Blodget's 10 commandments (for entrepreneurs)

Henry Blodget, CEO, Editor-in-Chief and co-founder of Business Insider, and some lessons learned

Lessons learned from entrepreneur by Ronny Kerr
December 15, 2010
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Like a modern-day Moses, Henry Blodget sees entrepreneurs everywhere worshipping false deities and golden calves of the Internet age. As CEO, Editor-in-Chief and co-founder of Business Insider, Blodget came down from the mountain to Vator Splash with a presentation called "The 10 Commandments (For Entrepreneurs)."

1. Build something you care about. "Every time startups get hot (once every ten years or so), suddenly everyone wants to be an entrepreneur. It is a hard road to hoe," said Blodget. "Pick something that you love." Mark Zuckerberg, who Blodget seems to think a model company CEO (and well-deserving of Time's "Person of the Year" award), was always and still is totally invested in his product.

2. Think long-tem before organizing the company. Who are your partners and what are they going to do? This is something that changes quickly over time, but you have to start somewhere and be prepared to iterate. Does the company need to be institutionally funded? It might not necessarily have to be, since many "fabulous companies" have succeeded outside of VC funding investors. As far as equilty splits, "know that, before dividing, four or five years later you can't say, 'I should've gotten more.'"

3. Raise more money than you think you'll need. Is there an echo in here? Like Hudack just before, Blodget emphasized that startups should always think bigger and longer-term. "Think about it from a risk-reward perspective," he said. "No company has gone broke because it had too much cash." Cash in the bank (Blodget offered Hashable as an example) allows a startup to be more flexible, even going so far as completely reworking the business plan.

4. Focus on doing ONE THING great. Every entrepreneur thinks they can do everything. Give yourself a better chance by focusing on just on doing one thing really well; you can always expand into other areas further down the line.

5. Don't "be an entrepreneur" -- Build a great product and company. Lots of people can go to events like Vator Splash and come up with ideas and say "I am an entrepreneur," but a brilliant entrepreneur will focus on nothing but building the business. Reduce other activites "to the exact amount of time that is helpful."

6. Know what you're good at and hire great folks to do everything else. Mediocre doesn't cut it. The bigger you get the more you have to divorce yourself from responsibilities and you don't want mediocre employees handling any aspect of your company. (See commandment #7...)

7. Build a professional sports team, not a "family." Blodget says this rule comes from Reed Hastings, CEO of Netflix. What rules (and what sucks) about being a boss is having to pick and choose starting employees and employees further down the line. You want to be nice, want to create a great work environment, but you want a strong team. "Set the tone from the beginning: if they start to suck, thy get demoted," offered Blodget. It sounds harsh, but you'd rather weak workers go to the competition.

8. Raise money when you can, not when you have to. Never wait until you need money, Never let anyone know you need the deal, because you will either get nothing or terrible terms. If people are showering you with money, take it (Facebook and Twitter have both done this).

9. Don't be a perfectionist: Be mostly right. Most perfectionist entrepreneurs never launch the product or miss the boat. Just get in there and correct your mistakes later.

10. Make mistakes. Be excited, ready and willing to make mistakes. You can spend months or even years bulilding a business model but once you actually launch, the public "reaction will always be different" than what you expect.

"You don't get to 500+ mistakes without making a lot of mistakes."

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