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Friday, February 29, 2008

Suppliers and relationships

I was in Oslo this week to meet with one of our strategic suppliers, this was our first face to face meeting, so it was a bit of getting to know each other and feeling each other out, it was an interesting visit. The key things I want to bring out was that they were open and transparent, they did not waste time in getting to the crux off the matter and they were interested in how they could help us get better pricing and product. The were open on how they could save us money and how it helped them as well in there business,they were honest on there capabilities not over stating there position. I wish more companies would take up this model as it would make there business life more "profitable". They went out there way to make our trip as productive and hassle free as possible, with assistance on local travel etc...yes if we sign a deal it will be a multi-million dollar contract, but it goes to show that " Nice guys2 in business have there place, and I would rather be known as a Nice guy than the opposite, at least I can look in the mirror every morning and I am happy with what I see.

I have been reading a book by Mark Stevens called God is a Salesman, it is a good read, even if you are not a religious type, the key take away was:

  • Treat your Customers as part of the Family

  • Share your Customers Vision

  • People by trust before the buy products

  • Make Guarantees and stand by them

  • It's not the product that sells it's the provider

  • Listen a lot and speak little

  • You should never need to hold a sale

  • It is you that is the sells product not the Laptop/power point presentation



Thursday, February 28, 2008

Construction your Board

Here are some thoughts on choosing board members.

Avoid "big names" For the most part, they are useless.
Select people who will attend each and every meeting, who will pay close attention to the business
Select people who have an affinity for your business, who understand your challenges and your opportunities
Avoid putting someone you can control on your board. In tough situations they will have a fiduciary duty to do what's right and you won't be able to control them when it matters most to you.
Don't let conflicts get in the way of selecting the ideal board member. Conflicts will be disclosed and can be managed. Many times the people who will understand your business best are conflicted in some way. There are ways to deal with this problem.
Make sure to have an experienced accountant/auditor on your board and have them run the audit committee. That is no place for amateurs.
Make sure to have at least two or three CEOs of comparable companies on your board. Make sure they are on the comp committee. Compensation issues are best handled by people who understand the talent market.
Select people who have the time to do the job right. Being a board member is a job. It's not a retirement perk. If someone cannot commit to attend each and every meeting and to spend at least several hours a week on your company, they are not the right choice.
Select people who will get along with each other. The very best boards I am on are friendly social active groups. Serious business doesn't have to be stilted and formal. It can and should be fun.
Above all else, look for great judgment and ethics.

picked up from Fred Wilson's thoughts on Board members..

Friday, February 22, 2008

Dragons' Den bad value for money ?

Dragons' Den bad value for money, say small businesses

Nearly 65% of small businesses say that they would turn down an offer from TV programme Dragons’ Den if they didn’t think it represented good value for money.
According to a survey of just under 750 business owners, accounting software company Kashflow found that businesses would prefer to turn to banks or private backers for a more reasonable rate or split of the business.
Of those who would accept, 36% said it was because of the experience the dragon could bring to the company, while 27% said they would use it to try and grow their company.
A further 24% said they would only accept for the positive public relations opportunities.
Ling Valentine, owner of LINGsCARS.com, is a small business owner who decided to turn down the Dragon’s offers of investment.
She said: “I had two joint offers from dragons Bannatyne and Farleigh, but they wanted too much [of my business.] I refused both of their offers.
“LINGsCARS.com has more than doubled turnover to £28m in 2007 and I am really glad I walked away.”
“Businesses who jump at their first offer must be desperate or barmy,” she added.
Duane Jackson, managing director at Kashflow, advised:
“Many business owners don’t realise that if they kept a better eye on their business expense they would probably not need to approach television shows for funding and could get a much better offer either from a private financial backer or the banks.”
Article found in www.startups.co.uk

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Capturing the Tribal Knowledge

When you start a new company, there is a lot of IP and "know how" generated quickly in the opening months of operations, I have always had a problem with the generation of documents to capture the knowledge and not just let it reside in the heads of your best workers "Tribal Knowledge", writing reports is a time consuming process both for the writer and the reader...maybe the Wiki will be the way forward...read on..if you are interested...

Seven Strategies for Implementing a Successful Corporate Wiki By 2009:

At least 50 percent of organizations will use wikis as important work collaboration tools -- will you be in that number?
By Brad Kenney
Jan. 25, 2008 -- Gasoline prices and the goal among many organizations to keep retirement-age workers active and involved are encouraging more employers to offer telecommuting options to employees.

