A bigger mistake

June 30, 2014

“Not admitting a mistake is a bigger mistake.”

— Robert Half, American businessman

What seed financing is for

June 30, 2014

By Fred Wilson via avc.com   Article

“The first step you need to climb is building a product, getting it into the market, and finding product market fit. I think that’s what seed financing should be used for.

The second step you need to climb is to hire a small team that can help you operate and grow the business you have now birthed by virtue of finding product market fit. That is what Series A money is for.

The third step you need to climb is to scale that team and ramp revenues and take the market. That is what Series B money is for.

The fourth step you need to climb is to get to profitability so that your cash flow after all expenses can sustain and grow the business. That is what Series C is for.

The fifth step is generating liquidity for you, your team, and your investors. That is what the IPO or the Secondary is for.

That is a very simple view of the world. Very few companies will walk up the stairs easily and hit each one perfectly. Shit happens. And we all know that and can deal with that.

But I will tell you that the companies that have performed best in all the portfolios I’ve been involved with over the years have climbed those stairs more or less like that.

I don’t think its a good idea to jump over the first three steps and land on the fourth even if you have the legs (and funds) to do that. It is risky. If you don’t land it right, you can slip and fall. And its hard to get up if you do that.”


June 30, 2014

By    via businessweek.com   Article

To Become a Better Leader, Be Aware

“Uber-achievers, like many current and post-MBAs, often fall into the trap of thinking that working harder will get them ahead—and into that next leadership role. But hard work takes them only so far. What we fail to emphasize in business school and in corporate mentorship programs is the importance of developing softer skills—an “awareness” of yourself and the people around you that helps you leverage previously untapped personal qualities. In other words, leaders need to develop empathy—a concept that is infinitely more complex than it sounds.

Most good managers have strong technical skills, the social skills to manage relationships, and the self-motivation to succeed. Exceptional leaders, however, demonstrate what Daniel Goleman, author of Emotional Intelligence, describes as “awareness.” That is, the ability to read the room (social awareness) and the ability to read your effect on the people in the room (self-awareness).

For example, an executive aware of the people around her will feel the tension at the start of a sales meeting and immediately work to relieve it before launching into the new quarterly sales targets. That leader also will understand that the tenor of her response to a complaint about those quarterly sales targets will mean the difference between escalating that tension and creating a sense that her team can handle—even exceed—whatever sales targets corporate throws at them.”

Is disruption a failed model?

June 30, 2014

By  via businessweek.com   Article

The Innovator’s New Clothes: Is Disruption a Failed Model?

“Clayton Christensen needs no introduction to a reader of a business website; the Harvard Business School professor’s theory of disruptive innovation has become management gospel. That theory, laid out in books such as The Innovator’s Dilemma and The Innovator’s Solution, holds that established, market-dominating companies are prone to being felled by upstarts precisely because they are established and market-dominating—cosseted by their dominance, they are loath to embrace new technologies and practices that would threaten their business model.

For Silicon Valley startups eager to unleash their innovative abilities on the world, the key is to find a market ripe for disruption and then be the agent of that disruption. For companies that don’t want to go the way of Pan Am and Wang Laboratories, the only way to avoid being disrupted is to disrupt oneself. Which is why disruptiveness—a quality once associated with children who couldn’t control themselves in school—has become the measuring stick of promising business ideas.

What Lepore does is actually look at some of the case studies Christensen used to build and bolster his theory: the disk drive industry, mechanical earth-movers, steel mills, and department stores. Close inspection, she argues, shows that there’s actually very little support for Christensen’s ideas there. Some of the companies he characterizes as upstarts had in fact been around for decades, and some of the dinosaurs that were allegedly fatally disrupted would continue to dominate their industry for years (in some cases still do). In the case of steel, Lepore points out that Christensen never mentions unions, which were a huge difference between the older firms and the newer companies whose “minimill” facilities he points to as the agent of disruption.

I reached out to Christensen, who is traveling and said he had not had a chance to read the Lepore essay carefully.”

Without a title

June 23, 2014

By Joel Lee via makeuseof.com   Article

3 Ways You Can Contribute & Be A Leader Without A Title

“Invest In the Bigger Picture

The most important step that any leader can take is a shift in mentality. The ‘self mindset’ must be replaced with a ‘group mindset.’ … the ‘group mindset’ recognizes that the group is a real entity with a life and purpose of its own. It’s the change that occurs when you stop asking ‘What can the group do for me?’ and start asking ‘How can we progress together?’ It’s about investing in the group and the people within it. …

Encourage and Build Up Others

Morale is a necessary component of any healthy group. Once morale begins to fall, members start to demand more from each other and become less forgiving of mistakes. They lose faith in the group and the mission, ultimately turning inward and losing their sense of investment in the whole. … Think back to any time you’ve been encouraged and uplifted. It felt good, didn’t it? Brought up your morale? Made you more likely to be positive? It only makes sense that a group would have higher morale if the members regularly encouraged one another. (Be honest and constructive! Empty compliments will backfire.)

Be Proactive, Not Reactive

A good leader is always prepared. One way to keep yourself prepared in all circumstances is to practice proactivity. With a bit of foresight, you can see what the near future will look like and plan accordingly. … Quell interpersonal tension. It’s always better to nip an issue in the bud than wait for it to fester and explode, particularly when it comes to social relationships. For example, if you spot some tension brewing between coworkers (or friends), don’t wait until it becomes a real problem before you start seeking solutions.”

The joy of constraints

June 23, 2014

By  via entrepreneur.com   Article

The Joy of Constraints in Business

“Early in my career, I had a fairly shortsighted view of what it meant to be creative or innovative. I thought visionaries spent their time filling up blank pieces of paper with amazing, never-before-seen ideas that magically poured out of them.

I was fortunate to end up spending a handful of years leading the New York office of IDEO, a design and innovation firm. I tried to understand the creative process and the monumental yet simple lesson I learned was creativity loves constraints.

“Creative thinkers will say that a blank piece of paper is the worst thing in the world. Why? Because when the answer can be anything, you usually end up with nothing.

What is it about constraints that make a person more creative? With a set of guidelines to govern how to design an offering and make decisions, you can unleash more creativity. Constraints are often advantages in disguise — edges that encourage you to focus and go further, faster.

Just look at Twitter and its 140-character constraint. Twitter’s best practices state, “Creativity loves constraints and simplicity is at our core. Tweets are limited to 140 characters so they can be consumed easily anywhere, even via mobile text messages.” Ask Twitter users and they will most likely tell you that those 140 characters have forced them to be more focused and clear about what they’re trying to communicate.

Entrepreneurs are often wondering how to go about creating something new and to unleash the creativity and innovation capacity of their teams.

The answer is simple: Set some constraints.”


June 23, 2014