Startup Lessons from Bob Dylan

Entrepreneurs think big, with visions of iconoclastic products and services that transcend markets. To help these lofty goals, entrepreneurs must learn lessons from innovators in other industries. Today, we turn to the freewheelin’ Bob Dylan for some unconventional startup advice.

Back to Basics: Consider the Number of Shares to be Issued When You Form Your Startup

There is no required minimum or maximum number of shares by law that must be issued to founders or reserved in the equity incentive (stock option) pool in a startup. Of course, what does matter is the percentage of the company each individual stockholding represents. A startup may issue 100 shares or 100 million shares at formation, and 50 shares in the former or 50 million shares in the latter still represents 50% of the equity of the startup. A typical equity pool is between 10% and 20% of the total number of shares issued and reserved for issuance.

Changing Roles: From Founding CEO to “Employee”

Perhaps few times for an emerging growth company present more risk than the transition of a founder/CEO to “employee” status. This often happens later in the startup life cycle, when a company has funding and/or sales traction. The difference between a smooth and rocky transition can represent the difference between success and failure of the company.

Write on Paper, Not “Parchment”

When writing your business plan, stay clear, concise and succinct. Follow these three simple guidelines to better make your point to your intended audience.
1. Cut pretense – and acronyms.
2. State your point in the first sentence.
3. Use easy to read formatting.

Developing Your Social Media Presence

To engage potential and current consumers in today’s evolving online environment, it is necessary to build a web presence that communicates your company’s message and vision in a compelling and effective way. Social media outlets, such as Twitter and other online relationship building tools, can help you develop a bond with your target audience that is built on mutual engagement.

Put Your Customers First

Improve the probability of startup success by maintaining maniacal focus on the needs of your customers. A startup may capture disproportionate media attention with aggressive PR, but nothing can replace the power of extremely satisfied customers.

Benefit as a Benefit Corporation

Is your business making the world a better place but struggling to communicate its public benefit to consumers and investors? Consider filing as a Benefit Corporation or pursuing B Corp Certification to differentiate your company from the crowd.

Selecting a Name for Your Startup

There is one thing people will always associate with your business – its name. Apple, Patagonia, Facebook, Ford – tech, non-tech, it does not matter. A memorable name can be integral to your brand. And today that brand lives both offline and online, so you should choose a name that is not only evocative of your brand but also is useable online, because the internet drives or touches so much of modern commerce.

Find Top Talent for Your Startup

Finding top talent is a challenge for any company, but for a startup it is crucial for success. Traditional methods of finding employees have been replaced, unsurprisingly, with online networking and target marketing.

Emphasize Value + Potential Value

The right attention from the right investor can translate into much-needed financing for your startup. When you communicate your business idea effectively and clearly while highlighting its potential impact on market share, it will resonate with financial backers.