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Showing posts from August, 2016

Postmortem of a Failed Startup – Now in Paperback!

Today’s post… a plug for my book – Postmortem of a Failed Startup: Lessons for Success – is now in hardcopy! You can pick up the paperback on Amazon for $13.99 (or ebook for $5.99).
I originally published the book as an ebook in early January. Got a lot of great feedback including Amazon reviews like...

I want to start using the book to teach other entrepreneurs before meeting with me. One of the reasons why I wrote the book was because of how often entrepreneurs shared challenges described in the book.
If you’re looking to get your venture off the ground, your idea out of your head, or have a startup in-flight looking to grow, get the book on Amazon.

Consulting with Startups – It’s a Capacity Thing

I want to build on last Tuesday’s “The Challenges of Consulting With Startups”. More specifically, I want to stress the reason an early-stage startup brings on an agency or consultancy – it’s capacity.
Capacity is the hired help to augment the team. At SalesWise, our team is vastly experienced in driving success – what to execute and how. What we struggle with is the execution when we have 20 sales calls to make, 4 demos, 2 support tickets, and a kick-off call.
What I’ve found to be ineffective for most consultants is when they come in wanting to do big bang changes and huge strategy sessions. Our environment changes rapidly. We are not ready for big bang changes. We need to execute, learn, iterate.
So if you want to consult with a startup, have an eye on the larger strategy, sure. You have value for early-stage companies in this area. But one of the best ways to implement that strategy is getting “stuck in”. Roll up your sleeves, and take on a more “staff aug” role to understand ho…

Speech? Blog? Book? Here's How I Just Start

Writing a speech, writing a book, writing a blog post… I realized recently that they all start similarly (at least for me). They differ in revisions and rehearsing, if any. Starting off, I take a moment to think about the subject. I either start with an outline or just start writing (or dictating).
I get a lot of questions about how to start a blog, what to write about, or in the case most recently, perfecting a speech. The hardest part is starting out and putting together the first draft.
To that end, if you’ve got an upcoming talk or want to start blogging, here’s my method on how to start. 1.Think about the subject, and go through a creative learning process with some research – online and/ or in-person. 2.Are there requirements or limitations? Delivery style, can you use images, max length, etc. Consider these to narrow the scope. 3.I want my material to be as authentic and casual as possible, so I typically do not go through a huge brainstorming conquest. Instead, I jot down a fe…

The Challenges of Consulting with Startups

The challenges of consulting with startups goes well beyond just “price” (read: “tight budgets”). Many wantrepreneurs and entrepreneurs try branching out on their own by consulting. They believe it's a great fit with some experience (“expertise”) and startup enthusiasm. Not quite.
I have spent a lot of time consulting with startups after Body Boss. Today, I sit on the other side of the table hiring consultants at SalesWise. With both perspectives, I want to share the challenges I see. Consultants want to bring too much structure to an agile environment. For most consulting entrepreneurs, strategy consulting is where the fun is – it’s like being a part of the vision of the startup. Many see opportunities to bring their experience from big brands and apply “best practices” to startups. This could mean big strategy sessions, long timelines, and structured deliverables. However, for startups, especially early-stage companies, heavy structure won’t last simply because the company is st…

Want to Be An Entrepreneur? Take Deliberate, Small Actions

John Greathouse wrote back in May about practicing entrepreneurship with a purpose. John talks about deliberate actions before (or during) diving into entrepreneurship.
It’s a great reminder-type post as to what drives many entrepreneurs beyond building a company and, yes, the chance at making a substantial lifestyle change. For many – me being one of them – there’s a drive and passion about the challenge and impact of building something great from nothing.
A few points John shared that I strive to practice everyday: “Advise A Startup”. I love speaking to startups, entrepreneurs, and wantrepreneurs. Networking is great, but hearing the problems others are solving and how is highly educational. As John also said, teaching others is a great way to amplify and accelerate learning.“Don’t Throw Up, Speak Up”. I grew up as an introvert, but realizing what I wanted to achieve, I wanted to be more extroverted. So, I hacked my personality for years and got comfortable doing uncomfortable thin…

Through Entrepreneurship, How I’m Deepening My Learning

I often hear how building a startup is like getting an MBA but on the job. Having an MBA and built a couple startups, I can say that it’s true… at least, partially. The downside of learning as you go is the otherwise lack of guidance and not knowing what you don’t know.
When I was at Body Boss, I had little experience in sales and marketing; however, I was the “Head of Business Development”. In a startup with three other partners with no experience in business development, I was the head, the foot, and the @$$.
I was always heads-down trying to figure everything out. I needed to learn a lot while tending to everything in front of me. This meant I didn’t dedicate time to self-development. Meanwhile, I was deep in the weeds without stepping back to see if I was oriented in the right direction.
Since Body Boss, I’ve taken steps to help cover the areas I don’t know while also accelerating learning in the areas that I care deeply about. (E.g. I’m no longer learning how to build iOS apps!…

Value Is Fundamental to Driving Traction

Ash Maurya recently wrote in Entrepreneur an article titled “Traction Is What Investors Are Looking for When You Present Your Plan”. Ash writes that investors are looking for traction, above all other criteria like market opportunity and competitive advantage.
Ash’s definition of traction is: rate at which a business model captures monetizable value from its users Before Ash describes the definition of traction, he shares his thoughts on value… Created value > captured value. That is, the value a customer receives is greater than the value the company receives (the customer pays).Captured value ≥ cost (delivering solution). This is simplistically understanding revenue is greater than (or equal to) cost.Created value ≥≥ cost. This is a pretty simple to understand. For companies looking for investment (well, any company looking to be successful), it’s important to understand traction and all the drivers thereof. As an early-stage startup wiggles and fights its way towards product-marke…

The Things Top On My Mind Are Good Reflections of My Hectic Life

I’m back to running non-stop these days to the point everyone is wondering what’s going on in my head, let alone where the heck am I, and why am I working at 2/ 4AM weekdays AND weekends.
Indeed, I’ve felt a bit… occupied. So much so that I’ve forgotten a lot of my usual tasks and daily routines (like eating). If you were thinking about what it’s like to run with an early-stage startup, this could be you.
Luckily, there are still several things I do (trying to get to consistency) to keep myself “stable” and operating at peak condition. One of those is still reading and learning to which, the following are posts that are standing out in my head. How Exercise Shapes You, Far Beyond the Gym – about how enduring challenges in the gym shapes how we challenge ourselves (and find fulfillment) beyondResilience Is About How You Recharge, Not How You Endure – taking time offline and unpluggedThe Happy Secret to Better Work – Ted talk with the key message for me about taking time out from work …