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One Reason You Shouldn’t Worry About Getting Venture Capital

August 11, 2015 Comments off

Dileep Rao posted an interesting article entitled: Why 99.95% Of Entrepreneurs Should Stop Wasting Time Seeking Venture Capital. It was posted in Forbes Entrepreneur Blog.

Venture-Capital

It is an interesting analysis stating that odds are likely you will grow your business without Venture Capital.  It simply reinforces the notion that working on your business to build and please customers might do you better than chasing the odds of gaining traction with a VC, at least in the early stages of your company.  Still, the VC community, as Rao contends, is a formidable PR machine and the populace (i.e. press) seems to look their direction for validation and guidance.  Is this the right place to look?  If it is not, where should entrepreneurs (and policy makers) seek a “gold standard” to pursue?

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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.

Doping and Finance – Similar?

January 31, 2013 Comments off

bikemoneyAfter reading the “Post Lance Future of Doping” by my friend Michael Joyner, I took a moment to realize how similar the entire “doping culture” and drive to win by athletes has a very similar parallel in our corporate world and financial markets.  Especially in light of Armstrong’s interview with Oprah; and Michael’s perspective.

In Michael’s post he uses the statement, “Most people, including journalists, fail to understand that a 1% edge in something like a 10,000m running race means the doper wins by 100m, a huge margin.   This also means that there is no need to use industrial strength doping. ”  This is similar to the fact that most people, including journalists, fail to understand a 1% edge to a hedge fund has a similar huge margin, and a 1% edge to a CEO and his corporate team could mean the difference between a huge and marginal bonus. A tempting incentive to cheat, just a little.

Joyner goes on to say,  “Some argue that all the sports federations, leagues, sponsors and TV networks want is the appearance of clean play and that depending on the situation they intentionally or unintentionally turn a blind eye toward doping.”  As the financial industry grew before it imploded (think just recent history: Arthur Anderson, World Com, Tyco, then think the mortgage crisis),   An entire industry was building around those institutions getting the 1% margin, its difficult to fire a really good customer or client that’s growing like wildfire.

Finally, he makes the point: “Everyone was doping therefore it is “dope or be marginalized”, that is more or less one of the arguments Lance made to Oprah.   Just like the average person and journalist do not understand what 1% is worth, most don’t understand what it is to be immersed in a micro-culture where the only things that matter are the last race or workout or the next race or workout.”  Sound similar to quarterly earnings or investment performance?

I think in the end, we are studying human nature and the ebb and flows of ethical behavior in our society.  Perhaps we should think about studying the core of human behavior and ensuring we parents and educators instill ethical decision making early in our next generation.  We can only hope for a better future, but we are, indeed, human.

Business Plan or Not? – Definately a Plan

December 7, 2012 Comments off
English: Business Plan Presentation at FSG 2009

English: Business Plan Presentation at FSG 2009 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Accelerators section of the Wall Street Journal proposed the question:  Do new businesses or new business segments need a business plan?  The experts weighed in on both sides of the argument.  Many simply said no:  Too tedious, no one reads it, and the business ends up going in a different direction, anyway.  I get that, but if you read into the content of their arguments against a classic business plan, they also state they get some sort of proposal/presentation when they evaluate opportunities.  So, perhaps the details have changed, but the concept remains the same.  In order to be prepared, you need to plan.  If you don’t know your market size, your customer needs and some sort of idea of what they are willing to pay, your business model and some idea of your operating infrastructure, no inside or external investor will be impressed enough to put money in your concept.

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Be Thankful for your 2012/2013 Challenges!

November 20, 2012 Comments off

Lift-off of the Dnepr launch vehicle

It’s Thanksgiving week.  In addition to faith, friends, family, and health, I am grateful I started this blog habit.  I have been introduced to a variety of interesting people and I am thankful for my regular readers and creative exchanges that have resulted.

Today, Dr. Michael Joyner posted his case for optimism about the future.  In it he lists the following challenges from 1968/1969 that, at the time we thought were “unsolvable”

  • The Berlin Wall.
  • The Soviet Union invaded Czechoslovakia to suppress a movement calling for minimal levels of free expression.
  • George Wallace, an avowed racist, ran for President and got 13.5% percent of the vote.
  • Career choices available to women were extremely limited, and opportunities for women and girls to participate in things like competitive sports were minimal.
  • Rivers like the Cuyahoga near Cleveland were so polluted they sometimes caught on fire.
  • China and India were economic basket cases.
  • North Vietnam invaded South Vietnam during Tet.
  • Places like Tucson (where I grew up) were surrounded by intercontinental ballistic missile silos.  Air raid sirens were tested at regular intervals in case we needed to be warned of an impending nuclear attack.
  • The Red Sox had still not won the World Series after trading Babe Ruth to the Yankees in 1918 – the so-called Curse of the Bambino.

So, as we look at next year in building our strategic plans or think about the world our children will live in the future, we might want to put our challenges in perspective of human progress.  It might be time to express gratitude and next week, let’s find something big to solve!

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