Businesses must enlist technologies that will help workers stay connected while they collaborate on internal projects. One tool to receive greater consideration in 2008 is wiki technology, according to a new study completed by the Society for Information Management's Advanced Practices Council (APC).
A wiki is a writable web that every approved user can edit. Originally designed for online collaboration among loosely affiliated software developers, wiki technology is moving into the mainstream corporate IT infrastructure. Some firms have used wikis since the late 1990s. Moreover, the success of Wikipedia is placing wikis squarely on the CIO's radar screen.
When considering use of wikis, CIOs should keep in mind that in reality, a large number of companies may already have employees using wikis for work purposes without the authority to do so.
Perhaps a better question than whether unsanctioned use of wikis should be tolerated is: "How and what can be done to ensure employees use wikis productively and for the larger good?"
The APC commissioned research this year to help its members plan better for 2008.
It asked:
How are wikis used now in corporations?
What's the value wikis present?
What are the barriers to implementing wikis corporate-wide?
What are the best practices for sustaining wikis?
After surveying more than 160 active corporate wiki users, the APC study identified seven strategies to be followed in 2008 to ensure the sustainability and value of a corporate wiki:
Integrate the wiki as one of several important tools in an organization's IT collaboration architecture.
Understand the wiki "rules of conduct" and ensure they are monitored and enforced.
Optimize the use of wikis for collaborative knowledge creation across geographically dispersed employees, and for crossing divisional or functional boundaries, in order to gain insights from people not previously connected.
Assign a champion to each wiki and have that champion observe contributions that people make to the wiki; the champion will help foster employees who adopt the important "shaper" role within the wiki.
Recognize that the most difficult barrier to cross in sustaining a wiki is convincing people to edit others' work; organizations should ask their champion and managers to help with this.
Recognize that a significant value of wikis comes from embedding small software programs into the wiki that structure repetitive behavior. Some include organizing meeting minutes, rolling up project status or scheduling meetings. Ask wiki participants to keep watching for repetitive activity to evolve and enhance wiki technology.
Understand wikis are best used in work cultures that encourage collaboration. Without an appropriate fit with the workplace culture, wiki technology will be of limited value in sharing knowledge, ideas and practices.
The disruptive nature of wiki-based knowledge management may not be appropriate for all organizations. Those with traditional hierarchical information sharing approaches will not "get it."
Some organizations in industries with little turbulence and low information intensiveness will not have much need for wikis. Nevertheless, a large number of organizations can benefit from a wiki approach to knowledge management, whether in small project teams or through an Intranet.
The APC researchers predict many more organizations will start using wikis in 2008, confirming Gartner's earlier predictions (Gartner, 2005) that by 2009, at least 50 percent of organizations will use wikis as important work collaboration tools.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Don’t Let the Peanuts Run Your Life

Some brain food from David J Pollay

Don’t Let the Peanuts Run Your Life

I love peanuts. I like them salted or unsalted. I like them sweet or savory. You can put them in my dinner or in my dessert. I never met a peanut I didn’t like. It is a joy to eat peanuts!

It’s also a challenge to eat peanuts. Peanuts pack a caloric punch. Too many peanuts per day and you have to loosen your belt. One day I decided to reduce my peanut intake. I resolved not to eat peanuts after dinner, or for a late night snack.

So the next night I had dinner. And sure enough, I had a thought to eat some peanuts. But I reminded myself that I had decided not to eat peanuts. So I did not eat peanuts.

And then it happened. An hour later I was standing in my kitchen with salt on my lips, peanuts in my mouth, and another load ready to go. But I did not remember opening the cabinet, reaching down to the bottom shelf, grabbing the peanut jar – OK, the peanut tub – and putting a handful of delicious peanuts in my mouth. It was only after I stuck my hand in the tub of peanuts a second time I thought, “Whoa! Whoa! Whoa! How did this happen? How did I end up here?”

Psychology researcher Jonathan Haidt of the University of Virginia explains this phenomenon with a metaphor he calls the “Rider and the Elephant.” In his book “The Happiness Hypothesis”, and in his earlier research papers, Haidt described how the rider is our conscious mind, and the elephant is our unconscious mind. We are constantly trying to guide our body and thoughts in the direction we want them to go. The challenge is, as Haidt’s metaphor illustrates, when an elephant is determined to go somewhere, it will, rider in tow.

Now take my peanut example to another level. What if you want to change something important in your life? If you decide that you are going to do something differently, but you are not aware of what is happening below the surface, in your unconscious, how will you succeed? The answer is you won’t.

Haidt warns, “The rider can’t just decide to change and then order the elephant to go along with the program. Lasting change can come only by retraining the elephant, and that’s hard to do.” The key to achieving new and important things in your life is to find out what is unconsciously limiting you and then replace it with a belief that will enable your success.

Your most potent levers of sustainable change are your beliefs. Uncover your beliefs and you will find out why you do what you do. You will learn more about your elephant.

So here’s one approach to drawing out your beliefs. Start by identifying an important and big goal in your life and how soon you would like to reach it. Make sure this goal would change your life dramatically if you achieved it.

