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Lost and Founder

A Painfully Honest Field Guide to the Startup World

By Rand Fishkin
15-minute read
Audio available
Lost and Founder: A Painfully Honest Field Guide to the Startup World by Rand Fishkin

Lost and Founder (2018) is a hands-on guide to getting your startup off the ground. Written by the founder of a company that’s already made it and packed with cheat codes and hacks, this is the ultimate insider’s playbook of strategies and tactics for struggling founders and would-be innovators.

  • Aspiring startup founders
  • Entrepreneurs looking for insider tips
  • Anyone fascinated by the world of business

Rand Fishkin is the founder and former CEO of the marketing technology startup Moz. When Fishkin isn’t traveling the world giving talks on marketing, he can be found in the offices of his latest venture SparkToro, an audience intelligence search engine.

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Lost and Founder

A Painfully Honest Field Guide to the Startup World

By Rand Fishkin
  • Read in 15 minutes
  • Audio & text available
  • Contains 9 key ideas
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Lost and Founder: A Painfully Honest Field Guide to the Startup World by Rand Fishkin
Synopsis

Lost and Founder (2018) is a hands-on guide to getting your startup off the ground. Written by the founder of a company that’s already made it and packed with cheat codes and hacks, this is the ultimate insider’s playbook of strategies and tactics for struggling founders and would-be innovators.

Key idea 1 of 9

Founding a startup isn’t a shortcut to fame and fortune, so dig in for the long haul.

Everyone’s heard of the big success stories of the startup world like Google and Facebook. Perhaps you’re thinking that you might be next. After all, if they did it, why can’t you? Well, the truth is that getting a startup off the ground is often harder than you think.

Most startups take years to see success and only a small percentage of those that make it go on to make their founders millionaires. Take it from Stephanie Walden, the author of the 2014 article “Startup Success by Numbers.” According to her data, less than 25 percent of early-stage, venture capital-backed companies make any profit at all. Just five percent of all startups provide a return on investments, though those that do often reap millions or even billions of dollars.

The author’s startup Moz was founded in 2004 and experienced a huge number of ups and downs until it finally found its groove in 2017. For every success, there was a failure. Raising and spending capital, hiring and firing, and launching and removing products were all tricky balancing acts. A bad decision at any point could have ruined the company.

The payoff, though? Around $45 million in annual revenue.

It’s important to remember, though, that startup founders don’t earn that much at the outset. Salaries are often lower than those of employees at bigger companies because they’re determined by outside investors. That means if you’re after the big bucks, you’re probably better off working for a market leader than setting up your own company.

At Moz, for example, the CEO’s salary remained lower than that of an average Seattle-based software engineer for five years. And even when it was raised, it was never much higher than that baseline. The reason for that is simple: investors expect revenue from startups and know how to take care of their own interests. A startup’s board has access to aggregate salary statistics and won’t hesitate to cap the salaries of senior staff.

Getting your startup up and running takes time, effort and dedication. But even if you push through all the challenges you’ll face, you’ll still need to find a buyer for your stock.

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