Popular Posts

Friday, September 28, 2007

Maps,Routes and things you find along the way

Maps and Routes:

On your way to your work place, that's if you don't work from home that is, you would travel along a well known route, you would take one of the many methods of travel, mechanical or physical, you would pass sign posts, people, buildings, the same things day in day out, maybe even the same conversation when you get your Americana with an extra shot sans milk. So whats the point to this, well I am sure you enter the company and it's the same there, you see the same picture, and react the same way, and maybe you are accustomed to what you see and hear, similar to your journey to work, well you are missing the best part of work, interaction with your own people. I have found by experience, that what makes work enjoyable is the interaction with my people and helping them develop and perform at there best, I hear and see what is going on in the company, I try to be aware of how people are feeling about the progress we are making and the challenges that are ahead, this allows you to gauge how effect you and your management team are. How many times have you left some small irritating illness alone and not bothered getting it seen to by a professional, I was in the outback this year up in Western Australia on the dampier peninsula on cable beach, where I was bitten, I saw the where the blood had been drawn but ignored it, a day later I was in bed with a fever that lasted 2 days, that was back in May, I still have an infection that is being treated by the doctor. The point is make it a point on the "to do" list to spend time with your people each day, walk the floor and listen, explore there ideas and plans, and you will be investing in the future of you and your company. You can map a good route, you can make the world's best road map, but it is the people along the way that will help you to get there, so watch, look and listen.



Thursday, September 27, 2007

The entreprenures Neutral Zone

Transition and Growth By William Bridges : Making Sense of Life's Changes refers to the period between "endings" (your old life) and "beginnings" (your new life) as The Neutral Zone. This term was first coined over 75 years ago by Dutch anthropologist Arnold van Gennep who noticed that in most traditional societies, all ceremonies marking change involved separation, transition (which he called the neutral zone) and incorporation who noticed that in most traditional societies, all ceremonies marking change involved separation, transition (which he called the neutral zone) and incorporation.

"Everybody wants to be somebody; nobody wants to grow."Goethe

.........After some difficult change, people often say, "I learned a lot from that experience." It may be hard to put that learning into words, but most people find that the process of going through transition leads to growth and development. As Goethe says, however, the path of growth is not necessarily easy or comfortable. Transition leads to growth in two different ways. The first is that in letting go of the person you thought you were, you see that some of what you thought was essential to being "you" really isn't. You discover that you are still "you" without those things, and that can be a big discovery. The second connection between transition and growth is just as important. In the neutral zone that follows the ending, people in transition try new ways of being and doing-try on a whole new identity, in some cases-and find that the fit is good. So they give up some things and find others, and in the process their view of themselves and of the world develops. They "grow.".............

From Transition and Growth By William Bridges

If you are serious about your chosen path in life, you will need to grow, and growth will be painful at sometime, these are some tips I picked up from Pamela Slim, check them out, and check out Pam's blog Escape from Cubicle Nation.

If you find yourself in this transition period, or neutral zone, you may notice the following symptoms:

Low energy
Increased awareness of aches and pains
Heaviness in chest or pit in stomach
Light headedness
Inability to concentrate

Fluctuating emotions: happy and positive one day, negative and depressed the next
Crankiness (just ask my husband about this, when the transition is pregnancy, and you have the added benefit of raging hormones in a time of great personal transition)

To this day, many traditional societies mark significant changes with rituals that help with the transition process. In my husband's Navajo culture, for example, male and female puberty ceremonies are marked by four days of isolated reflection, sharing of wisdom between the young and elderly, time in nature, and disconnection from "modern conveniences" including electronics and all forms of media.

In today's society, if we get slowed down by a significant life transition and can't keep up a frantic level of activity and output, we ask ourselves:

What is wrong with me?
Why can't I just get it together and move on?
Why is it so hard to get things done right now?
Will I ever go back to feeling like my "old self?"