Now grab a pen and answer these questions. What will I gain if I achieve my goal? What will I have to do to accomplish my goal? What will I have to give up to reach my goal? What will happen if I fail to meet my goal?

Start each of your answers with “I believe I . . .” to help elicit your beliefs. Now look at your answers. These are some of the beliefs you hold relative to your goal. The question, then, is which of these beliefs will help you achieve your goal and which ones will hold you back. Your success in life depends on your ability to uncover and change your limiting beliefs to those that will fire you up and bring out your greatness.

Don’t let the peanuts run your life.

© 2008 David J. Pollay



Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Pangea Day

What Is Pangea Day?

I thought I would do my bit for the film producers of the world, I.e you and me today and introduce Pangea Day to you:

Pangea Day taps the power of film to strengthen tolerance and compassion while uniting millions of people to build a better future.
In a world where people are often divided by borders, difference, and conflict, it's easy to lose sight of what we all have in common. Pangea Day seeks to overcome that - to help people see themselves in others - through the power of film.
On May 10, 2008 - Pangea Day - sites in Cairo, Dharamsala, Kigali, London, New York City, Ramallah, Rio de Janeiro, and Tel Aviv will be videoconferenced live to produce a program of powerful films, visionary speakers, and uplifting music.
The program will be broadcast live to the world through the Internet, television, digital cinemas, and mobile phones.
Of course, movies alone can't change the world. But the people who watch them can. So following May 10, 2008, Pangea Day organizers will facilitate community-building activities around the world by connecting inspired viewers with numerous organizations which are already doing groundbreaking work.

The Goals
Pangea Day will:
Bring together millions of people from all over the world in a unique shared experience
Use the power of film to create a better understanding of one another
Form a global community striving for a better future

The Results
People will unite globally to shift the agenda on multiple issues, from war to climate change
We will establish a structure for people to build new relationships with those from other countries by continuing friendships made at the screenings and via the new online community
Millions of people will have access to a growing library of inspiring content promoting a more unified world, which can be accessed on demand by millions of people and will encourage further creativity and action
Organizations doing significant work will strengthen their fundraising capacity
Dozens of talented filmmakers will make big strides in their careers

WEB LINK : http://www.pangeaday.org/ There will be a viewing near you....It's a 4-hour program of powerful short films, visionary speakers, and uplifting music that could possible change your life.



Monday, February 18, 2008

Some food for thought "Game Theory"

Game Theory an Introduction

Game theory is a branch of applied mathematics which is used in the social sciences (most notably economics), biology, computer science and philosophy. Game theory attempts to mathematically capture behavior in strategic situations, where an individual's success in making choices depends on the choices of others. While initially developed to analyze competitions where one individual does better at another's expense (zero sum games), it has been expanded to treat a wide class of interactions, which are classified according to several criteria.
Traditional applications of game theory attempt to find
equilibria in these games—sets of strategies where individuals are unlikely to change their behavior. Many equilibrium concepts have been developed (most famously the Nash equilibrium) in an attempt to capture this idea. These equilibrium concepts are motivated differently depending on the field of application, although they often overlap or coincide. This methodology is not without criticism, and debates continue over the appropriateness of particular equilibrium concepts, the appropriateness of equilibria altogether, and the usefulness of mathematical models more generally.
Although some developments occurred before it, the field of game theory came into being with the 1944 classic
Theory of Games and Economic Behavior by John von Neumann and Oskar Morgenstern. This theory was developed extensively in the 1950s by many scholars. Game theory was later explicitly applied to biology in the 1970s, although similar developments go back at least as far as the 1930's. Game theory has been widely recognized as an important tool in many fields. In total eight game theorists have won Nobel prizes in economics and John Maynard Smith was awarded the Crafoord Prize for his application of game theory to biology.

Economics and business
Economists have long used game theory to analyze a wide array of economic phenomena, including
auctions, bargaining, duopolies, fair division, oligopolies, social network formation, and voting systems. This research usually focuses on particular sets of strategies known as equilibria in games. These "solution concepts" are usually based on what is required by norms of rationality. The most famous of these is the Nash equilibrium. A set of strategies is a Nash equilibrium if each represents a best response to the other strategies. So, if all the players are playing the strategies in a Nash equilibrium, they have no unilateral incentive to deviate, since their strategy is the best they can do given what others are doing.
The payoffs of the game are generally taken to represent the
utility of individual players. Often in modeling situations the payoffs represent money, which presumably corresponds to an individual's utility. This assumption, however, can be faulty.
A prototypical paper on game theory in economics begins by presenting a game that is an abstraction of some particular economic situation. One or more solution concepts are chosen, and the author demonstrates which strategy sets in the presented game are equilibria of the appropriate type. Naturally one might wonder to what use should this information be put. Economists and business professors suggest two primary uses.

