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As noted in Frugal Is As Frugal Does, it is unlikely you will be able to pay your startup employees market-rate compensation. So how can...

Peace & War Corps – Creating A Low-Pay / High-Reward Startup

As noted in Frugal Is As Frugal Does, it is unlikely you will be able to pay your startup employees market-rate compensation. So how can you recruit top talent while rationing your cash and equity ownership? The answer may lie within successful, yet cash-strapped organizations that lack the ability to grant their employees stock ownership, lucrative performance bonuses or other incentives often deployed by entrepreneurs. How are such organizations able to recruit and retain talented and motivated team members?
Marketers have long known that people are drawn to exclusivity. Some people pay small fortunes to attend exclusive, private colleges while others wait in line...

Excludesivity – Avoid Becoming Excluded From Future Revenue Opportunities

Marketers have long known that people are drawn to exclusivity. Some people pay small fortunes to attend exclusive, private colleges while others wait in line for hours for the opportunity to buy exorbitantly priced drinks in an exclusive nightclub. As noted in Kiss Of Death, exclusivity can kill a small company. Unfortunately, many Big Dumb Companies (BDCs) believe that the only way they can effectively compete is to skew the market in their favor by precluding you from freely working with anyone you choose. Exclusivity excludes the BDC from competing in the free market while excluding the startup from taking full advantage of future customer, partner and market opportunities. Such deals are not exclusive, they are excludesive.
Late in the 1936 baseball season, a 17-year-old Iowa farm boy struck out 15 St. Louis Browns batters in his first Major League game. Shortly...

The Book – How Rookies and Startups Can Maintain Their Unfair Advantage

Late in the 1936 baseball season, a 17-year-old Iowa farm boy struck out 15 St. Louis Browns batters in his first Major League game. Shortly thereafter, that same pitcher went on to strike out 17 Philadelphia Athletics batters, an unprecedented feat for anyone, let alone a youth with no professional sports experience. How could such a young, inexperienced athlete baffle so many major league veterans? The answer is simple: the Browns and the Athletics had the misfortune of facing Bob Feller before anyone wrote The Book on him.
Why do most business books suck? In many cases, the relevant content of business books could be summarized in fewer than five pages. In fact,...

The Author’s Dilemma – Why Most Business Books Suck

Why do most business books suck? In many cases, the relevant content of business books could be summarized in fewer than five pages. In fact, the introduction often covers all of the book’s main points and the remainder of the book is simply an arduous embellishment of the core concepts, replete with a mind-numbing litany of real-world examples and associated gratuitous commentary. The Author’s Dilemma is, “How do I write an insightful business book that is not redundant but is lengthy enough for the publisher to justify the $19.95 list price?”
Talent alone is usually not adequate for your adVenture to succeed. A tragic number of young athletes, musicians and scholars who master their sport, instrument...

(Non)Sense of Entitlement – Entrepreneurs Need The Whole Package To Succeed: Talent, Temperament and Tenacity

Talent alone is usually not adequate for your adVenture to succeed. A tragic number of young athletes, musicians and scholars who master their sport, instrument or area of study are unable to translate their natural gifts into a level of success commensurate with their abilities. In some cases, the relative ease with which they achieve their accomplishments is a handicap that precludes other aspects of their character and personality from developing in an appropriate and healthy manner. Sometimes, when winning comes relatively easy to such prodigies, they develop a poor work ethic, an inability to constructively deal with adversity and a glaring sense of entitlement. An entitlement mentality can lead to a feeling of irreplaceability. However, successful entrepreneurs realize that some people are indispensable but no one is irreplaceable.
Bilbo’s offer letter from Thorin in J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit exemplifies the proper attitude that you must have when joining an adVenture. “Thorin and Company...

Joining An adVenture

Bilbo’s offer letter from Thorin in J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit exemplifies the proper attitude that you must have when joining an adVenture. “Thorin and Company to Burglar Bilbo, Greetings! For your hospitality our sincerest thanks, and for your offer of professional assistance our grateful acceptance. Terms: cash on delivery, up to and not exceeding one fourteenth of total profits (if any); all traveling expenses guaranteed in any event; funeral expenses to be defrayed by us or our representatives, if occasion arises and the matter is not otherwise arranged for.”
"To let the brain work without sufficient material is like racing an engine. It racks itself to pieces." Sherlock Holmes in "The Adventure of the...

