Get exclusive insights on the founder journey, right from the source.
Every founder’s journey is unique, but that doesn’t mean you’re in this alone. Most founders experience challenges, and advice from those who’ve been through it just hits different. That’s why we tapped multiple founders — with varied levels of experience across a range of industries — to get the inside scoop on what made an impact along their journey.
When getting started, it’s easy to get wrapped up in perfecting the details of your business. But that’s not always the best use of your time. Other founders’ advice? Move forward with something.
Trying to reach perfection can hinder you. Just take a step — any step — and move forward in some way.
Just because something’s working great doesn’t mean something else can’t work better. Stay open to trying new things.
Before you invest all your time and resources, make sure your products and services are actually in demand.
“Starting a business is equal parts excitement and anxiety. But the emotions definitely tilt toward excitement once you get those early wins and see the vision of the business becoming real.”
Charting the trajectory of your business growth isn’t a cut-and-dry step. Building a team, focusing on values, or exploring possibilities — focusing on these areas helped other founders bring their vision to life.
The world can be a hard place, so take advantage of opportunities to bring something positive to the table.
Co-founders can help shoulder the responsibility (and anxiety) of starting something new.
You need to be really intentional in order to create a meaningful culture that differs from the norm.
"Before we had employees, we had a set of brand values that guided us... The world's a hard place, and how we meet the world as a brand has been really important.”
President and Co-Founder at Mamava
Any founder will admit it — the struggle is real. Starting a business doesn’t come without its fair share of struggle and failure. Whether it’s losing money or clients, or facing industry-specific challenges — other founders have been through it, too.
You may need to do some legwork before your audience understands the value of what you’re offering.
Outsourcing can be extremely helpful, but there’s always some level of risk when recruiting others to execute your vision.
Losing money or clients can be crushing, but it doesn’t have to break you or your business.
Accessing capital to start a business is hard. Doing so as an underrepresented founder is even harder. Getting certified as a Minority- and Women-owned Business Enterprises (MWBE) or Women Owned Small Business (WOSB) can help underrepresented founders become eligible for developmental benefits, exclusive partnerships, and opportunities for increased visibility. Learn more via our Resources for MWBEs and our Directory of MWBEs.
Take advantage of the funds that corporations have designated specifically for minority- or women-owned businesses.
If you’re an underrepresented founder, you might not find the most value out of traditional resources.
Build connections that open up access to resources — not only for yourself, but for others in your network.
“I didn't know what I was doing. I read The Lean Startup as a roadmap. We found an outsourced dev shop that built us the worst technology possible. Really sold us a lemon.”
Seed & Spark Founder
The founder's journey can evoke some tough emotions. But it’s important to remember you’re not alone in how you’re feeling. Don’t forget to lean on the people around you in those difficult moments.
Founders don’t always have the opportunity to talk about the fear and insecurity that are very real aspects of the journey.
The support from your team, your network, and your customers can help you push through the difficult moments.
When in doubt, look at the important work you’re doing and remind yourself why you began this journey in the first place.
“Founders have a lot of imposter syndrome and insecurity. We’re focused on what's not going okay, and people don't really have the space to say that. They have to love their product, and they have to be crushing it.”
Pilot Founder and CEO
Sometimes, we feel we need to do everything ourselves. But asking for and accepting help from others can lead to even greater success. Many founders rely on the shared experience of starting a business when looking for support or mentorship.
Instead of competing with other founders, embrace sharing resources and learnings to enable everyone to succeed.
It takes one to know one, and that’s no different when it comes to the founder journey.
Seeing yourself in other successful founders is powerful, so push to find those you can connect with who will inspire you.
Fill your network with other founders who are building businesses and have goals that are similar to yours.
Instead of hiding your idea, share it with your network to prompt the right team and resources to step up and help it flourish.
Connecting with other founders provides a unique opportunity to be vulnerable about the ups and downs of the journey.
“There's so much more culture of plenty we could cultivate, but the dominant narrative is this scarcity, this competition. You want to grow at all costs because the winner takes all. That's not the world I want to live in.”
Seed & Spark Founder
We couldn’t have said it any better than Emily: “There are so many magical moments, whenever you make anything, where you make one small choice and it has these profound, positive consequences that you could’ve never imagined.”
“The moment I knew we could do it was in the first 30 days of operating. I booked $70,000 in contracts — that’s when I knew it was business.”
Ashley Walden Davis
Unlock Creative Founder
If you’re going to spend your precious time on something, it should be worth it. From groups to blogs to podcasts, check out a few recommendations from founders like you.