For further reading have a look at Game Theory: A Nontechnical Introduction-by Morton D. Davis (Author)



Thursday, February 14, 2008

Interesting article on doing business in China

Post found in the http://www.chinavortex.com/

Working the Gray Areas in China
If I were to wait until the Chinese government said I could do something, I’d never be able to make money.”
This is a line I have heard on many occasions from different Chinese entrepreneurs.
In China, there are many areas which are not strictly illegal, but they’re not legal either. Most of the time, these involve fields which are too new for the government to regulate. Any government is a slow-moving giant; they are not renowned for their quickness and being smart. In this business ecosystem, the advantage lies with the fast-moving entrepreneur who can identify a need and move in quickly.
By the time the government has figured out the industry and begins to regulate it, the major players are already established. This is how the online gaming industry started in China with Shanda, and how Giant Interactive became successful with its pay-for-play online gaming model.
When Americans and Europeans go to China, they go out of their way to make sure that every i is dotted and every t is crossed in all their legal arrangements with the Chinese government. Each executive is effectively protecting himself from litigation and any bad news from the Chinese government.
This is like going to church and asking the priest if you will get eternal salvation by going to church every Sunday and donating one million dollars every year.
In doing so, they are basically asking for Chinese government regulation. Now, do you think the Chinese government is going to favor a foreign competitor or local Chinese company, even one which pushed the boundaries of government regulation in China?
This is one of the great ironies in China.
It’s a little like being a parent; who do you love more, the loyal son who does everything you say but is not creative and imaginative, or the smart son who sometimes frustrates you by coming home late, but is brimming with all kinds of insights and creative ideas and dates all the smart beautiful girls?
If you asked the Chinese government, or at least watch what they do on the policy level, they like the smart and sometimes naughty son.
Unless he gets too smart for his own good, in which case they smack him down.

Presentation Delivery

By Carmine Gallo
When Apple CEO Steve Jobs kicked off Macworld 2008, he once again raised the bar for presenters everywhere. While most deliver information, Jobs inspires the audience. After analyzing his latest presentation, I’ve extracted the 10 most motivating elements to incite listeners.
1. Set the tone. “There is something in the air today,” Jobs projected to the crowd to open the Macworld conference. By doing so, he set the tone for his presentation and hinted at the key product announcement–the ultrathin MacBook Air laptop. While every presentation needs an angle, it doesn’t have to be unveiled right away. Last year, Jobs waited until the 20–minute mark. When the time was right, he noted, “Today Apple reinvents the phone.” Once you identify your angle, make sure to weave it throughout your presentation.
2. Demonstrate enthusiasm. It’s impossible to deny Jobs’ passion for computer design. Next time you’re crafting or delivering a presentation, think about infusing it with your personality. Most speakers get into presentation mode and feel as though they have to strip the talk of any character. Remember, your audience wants to be wowed, not put to sleep. The audience will follow your lead. So set an enthusiastic example.
3. Provide an outline. Jobs set expectations by noting, “There are four things I want to talk about today. So let’s get started…” Verbally opening and closing each of the four sections helped to make clear transitions between talking points. For example, after revealing several new iPhone features, he said, “That [the iPhone] was the second thing I wanted to talk about today. Number three is about iTunes.” Make lists and provide your audience with guideposts along the way.
4. Make numbers meaningful. When Jobs announced that Apple had sold 4 million iPhones to date, he provided context for the figure. “That’s 20,000 iPhones every day, on average,” Jobs explained, “What does that mean to the overall market?” Numbers don’t mean much unless they are placed in perspective. Connect the dots for your listeners.
5. Try for an unforgettable moment. This is the moment in your presentation that everyone will be talking about. Every Steve Jobs presentation builds up to one big scene. In this year’s Macworld keynote, it was the announcement of MacBook Air. To demonstrate just how thin it is, Jobs said it would fit in an envelope. Jobs drew cheers by opening a manila interoffice envelope and holding the laptop for everyone to see. What is the one memorable moment of your presentation? Identify it ahead of time and build up to it.
6. Create visual slides. While most speakers fill their slides with data, text, and charts, great presenters do the opposite. There is very little text on a Steve Jobs slide. Most of the slides present one idea for the audience to walk away with. This is further supported by see–and–say syncing. For example, when outlining, “The first thing I want to talk to you about today,” was accompanied by a slide with the numeral I. When he discussed a specific product like the iPhone, the audience saw a slide with an image of the product. Inspiring presenters are short on bullet points and big on graphics.
7. Give ’em a show. A Jobs presentation has ebbs and flows, themes and transitions. Including video clips, demonstrations, and guests creates the feeling that the presentation is more of a show than a lecture. Enhance your presentations by incorporating multimedia, product demonstrations, or giving others the chance to say a few words.
8. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Despite your best preparation, something might go wrong as it did during the Apple CEO’s keynote. Upon attempting to show a few photographs from a live Web site, the screen went black. Jobs smiled and said, “Well, I guess Flickr isn’t serving up the photos today.” By moving forward and recapping the new features he just introduced, it was no big deal. Don’t sweat minor mishaps. Have fun.
9. Sell the benefit. While most presenters promote product features, Jobs sells benefits. When introducing iTunes movie rentals, Jobs said, “We’ve never offered a rental model in music because people want to own their music. You listen to your favorite song thousands of times in your life. But most of us watch movies once, maybe a few times. And renting is a great way to do it. It’s less expensive, doesn’t take up space on our hard drive…” Your listeners are always asking themselves, “What’s in it for me?” Answer the question. Don’t make them guess. Clearly state the benefit of every service, feature, or product.
10. Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse. Steve Jobs cannot pull off an intricate presentation with video clips, demonstrations, and outside speakers without hours of rehearsal. Jobs rehearses the entire presentation aloud for many hours. You can see he rehearsed the Macworld presentation because his words were often perfectly synchronized with the images and text on the slides. A Steve Jobs presentation looks effortless because it is well–rehearsed.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

