Ryan Blair book image via Amazon
It’s a well-accepted axiom in the investor community that entrepreneurs learn more from their failures than their successes. Thus a well-explained startup failure often can actually improve your odds of funding in the next go-round. Yet, there is no doubt that the best strategy is to learn from someone else’s mistakes, so you can enjoy the millions that someone else lost in learning.
Certainly there are innumerable possible mistakes to be made, but there is a thread of common ones that I see across the range of all startups. Ryan Blair, a serial entrepreneur who admits to his share of million dollar mistakes, as well as some multi-million dollar successes, sums these up nicely in his book “Nothing to Lose, Everything to Gain:” Read more
Image via Facebook.com
Every time I hear about a new startup that is in stealth mode, I wonder what problem they are hiding from whom. Of course they pretend that they are trying to avoid alerting competitors prior to launch, but too often it becomes an excuse to move slowly in a world that’s all about getting to market fast.
I believe stealth makes sense for large companies who can be sued for “pre-announcing” a new product to stall the market or kill a competitor. It also makes legal sense to never disclose the details of your patent application, before the product is ready to ship. But otherwise, startup companies should seek out publicity and the open sharing of information, from day one. Read more
David Cohen image via Kathleen Lavine, Denver Business Journal
Business incubators for sharing services were all the rage back in the days of the dot-com bubble (700 for profit, many more non-profit). About that time the bubble burst, causing more than 80% of them to disappear. Now they are coming back, and the best even provide networking, technical leadership, and seed funding, as well as investors waving money at graduates.
Incubators I hear mentioned most often include YCombinator, led by Paul Graham in Silicon Valley, and TechStars, located in Boston, Boulder, New York City, and Seattle. TechStars has several excellent mentors on staff, led by founder and CEO David Cohen. Both provide excellent networking to investors, and on-site technical leadership, which I believe sets them apart. Read more
Most entrepreneurs think that risk is just an “occupational hazard” that can be minimized or eliminated by a smart businessman. That way of thinking is simplistic and wrong. In reality, some risks are good and should be embraced for growth and a competitive edge, while others are bad and should be avoided completely.
Traditional risk management focuses only on bad risks, and seeks to contain losses. But if you want growth and sustainability, you need to create smart risks, which means intentionally taking a risk to grow your business or gain competitive advantage. Read more
Steve Forbes image via Wikipedia
Presenting your startup vision as a founder to a potential investor, or presenting an idea as an employee to an executive, requires that you effectively communicate, or “translate”, the value proposition into terms that the receiver can fully understand and appreciate. If you fail, it’s your loss, not theirs, no matter what the reason.
For example, if your investor has been a senior business leader, you need to transform your message so that it addresses the issues that senior business leaders have experienced as priorities. For the business leaders I know, these priorities almost always include the following: Read more
Amilya Antonetti image via Entertainment Resource Group
It takes a great entrepreneur with a great vision to start a business, but it takes a collaboration of many people to make it a success. That’s where leadership comes in as a key ingredient, to drive the collaborative process to make the whole team better than the sum of the parts.
I remember a book from a while back by Amilya Antonetti, titled “The Recipe: A Fable for Leaders and Teams” which illustrates the key concepts with stories and specific guidance on how to develop your natural leadership style. It all starts with how to be the leader in your own life, but then extends to learning the following skills she outlines for building a great collaborative team: Read more
Sergey Bin and Larry Page image via Wikipedia for Google
If you are a first-time entrepreneur, I recommend that you team with a co-founder with experiences, connections, and a skill set that complements, but doesn’t duplicate yours. Even experienced entrepreneurs need a partner to back up each other and improve fundability. The question is how to find that elusive perfect-fit partner.
First, I will admit there is no magic formula here, just like in real life when trying to find a relationship partner. But from my own experience, and input from others, there are useful approaches that will improve your odds of success: Read more