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Max Ong Zong Bao
Max Ong Zong Bao

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Startup Founder Mental Models

The original post was on Startup Founder Mental Models - Reading Time: 3 Mins and cover image by Photo by Alexis Fauvet on Unsplash


There are tons of business books out there. You can create a mountain out of these books. These books are either hits or miss for business leaders and entrepreneurs to read.

If your not a reader who likes cracking open a book. You might be watching videos and podcast on the various aspects of a startup with contradictory messages. Therefore here are my thoughts on the different types of mental models one should adopt as an entrepreneur building a business or startup.

The Visionary

The first part of an entrepreneur's mental model is having a clear vision for their startup in the type of future they are building with you. To create stories that people would want to be part of that future. I joined afew startups because of the stories that I like about them.

Everyone wants to be a hero of their own story. They are joining you in your startup as part of their journey in this quest while growing with you.
Therefore look at creating a vision that you believe.

I recommend you to spend time to reflect and validate your ideas. Seek opinions from others who are entrepreneurs or has done something similar to help you make the best decisions.

Raising Resources as a Salesman

As an entrepreneur, your main job is to raise resources. You do that by observing your surroundings and solving your customer's problems using those resources to pay the bills while earning a nice profit from the sale of your product or service.

I call this the to make money out of nothing mental model. Forces you to take advantage of what you have & your surroundings by being scrappy. From your experience, skills, resources, network, imagination and observation of your customers. While not relying on a startup capital. The best example that I had gotten so far is what the professor in Standford Technology Venture program did by giving the students a $5 Challege

It is a hard concept to grasp. If your from an education system that rewards structure & taking orders from some up the totem pole.
I had talked to my venture builder mates on this topic which resulted in the usual sarcasm or disbelief that this is impossible. I told them that best teams ignore the seed fund given to them. They learn to take stock of what they have to formulate, multiple creative ways to build a business out of nothing.

Therefore the best way to understand sales aka raising capital is to apply in real life and read books. Books like The Secrets of Closing The Sales, To Sell Is Human and Crushing It provides you with the techniques and perceptions to sale or build an audience.

System Thinking

As an entrepreneur, you will be stretched thin from the various commitments or areas that you need to improve on to solve your customer's problem and earn a profit to pay the bills.

It is possible to be a solo founder and scale a startup into a million-dollar business. That is usually done by leveraging on the systems you had built. Deliver at scale by removing yourself from the work to built systems to deliver the results. You can look at Mcdonalds or Starbucks that leverages on a battled-tested experience to build a franchise in any location across the world.

To understand system thinking, reading books on The E-Myth Revisited talks in details on the various systems or functions you have to build to remove yourself out of the equation.


I hope that this provides you with a good foundation on the mental models you have to adopt as an entrepreneur. Have the mental model of "making money out of nothing" to use your sales skills to convince others of your vision to people who is willing to join you.

Learning to build systems allows you to leverage and put yourself out of a job. To focus on maintaining & upgrading the system to solve the problem of your customers at scale.

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