From Roombas to working barefoot: 13 pieces of unorthodox startup advice

Our friends at the Young Entrepreneurship Council asked 13 entrepreneurs to share a strange yet surprisingly helpful piece of advice. Here’s what they found:

Get a vacuuming robot

“When you’re in startup mode, you’re not thinking about cleaning. The downside is that your environment really affects your productivity, so having a clean home office is crucial. Consider hiring a cleaning service or getting a vacuuming robot to make sure that you’re working in the best conditions so you can produce your best work!”

Nathalie Lussier | Creator, The Website Checkup Tool

Working out will save you time

“I’ve found I’m so much more efficient after I work out that I always gain productive time, not lose it. Seems counter-productive for many, but my startup founder friends who don’t exercise regularly find it harder to stay focused, tougher to be creative, difficult to maintain a good diet, and are just less happy in general.”

Derek Flanzraich | CEO and Founder, Greatist

Clean your employees’ mugs

“As a founder and leader of your startup, you want to demonstrate to your team that everyone has to play multiple roles within the company — and some roles will be cool, others not so much. On Monday mornings, I like to go around and ask team members whether they need their mugs cleaned. Sure, I like to clean, but also I like to demonstrate that I am not above playing the role of a dishwasher.”

Eric Bahn | Co-Founder, Hustle Con Media

Make a championship belt

“Create fun ways to reward employees. I give my employees a championship belt to place on their desks when they do something exceptional for the company. You will be able to get top performance from your employees by showcasing unique rewards.”

John Hall | CEO, Influence & Co.

Decorate your workspace

“Boring work spaces make boring and less productive employees. Finding decor that you can afford and will motivate your staff might be tricky, but it is a proven fact that work performance is enhanced when employees are inspired and energized by their surroundings. Inspiration comes in many forms, so make sure your decor is consistent with your business goals.”

Erika London | Co-Founder, iAdventure

Get barefoot

“Think about it: a person takes off his shoes when he gets home and gets comfortable, which is the exact atmosphere that helps early-stage startups succeed. Early employees need to feel at home at the office, and they need to bond with their teammates like family. Don’t allow shoes at the office, and employees will stay later in the night and build a closer bond with their teammates.”

Jun Loayza | President, Ecommerce Rules

Work in corporate America

“This may sound weird, but it’s true. It’s wise to learn and make your mistakes on somebody else’s watch before risking everything on your own. And if you don’t have the right business skill set to start, launching your own company is going to be an uphill battle.”

Alexandra Levit | President and Founder, Inspiration at Work

Encourage daily siestas

“Approximately seven hours after waking in the morning, we experience an energy drop that prevents us from working effectively. This is the perfect time to have a post-lunch, 20-minute catnap; studies have shown that midday napping can significantly improve performance. Some employees might feel uncomfortable napping during the work day, so lead by example and take a nap every day.”

Emerson Spartz | CEO and Founder, Spartz

Get over yourself!

“Get over the fact that you are going to turn off a lot of people while running your startup. That includes your family, friends, prospective investors, prospective customers, media, etc. Once you do that, a great majority of the weight you carry while trying to run your startup dissipates.”

Carmen Benitez | Co-Founder and Managing Director, Fetch Plus

Don’t try to boil the ocean

” It’s a great visual analogy, and it perfectly encapsulates a major challenge for any startup founder. You’ve got to take the challenge on, one gulp at a time.”

Brent Beshore | Owner/CEO,

Give time to other startups

“I’ve spent 10 hours a week over the past two years “advising” startups — formally or simply as a sounding board or beta tester. It’s great to have tunnel vision with your product, but supporting others has a few incredibly positive effects. You’ll meet very interesting and skilled people who can help you, and you’ll uncover clever ways to solve your own challenges.”

Aaron Schwartz | Founder and CEO, Modify Watches


“Really, take one. When you leave your team to execute on their own, you’ll see where all the holes in your company are, and then you can work on patching them. You should be able to leave your company for a few weeks without them needing you.”

Bhavin Parikh | CEO, Magoosh Test Prep

Don’t live with your cofounders

“Don’t live with your co-founders. When you’re part of a startup, you’re likely spending 15-20 hours a day with your co-founders. It’s inevitable that they will start to irritate you. If you have to spend your precious four hours of free time with them too, you can add their snoring problems to the mix!”

Patrick Ambron | CEO, BrandYourself

The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, the YEC recently launched #StartupLab, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses via live video chats, an expert content library and email lessons.

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