Blog

Monthly shots of practical advice.

Hi, I’m Diane. I help entrepreneurs like you distill their ideas into growing businesses, one step at a time.

For 20+ years I’ve been helping all kinds of clients in all kinds of industries — and I’d love to help you, too :-)

You can read my posts below, or listen to them on your podcast platform of choice by going to pod.link/startupdistillery.

How to Fund Your Business Without Selling Your Soul

How to Fund Your Business Without Selling Your Soul

  A message from Diane... In this post, special guest — and Yale-educated securities lawyer — Jenny Kassan pulls back the curtain on ways to raise funds that other people don’t talk about. When Jenny first began practicing law more than 25 years ago, she knew...

How to Start a Business in a Crowded Market

How to Start a Business in a Crowded Market

  When people consider starting a business, one of the common worries they have is a fear about being able to compete in a market that has a lot of competitors. It’s one thing to enter a new or underserved industry where simply being there is enough. But to start...

Want to Hook Investors? Do These 2 Things

Want to Hook Investors? Do These 2 Things

  When it comes to attracting investors, it takes more than painting a rosy financial picture. Investors need to be romanced. Investors are people like you and me. Contrary to what you might think, investors aren’t calculators that only care about the numbers —...

How to Interview Customers to Get the Critical Market Data You Need

How to Interview Customers to Get the Critical Market Data You Need

  Figuring out who your target customers are can be hard — that’s why I like creating customer personas that accurately reflect what your target customers want, need, struggle with and hope for. With a good set of personas in hand, your startup’s odds of success...

Customer Personas: What They Are (and Why They’re Indispensable)

Customer Personas: What They Are (and Why They’re Indispensable)

  Need help finding customers? Not sure who they are or where they hang out? Your first step is to focus on identifying your target customers, and part of that process involves creating something called a customer persona. If you’ve never heard of it, not to...

5 Steps to Finding Your Target Customers

5 Steps to Finding Your Target Customers

  There are a lot of people telling me to blast ads all over Facebook and Instagram, but that doesn’t resonate with me. How do I find where my target audience lives without blasting ads all over the internet?When I heard Max’s question, I immediately thought, “It...

The Secret to Getting It Right the First Time

The Secret to Getting It Right the First Time

  So you’ve decided to launch a new business. You’re super excited and rarin’ to go — damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead! One of the most basic human urges is to rush in and get things going without stopping to think, evaluate and consider all the “details.”...

Launching a Business? Don’t Skip This One Thing

Launching a Business? Don’t Skip This One Thing

  When you’re launching a new business, talking to people is an essential part of putting together your business plan. If you write your plan in a vacuum, you’ll make critical errors that could sink your business just as it’s getting started — something...

3 Things That Can Sabotage Your Startup

3 Things That Can Sabotage Your Startup

  Take a look at the survival statistics of new businesses and you’ll see that more of them fail than succeed. But the statistics don’t tell the whole story. Startups can fail for a lot of reasons. Sure, sometimes those reasons are external — the market suddenly...

Are Business Plans a Waste of Time?

Are Business Plans a Waste of Time?

  There’s a common misconception that business plans are rigid documents that lock you into a roadmap you can’t deviate from. It’s not surprising that people who believe that resist writing one. Isn’t a startup supposed to be open and responsive to market forces...

The Sources & Uses of Funds Spreadsheet: What You Need to Know

The Sources & Uses of Funds Spreadsheet: What You Need to Know

  If you’re not a numbers person, I recommend reading or listening to Financial Projections Explained (Even If You’re Not a Numbers Person) and The Difference Between P&L and Cash Flow Projections before reading this article.When entrepreneurs look at getting...

Why Cash is King… NOT Profit

Why Cash is King… NOT Profit

  Believe it or not, even the most profitable companies can fail — and when they do, they’re always caught by surprise. One month, they’re saying, “Profits are up! The numbers have never been better!” but the next month, they’re announcing that they’re closing...

Your Business Needs an Annual Review

Your Business Needs an Annual Review

  Imagine it’s been a year since you launched your startup — or another year has flown by since you did. Before opening your doors you had time to think about the big picture — which products and services to offer, the kind of company culture you want to develop,...

The Virtue of Limited Resources

The Virtue of Limited Resources

  Over the years, I’ve noticed an interesting connection between resources (i.e., money) and innovation. The more constrained or limited a startup’s budget, the more innovative they tend to be. In other words, necessity is the mother of invention. Some of the...

7 Business Plan Blunders You Need to Avoid

7 Business Plan Blunders You Need to Avoid

  Most entrepreneurs write business plans because they have to — either to raise money from investors or to obtain a bank loan. But to successfully secure outside funding, your business plan has to be strong. Very strong. Because a business plan is a bit of a...