An Insite into the first year of a start up

The 1st Year is the Hardest
In Om of GIGAOM's article on his first 365 days as an entrepreneur, he is quoted as saying "a founder’s life is filled, mainly, with attempting new things, recognizing one’s mistakes, and making adjustments. “Each day was different, each situation unique… we all learned how to deal with whatever came our way.” Which is why he is always drawn to baseball analogies. Pitch. Analyze. Adjust. Like a pitcher on the mound. Which, ultimately, is just what a founder is — the person who puts the game in play.

The full text of Om’s piece begins here:
The longest year, the shortest 365 daysAfter eighteen hours stuck in the middle seat on what seemed to be an unending journey back home, I arrived yesterday in San Francisco, whip lashed by a monster jetlag, and an email box full of messages. And all I wanted to do was meet up with the GigaTeam, and have a quiet drink to celebrate an important milestone in our brief start-up life: our first anniversary.

On July 5th, we turned one year old as a company, capping what has been the longest year in my life, and the shortest 365 days. Each day was different, each situation unique, and every crisis a flashpoint. Together, we all learned how to deal with whatever came our way. It has been a year, in baseball parlance, when we struck out a lot, adjusted, hopeful that we could hit one out of the park.
The biggest lesson for me personally — the start-up life is non-stop: no pauses, no breaks, no time to stop and smell the roses. We went from being me, and one blog, to four sites, and seven people. The journey has been made enjoyable thanks to team members, Katie, Liz, Joey, and Carleen. (Don’t worry – I will get to the other two in a minute.)
And that doesn’t include folks who have worked tirelessly through the year, either as contributors, tech gurus and our well wishers. Or the always-supportive True Ventures, who as backers have let me stumble my way through this start-up thing.
Looking back, this has been a satisfying year: we successfully launched WebWorkerDaily, NewTeeVee and FoundREAD. Of course we weren’t always this lucky – IPNetworked and GigaGamez didn’t work out so well for us.
I just wanted to say thanks to all you readers, for giving us your time, and sharing your insights with us, and helping us mature as a company.
Now back to those two missing names: Mike Sly, an old friend from Red Herring joins as a Vice President of Sales, helping us explore new opportunities as we ramp up our events business and grow the publishing operation. He is going to be working in tandem with Federated Media.
And of course, last but not the least, we have Adena DeMonte joining us from the Red Herring as a general assignment reporter, and helping us on something new we have cooking up. So folks, here is to next 12 months… now back to work!



Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Relationship a big lever in business

Relationship a big lever in business

Making relationships with, employees, customers and partners is a must to building a lastign business, knowing a person for who the are and not just what they do, allows you to operate at a deeper level as trust and understanding of each other improves.

Some interesting quotes about relationships:

Virtue is not left to stand alone. He who practices it will have neighbors.
Forget injuries, never forget kindnesses.
Respect yourself and others will respect you.
When anger rises, think of the consequences.
Do not impose on others what you yourself do not desire.

It is more shameful to distrust our friends than to be deceived by them.
It is not the failure of others to appreciate your abilities that should trouble you, but rather your failure to appreciate theirs
Tsze-Kung asked, saying, 'Is there one word which may serve as a rule of practice for all one's life?" The Master said, "Is not Reciprocity such a word? What you do not want done to yourself, do not do to others."

Recompense injury with justice, and recompense kindness with kindness.
Have no friends not equal to yourselfNever give a sword to a man who can't dance. It is only the benevolent man who is capable of liking or disliking other men.
A youth is to be regarded with respect. How do you know that his future will not be equal to our present?

By Good old Confucius, or Kung Fu Tzu, is a Chinese philosopher, moralist, and reformer (B.C. 551 - 479)

The Business of Building Relationships

As a business professional, you should ask yourself: "What business am I in?". The answer is quite simple: if your business has anything to do with people – and ALL businesses do – you are in the business of building relationships.

