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Greg van den Dries is the founder of Rocktape, a maker of brightly colored kinesiology tape you might have seen wrapped around the body parts of athletes during the Olympics. He's turned a $10,000 initial investment into a company with annual sales of more than $20 million. Here are the 7 lessons he learned along the way:

  1. Financially model your business with assumptions, and assume half of them will be wrong. But at least you'll understand how the math of the business works. You'll save yourself a lot of pain in the future if you find out it's not scalable.
  2. The number one reason people go out of business is cash flow. "The first year I had significant doubts, but all problems are easily solved when a customer places orders."
  3. CEOs shouldn't have to worry about quality control at the beginning. Their talents are better suited for marketing and sales. For this reason, van den Dries paid more to have his products manufactured in South Korea over China.
  4. Defy history to stand out. Typically, marketing to medical professionals was done in a dry, buttoned up, conservative manner. Rocktape marketed to doctors as if they were consumers.
  5. Buffoons run successful multi-million dollar businesses. "I'm constantly amazed," said van den Dries. "A lot of people with little talent are very successful." Don't underestimate yourself.
  6. The number one reason why people don't act on their dreams is the fear of failure. Taking the first step is the hardest step. Even with Rocktape as his 7th startup, he said he wakes up thinking the business will crash tomorrow. "It keeps you on your toes."
  7. How they choose their next product offering: Infatuation. The team must absolutely love it themselves.

Go deeper

Updated 2 hours ago - World

North Korea claims latest missile test new weapon launched from submarine

North Korean state media claims the country's military fired this missile on Tuesday. Photo: Korean Central News Agency

North Korean state media announced that a detected ballistic missile launch off its east coast on Tuesday was a newly developed weapon test-fired from a submarine.

Why it matters: Pyongyang's latest in a series of recent missile launches into the sea happened hours after U.S. officials emphasized their commitment to restart negotiations on North Korea's nuclear weapons program, which have stalled since talks broke down during the Trump administration, AP notes.

4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Manchin's massive means test

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) is offering progressives a trade: He'll vote for their cherished social programs if they accept strict income caps for the recipients, people familiar with the matter tell Axios.

Why it matters: Manchin’s plan to use so-called means-testing for everything from paid family medical leave to elder and disabled care would drastically shrink the size and scope of the programs. It also would bring a key moderate vote to the progressive cause.

The China whisperer

Nick Burns. Photo: Chen Mengtong/China News Service via Getty Images

President Biden's nominee for ambassador to China will face aggressive questioning Wednesday about the most important, and potentially perilous, bilateral relationship in the world.

Why it matters: While Nick Burns is an experienced diplomat with support on both sides of the aisle, lawmakers want to use his confirmation hearing to force the administration into some tough positions on China.