"Now, I return to this young fellow. And the communication I have got to make is, that he has great expectations." Charles Dickens, Great Expectations A: You win a $20M lottery. Several days later, you learn that four other people also had the winning number and thus your actual winnings are reduced by $16M to a total of $4M. B: You win a $2M lottery. Several days later, you learn that due to an accounting glitch, your initial winnings were misreported. Your actual winnings increase by $1M to a total of $3M. In which situation would you be happier?
Warning: tradeshows are highly emotional, ego-driven events - do not get sucked into the hype. Despite what the most earnest Marketing Executive will tell you, tradeshows never make or break a company. Ignore your sales and marketing people when they tell you that your company will be embarrassed if you do not purchase an expansive, $150,000 booth. They should be embarrassed for uttering such ludicrous advice. If one or more of your team members has booth envy, require them to memorize the refrain from Public Enemy’s “Don’t Believe the Hype”.
“You are forty, out of a job, a newlywed, your wife is expecting a baby, you don’t own your own home, you have no specialized qualifications, the only company you ever launched went bankrupt and you have just been sentenced to one year in jail.” Source: Harold Evans, They Made America Pop Quiz: Who was this person and what did they ultimately do with the cards dealt them? The answer is at the end of this entry. Hint: He was an entrepreneur. Are you?
“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.