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.
Eugene Kleiner, Co-founder of the VC firm, Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield & Byers, once said, “It is difficult to see the picture when you are inside the frame.” A small percentage of people in each free-market society generate the jobs for everyone else. The people who create these jobs are solidly on The Fringe. They do not risk everything, work outrageous hours and put themselves under untold pressure because they want to. They certainly do not do it for the promise of riches. They do it because they have to, because they are driven to create something from nothing.
One of the few advantages you have as a small company is that you can keep your cards close to your vest. A major disadvantage of a public Big Dumb Company (“BDC”), as well as one that works closely with governmental agencies, is the degree to which they are forced to publicly disclose otherwise confidential information. I hope that you are not thinking, “But J., you have told us that one of the most important aspect of a startup is the ability to effectively sell (see “Be Like Sam”). How can I sell if I cannot share information?” If this question is in your head, please do all of us a favor, close this page and head over to Craig’s List. I am sure there are lots of good jobs available at Big Dumb Companies…
Once early stage entrepreneurs learn that I earned an MBA from Wharton, they usually ask, “Should I pursue an MBA as well?” My initial response is, “If you want to be an entrepreneur, why would you possibly want an MBA?” In certain instances, an MBA may make sense. However, for most entrepreneurs, the time and money required to earn an MBA is better spent launching your adVenture and learning on the job.
Gestalt - an organized whole in experience which explains psychological phenomena by their relationships to total forms rather than their parts. What? A Venture Capitalist friend of mine once told me that, “Venture Capital is really a game of pattern matching.” He noted that whenever he met an entrepreneur in search of funding, he did his best to match the person (and his team, as appropriate) to a ‘pattern’ he had seen before.
Everyone around you knows that you have it, but you are in denial. You say things like, “I am open to giving control to the right person at the right time”. However, the reality is that the “right person” does not exist and the “right time” never arrives. Founderitis, Founder’s Disease, Founder’s Syndrome; by any name, this my way or the highway approach to running a business is the same affliction. When Founderitis strikes, the Founder’s drive, energy and vision, characteristics crucial to the startup’s initial success, become a hindrance to the company’s maturation into a self-sustaining entity.
Along with Dr. Seuss’ “Green Eggs and Ham” and Marcia Brown’s “Stone Soup”, the seemingly innocuous board game “Monopoly” has played a pivotal role in the United States’ rise as an economic superpower.
Many voluminous books have been written about sales, some technical, some strategic and some tactical. However, there really is only one book that you need to read on the subject of sales and that book comes from a very unlikely source, Dr. Seuss. Without realizing it, Dr. Seuss drafted the salesman’s manifesto in the form of “Green Eggs and Ham”. If you have an average salesperson’s intellect, like myself, you will find the book especially appealing, as it only utilizes 50-distinct words, 48-of which are only one syllable.
Pop Quiz: Why did the Berlin Wall fall? Some say Reagan orchestrated the Soviet Union’s demise. Others surmise that Communism was a doomed economic model bound to eventually fail on its own accord. However, I believe that Communism failed because the West possessed three very powerful “secret” weapons: the board game Monopoly, “Green Eggs and Ham”, and “Stone Soup”. Yes, that is correct. The Russians were brought down by two children’s books and a board game.