Bring up Shana Fisher and you’ll hear loads of unconventional entrepreneurial lessons and advice. Fisher is an angel investor from New York who is well-renown for her early investments into companies like Pinterest, Vine, Makerbot and Refinery29. People who want to start their own businesses should therefore listen to her valuable tips and insights.
Fisher is an advocate of recognizing greatness in early-stage entrepreneurs, uncovering breakthrough ideas and investing into visionary thinking.
Last week, Fisher gave a speech at Y Combinator’s Startup School in New York. Fortunately the video was posted on YouTube for all of us to take notes and discuss the insights with our teams.
Successful Angel Investor Shares
Unconventional Entrepreneurial Lessons
Here are some of the entrepreneurial lessons Shana Fisher shared with the crowd in NYC:
1. Stop raising money for RUNWAY.
Raise money to get your company moving forward by any means necessary. Make whatever you’re able to raise last; the amount is irrelevant.
Fisher is also involved into helping startups reduce their costs. One option is to help entrepreneurs get free space for as long as possible. Another option is to think about labor and wages.
2. It’s not always right to have CO-FOUNDERS.
Certain people can take a company a lot further if they are a single founder. Often this seems to be the better choice. If you have co-founders it’s important not to have repeat skills. Fisher recommends to structure the company around your own skills.
3. Take your TIME to launch; don’t rush into it.
Common knowledge is to get products and ideas out quick. Fisher again takes the opposite view on this. Her entrepreneurial lessons are: “Take as much time as possible to make your product perfect”.
The rush concept might have worked four years ago but today it’s smart to create a quality product prior to launching. There’s way more competition today and the focus should therefore be put on differentiation and standing out with a high-quality product right from the start.
4. LOCATION has to be thought about very strategically.
Certain companies have great advantages being located in urban cities while others are better off in rural areas where they can hire more staff (lower wages in most cases). It’s all about evaluating the pros and cons prior to starting out. Fisher points out that NY and Northern California are top locations for startups.
5. Talking to INVESTORS is very personal and subjective.
Be strategic when talking to investors. Look at investors who haven’t invested in a while and are probably more open minded to funding a new company. Sometimes it’s really difficult to evaluate businesses cause the ideas presented are so revolutionary. The fact is that nobody can predict success. The markets are very different and what worked today might not necessarily work tomorrow. Looking for patterns can therefore constrain you.
6. PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT – Ask yourself the following question: “What’s today’s problem you’re actually going to solve?”
Take your time to create a great product and don’t waste it on design. According to Fisher, design should always come last. Focus on the product. Have a solid product that crafts growth.
7. Perfect how you manage PEOPLE one by one.
Most entrepreneurs who start businesses don’t know how to manage people. It’s crucial to take the time and manage people one by one. Another important factor is diversity. Hire people with different backgrounds and skills. If everybody looks the same you should think of on-boarding other people. You need different views.
When you build a company you’re actually building people and teams. You need to manage your team carefully otherwise you’ll be kicked out of your position as CEO. Fisher recommends using the SCARF method.
8. Great founders recognize when the EQUINOX has passed.
Fisher refers to equinox being the time horizon between when it’s acceptable not to make money and when you have to start making money. It’s important to recognize when the equinox has passed to be able to cross over and thus control destiny.
“You control your destiny when you control money!” – Shana Fisher
9. Create something meaningful and inspirational. Think COSMOS!
Fisher encourages everybody to watch “Cosmos” on Fox and start dreaming big. The world doesn’t need more of the same stuff, for example more of the same apps. It’s about being a visionary, having breakthrough ideas and bringing those ideas to life.
Tough entrepreneurial lessons? Who said startups are easy?
Startups are hard work but also very rewarding when done right. If you’re looking for easier ways go and get a job.
Over To You
Do you like to follow conventional wisdom? Did you find Fisher’s entrepreneurial lessons valuable? What resonated most with you and why?