Note: This is part II of a four part series. Access part I HERE, part III HERE, and part IV HERE. As noted in part I of this series, agreements with Big Dumb Companies (BDCs) can be alluring and potentially fatal. In many cases, agreements crafted by BDC lawyers resemble ConTraps rather than mutually beneficial contracts. This series describes how entrepreneurs can craft company-changing agreements with BDCs, while avoiding Kiss of Death contract provisions.
Note: This is part I of a four part series. Access part II HERE, part III HERE, and part IV HERE. Agreements with Big Dumb Companies (BDCs) are like DC Comic’s evil villainess, Poison Ivy. Both are seductive and alluring and both are potentially fatal. A startup’s most meaningful agreements are often struck with BDCs. You will no doubt craft agreements with companies of similar or even smaller size to your own. However, your greatest risks and greatest opportunities will arise from the deals you cut with larger entities. Fortunately, it is possible to craft lucrative deals with BDCs that do not limit your adVenture’s ability to charter its own destiny. Just as Batman repeatedly avoids Poison Ivy’s kiss of death, so too must entrepreneurs avoid the Kiss of Death provisions which BDCs attempt to include in their agreements.
I recently had the pleasure to chat with Firas Raouf, Partner at OpenView Venture Partnersregarding my Startup CEO Performance Review articles. If you have not had a chance to do so yet, you may want to scan Part I and Part II before you listen to my interview. The 12-minute podcast will likely make more sense if you first have a frame of reference for the approach I implemented. Click on the OpenView logo to listen to the podcast: _______________________________
Odysseus could not help himself. He knew the risks, but he had to hear the alluring sound of the Sirens’ song. In Greek mythology, the Sirens were a combination of birds and women who sang to passing sailors, enticing them to approach the shore and crash on its hidden shoals. To avoid wrecking his ship, Odysseus instructed his crew to plug their ears and ignore his orders, no matter how much he implored them to approach the Sirens’ island. Many entrepreneurs encounter a similar dilemma. They often identify expeditious ways to make money in the early days of their adVentures, which allow them to reduce the amount of capital they must raise from outside investors. Unfortunately, such initially alluring business models can ultimately result in their ruin. Thus, entrepreneurs must decide when to stop listening to the Sirens’ song of a quick buck and position their company to take advantage of long-term, sustainable business models.
As I noted in Why Most Business Books (Still) Suck, I am generally not a fan of business books. Although many are entertaining, most fail to provide entrepreneurs with a sufficient return on their time investment. If you are a leader at a startup and you are reading a business book, you are not closing customers, raising capital, improving your product, or spending time with your loved ones. Unfortunately, most business books do not offer entrepreneurs an adequate payoff. However, Guy Kawasaki’s latest book, Enchantment: The Art of Changing Hearts, Minds and Actions (Enchantment) is an exception. The short version of my review is: “Enchanting? Yes.” If you are curious as to why a serial entrepreneur who does not generally appreciate business books gives Enchantment a thumbs-up, read on…
Note: This is part II of a two part series. Click HERE for part I. “Never tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do and they will surprise you with their ingenuity.” George S. Patton, US Army General Part I of this series describes the 360-review that I conducted at a growing, dynamic SaaS business which has recently graduated from the startup stage and entered the early-growth phase. One of the most compelling conclusions I drew from the reviews is that both Founders need to delegate more of their day-to-day tasks. The Founders are in the midst of a classic shift from a bottle-washer mentality in which they oversee every initiative, to one in which they only focus their efforts on tasks that have the biggest impact, while delegating urgent but less important duties. Fortunately, the Founders are comfortable delegating tasks to their highly talented Core Team. The challenge was to identify which tasks to retain and which were best suited for delegation. Following the 360-review, we devised an effective way to help the Founders expand their strategic effectiveness while ensuring that all of their prior responsibilities are appropriately fulfilled.
Note: This is part I of a two part series. Click here for Part II. “He who knows others is wise. He who knows himself is enlightened.” Lao Tzu, Ancient Chinese Philosopher Ever wonder why most people are dissatisfied with photos of themselves? The reason is more than false modesty. We know our appearance by the image we see in a mirror. However, the image seen by everyone else, including a camera, is our actual image, rather than our reversed, mirrored reflection. Remember all those terrible MySpace self-portraits? The MySpace teens liked the photos, in part, because they showed the mirror image of themselves which matched the adolescents’ self-images. Studies have confirmed this phenomenon. People prefer photographs of themselves in which the negative has been reversed and thus depicts the familiar view they see when they admire themselves in a mirror. Even though we are most comfortable with this inverted image, it is not how we are perceived by others. Our self-perceptions are similar to our reflections in a mirror. We see a portion of who we are, but not our entire being. The lens by which we evaluate our strengths, weaknesses, and priorities is limited. The only way to obtain a complete understanding of ourselves and determine how we can improve our performance is to seek and act upon the observations and critiques of those we trust.
As a young boy, Bruce Wayne watched his parents die in an alley after they were shot by a mugger. This event was pivotal in his life and became the basis of his future career as Batman, Gotham City’s crime fighting hero. It is a powerful Origin Story because it informs the reader of the protagonist’s motivation throughout the remainder of his career to, “swear by the spirits of my parents to avenge their deaths by spending the rest of my life warring on all criminals.” A startup’s Origin Story can be equally powerful. Every employee should know why their startup was founded in order to appreciate how their Origin Story impacts their company’s Core Values and Creed.
Marc Bolan, lead singer of T. Rex, was a modestly talented glam rocker during the early 1970s who lyrically never had much to say. However, when he sang, “Bang a Gong, Get It On,” he hit upon a key entrepreneurial principle without even realizing it.