Why You Don’t Need a Startup Genie

Let’s pretend you hit the startup lottery and Paul Graham wants to help you with your startup. Here’s the catch: Paul tells you that he will only do one thing to help startup succeed. For the purpose of this exercise think of Paul as a magical startup genie. What would you have him do?

Perhaps you need help with your sales funnel. Or maybe you’re struggling with a high level strategy. Perchance your UI is riddled with Comic Sans and you’d like his artistic eye to help redesign the front end. Find a problem that (if solved) would increase your business 10x.

Explicitly define the problem and boil it down to one action. “I need help with my sales funnel” would boil down to “My conversion rate sucks (when people hit my landing page). How can I improve this 10 fold?”. The most important thing here is to come away with a clear ask.

Here’s the kicker: You don’t need Paul Graham to solve this problem for you.

You might not have the answers you’re seeking, but people all around you do. Don’t believe me? Go to a startup conference with your “one clear ask” in mind and talk to everyone about it. Even if you can’t go to meetups in real life, the internet affords similar opportunities to entrepreneurs. The medium is a little different, but the interactions are very similar. If they can’t help you chances are good that they will at least know someone who would be willing to lend a hand. This method has worked for me countless times.

Know exactly what you need. The startup community is very generous in helping others out. Having a clear ask ensures you’re respecting others time and gives them an angle to work from.

What is it that your startup needs? Leave a comment and let’s see how we can help each other.

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  • I need to build out my core team, and to do that I need to raise angel funding! Can someone help me? My startup’s valuation isn’t out of this world like other media/tech players out there! 

    • Anonymous

      Have you considered bringing on some team members for equity? What positions are you looking to fill?

  • Anonymous

    Thanks Paul. I’ve been struggling with making it out to meetups – your suggestion of online solutions is so obvious – sometimes when it’s right in front of your face you can’t see it.  Thanks for getting me on track!
    Paul Marek

  • Emeka Okocha

    Thanks Paul, this is a great post, I will have to come back to the comments section once we launch in a couple weeks. For now, what we need is to get you on our invite list so you can have a potluck full of variety. 

    Courtesy of  Potluckli. 
    Peace! Keep the posts coming. http://www.potluck.li 

    @muuver:disqus : Muuver is a great concept, wish you the best! 

  • Great post Paul, thank you.  I need help with creating a metrics dashboard that goes beyond numbers and graphs.  Does anyone have sample metrics tracking dashboards or google docs they could share with me?  I’d like to build my own, so would love if someone could teach me.  Something that takes numbers, puts them into graphs and visually says something like “Your conversions are awesome!” or “This sucks, you’re headed to failville.”

  • ben

    Great sentiment. Networking events here in Austin, TX are incredible resources for connecting with genuine folks that want to help each other.

  • Excellent effort sir,You always write vast material for us..!