Influencing People

In every organization and business activity, influential people succeed and non-influential people don't. You cannot
influence someone unless he or she likes you in some way. People are motivated for their reasons, not yours. Rapport is the key to influence. Rapport and influence start with acceptance of the other person's point of view, their state and their style of communication. To influence you have to be able to appreciate and understand the other person's standpoint. And these work both ways: I cannot influence you without being open to influence myself.

Leadership is the process of directing the behavior of others toward the accomplishment of some common objectives. Leadership is imperative for molding a group of people into a team, shaping them into a force that serves as a competitive business advantage. Leaders know how to make people function in a collaborative fashion, and how to motivate them to excel their performance. Leaders also know how to balance the individual team member's quest with the goal of producing synergy – an outcome that exceeds the sum of individual inputs.

These are some areas for you to explore in building relationships...



Monday, February 11, 2008

Founders be aware

Founders pushed out
George Osborne happily announced this week if he were chancellor, a national Dragons’ Den style system would be introduced to help entrepreneurs find investment for their businesses.
Unless you’re spectacularly wealthy, or happen to have stumbled upon an extremely cash generative idea, you’ll probably need some kind of outside cash injection to grow your business rapidly.
Dealing with investors is often a major challenge for entrepreneurs and one, it seems, that continues long after you’ve signed over an equity stake.
New research from the European Leadership Programme (ELP) found only one in every 10 company founders are allowed to remain as chief execs following venture capital investment.
To address that figure another way, for every 100 businesses that receive significant VC funding, 90 entrepreneurs are pushed out of the driving seat.
Of the entrepreneurs surveyed, 35% said high expectations of investors was the main factor in a split.
“Many companies bring in a new CEO in the hope that they can turn around an under-performing business, but often this doesn’t solve their problems,” said Ashley Ward, founder of the ELP.
“Most of these investors give a CEO less than a year to prove themselves which suggests they think a company can recover in less than 12 months, but this is usually unrealistic, and changing the CEO again results in time lost searching for a replacement and bringing them up to speed.”
A word of warning for entrepreneurs that want to hang onto their baby after receiving funding: choose your investors as carefully as they choose their investments.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Ideas are the life blood off your company

The moment new ideas stop being used in a company the company has died, this is an article that may help you get thoese creative processess functioning again.

Ideas Don’t Always Have to Die
Ideas do not always survive. Sometimes they are forgotten, discarded or never make it beyond the initial stages of discussion. There are plenty of reasons why ideas die.
For instance, an idea might die when:…the idea is attacked by a certain number of people.…the idea isn’t responded to with enthusiasm or passion.…the cost of trialing the idea is too expensive and there are other priorities demanding funds.…the idea is deemed too risky.…there is no one in a senior position to champion the idea.…there is a lack of feasibility attached to the idea at the initial stage.…there are power struggles between those promoting the idea and those opposing it.…the idea is thought to be too similar to an older idea or the same as something already in place.…there is a change of circumstances, or strategy is adjusted which lessens the value of the idea.…an idea is deemed a failure after being tried out for the first time.
There might be many other reasons to add to the list above.

Too often, an idea dies and it is forgotten and never looked at again. But it might be worthwhile to review these ‘dead’ ideas periodically.
If an idea offers some value then it is worthwhile assessing it from time to time in order to see if the value can be delivered or if the value is perhaps even more significant.
You have concepts of delivery and concepts of value. As in all types of creativity, there is an importance in extracting and defining the concept that seems to be in use for the new idea.If the concept of delivery is outlined, this concept can then be challenged and an alternative way of providing the same value can be found. If the concept of value is made apparent, then there could be other forms of value that arise from this basic concept.
An idea can die for whatever reason, but the concept behind the idea does not need to die at the same time. The concept could survive, with an effort being made to see how it might be delivered through a practical idea.
If an idea fails to survive then an attempt should be made to spell out exactly why that idea has died. It could be because of the cost of the idea, or is it a matter of implementation? It could be because of a lack of feasibility and practicality, or is it a matter of risk? It could be a matter of low value. In practice, ideas often die because of a combination of several different factors.
Perhaps there is low motivation for the idea. That is always difficult to admit.

By Edward de Bono is the world's leading authority in the field of creative thinking and the teaching of thinking as a skill.