The reality is, being in this awkward state of transition is an extremely creative and ripe period. Here are eight strategies for getting the most out of this juicy time:

Embrace it. Instead of asking yourself "When am I going to get back to normal?", be thankful that you are given an opportunity to reflect on your life and possibly come out with a new, improved, emotionally healthier you. You may not want to do this in public, but repeat the mantra "uncertainty is powerful and liberating!" as often as you can, and you may just begin to believe it.
Carve out quiet, reflective time. I find that people who are in the midst of a career change feel extremely guilty for taking any time off between the "old gig" and the new. But in fact, if you don't take some time off between endeavors, you are much more likely to either choose the wrong vocation, or find yourself just as frustrated in your new situation as you were in your old one. So don't beat yourself up if you feel the need to just space out, take long walks, or cook good meals.
Do something creative. If you are a frustrated artist, now is the perfect time to break out your paints, or clay, or camera, and engage your creative senses. You want to be more in a state of feeling rather than thinking, and creative pursuits are great for that.
Ask yourself "What am I afraid of?" Your fears hold lots of information which can shape your new life. If you are getting married, you may fear losing your independence, or your prized Hot Car collection, or your sense of spontaneous passion. Don't choke down these fears, look at them closely and use them as the basis for good, healthy discussion with your spouse-to-be about how you can design a life to incorporate the things that are important to both of you.
"Try on" different scenarios that don't fit the "old" you. When you are working full-time as an employee, or raising teenagers, or whatever your "old life" consisted of, you can get set in a certain persona. As you leave your familiar role ("I am the ultimate mother figure to my kids whose primary goal is to support and nurture") and move towards your uncertain future role, try on some new, totally different scenarios ("I am a wanderlust-filled traveller whose only thought is how to indulge my every whim, dance on tabletops and eat exotic food.") You may just find that the person you once were, or always wanted to be, is just waiting for you to step into her shoes.
Tune up your health. When I went through a slow period in my consulting business a couple of years ago, I used the free time as a way to get back into working out. I took up yoga, pilates and kickboxing, dropped 20 pounds and found that my overall emotional well-being skyrocketed. A time of great personal transition is NOT the time to indulge in drugs or alcohol as it will only drown out your creative voice and reinforce feelings of fear and anxiety when you wake up next to your empty tequila bottle. Instead, eat healthily, exercise and breathe in as much clean air as you can and you will find that peace and clarity emerges from deep within.
Cut back on obligations to ensure alone time. You want to reduce as many obligations as you can so that your primary focus is yourself. So just because you don't have a "day job" anymore, don't volunteer to chair the holiday food drive at your local shelter, or to watch the neighbor's 3-year old quadruplets. Once you are clear and moving in your new life, you can train for sainthood on earth again. For now, clean out the lint from your own bellybutton.
Clear out clutter. A period of transition is a great time to clear out junk, boxes, papers, pictures, old clothes, moldy food from the back of your refrigerator and expired cans from the pantry. A clean environment really does contribute to a clean mind. I am also a big fan of rearranging furniture since it will get you comfortable with seeing familiar things in a new and different way.The last thought I want to leave you with is don't rush through the neutral zone. If you utilize some of these strategies and engage your creativity, you will know when it is time to stop navel-gazing and get busy with your new plans. Your "new improved you" will thank yourself for it!



Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Some thoughts on keeping on the top of your VC's list

I picked up this article from Fred Wilson's blog, he is a managing partner at Union Square Ventures based in NYC, they have an interest in early stage IT companies. Fred makes some interestign points about a skill you need to develop if you want to have a long and frutiful relationship with your Venture capital partner.

How To Get Attention From Your VC

By Fred Wilson

I had a funny exchange with Steven Johnson, founder and CEO of our portfolio company outside.in last week. He saw my post about the email address book rankings in Xobni and wanted to know where he ranked. It turned out he was #29 which is pretty high considering that outside.in is the smallest investment we have (by amount invested) in our entire portfolio.
That led me to a simple analysis. I took all of our active portfolio companies (both Flatiron and Union Square Ventures) and I looked at the CEO's Xobni rating and built a simple spreadsheet table comparing that ranking to the amount of capital we had invested in the company. There was no correlation.Now you can say that is stupid. We should be consciously giving more attention to the companies where we have more financial upside and more capital at risk. I suppose that is true, but in my experience over 20 years doing this business, that's not how it works.
VCs pay attention to companies for several reasons:
The company is in trouble. I've heard many investors say "if you don't hear from me, it means you are doing just fine on your own". I understand that approach but I try not to take it myself. But one thing is for sure, when a company is struggling, we certainly do our best to help them get through it.

