For this week’s post I asked founders if they studied entrepreneurship in college and if not where they learned to be a founder. I’ll say I was a little surprised by the answers from ten fairly young founders. Entrepreneurship is a super-hot topic on college campuses these days. My son is going to be a freshman next year at WashU St. Louis, and entrepreneurship is one of the eight potential majors alongside traditional options like accounting, finance, and marketing. Most undergrad biz schools offer the major now, and every school my son applied to also has an entrepreneurship center. These…


This week I asked a group of founders about their first entrepreneurial experiences. I expected to get lots of stories of lemonade stands and such, and these founders did not disappoint. Almost all of the founders I spoke with on the topic related being entrepreneurial in middle school, generally around 12–14 years old. It was fun to hear their responses, and I think it says something about these people that they started early trying to figure out how to solve a problem and make a few bucks.

The majority of the founders shared stories of getting some type of products…


For this post, I asked ten founders whether their parents were also entrepreneurs. I guess I am chasing the elusive nature versus nurture question today. Are you born to be a startup leader? Or is entrepreneurship a skill you can learn?

I’ll start with my own answer, which I only heard from three of the ten founders surveyed. My parents were not entrepreneurs. My father spent his career working for large organizations in the fashion industry. Most of this time was at large department store chains that all rolled up to become Macy’s. He had a period when my sister…


For today’s post, I reached out to several founders and asked them why they started their business. I heard back from ten early-stage CEOs with a range of answers that I was able to relate to from my own experiences starting businesses. While there are likely numerous reasons someone decides to strike out on their own and launch a company, the people I polled all jumped on one idea that was most important to them at the beginning. If you are just starting your own founder journey, these should be familiar sensations for you too.

The most common answer, which…


For this week’s post, I decided to reach out to some founders to find out what their best day has been so far with their startup. It was a really fun exercise, and I got some great answers from 10 early-stage startup leaders. The results were a little surprising to me, until I took a few minutes to think about my own answer to this question from my experience as a founder. Initially, I expected people to talk about revenue milestones or capital raised, but cash itself was not the driving force behind these founders’ best days.

The most popular…


Here is a tough truth that every startup founder eventually learns. No one will care about your company as much as you do. You will live, breath, and die with your startup as the founder. It is your baby, and you would do anything required to see it thrive. Well, as you start to bring other people into the business with you, you are not likely to see that level of dedication. This is going to be the case with the other people on your management team, even if they have equity in the business. It is going to drive…


Being a startup founder has lots of positives. You get to be the boss and make the decisions for your company. You can decide who to bring onto the team, and you get to set the vision for the company. You can also make a bunch of money if the business is successful. However, you need to understand that you are also responsible for everything that happens in the company. In the early days, when staffing is going to be limited, this means you have to be ready to step in and do pretty much any task required to keep…


One of the worst parts of being a founder is that the job is 24/7/365. There is no punching out and going home when you start a business from scratch. Sure, there is down time and slow periods, but you need to be ready to be on call at all moments if you are going to get into entrepreneurship. As the founder, no one else is ever going to care about your company as much as you do. When something goes wrong, you need to be willing to drop everything to fix it. When a big opportunity for a new…


There is a fun question that shows up on social media from time to time. It goes like this: “Would you rather own 100% of a $100 Million company or 10% of a $1 Billion company?” Lots to unpack here about founder exit economics, but let’s start at the beginning. When you create a new company, by default you own 100% of it. That is easy enough, right? If you bring in one or more Co-Founders, you will likely be giving them substantial equity at the outset. Possibly your personal ownership will drop to somewhere between 40–70%. Think long and…


If you are thinking about quitting your day job to start a new business, I urge you to first take stock of your financial situation. Most startup founders need to work for free or limited salary for at least the first 12 months in their new business. Can you survive that long without any cash coming in? What happens if 12 months stretches to two years or longer with limited salary? Often when I am advising first time founders, I counsel them to find a way to keep the income stream coming in until the business has found a firm…

Brian Zwerner

Advice for startup founders on strategy, growth, and capital raising. #FounderCoach

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store