“Inventions have long since reached their limit, and I see no hope of further developments.” Julius Sextus Frontinus, 10 A.D., Roman Engineer It happens to every generation - the feeling that there are no new frontiers. The inevitable gloom that comes knowing that everything worth doing has been done. It even happens to people who should know better, such as David Packard who stated in The HP Way: “During my sophomore year at Stanford…I remember lamenting that I had been born one hundred years too late, that all the frontiers had been conquered and that my generation would be deprived of the pioneering opportunities offered to our forebears. But in fact, we went on to make breathtaking advances in the twentieth century.”
They smile, they laugh on cue and they have a pat response for every conventional interview question. They profess to be entrepreneurs, but are they actually Wantrepreneurs? A Wantrepreneur is a good intentioned person who wants to be an entrepreneur, but does not have the skills, personality and or risk profile to be successful. When the going gets tough (as it always does at any startup) the Wantrepreneurs get going. The costs of hiring a Wantrepreneur during the early stages of your adVenture are dramatic. As such, sometimes you must deploy unconventional tactics to separate the ATM Operating Wantrepreneurs from the Bank Robbing entrepreneurs.
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.