2) The company is killing it. If I was an investor in Facebook for example, I'd be spending as much time on that company as I could. I am sure that the VCs from Accel, Greylock, and Peter Thiel are doing exactly that.

3) The company is just getting going and needs help figuring out its strategy, building its team, etc. The funny thing is that the ratio between attention and stage/capital invested could actually be reverse correlated, meaning that the VC pays more attention when there is less capital invested.

4) The company is interesting to the VC. You can read this blog and know where my mind is. And as much as I hate to admit it, when my mind is focused on something, that's where my attention goes as well.

There's another factor which I'll call the entrepreneur's ability to engage the VC. There's a reason that Steven is number 29. He has a great way of including me in company conversations via email and face to face. He doesn't look to me to sign off on his decisions, but he does look to get my input. He is roping me into the company. Dick Costolo, who is still in my top 20 email relationships even though FeedBurner is now owned by Google, was also a master at that technique. Not all entrepreneurs want or need to engage the VC in that way. And that's fine. We have one company in our portfolio that has made most of its decisions without our input and has the best financial profile in our portfolio right now. So there is no rule that says you must engage your VC to be successful.But if you want to get more attention from your VC than you are currently getting, and you don't want to get that way by struggling, then you should find ways to rope them into your internal discussions. I personally think email is the best way to do that even though it's a terrible medium for a thousand reasons.

I was in a board meeting several weeks ago and we were discussing the company's top priorities. The CEO pointed out that the top priorities were on the company wiki, which is fantastic. But unfortunately, not one of the board members had read the company wiki before attending the meeting. Another truth about VCs is that they are attention constrained for the most part. And they will most likely read information that is pushed out to them, and they are less likely to go find it on their own. That's why email is best.

Getting attention from your VC means giving them attention. It's like any relationship. There are no one way streets. And it takes work. But if your VC can help you and you want the help, you have to rope them in.




Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Some words of wisdom from entreprenures

Some words of wisdom that I have heard or picked up around the world, enjoy:

"Without customer service, you've got nothing. To me, customer service means that when people call our toll-free number with a problem, you solve it - whatever it takes. Make sure they go home happy and tell 10 other people."

"You have to build relationships with companies at all different levels. If you don't have that team networking, one day you could end up dead.""Effective negotiating is accomplished with the ears, not the mouth."

"Hold the pen." (i.e, control negotiations to ensure your points are heard)"

"Good ideas don't come from the top all the time. They come from the guy that's making it work at the ground level."

"We're not controlled by the amount of people we have or the money we've got. We're controlled by opportunity."

"Technology is not a product problem, but a design problem. Buying technology can't solve a problem any more than buying two-by-fours will build a house."

"Bad news travels 10 times as fast as good news, so you want to make sure a customer is always promoting your good name."

"Marketing is wonderful because it's about listening to clients and being responsive to them and letting them know what you can do for them."

"Everyone's born an entrepreneur, but it's crushed out of them before adulthood. You're lucky to survive with your enthusiasm intact."

Monday, September 24, 2007

Companies are bought not sold, whats your exit

I picked this post up from "ask the VC" a blog which does just that, answers folks questions, This post was written by Dick CostoloFounder, FeedBurner, it answers the question whats your Exit, I have been through a few answers to this question in my time, to my present answer, build a great company and the rest will happen, and the opening line is a statement to that effect, "companies are bought not sold" .

