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Venture Capital: A Transition in Progress?

April 19, 2013 Comments off

vctreeIs the VC risk profile changing?  That thought came to mind after reading commentary by Kent Bernhard Jr.’s article: “Venture capital gets a serious smackdown in the Harvard Business Review”.  Both articles are great reads.  Bernhard comments on an article in the HBR that makes the case that the VC world is shrinking due to, among other things, not providing an adequate return to its investors.  The article contemplates perhaps the industry is destined to failure – or a change of business models?

I agree with Bernhard in that VC’s will stay and continue to fund in a sweet spot that’s needed in the market.  I also think that the incredible growth in Angel Funding and the upcoming potential for crowd funding plays right into a stronger return of the VC industry.  How could it not?  Now, the VC industry can look across a horizon of companies that either make it or not in development and proving a product to the market.  Thus, I believe the VC market will move up a risk-class and place less risky bets on more proven technologies.  Look out Angels on your Series B, C, or D, rounds.  VC’s will be looking to secure a return for their investors and secure their traditional compensation models.  Until they can’t, but that’s a long time from now.

Even though, the disruption of the financial markets have been tough on all of us, I believe this transition has created opportunities never imagined before – and that’s a good thing for everyone.  Look for even more investing models to emerge in the coming months and years.  Nature abhors a vacuum!

3 Reasons to Write it Down Before Action

March 18, 2013 Comments off

pencilLast week was full of surprises.  Teams converged to address a very sticky, emotional and difficult issue.  No surprise, it also involved money, faulty decisions and blame all around. But, I’m getting ahead of myself.

Due to the complexity of the issues involved, I decided to try to create a factual summary of the past and what led up to the present situation. I presented the timeline to all parties to help us all recast the sequence of events. By trying to remove emotion and script only facts along a timeline, we realized, like a lot of difficult decisions, many people and situations conspired consciously or unconsciously to bring us to where we were.  Reducing the facts to a timeline and having everyone agree on what happened quickly allowed us to move forward with the present challenge.  So, write it down, use the facts and you can gain:

1. Clarity

2. Perspective and

3. Build a reasonable plan going forward

The exercise allowed me to also see there was error with “my team” and “their team” – and once we took responsibility, it opened the door to collectively take responsibility and work together on solving what got us there.  We focused on the problem, not the people.  Try it sometime.

Fix That E Mail Address – Before It’s Too Late

February 27, 2013 Comments off

atsignCredibility, consistency and striving for the correct first impressions.  Then, there’s the little detail about your e mail address.  In the land of godaddy instant websites and e mail combined the ability to link your gmail address to virtually any server; why aren’t we doing that?  Meaning to establish, as start-ups we have at least gone through the motions of creating a small web presence and a decent, credible address name.  Then again, there’s the best and worst, as presented by Fast Company – would you have your taxes done by someone with an e mail address taxplaya at hotmail dot com?  Enjoy.

Inclusive Management, Messaging and Trust

February 8, 2013 Comments off

slide-39-638I recently found a great report – a global study called the Edelman Trust Barometer.  There’s a lot to learn from this report, but the key take aways for me are the following:

  1. A trusting culture requires a dynamic, not “top down” management – here they call it Inclusive Management – and it just doesn’t mean getting people’s opinions.
  2. “Credentialed Experts” are far and away more trusted than CEO’s as communicators.
  3. People (customers and employees) need to hear a message 3 to 5 times from various sources to change behavior or influence their opinion.
  4. CEO’s and Government Officials – Hit the bottom for worldwide trustworthiness in delivering a message

There’s much more to this report and a lot of learning.  Perhaps its time to have your “expert” on staff start delivering your message 3 to 5 times across multiple communication channels to ensure you have a trustworthy image that you can live up to.  In our world of increased transparency, you may not have any option but to have integrity.

It’s Not About Perfect, It’s About Progress

September 12, 2012 Comments off

I just returned from one of my most enjoyable roles with the PIPELINE Entrepreneurs organization (By the way, they are accepting applications for a new class – see pipelineentrepreneurs.com).  I work with these high growth business owners to help them communicate their business concept – in plain English – and set and achieve milestones for their business. I encourage them to set goals for their team and themselves that make meaningful progress toward their success.

It seems we sometimes reach a conundrum when we work toward these objectives.  Either we are paralyzed by the size of the task in front of us – and therefore can’t break a big goal into small tasks, OR we get overly focused on the details of the goal – attempting to make it a perfect measurable task to move you closer to your objective.  In either case, I am a proponent of simple progress.  Figure out a way to move in the general direction of your objective and refine your goals along the way.  You just don’t know, unless you get started.  Indeed, it is about progress, not perfect.  Let’s get moving!

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The Top 4 (Inbound) Marketing Techniques

August 29, 2012 Comments off

leads

The top 4 marketing tactics that convert leads, according to Sales Benchmark Index are:

1. SEO

2. Direct Traffic

3. Referrals (OK, not an inbound conversion, but important)

4. Blogging

Of course, direct traffic could result from other techniques, like Outbound E mail and/or Trade Shows & Events, etc., but I think the take-away is investment and return.  It’s interesting to see companies roll their eyes when getting a quote for a better website that is optimized for SEO and then see them spend many times that much to travel to a trade show.  It might benefit the company to look at cost per lead once in a while to ensure marketing dollars are properly invested for the highest return.

I wonder if there’s a similar cost/benefit analysis that can be done on elections?

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The 12 “Most Convincing Words” – That Probably Aren’t

August 21, 2012 Comments off
English: The logo is from the http://www.yale....

English: The logo is from the http://www.yale.edu/printer/identity/logos.html website.Yale University (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I was ready to publish my blog yesterday when I decided to find the actual source quoted by a writer who stated a Yale University study compiled the 12 most convincing words in the English language – and suggested they become a priority in my presentation vocabulary.  What I discovered was an oft quoted urban legend summarized at this link on signs.com.  This “research” which does not exist has lasted in the published domain for more than 30 years (that predates the commercial Internet!).  Be careful when relying on information to run your life and your business.  Make sure the research is real!

FYI, here are the oft quoted “most convincing words”…you, money, save, new, results, health, easy, safety, love, discovery, proven and guarantee.

If you want descriptive terms, read:
From Earphones to Cars – how to write a product description that sells
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