And didn’t go through an accelerator), you should follow him. If you’re a non-technical co-founder, you should definitely follow him.
Other Entrepreneur Blogs
There are tons of miscellaneous others that I follow from time to time. Folks like Brad Feld, Fred Wilson, and Eric Ries are the obvious ones. But, these six blog so consistently and I find nearly every post to be imminently relevant to something I’m working on, that their blog posts aren’t in Feedly or Unrollme. They go straight to my inbox. And I open them every time.
For a more comprehensive list of people we find relevant, follow @StartupLansing and check out the people we follow. Or, if you want to make it even easier, just follow us and we’ll retweet the good stuff.
Who do you find produces consistently relevant, high-quality stuff? We’re always looking for good things to read! Post your faves in the comments below!