No Exit
Let’s pull a question from the MBA bin. I’ve spoken a few times to MBA schools that have mistakenly invited me in to talk about starting and running companies, and the question I always get at these events is “what is your exit strategy?”
I don’t think you can be very successful, and you certainly won’t be happy, if you are running a business and thinking about your exit strategy. If there is one theme that I hope I am conveying here over the course of many posts, it’s that you can’t predict what is going to happen to your company.
My cofounders and I have never entered a business or market thinking “the goal is to take this company public” or “we need to get this in front of the M&A team over at Toys ‘R Us”, or “if we have 50% of the online humidifier market by june 09, we’ll be a great acquisition target”, nor do I think you can unilaterally pursue exit goals successfully. The old adage “great companies are bought, not sold” is sometimes taken to mean that if you’re out there hawking your wares to M&A teams, your product/service must be second rate, but I think the more salient takeaway from this adage is that great companies are pretty focused on what they need to do in order to grow the business, execute on the strategy, and hit the revenue/operations targets.
The bottom line is that you have to take something of a zen approach to what the “result” of your company will be. Your business will either be successful or it won’t. If it’s successful, then the outcome will take care of itself. How will it take care of itself? It’s impossible to predict.
The enlightened reader is now thinking, “Wait a minute, if you don’t have an exit strategy or outcome in your head, then how do you know how to finance the company? How do you decide what you want to do next in terms of growth? How do you decide if an offer (financing or acquisition or otherwise) is worth it?" Around this same point in the conversation at the MBA events, I usually get a raised eyebrow that accompanies the comment “well, your VC’s are certainly thinking about exits even if you’re not, so how can you say you’re not thinking about an exit strategy if 60% of your company is owned by people who want a fast exit”.
I have generally the same answer to both questions/comments. First of all, contrary to what I seem to read almost weekly, technology VC’s (at least the early stage folks we’ve worked with) are more interested in growing successful businesses by financing them and less interested in figuring out how to get liquid within 18 months. Obviously, there comes a point or many points in the life of a successful company in which there are liquidity options, including acquisitions, mergers, and public offerings. I can tell you that if you are running a growing company with solid investors, those investors will generally be encouraging you to keep growing the business and financing it for further growth and ignore everything else. At some point, the preferred financing is a public offering through which the investors have some ability to approach liquidity. So, the notion that you are on the speed clock to exit when you raise venture money just isn’t generally true. No doubt there are exceptions – say a fund is underwater, and you’re the last company in the portfolio and you’re doing 8 figures a year top line in your third year and you want to stay private as long as possible – ok, you're definitely going to have a fidgety investor on your hands. From the entrepreneur’s standpoint, the answer to the question, “If you don’t have an exit strategy, how do you know how to finance the company? How do you know where you’re going?” is similar. You treat any acquisition/merger/etc. entreaties as financing offers, realizing that financings that result in 100% acquisition of the equity are going to look different than those involving the purchase of 10% of preferred Series D stock. Since you should always have a general sense of how your company would be valued on a financing, you can then more easily react to other offers pretty quickly, without having to run around like a chicken with its head cut off. They either make sense vis-à-vis how you would finance the continued growth of the company based on your current trajectory or they don’t.
Don’t interpret my comments here as "never talk to your executive team about how much you think the company is worth right now" or “you don’t even talk to people that want to talk to you about financings, m&a, mergers, etc. until you are ready to finance the company for further growth”. That’s not at all what I’m saying, and in fact, I’d say the exact opposite. I almost always met with people that wanted to talk to us about these topics (almost always financings), even if we weren’t a stage where we needed to raise money. I’ll go into this more in a future post, but again, this is all part of our philosophy that you can’t try to steer your company down a pre-ordained path: “we’re not going to talk to VC’s now because our business plan has the A round lasting 12 months”, or “we’re not going to start talking to investors now because we’d really like to sell the company in six months”. Potential investors, potential acquirers, and potential partners – these are all opportunities that you should weigh in the context of what’s happening to your business in this market. How these opportunities will play out is impossible to predict. Make a map of how you want to grow the business, not a map of what you want to happen to the company

By Dick Costolo Founder, FeedBurner



Friday, September 21, 2007

Spider's web's and Tapestry

"Spider's webs" and the "Tapestry of life"

When you start a large project you will find in the early days that you have a lot of activities ongoing, some that don't look like they are directly connected, or are not going in the correct direction that you want them to go, you do not feel things are coming together as you would like, don't panic, that is a normal feeling. I remember when my dad died, an old preacher talked to me about the tapestry of life , and how when you are face deep in things, you cannot see the beauty of the creation around you and understand why things happen, there just seams to be a jumble of threads, that can be the same in work, you need to take the step back to review and observe everything that is ongoing, look from a different perspective, bounce things of a friend who is not directly connected to the project and listen to there thoughts, and then take time to yourself and lie back in the grass and think things through, thread by thread. The project is running in a dynamic world, even when you started out, with the first word spoken to another the project had taken on a life of it's own, be aware of that, events, people, resources, competition, all can have an impact on the project that you have started, be fluid to a point.

