Don’t miss the Startup Conference on May 17 in Silicon Valley.

“You know what we should do when we launch our startup, to create some buzz?” asked my co-founder. “Let’s start a blog. We can write a series of articles. That’s sure to drive traffic!”

“Great idea” I said. “Do it.”

That was the end of it. The blog articles never materialized. Not even one. So I wrote them myself.

Some people are doers. Others, not so much. Thousands of smart people had the insight that school sucks and it could be done better with the Internet. Only one picked up a video camera and recorded more than a hundred hours of math lessons, giving us Khan Academy.

Make sure the first five people in your startup are doers. Brainstorming is fun. Generating ideas is exciting. But you need everyone to put in the 99% of effort that it takes to implement ideas, not just the 1% to come up with them.

You may have heard of the Lean Startup approach. You know you have to go out of the building and find customers. But you just can’t gather the energy to pick up your phone or take the first step to actually meet any users. Instead, you polish your code, your PowerPoint, or whatever it is that you can do in the comfort and safety of your laptop.

Doers don’t make that mistake.

How do you find Doers?

Doers are actually quite easy to identify, once you know what to look for. Let’s say you meet this potential co-founder at some event. Great discussion, very good ideas… You meet again one week later to catch up. Really only one of two things will happen:

(a) That person gives you more ideas, more discussion ensues.


(b) They report on what they did during the week to make progress: they reached out to some potential users, made some introductions, did a mockup for the website, etc.

Did they do stuff or did they stay home and think? The thinking is actually easy. It’s actually about the same mental effort as day dreaming. You need someone who will do stuff.

Next time you meet such a person, test them. During the course of regular conversation, leave hints that “we” should do this, and “we” should do that… A few days later, check on them. Did they pick up any of the work you hinted at?

If not, run away.

Don’t miss: the co-founder equity calculator.

More doer stories: having the idea of writing a blog about startups is easy. Actually spending your days (and nights) doing it is another story… That’s what happened with TechCrunch. Check out the post-sale disagreement and reconciliation here.