PS: my peave of the day...folk who do not have the xxxxx to use there real name when they try to post comments which are never positve on someone elses blog, just "Anonymous" they must have a sorry life

Thursday, February 07, 2008

what you should be focused on as a founder

What a Startup Company Founder’s Priority List Looks Like
Leading a startup company is nothing like leading a big, established company. Startups are focused foremost on survival, while big companies direct their efforts toward growth or in the worst case, slowing decline.
It’s natural that many entrepreneurs start companies with a task list that looks a lot like it did at their old job. After all, they’re likely coming from an established career in a big company. Big companies (usually) have the critical infrastructure in place and as inefficient as they may be, workers are free to look much farther down the road.
Startup Founders don’t get the luxury of looking too far down the road. They don’t get to spend inordinate amounts of time on product development or internal policy making. For this reason, a startup Founder’s priority list looks a whole lot different.

Job #1: Get Money in the Door
A Founder’s most important question is “do we have enough money to make it past our next milestone?” If the Founder can’t answer “yes,” then solving customer problems, addressing HR issues, and planning for the long term just won’t matter.
An underfunded company doesn’t have to worry about these issues. That’s because without additional capital, they will soon be out of business altogether! Therefore a startup needs to focus on keeping the lights on before it can even worry about solving day-to-day issues.
It’s not uncommon for a startup to spend far more time selling to investors than it does to customers. While this may feel like a distraction (which it is), it’s a necessary evil that supersedes all other activities.

#2: Sell More Stuff
Aside from raising capital to get started, sales are by far the most important activity any company can spend its time on. A simple way to consider this priority is – if you have sales and a crappy product, you can afford to improve your product. If you have a great product and no sales, you’re dead.
It’s a widely held belief that a great product will sell itself. Sure, great products sell better, but perfection can’t be pursued at the expense of a massive sales effort. Very few products are just so great that they sell themselves and become profitable.
What drives a company forward is its ability to focus its time on actually selling the product in the market, not refining the product in the lab.
#3: Hire Brilliant Staff
Staffing brilliant people sounds like an obvious thing to do, but in practice few people make it a true priority. It consumes more time and energy to hire brilliant people which is why most settle for “good enough.”
A startup’s ability to succeed in the market has everything to do with the key staff members it finds early on. If you’re rushing through your staffing process, pulling the trigger on the first resumes that float through your inbox, you’re doing the company a huge disservice.
Instead, make hiring brilliant staff a priority even if it takes substantial time away from other activities (that don’t involve sales or capital raising!) The time spent finding a better-qualified candidate will be repaid by their more competent execution of important startup tasks.
#4: Everything Else
After raising capital, increasing sales, and hiring brilliant people comes everything else. The trouble is that most entrepreneurs start with everything else and only plan to address the more critical items.
At some point you need to buy post-it notes, answer customer calls, address product problems, and take a shower. But if you put those activities first, you won’t be in business long enough to continue doing them.
The Priority Filter
A good way to help manage your activities is to create a “priority filter”. If you’re like most entrepreneurs, you manage you work through a daily task list that changes all the time. More often than not, you get easily swept into the mundane activities that are calling your attention.
Simply putting your top three tasks – raising capital, driving sales, and finding brilliant people, to the top of the stack can serve as a constant reminder of your priorities.
Unlike simple tasks like “buying office supplies” that have a defined start and end period, your ongoing priorities may seem hard to handle if you just lump them under one big “to do”. The best way to handle this is to create smaller sub-tasks under each, like “call three new customers today” or “create a draft of the pitch deck” that can be accomplished definitively.
When you’re still a startup, every moment you devote to your priorities comes at the cost of getting other stuff done. It’s a zero sum game. Yet the benefit of putting your time and effort into your priorities will provide a much greater return on your time investment than running errands and getting distracted.
You’ve got 80 hours per week to work on stuff – stick to the big items and you’ll be in great shape!

from gobig network



Wednesday, February 06, 2008

An Interesting post for a Wed....

"Everything you should know about me as an entrepreneur you could learn from my OB/GYN"

Sherry Couch of BizNiche brought a big smile to my face. She made a pitch in her Email which blew me away:) see it below.

“Everything you should know about me as an entrepreneur you could learn from my OB/GYN”? Sherry went on to write:

I am very good at conceiving an idea.
I can commit to something mind, body, and soul for at least nine months.
I have the ability to over come adversity, such as eating healthily while puking all day.
I can adapt quickly to changing and expanding situations.
I stay focused and motivated even with a lack of oxygen to my brain.
I am creative: Did you know with satin pajamas and satin sheets you can roll over in bed even with an extra sixty pounds.
I am patient—ever known anyone ten months pregnant?
I am cool under pressure: I gave birth to a ten-pound baby without a C-section or a properly functioning epidural and did not curse out my husband.
I am resilient: I went back to work at my company four weeks after giving birth.
I create meaning in the world! Even with all the trials and tribulations of becoming a parent I have chosen to do it twice so far because each new life gives hope and meaning to our world. Just like each new business.
Children are the ultimate startup. And when they leave for college, it’s their IPO. And when they get married, it’s an M & A deal. And like most startups, these milestones usually take longer and cost more than you predicted. Parental success rates, however, are much better than even the best (seed-stage) venture capitalist’s.

