How to time the market as a startup founder – a thread on some hard truths

Photo by zoe pappas from Pexels
  1. Optionality killed many startups in good times, and will impact more in unprecedented times like now.
  2. We will hear a lot of bad news about tech startups doing layoffs or shuttering down.
  3. Remember that no-decisions is also a decision, and usually not a good one.
  4. The world has come to a standstill. It has never happened before in our lives.
  5. If you have 36 months of runway, consider yourself lucky and sit tight.
  6. If you can get to profitability, do it now whatever it takes.
  7. If you need to raise money, remember you are not in a position to negotiate terms.
  8. If you need to downsize, cut once and cut deeper.
  9. Don’t listen to the gambler in your mind, spending that extra month to get ahead of the competition when this is all over is not a good idea.
  10. To be ahead of your competitors by 1-2 years, you just need to keep standing when this is all over.
  11. Once your risk of ruin is reduced to near zero (as close to 36 months of cash as possible), take the opportunity for the smallest possible bet on a validated opportunity that will deliver outsized returns on your business, or you will learn about the fatal flaw as quickly as possible.
  12. This is the time to work on it since the world is going through an unprecedented pause.
  13. Again, secure survival before making any opportunistic bets.
  14. As you make your bet(s), remember that 20% of your efforts will yield 80% of the results so really push your thinking to find your blindspots and increase chances of success.
  15. The return to normal will not be rapid, it will be slow. The pandemic doubled every few days, the return will take months and years.
  16. It will be a new normal anyway, so time to re-think all your strongly held assumptions.
  17. We’re entering a new world of practical digitization focused on needs over wants, where teachers become influencers, and learning goes online in a rush.
  18. If you want to work on something new, make sure it’s a knife worth falling on.
  19. The job of the founder is to make better decisions than others, its a tough job and I wish you the best.
  20. Health, family and friends are most important, so take the time to be there for them. But first take care of yourself.

One thought on “How to time the market as a startup founder – a thread on some hard truths

  1. Very precise and clear points Ali. Perhaps continue on this thread and gradually share more ideas on the opportunity areas as well. Perhaps startups and leaner teams will be in a better position to have some quick wins on short term opportunities as well. Build->Sell->Support->Exit. Consumers and Producers might be needing short term solutions to solve immediate problems and avail short lived opportunities for the next 1000 days

Leave a Reply