The founder and CEO of Zuckerberg Media is also the best-selling author of Dot Complicated: Untangling Our Wired Lives.
Don’t Go Into Business with Your Bestie
“In my experience, it’s basically the end of your friendship. I think in life, we’re typically attracted to friends who are similar to us. In business, you don’t need a partner who’s exactly the same as you. You already have you. You need someone who doesn’t duplicate your skills.”
You Don’t Need a Technical Background to Be a Boss
“I hear a lot of male investors use not being technical as an excuse not to invest in women. That infuriates me because pretty much anyone can learn the basics of coding within a few hours in an online class. You can also partner with a technical cofounder. If someone tells you that they can’t invest in you because you are not technical enough, that’s not an investor you want to have.”
Remember: There’s No Blame Game When You’re Calling the Shots
“You don’t have anyone else to think about or to tell you what to do. For better or for worse, every single decision is yours. Even if it’s an area of business you didn’t know that much about before you started—the ins and outs of payroll, or IT, for example—well, you’re the boss. It’s the hardest part, but it can also be a beautiful thing.”
The cofounder of natural skincare line “Yes To” now runs Yoobi (colorful school supplies sold in Target) and is also on the advisory board for Birchbox.
Need a Crash Course in Business? Try Youtube
“In today’s day and age, you really do not need a business degree to start a business. I always recommend to people who have never been part of a startup that they intern at a startup, join a startup, become an employee of the startup. There are wonderful online courses and books, and this incredible thing called YouTube. There are so many opportunities to learn.”
Even When It’s Hard, Your Startup Should Be Fun (Otherwise Why Bother?)
“I treat my business like a hobby. I would rather be in my beautiful, colorful, wonderful office right now than any other place on earth. If you can combine your passion with your business and your purpose, you can have a great deal of fun. And impact. I never thought when I started in business that I could change people’s lives, but I’m sitting here staring at a wall right now that shows we’ve provided free school supplies for 1.2 million kids.”
The CEO of LMB Group and founding partner of Gen Y Capital also launched Sugarleaf Vineyards, the first African-American-owned-and-operated winery in Virginia.
Don’t Max Out Your Credit Cards
“As an investor, I would rather see that you were smart enough to save and prepare for the risk of entrepreneurship. I’d feel more comfortable knowing that you have credit cards that aren’t maxed out, knowing you have a savings account or a rainy-day fund that you can tap during the times when, for example, the next round of fundraising takes longer than you anticipated. I’d like to know you have a fallback plan—it’s how you will stay committed to the business.”
You Never Get a Day Off When You’re the CEO
“Good entrepreneurs love what they do and don’t ever really want a vacation from their work. When you become an amazing entrepreneur, you get to take trips, but you’re still on 24/7. I take conference calls from the beach. My laptop is with me wherever I go. Am I technically on vacation? Yes. Am I also technically working? Yes.”
The serial entrepreneur founded Sprouter (the first online community for startups), Betakit (a tech news site), and seed-stage investment firm BrandProject.
Yes, You Need a Business Plan
“You needn’t write a tome that rivals War and Peace, but you definitely need a plan. You need to know what you’re aiming for, how you’re going to get there, and what you’re going to need along the way.”
“Overnight Success” Is a Myth—Don’t Buy It
“Startups are bloody hard. Success is usually the result of unrelenting perseverance and unglamorous day-to-day hustle. If you don’t have a fire burning in your belly with the desire to shepherd your business through dire straits, then don’t start it in the first place. If you’re not ready to give it your all, then you shouldn’t be an entrepreneur. That being said, when you’re doing what you love, it becomes nearly impossible not to think about it constantly. I find that I’m always engaged with my work.”
This article appears in the March issue of Marie Claire, on newsstands now. Catch Quit Your Day Job March 30 at 10/9 c on Oxygen.