If you have set out with a strong achievable vision of what it is you want to achieve, and bring that vision into all that you do, the threads will slowly come together for you. How many times have you looked at a spiders web and wondered how ever did the spider spin it's web in that location, with determination of completing it's vision, perseverance on it's task's, practice of it's skills, and never loosing the vision and picture of the Web that in in it's mind.

So when it all looks like you are being buried in a pile of threads, step back review, think, share and then come back with your vision and move forward, it is your tapestry, you are the only one who can bring it all together, don't let the vision slip.



Thursday, September 20, 2007

Merger or Acquisition

"When two rivers merge there will be turbulence, make sure you don't get drowned"

Gordon Whyte

Taken from a page on BNET
You should never pursue an acquisition deal unless the background legwork comes up perfectly clean. The reason is simple: anything that smells slightly fishy before the acquisition is likely to become toxic afterwards. Here are five red flags you must heed when you’re checking out the bona fides of a merger candidate.

Red Flag #1: Most of the target firm’s revenues come from a business you don’t understand.
Why It’s Red: The acquisition may have no coherent connection to your corporate strategy. If so, it’s unlikely that you’ll understand how to operate the acquired firm effectively, because the rules for operating in that market will remain foreign to you.
Quote: “Back in the ‘80s there was this diversification craze and everybody was just buying anything that looked like it was making money. In most cases, they had no idea how to run the acquired company — other than run it into the ground.”
— Edward Weiss, of Bregman, Berbert, Schwartz, and Gilday, and former general counsel for Group 1 Software, Inc., which acquired several firms and was later acquired itself by Pitney Bowes.

Red Flag #2: The target firm has a radically different corporate culture.
Why It’s Red: Integrating one company into another typically involves reassignments, layoffs, and relocations — all of which are difficult to manage. On top of that, you don’t want the added confusion caused by clashing management styles and differing ideas about how business should be conducted.
Quote: “Merging organizations with incompatible ideas about how to do business always creates major problems. The different factions resist each other strenuously but not always explicitly, so it can be extremely complex to untangle the people issues.”
— Richard Caro, CEO of Tangible Future, a San Francisco consulting firm that helps companies grow.

Red Flag #3: A sudden, positive change in the target’s recent revenue or inventory.
Why It’s Red: The data might reflect a one-time event rather than a sustainable change in the target’s ongoing business. Worst case, it might be an attempt to increase the valuation of the target firm by making it seem more attractive than it actually is.
Quote: “You need to look at the deal holistically; anything out of the ordinary is cause to drill down and find out the straight story. For example, if the revenue spiked up last year, it might be because of a one-time big sale. If the inventory changes suddenly for no apparent reason, they may have been understating their inventory in the past to look more efficient.”
— Rocco Pezza, president of the New England Brokerage Corporation, which advises small to mid-sized businesses on mergers, acquisitions, and financing.

Red Flag #4: The target’s management seems desperate to go forward.
Why It’s Red: Ideally, you want to acquire a firm that has strong enough fundamentals to be successful on its own. If the management is acutely anxious to make a deal, it may be because they secretly hope you’ll rescue them from the consequences of their own shortcomings.
Quote: “You can build a company that’s ripe to be bought, but you can’t build a company that’s meant to be sold. If the managers in the target firm are anxious to be bought, it’s probably because they don’t have the top-line growth, cost control, or management skills to make it on their own.”
— Jack Cooper, president and CEO of consulting firm JM Cooper & Associates, and former CIO at Bristol-Myers Squibb and Seagram, where he participated in several successful mergers.

Red Flag #5: The buyout will create instant millionaires out of employees who hold founder’s stock.
Why It’s Red: You’re not just acquiring a company, you’re acquiring the people who know how that company works. If key personnel will become rich on the deal, there’s a good chance they’ll jump ship shortly after the deal is completed, leaving you with an empty shell.
Quote: “We don’t want to create gazillionaires. If we’re talking about a purchase price that’s going to make [the target company] millionaires, we always force them to take an earn-out. They get some money up front, but not enough to take off and retire.”
— Dennis Weldon, director of corporate development and investor relations at Mentor Graphics Corporation and former corporate controller for First Farwest Transportation and Financial, a company built principally through a series of acquisitions.



Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Back from my travels for a while

I am just back from my travels all business, 18 flights in the last 18 days, 7 time zones crossed and recrossed, had breakfast in LA, lunch in Dallas, breakfast and lunch North Carolina, and lunch in Zurich, with a stop over in Milan for three days to start it all off. I found a link to a blog by Ken Crawford, http://theleadershipexperience.blogspot.com/2007/09/travelling-abroad.html, which gives some tips on travel abroad, I would add to them with one important addition, planes follow there own schedule not yours ?give your self plenty of time for connections, and review your airports, take a smallish airport Zurich, you would think that you had plenty of time to get to a gate there, until you find that you have to take a train to your gate.

I am was in Zurich yesterday at the European Energy Venture Fair (http://www.energyvcfair.com/ )

which is organised by Emerald ventures, I was pitching my company there, we landed some interested parties and now just need to follow up with them, some times things happen for you without you doing to much but most of the time you have to make them happen, like taking the chance to share a taxi to the airport with an interested VC...30mins of quality discussion ..you don't get that much time these days with the venture capital folks, to have an open and frank discussion about your proposal. The take away from yesterdays events that I want to share with you, that if you wait to your fully ready to go for financing ,you Will never be ready, until you are out and pitching you do not really know what the investment community thinks of your business model or your proposal, you need that interaction with your target group to refine your offering.

Well hope you have a good week, talk soon



Friday, September 07, 2007

Your first 100 days in your new role revisited

I have asked the question to a large group belonging to me linkedin network http://www.linkedin.com/ , what would your first 100 days consist off and here are some of the answers, I am off to the US next week so my entries will be sparce, catch up with you when I get back


So following on from your selection of a dream team...this is your first 100 days in leadership of your new team and company, what are the key five things you will accomplish in your first 100 days of leadership.

Answers: (names with held but I can get you in touch with the authors)

Take Charge Of Your Entry Into The New Job: Utilize your talents, but add to your toolbox. Under the stress and excitement of a new job, it’s easy to rely on your strengths—and over use them. To avoid this trap: Gather ideas from people inside and outside your new organization about the critical skills, perspectives and abilities needed to succeed in your new position. Find the ones that are different from those that have served you well in previous jobs. Focus on developing these new skills helps you avoid the trap of doing what you do best, regardless of what the situation requires. Assessment tools can be a powerful aid in the process of gaining a new perspective and uncovering blind spots. Grab the opportunity to get a new perspective on your skills and experience in order to uncover any blind spots. Always a good idea, this is especially timely when you’re starting a new job. It’s easier to make some changes and try some new behaviors when you’re not working within a firmly established reputation.

Execute A 100-Day Success Plan: As you start the new job, these three strategies will serve you well:

Establish Strong Support

Accelerate Your Learning Curve

Maintain Your Focus

These strategies have multiple parts. Let’s look at a few of them that will help you establish credibility and produce results early on.

Establish Strong Support Build a close working relationship with your new manager. Discuss what role your manager and other people in and outside of the organization will play to help you quickly get onboard. Get your team aligned with and supportive of your objectives and your management style. Develop a two-way communication path and ask them to help you with a crash course about the team and the organization. They have a rich storehouse of history, skills, ideas and connections to offer you---if they are motivated to do so. Establish a “safe haven” -- a person or people with whom you can talk candidly. Where will you go when you don’t have all the answers? You must feel secure asking questions and testing ideas with someone you can trust as you learn your new job. Many have successfully found this vital resource in a coach or a mentor.

Accelerate Your Learning Curve Identify a learning plan for your first 3 months on the job that covers these points: What information must you master in your first month on the job? What are the top 10 questions you need to have answered immediately? How will you get the information? Who will assist you? What’s the most efficient way for you to sort through a sea of product information, customer names, company financials, market data, acronyms and policies? How is this organization’s culture different from what you’re used to? Learn the “influence pathways” within your organization. Start building a network of people who can help you build the relationships and get the information you’ll need to get things done. At a minimum this includes the leaders both inside and outside of the organization who can make or break your success. Find out how you can help them succeed, and vice versa.

