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Should Startups Focus on Profitability or Not?

Should Startups Focus on Profitability or Not?
There are certain topics that even some of the best journalists can’t fully grok. One of them is profitability. I find it amusing when a journalist writes an article about a prominent startup (either privately held or preparing for an IPO) and decries that, “They’re not even profitable!” I mention journalists here because they perpetuate the myth that focusing on profits is ALWAYS the right answer and then I hear many entrepreneurs (and certainly many “normals”) repeating the same mantra. There is a healthy tension between profits & growth. To grow faster businesses need resources in today’s financial period to fund growth that may not come for 6 months to a year. If you hire 6 sales reps in January at $120,000 / year salary then you’ve taken on an extra $60,000 per month in costs yet these sales people might not close new business for 4-6 months. I know this seems obvious but I promise you that even smart people forget this when talking about profitability. Exec Summary: As I like to say,

Related:  Start-ups & EntrepreneurshipBoard Observers Weekly - March 4th, 2014

The Social Conglomerate When news of the Facebook/WhatsApp deal broke, a lot of people gave me credit for being prescient: after all, I had just written 1,568 words on why messaging was mobile’s killer app. WhatsApp, though, was all but absent from the article, meriting but a single mention, and in parenthesis at that! Viber does have strong user numbers, claiming 280 million registered users and 100 million monthly active users, and that is certainly a big part of the battle, but the creation of a meaningful platform is a significant next step that Viber (and WhatsApp) has not taken. A platform is about multi-sided markets; LINE and WeChat are so valuable because they not only have the users, but also advertisers, commerce sites, and developers. Thus, while I’m skeptical of Rakuten and Viber, for LINE and WeChat the sky is the limit.

How Facebook will take over the rest of the world in 2012 It’s hard to believe that in 2009, Facebook was insignificant compared to the rest of social media. Even harder to fathom is that one year later, Facebook asserted its dominance and became the undeniable leader of the social landscape, representing more than 50 percent of all time spent on social websites. It wasn’t certain whether Facebook’s fame would be fleeting, especially in the wake of privacy concerns, but in 2011, this doubt was put to bed when Facebook became the only social platform that mattered. Facebook now represents 95 percent of the time spent on social services and boasts nearly one in seven of the world’s population as users. Facebook’s dominance in social makes Google’s dominance in search look like child’s play. The question for 2012 is whether or not any other company with skin in the social game can matter again.

How To Get A Job At A Startup If You Have No Skills Editor’s note: This guest post is by Justin Kan, cofounder of and TwitchTV. You can follow him on Twitter and read his blog. Recently I had a conversation with a friend of mine who was interested in doing product management at a startup. He was working as a consultant, but wanted to join a company like foursquare as a PM. A six-step framework to make strategic decisions Any number of challenges can arise during a startup’s initial years. Some of these changes could be major and may require rethinking strategy. Competitors enter your target market. New products are released into your market which undercut yours. Customer acquisition costs rise dramatically. If faced with these questions, it’s hard to know where to begin or how to structure an analysis to reach an answer.

How Many Hours Should a Startup Employee Work? Every so often I get drawn into the debate about startup employees and how much they should work. Should you hire workaholics? Is it expected that startup employees work 100+ hours per week? Should they be online all the time, constantly available and ready to go? Don't give bullshit advice I chatted with a young guy last night about his new startup idea. He's got a vision for a social commerce app with a few cool spins on it. As I listened to him, I was thinking about how I had heard this exact pitch half a dozen times before. I also knew I had a lot to offer him in terms of help.

The Apple Tesla Connection: Fun and Reason With Numbers Apple acquiring Tesla would make for juicy headlines but would also be very dangerous. There are more sensible ways for the two companies to make money together. Apple has never suffered from a lack of advice. As long as I can remember — 33 years in my case — words of wisdom have rained down upon the company, and yet the company stubbornly insists on following its own compass instead of treading a suggested path. Is There A Peak Age for Entrepreneurship? Editor’s note: Adeo Ressi, is the founder of The Founder Institute and In this guest post he argues against ageism when it comes to to entrepreneurs. Ressi is 39. The recent articles proclaiming that 25 is the peak age for entrepreneurship deserve a considered and factual response.