7 Steps To Making A Great Entrepreneur Impression

Barack Obama meets Mark Zuckerberg, photo via Wikimedia

Entrepreneurs are all about firsts, and the most important is you making a great first impression – on investors, customers, new team members, and strategic partners. Poor first impressions can be avoided, but I’m amazed at the number of unnecessary mistakes I see at those critical first introductions, presentations, and meetings.

The key message here is “preparation.” People who think they can always “wing it,” bluff their way past tough questions, or expect the other party to bridge all the gaps, sadly often find that what they think is a win, is actually a loss which can never be regained. Read more

Why are some venture capital firms not funding women?

The facile answer to this assumptive question is “because some women are not seeking funding from venture capital firms”.

But there is actually quite a bit of truth in both statements. Women-led ventures definitely account for a smaller percentage of venture investments than  do ventures led by men, but women-led ventures also account for a MUCH smaller percentage of ventures seeking funding in the first place! Read more

Don’t Let Investors Conclude Your Startup Is A Hobby

Software Development Process via Wikipedia

Software Development Process via Wikipedia

Even when your startup is a one-man show and lots of fun, a “business” needs some discipline and controls to keep it from being defined as a hobby by investors, and assure some financial return. Like it or not, you are now entering the dreaded realm of specifying and documenting “formal business processes.” The right question is “What is the minimum that I need?”

The simple answer is that you need to implement one process at a time, starting with those things that are most critical to your business, until you feel a relief that things are starting to happen naturally and consistently, without the attendant stress and continual recovery mode. If you feel that the process itself is a burden, you have likely gone too far. Read more

10 C-Level Positions That Are Red Flags For Funding

Image via Wikimedia Commons

Image via Wikimedia Commons

It’s your startup, so you can give early partners any title you want, but be aware of potential investor and peer implications. VCs and Angel investors like to see a startup that is running lean and mean, with no more than three or four of the conventional C-level or VP titles. More executives, or other more creative titles are seen as a big red flag.

In reality, startup titles should be more about the division of labor than an executive position. The most common ones I see and salute are CEO, CFO, and CTO. A few other credible ones would include Chairman of the Board (COB), Chief Operating Officer (COO) and Chief Marketing Officer (CMO). Some would say that if you have a title at all, you are not doing enough work. Read more