Maintain Your Focus Get clear about your immediate priorities. Establish clear expectations. Be sure you and your manager agree: What does success look like in the first 3 months? How will the various individuals and groups you rely on measure your success? Ask about the potential pitfalls that come with the job so you can develop pathways around them. Moving into a new leadership position is complex, and each situation is unique. By building important alliances early, and keeping your attention on the right things, you will cut months off of your transition time, and establish the reputation of a successful leader.

by: Randi Rosenfield:

Develop leadership, guidance, and mentoring that leads the team to that horizon of success. During the journey it becomes apparent that some will not make it, one must work with them to find there true calling. Help them understand that the journey is not for everyone and that others may have to find an alternate course. While the majority stay the course, you must assist them in developing there known strengths, focusing on the strengths supports the overall goals and objectives of the journey. Some journeys are short, while others may take some time; In the end, there is always success!

1.One must enter a business and quickly establish a current state and future state.

2. The team helps develop the course of action and the milestones for success (buy in is essential).

3. You must determine with assistance from Human Resources which team members are strong to take us on the journey and which ones will need assistance in following another path.

4. Communication, Communication, Clarification, Communication.

5. Processes, procedures, policies, mentorships, colaboration, discussions, goals, and objectives are both developed and reemphasized.

6. Measurements, Metrics, and Communication are tracked and monitored.

7. Success is inevidable and a not a destination, it is a continued journey. Planning, executing, replanning, creating risk assessments, and alternative solutions.

8. Remain positive

I just completed my first 100 days of leadership at my new position.

Here is what I did:

1- Meet with every team member individually and LISTEN to them. Ask them what are the 3 things (in the business) they would change if they had a magic wand. What they would not change. Ask them to rate their satisfaction level on a scale of 1 to 10 and ask what it would take to bring it to 10.

2- Make a Strengths and Weaknesses assessment. There are plenty of simple questionnaires out there that can be used to identify what type of person you have on your team (not technically but personnality-wise). I use a 10 question test that shows if the persons are natural leaders, doers or more analytical (red, blue, green). It is extremely useful to identify who are the players you can build your team on.

3- "What you do speaks so loud that I cannot hear what you say", (RW Emerson). The most important trait of a leader is to do what you say you will do. If you want your team to blindly and totally follow you, you must never let them down. Always do what you say.

4- Identify your change agents. For every change you want to implement, find someone from the team who is respected by everyone, make sure he/she is with you 100% and plan and implement the change with his/her help. This greatly reduced resistance to change and chances of success.

5- Don't be afraid to teach your team what you know. I believe the stronger your team, the stronger you are. Give them everything you know, suggest great books that have influenced you, distribute copies of great leadership or management papers, organize focus groups, etc.

Gordon, Great question. There are several strategies that have been mentioned that, from my own experience, are not very good ideas. At the CEO level it is important to understand what your role is and what it should not be. Many new CEOs confuse the roles of COO and CAO with theirs and, as a result, end up stretched very thin throughout the organization – doing nothing particularly well. As I see it there are four roles that a CEO must fill in a company of any size. Outside focus: in companies above 30-40 Million dollars in run rate the CEO needs to commit a significant part of time to cultivating and maintaining relationships with important people and organizations outside of the company. These may include bankers, investors, analysts (particularly if the company is a public one), lawyers, accountants and major competitors and strategic partners. Business Development: The CEO needs to be the chief business development officer of the company. That does not mean that they should be doing the work of the business development team but they should be the senior contact with important clients and potential clients. I have had lots of experience with CEOs who have realized the importance to clients of direct, sustentative and regular contact with the top dog. Vision: The overall vision for the company has to be developed and refined with the direct and active participation of the CEO. The CEO needs to have enough ‘free time’ to lead this process and to reflect on the kinds of global issues and challenges that need to be met and overcome in order to form that vision. I have seen many CEOs who were too busy managing the company to do this and the company always suffers. Senior team management: CEOs need to avoid the ‘Carter micro-management syndrome’. If you bring in good people you need to trust them to do their jobs without second guessing them. A CEO needs to give them guidance and impart the vision for the company – but they are responsible for implementation. I have seen CEOs loose their company because they could not bring themselves to fill these roles. They would hire people and then insist on second guessing them and, in effect, doing their job for them. (I even came across one CEO of a 30+ million dollar company who was still approving expense reports and settling HR issues) This kind of activity creates massive stress within the company and very often it flies apart. When ever I encounter one of these types I try to get them a mentor who has successfully run organizations much bigger than the CEO’s and work to help build a relationship based on trust and respect. Some times this helps the CEO see more clearly the roles that they must fill – sometimes it simply highlights the CEO’s weaknesses and proves that they are incapable of filling them. I hope this helps, Earl

