For Starters: What Does—And Doesn’t—Really Matter When You’re Launching?

In the second episode of GrepBeat’s newest podcast, For Starters, host Robbie Allen tackles the question: What does—and doesn’t—really matter when starting a company? Allen talks to guests Andrew Fisher, Venus Liles, and Scot Wingo to debunk some of the biggest myths and reveal some of the most prevalent misconceptions that entrepreneurs have when starting a company. 

As Allen sums up, “most aspects of a company don’t matter in the early days,” aka don’t worry about getting everything right and focus on the customer.

Here are some of the episode’s highlights: 

  • As Allen’s Co-Founder at Startomatic, Fisher has a passion for helping make the process of starting a company easier, faster and less expensive. Fisher founded his own business (a cupcake shop called Smallcakes with locations in Durham, Cary and Huntersville), but also has perspective on starting a company from the legal side from his time at Raleigh-based law firm Smith Anderson. One of the most important things he wants to leave entrepreneurs with is: the internet is your best friend. The amount of things that get thrown at you when you start a company can be daunting, but don’t make the mistake of outsourcing everything you aren’t immediately familiar with. You don’t have to be an expert on HR, finance, legalities, or marketing, he said, but do enough research to know the basics and hire outside help later if you run into issues. (17:00)
  • Liles also legally advised startups while at Smith Anderson, and now serves as legal counsel for SAS in addition to running her own firm, Liles Law. One thing Liles always has to remind her clients: “don’t let perfection be the enemy of good.” In other words, don’t spend all your effort on the minuscule details (headshots, website color scheme, etc.) that you forget to spend time on business fundamentals like customer discovery. First-time entrepreneurs tend to focus too much on perfection, whereas more seasoned entrepreneurs aren’t afraid to fail fast, and tend to be more successful in the long-term because of that, Liles said. (22:50)
  • Wingo, who has been an active player in the Triangle tech community since 1995, founded four successful startups—Stringray Software, AuctionRover, ChannelAdvisor, and Spiffy—and he also does some startup investing. (Editor’s note: He also won the Judges’ Choice Award for Most Impactful Individual in the inaugural Greppys.) He agrees with Fisher and Liles that it’s detrimental to focus too much on the little details more so than the big picture and the company’s mission. For instance, he advises holding off on legally incorporating the company as long as possible, because that process can be all-consuming and the energy might be better spent focusing on the problem your company is attempting to solve. (47:20)

Thanks as always to the For Starters sponsor, law firm Robinson Bradshaw.

Listen—and subscribe!—to the full podcast episode here: