Once you obtain funding, it will be worse than hitting the Lottery. Instead of hearing from your long lost third-cousin, you will be inundated with an avalanche of ‘congratulatory’ emails, calls and letters from people who want to relieve you of the burden of your hard-earned equity round. Many such ‘congratulations’ will come from consultants. An entrepreneur’s two most important assets are her time and money. There is nothing under the sun that will suck up your time and money faster, more prodigiously and less effectively than a consultant.
“The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man." - George Bernard Shaw In the early stages of your adVenture, everyone you hire must be unreasonable.
True, Venture Debt is often the funding vehicle of last resort. When the Board is tapped out and a bigger fool cannot be brought into the venture, all eyes turn towards debt. But wait, debt can be your friend… if deployed wisely. When does venture debt make sense? To answer this question, let’s analyze a real-world example.
Listen. Do you want to know a secret? Do you promise not to tell? Closer. Let me whisper in your ear. Say the words you long to hear. I can help you sell. My apologies to John and Paul, but I am sure they will get over it. The secret to effective Networking, Selling and Negotiating can be summarized in a single word. Listen.
Richard White, author of The Entrepreneur’s Manual, surveyed a number of venture capitalists, asking them to identify the characteristics of successful, serial entrepreneurs. One of the attributes identified by all of the venture capitalists questioned was, “Frugal use of capital”. In fact, several of the venture capitalists pointed out that successful entrepreneurs often have to be encouraged and pushed to spend more aggressively. Successful, serial entrepreneurs on The Fringe instill an urgent sense of frugality into their adVenture’s corporate culture. “Bah humbug” you say? Read on.
Panhandling techniques cover the spectrum from menacing demands to sophisticated appeals for help. You can angrily shout, “Hey, got any change?” and you might net yourself a nominal number of donations from fearful passersby. However, your overall productivity will likely be poor. Alternatively, you can deploy a more sophisticated and correspondingly a far more effective panhandling approach, in which you first establish a personal connection and then make a specific request. Networking is akin to Corporate Panhandling. Instead of seeking spare change, your goals are far more lofty. In order to enhance your adVenture’s chances of success, you must convince potential Donors to hand over their precious time, valued relationships, advice and money to your adVenture. A quick review of street panhandling techniques offers interesting insights into enhancing the effectiveness of your Networking efforts.
Each generation, a few magnetic personalities emerge and generate a mania of public interest. Before Elvis, there was Sinatra. Before Sinatra, there was Bing. Before Bing, there was Caruso and before Caruso, there was Blondin. Jean Francois Gravelot, who wisely abandoned his given name and dubbed himself The Great Blondin, was a true rock star of the 19th Century. On June 30, 1859, at the height of his fame, he stood before a crowd of 100,000 people at Niagara Falls.
Did I ever tell you about the young Zoad Who came to two sides in the fork in the road? He looked one way then the other way, too. So the Zoad had to make up his mind what to do. ... If I go to place one, that place may be hot. So how will I know if I like it or not? On the other hand though, I'll feel such a fool, If I go to place two and find it's too cool. ... Play safe, cried the Zoad, I'm no dunce. I'll simply start off to both places at once. And that's how the Zoad who would not take a chance Got no place at all with the split in his pants. Dr Seuss – Excerpts from the poem The Zoad in the Road Don’t Be a Zoad Many would-be entrepreneurs struggle with the first step of the startup journey. In the hopes of mitigating their risk, they attempt to take multiple paths at the outset of their startup’s life. Starting off for two places at once is not playing it safe. Rather, this decision to not make a decision is a recipe for split pants and a failed venture.
You may not realize it, but your adVenture’s Core Team is akin to a primitive tribe. The Core Team is of the three to five key individuals upon which your company’s leadership and direction is derived. Thus, understanding the tribal organizational structure is vital to gaining an appreciation of the various roles played by your Core Team. The tribal structure works, as evidenced by its survival over eons, ultimately leading to Man’s position at the top of the food chain.
For lack of more productive things to do, many scientists, psychologists and sociologists enjoy arguing over which has a greater impact on an individual’s chances for success: their innate abilities (“Nature”) or their environment (“Nurture”). With each passing decade, the pendulum swings back and forth among the intelligentsia as to which factor has the greatest impact, but for an entrepreneur on The Fringe, the answer is clearly: Yes.