The Ultimate No BS Guide For Startups (Free Version, Updated 2021)

The Premium Version of the guide can be accessed at nobsstartupguide.com. It has:

  • An easy-to-follow set of chapters, projects, and tasks divided by difficulty, priority, and phase.
  • Specific action items, such as How to create a sales team or How to run ads from start to finish
  • +200 additional action items
  • +50 new ways to acquire customers
  • lifecycle customer growth and management
  • hiring and interview action items
  • and more!Why I made this guide:

Ideation: How to come up with ideas.

Pre-Launch: Hypothesis

Pre-Launch: Validation

  • [ ] Check out this My step-by-step guide to landing pages that convert. It is by far my favorite for it’s brevity and helpfulness
  • [ ] I also recommend Laws of UX. Another incredible evidence-based resource for design. We will reference this again later when building the product.
  • [ ] These UX audit checklist templates are incredible. I recommend you copy this to your own Notion and follow along. Like the one above, we want to use this when designing the product also.
  • [ ] Check out these 21 damn good copywriting tips. Just please avoid marketing jargon and make the product clear
  • [ ] Interview +12 people about the copy on our website. This is key! Just watch them use the website and ask them to read out loud + give a stream of consciousness on what they are reading.
  • [ ] I enjoyed some of the ideas that this AI copywriting tool gave me. Use it for inspiration.
  • [ ] Don’t have mockups? Hire freelancers to create Lottie animations for your website. Think of Lottie as a really nice gif maker that is friendly for websites.
  • [ ] Install something like hotjar.com and tag people who click on elements, scroll all the way down, stop and read sections, etc. Look at your numbers. Does this match industry standards? If not, interview people and figure out why they are not reading, scrolling, or clicking.
  • [ ] Go back to the resources for the “Pre-Launch: Hypothesis” section. Use those resources to find more people to signup and interview them
  • [ ] Need help? Check out the amazing GrowthMentor community where you can book free calls with some the most incredible mentors you’ll meet anywhere. Note: I am biased as I am a mentor on here, but I truly believe it’s the best community for founders.
  • [ ] Get help from communities like IndieHackers, /r/Entreprenuer, r/marketing, r/EntrepreneurRideAlong/ and r/startups/
  • [ ] Signup on Frontier. It’s a great community of founders giving each other advice and holding each other accountable. Also, you can find early users here.
  • [ ] You need to continue validating assumptions. We discussed the mom test already, but here is a great Y Combinator talk on talking to users.
  • [ ] I also like this article on how to interview customers for priceless insights, which gives more practical advice.
  • [ ] I suggest you start using a tool like Notion to take notes and Shipright to start organizing the suggestions, feature requests, ideas, and more from your interviews. I’m sure other people have much more clever ways of doing this so I’m open to suggestions.

Launching: Building your Product and Website

  • [ ] We discussed earlier ways to build landing pages. I recommend Webflow for beautifully responsive and more advanced web building
  • [ ] If you’re an eCommerce company then just stick with Shopify for now.
  • Or just stick with the site you created earlier.
  • [ ] I also recommend Laws of UX. Another incredible evidence-based resource for design. We will reference this again later when building the product.
  • [ ] These UX audit checklist templates are incredible. I recommend you copy this to your own Notion and follow along. Like this one above, we want to use this when designing the product also.
  • [ ] I’ll introduce you to some new, more advance UX guides here as well. I can’t stress how important UX is, so check out this UX CORE GUIDE. Lots of behavioral driven advice on designing the customer experience.
  • [ ] Check out this CTO Checklist. It covers all the basics you need in place for a successful software launch. My cofounder and CTO tells me some of these are unnecessary for launch. So up to you to decide.
  • [ ] Tracking is extremely important. Use Segment’s Startup Program and plug that stuff into Mixpanel, which also have a startup program. This is how you track usage.
  • [ ] Email is still king. I worked at SendGrid, but I think Customer.io is the best tool right now. Use it for newsletter, behavioral emails, and transactional emails. It’s vital you have emails ready!

Launching: Getting users

Post Launch: Ensuring You’re Staying True to Customer Needs

  • [ ] Product market fit is not easy to achieve, but it’s something you should continually test. The lovely people at SuperHuman gave us an in-depth guide on how to ensure product-market fit is achieved.
  • [ ] Don’t stop the customer development. Keep practicing the ideas out of The Mom Test. As the CEO I aim to interview at least 1 customer a day.
  • [ ] Get a holistic view of customer experiences and feedback. Every day you’re getting tons of customer feedback from emails, calls, tickets, NPS, and more. Use tools like Caravel to turn these data into actionable insights you track over time.
  • [ ] Democratize user feedback. Tools like SleekPlan , Rapidr and Canny.io allow you to continually get feedback from users and know what is most important to them. Some companies, like Notion, have created active Reddit communities with lots of user feedback. I don’t have a favorite guide on this so feel free to share one if you do.
  • [ ] Don’t emphasize measuring vanity and feel-good metrics like NPS and user/revenue growth. Instead, measure churn correctly and set up customer performance indicators in place.

Post Launch: Finding Investors

Post Launch: Marketing strategy

  • [ ] I truly believe the most successful companies are the ones who excel at inbound marketing. And the most important part of inbound marketing is Content Marketing. This incredible tool takes you across all aspects of content marketing.
  • The fundamentals of content marketing
  • Content production, blogging, and writing content
  • Distribution, promotion and tools.

Scale: Hiring

  • [ ] Contrary to popular beliefs, over 100 years of scientific research shows that there is very little evidence that experience matters. This article breaks down the science and nuances of the issue quite well. I also like this article, which focuses on one of the groundbreaking meta-analysis on this subject. New research continues to validate this theory.
  • [ ] So how should you hire? Adam Grant argues you should hire “Trailblazers, Nonconformists and Originals” and gives practical advice here.
  • [ ] Looking to hire software engineers? Here is an in-depth, scientific, step by step guide on how to structure your hiring process for software engineers
  • [ ] Lastly, this Harvard Business Review article does a good job of debunking some commonly held assumptions and giving different ideas on hiring.

Scale: Not losing touch with customers

  • [ ] Develop a Voice of the Customer Program. VoC, as it’s called, is a program to systematically capture, analyze and report on all customer feedback — expectations, likes, and dislikes — associated with your company. Basically, set up the infrastructure and protocols in place to automated and embed customer obsessions into your company. There is a fantastic guide on this here.
  • [ ] Ensure your executives, directors, and managers are truly putting customer success first. This awesome article has 9 questions you can ask yourself and your team. It ranks good answers against bad answers.
  • [ ] Want to nerd out even more on 90 pages of tips, tools, questions, and playbooks on ensuring your company is aligned on customer success? Check out this guide.

Final words from Farzad, the author of this guide.

I love this guide. How can I give back?

Additional Resources

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Farzad Khosravi

Cofounder of Cicero.ly. Humanist. Against all forms of tyranny. Entrepreneur. Maverick. And lover of science.