First seen on Guy K's Blog original post on Sherry's blog



Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Bridge finance whats you don't think about

I have been busy the last few days, I spent last week in Germany and this week getting ready for Investor meetings....I read this article below in a blog by Rob Shurtleff -http://www.shurtleff.org/ ...a good read...going for bridge finance always feels like the last straw..I have done it before and it was....

Bridge notes can provide investors with a discount in exchange for putting up money along the way to a major financing. Bridge notes can allow an individual or small fund to get into a deal when there might not be room in a round being funded by larger institutional investors. Bridge notes leave price negotiations to independent (often times angel investors personally know the entrepreneur) experienced investors. I have recently been asked to evaluate two investment opportunities that came from friends who are active angel investors. As is common, both of these deals were structured as bridge notes. Both of these deals suffered from the condition we call “A Bridge to Nowhere”.
Like the famous Ted Stevens earmarked bridge in Alaska, a bridge to nowhere can cost a lot of money with the added pain it is your money, not just some tax payers from the lower 48.
Bridge to Nowhere Symptom #1: Not Enough Capital Being Raised
Every investment round should have enough money in it (with buffer for unanticipated shortfalls) to fund a company to the next funding milestone. This is not a precise science. There are many ways these milestones can be cast, but regardless they need to be able to answer positively the question “will the accomplishments be sufficient” to motivate new investors to join the party. In a company without professional investors, this can be a big hurdle. This involves real on the ground accomplishments (beyond spending the cash on hand). Putting 1M into a deal that is going to require 5M - 8M to generate enough traction to attract a deep pocketed professional investor isn’t wise.
Bridge to Nowhere Symptom #2: Terms That Spoil the Deal
We have always been advocates of using the cleanest term sheet possible. Avoid special preferences, ratchets, punitive clauses we are definitely out of the build the company and good things will follow school of investing, others make good money by financial engineering.
Bridge to Nowhere Symptom #3: A Badly Priced Round
This one is a bit of an oxymoron, but bear with me. We recently saw a deal where the company had set a price for a small angel round. The price was, needless to say, very company friendly. This has bridge qualities, these funds will carry the company until it needs a larger professional round or the company becomes self sustaining. This next round has four potential pricing outcomes:
No additional funds are needed. The angels now own a small illiquid piece of a small business.
All is incredibly great and new investors are willing to do an up round.
More money is raised at the current price, which means todays money overpaid.
The only way to raise money is in a down round. Down rounds are bad for the current investors and cast a negative light on the company.
Is it ever prudent to invest in a bridge round. Absolutely.
When the funding source for the next round has been identified and has a high likelihood of completing the deal.
When there are deep pockets already at the table who believe in the deal and are willing to continue funding the company.
As a smaller fund, we frequently take bridge positions so we have a seat at the table. Good deals are a bit like musical chairs and small $ tend to get shoved off the last chair by bigger dollars.



Friday, February 01, 2008

Something to think about, not for the hard men of business


No one thanks anyone anymore. It's disgusting. And rude. And arrogant. Just say thank you! Say thank you!
Say thank you to the postman.
Say thank you to your boss.
Say thank you to your employees.
Say thank you to your son or daughter's teacher.
Say thank you to someone who just made photocopies for you.
Say thank you to the person who just bought you lunch.
Say thank you to whomever puts up with your insanity on a daily basis.
Say thank you to your parents.
Say thank you to the guy who just ripped your movie ticket stub.
Say thank you to the woman who just served you.
Say thank you to the person who just spit in your face!

Just say thank you. Make it a habit to say thank you constantly, and you might start to realize that people are constantly regarding you more highly than ever before.
Take a moment to write a thank you note to every one of your clients. To every one who has ever sent you a gift. To every one who has helped you in some way.
Heck, in this day and age, even just sending a quick ten-second text message would be more appreciation than most people receive in an entire year.

If you truly want to become the type of person that others want to meet and work with... start saying thank you! ALL THE TIME! Just get over your own ego and sense of self-worth and start showing some appreciation for the work of others, and?wild notion?you might start to see that these same people start to show some appreciation for what you do, and begin making a more concerted effort to work with you.

Don't wait for others to show appreciation before showing yours. That is a backwards notion. SOMEONE has to set the ball in motion, and as a guerrilla, it should be you. Go ahead, and take the 'thank you' plunge. Once you start doing it, it'll become an addiction and a habit, and you'll start to wonder why you didn't start saying thank you sooner.
Oh, and lest you think you already say thank you often enough: YOU DON'T! Trust us. You don't. No one does. And that is the whole point.
TRADITIONAL NETWORKING: Hoping others will thank you.
GOOD NETWORKING: Thanking them first.

content from "Conrad Levinson and Monroe Mann"