Competitive Sleuthing

"To let the brain work without sufficient material is like racing an engine. It racks itself to pieces." Sherlock Holmes in "The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle" Too many entrepreneurs stress about their competition without having enough information to make informed decisions. They need to move beyond the emotional aspects of competing and develop multiple, largely free, sources of competitive information. There is no need to hire an expensive consultant. As noted in, "Competing From the Fringe," dedicate a senior member of your team as your "Watson" (you cannot afford a Sherlock, after all). Watson's role is to diligently and consistently mine the readily available data sources noted below and periodically communicate the state of the competitive landscape to your Core Team.
According to Wikipedia, Backmasking is, “a recording technique in which a sound or message is recorded backwards onto a track that is meant to be...

Backmasking Forensics – Uncovering Hidden Messages in Agreements

According to Wikipedia, Backmasking is, “a recording technique in which a sound or message is recorded backwards onto a track that is meant to be played forward.” In some instances, seemingly random sounds take on questionable meaning when played backwards. In Led Zeppelin’s Stairway to Heaven, Robert Plant seems to say, “Oh here’s to sweet Satan. He’ll give those with him 666.” When the Beatles’ Revoultion 9 is played in reverse, there is a brief passage that sounds something like, “Turn me on dead man,” which heightened the “Paul is dead” rumors of the early 1970s. However, backmasking is often a deliberate process, in which artists send messages to their diehard fans who relish discovering and decoding the hidden communications. It is usually arduous to discover and decipher audio backmasked messages. However, the process of decoding the hidden messages in your partner agreements is much simpler. You can perform such agreement forensics by looking for the clues outlined below. One such clue proved to be worth $20 million to one of my adVentures.
“When I looked up from the menu, I was staring into the eyes of a man who had been dead for three years.” – Opening...

Pulp Facts – Entrepreneurial Press Releases Should Generate Revenue

“When I looked up from the menu, I was staring into the eyes of a man who had been dead for three years.” – Opening sentence from “Time of Terror” by Louis L’Amour “When Speeke came at last to water, he was two days beyond death.” – Opening sentence from “That Man From the Bitter Sands” by Louis L’Amour Successful pulp fiction writers like Louis L’Amour had to grab their readers with their first sentence. They did not have the luxury of hoping readers would warm up to their stories after a few pages. Most pulp fiction fans flipped through the magazines before buying them and purchased the stories that grabbed them by their shirt collars and compelled them to read more. Your startup’s press releases must be as compelling as pulp fiction. If the reader is not engaged at the outset, it is unlikely they will take the time to read the remainder of your release.
In the Western movie The Magnificent Seven, the protagonists are escorted out of the town they were hired to defend, unarmed and under gunpoint. Once...

Humble Pride –Steadfast Resolve Is Vital To A Startup’s Success

In the Western movie The Magnificent Seven, the protagonists are escorted out of the town they were hired to defend, unarmed and under gunpoint. Once they are a few miles out of town, their gun belts are tossed on the ground and the banditos who defeated them ride away. The group’s leader, Chris, played by Yul Brynner, surveys his defeated men, trying to assess his team’s morale. With no preamble, James Coburn’s character, Honest Britt, jumps from his horse and straps on his gun belt while saying, “Nobody throws me my own guns and says, ‘Run.’ Nobody.” Honest makes it clear that he is going back to town, with or without the rest of the group. Several of the other riders dismount and silently strap on their gun belts as well, indicating their intention to join Honest. However, Harry, the Magnificent Seven gunslinger with the most overtly mercenary intentions, derides the group for their willingness to ride to their deaths. He attempts to enlist the support of his friend, Lee, by trying to convince him to abandon the team’s objective. Harry (angrily): “You’re crazy, all of you.” Chris (calmly): “Ride on Harry, it’s alright.” Harry: “Come on Lee.” Chris to Lee: “You don’t owe anything to anybody.” Lee (after a long pause): “Except to myself.” Harry then rides off alone. The remaining riders turn their mounts toward town, despite the risks they face.
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