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Some thoughts on Funding

An Interesting article from Wil Schroter who is the Founder and CEO of the Go BIG Network

The Benefits of Not Raising Capital
Any entrepreneur trying to fund their startup is well aware of the benefits of raising capital. Large cash infusions enable you to reach the market quicker, add more resources, and launch with a burst of speed.But are there any benefits to not raising capital? What happens when you avoid taking on capital and take your time to build a company?
There are lots of hidden benefits to building slowly, although that doesn't necessarily mean that it's the best way to grow. More important is how you consider the benefits of avoiding capital and use them to your advantage.

Avoiding Dilution
If you refrain from taking on investors, you keep more equity. It's an obvious truth that can be difficult to reconcile with the aforementioned benefits of taking on investors. So what's the difference between a good decision and a bad one when it comes to investment?
Timing.Your formative years leave you pretty vulnerable to heavy dilution because you have very few assets to leverage. The further you can push the company ahead without raising capital, the stronger your position will be with investors down the road. Sometimes even getting as far incorporating the company, identifying the first few key employees, and creating a simple demo version of the product can create a lot more value in a short period of time.
In many ways, the time you spend without capital is an investment in retaining equity later on.
Forcing Focus
Avoiding capital can also help you find discipline and focus in your venture. As I've said before, being broke means being disciplined. When you're broke you can't afford to work on several disconnected ideas. Singular focus is required to produce cash. If you don't, you won't be around long enough to entertain shifts in direction!
Don't get me wrong money doesn't always enable distraction.
But knowing that diversion of focus could keep you from getting your next paycheck is a powerful incentive to stay on task! In fact, being acutely focused, whether you like it or not, will end up saving you an incredible amount of cash along the way.
Maintaining Control
Bear in mind that when you take an investor's money, no matter how much of the company you may own, you still have lost some control. Ideally, none of this matters. Your interests are perfectly in line with the investors and the two of you live happily ever after.
If only that ever happened.
The interests of investors and entrepreneurs can vary as slightly as the color of your new logo or the as greatly as the direction of your entire company. The longer you hold out and avoid capital, the longer you can maintain control of your destiny.
Refining the Vision
Time spent without capital is time to refine the vision of your company and your product before accelerating the business with money.
Contrary to popular belief, most companies don't start with a perfect idea and run forever on that single plan. PayPal, who incidentally raised lots of money, went from designing software for transferring money on PDAs to powering payments for eBay auctions. Their change in direction was a smart response to new market opportunities that surfaced after they launched.
You're far better off raising money once you've had time to test your product and vision to ensure you're raising money for the right strategy. Investors understand that changes are inevitable, but if you go ask for capital in the formative stages, you may look unreliable when you communicate your constantly changing needs to them.
You may also find that your initial approach to launching the company required a lot of capital, yet as your vision evolves, newer approaches require little or no capital. Delaying investment gives you breathing room to work through strategies that may save you money (and equity).
When to Stop Waiting
All of these benefits assume one thing that your business can afford to wait for capital!
There are lots of situations where waiting for capital just isn't an option. You may be trying to open a restaurant, manufacture a product, or launch your new Internet company before another fast-paced competitor. In these cases, raising money is the only option.
Many companies also think capital is only for starting companies. But nothing gets an investor more excited than investing capital in order to grow an existing company. When your past experience implies a successful future, investors are more likely loosen the purse strings.
The best strategy is to go as far as you can, as long as you can, without raising capital in order to get a full handle on the business. Only when you are at a point where not having capital is an absolute stopping point in your business, or you are forgoing far too much opportunity to avoid raising capital should you start making the rounds.