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Entrepreneurship

The Best-Case Scenario Trap!

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I recently attended a startup conference in Detroit, and it was very evident to me that many of the pitches delivered by business owners and entrepreneurs were “Best-Case Scenario” presentations. Although it is OK to be positive about your business, the reality of entrepreneurship is an entirely different animal. For investors, the “Worst-Case Scenario” is the “Best-Case Scenario”. In other words, investors must consider alternatives to the optimal outcome. Not because they foresee failure, but rather because they must assess risks and account for the possibility of failure.

If your investor presentation accounts for the Worst-Case Scenario, and the business is still viable, it will pass the risk analysis with flying colors. As an entrepreneur, your business is the deal of your lifetime, but for investors, it’s just another deal.  As the old saying goes: “Business opportunities are like trains, there will be one every ten minutes”.

Here are some power tips when preparing for a conversation with investors:

  • Plan A does not always work (most often it does not), so make sure you have plan B,  C, and sometimes D, as well. While you may never need plan D, it is essential to be prepared. For most entrepreneurs, plan A is the only plan and this is not a realistic approach.
  • Hope for the best but plan for the worst – it does not mean you are being negative; it shows maturity and responsibility and elevates your credibility.
    Remember, “hope” is not a management strategy – investors are ultimately seeking returns and want to see the path to success.
  • Do your own S.W.O.T analysis – remember the statement “We do not have any competitors” is always false!

Investors are investing in people. Make sure you are investable.
Know when you are ready, go all out, and swing for the fences. Success is waiting. Do not be late.

Are you ready?

Sidepitch Media
Author: Sidepitch Media

Sidepitch media is an online ecosystem, connecting startups, capital, and innovation from around the globe!

Sidepitch media is an online ecosystem, connecting startups, capital, and innovation from around the globe!

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Entrepreneurship

ARE YOU A GOOD LEADER, OR JUST A BUSY ONE?

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To grow your business you have to free yourself from the everyday moving part of your business so you have room and time to lead. If you’re a software engineer trying to grow your firm, you won’t get there spending all day at the writing lines of codes. But that kind of obvious labor is just the beginning of the story.

There’s a whole other kind of busywork you’re doing beyond your core ‘craft’ – whether you’re a financial planner, software engineer, or marketing professional. We call it the work of the entrepreneur fever in you.

It’s the hardcoded act of being everywhere and anywhere in your business at all times. It’s the kind of work you ended up doing today, even though you had other plans, and paradoxically, even though you didn’t spend any time at ‘the design table.’

The technology evolution has given us the ability to see into our business with a level of detail that was never before possible, from instant customer feedback through social media, to website analytics, to real-time sales dashboards, and more. And, as wonderful as that is in one way, access to that real-time data creates a hazardous ability to influence the business in real-time, which can severely undermine the people and the business leader.

We are all micro-managers now, or at least micro-influencers, and with that power comes great responsibility. It is true for almost everyone, but especially if you are a C-Level leader, that has to be that much more disciplined to stay out of other people’s way, or you’ll take the risk of undermining all that outstanding work that was done on values and vision because it would not exemplify it in the day to day operation.

There is no value in the number of filters you used to have between you and the outside world that ‘kept you’ from having that kind of influencing power. Twenty, or even ten years ago, we had managers with a much clearer directive to evaluate prospects and vendors to see whether they were worthy of your time. Some may even have had an assistant to screen your calls, make your appointments and travel arrangements. And, of course for the life of god, we didn’t have an email inbox or a Twitter account to handle.

The solution to getting over the overwhelming sensation is self-discipline and nothing will change until you do. The good news is that it doesn’t take much before you start seeing noticeable and visible results. You will find yourself having the choice and the time to work on that desirable account, the space to do some clear thinking about a new product, or the confidence to finally take that vacation, without noticing your ‘unread email’ count going up in the back of your mind.

Making space for real leadership isn’t easy. It’s much more comfortable to check your email again, or elbow-in on a customer service issue where you know you can add a little value. But your job isn’t to add a little value here and there; it’s to add a lot – to inspire, to have a vision, and to be a sounding board for other people’s ideas.

The only micromanaging you should be doing is of yourself. It’s macro critical.

Sidepitch Media
Author: Sidepitch Media

Sidepitch media is an online ecosystem, connecting startups, capital, and innovation from around the globe!

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Entrepreneurship

Intensity and Stress – The Enigma

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I have observed many clients and discovered how easily they confuse Intensity with Stress. Most people that work in intense environments, have a temporary perception that intensity is “highly stressful”. At this moment, to a certain degree, one can begin to feel ineffectual or powerless on both a personal and professional level. This experience cascades (or projects) into everyday life in several ways, often as feelings of annoyance and/or irritation, making them temporarily mentally unavailable.

Effectively, Intensity is an ‘in the moment’ experience that manifests itself in the physical domain, i.e., distance, time, and form – the ultimate test of reality. Stress, however, exists in the emotional, mental, and intellectual realm as an interpretation, and therefore is not real. I believe stress is a human-invented interpretation that serves as a survival mechanism. It “labels” the difficult or challenging experience (situation?) and causes an “automatic” reaction in direct correlation to that situation. The perception of stress provides an explanation for the ability or inability to deal effectively with circumstances.

So the question is: How can two or more individuals who operate at the same level of intensity, in the same environment, have different interpretations, and therefore have a completely different experience, and reactions to it?

Example: One of my closest friends is an F-16 fighter jet pilot.  In our conversations, I learned that during operational flights, pilots are in a highly Intense environment. The intense environment manifests itself as various (extreme?) physical sensations such as heat, cold, G-force, or vertigo. For most of us, this environment would seem extremely stressful and it would feel impossible to function. However, for the trained pilot there is an insignificant experience of stress. For them flying a jet is equivalent to working in the office. How is this possible?

My observations led to the conclusion that the pilot was trained to be present – right now, right here. Pilots (their brains) are trained to suspend and/or not make the common interpretation that the “flight environment is stressful”. The pilot’s actions are appropriate and correlated to flying the jet, instead of experiencing emotions or intellectualizing them, which has nothing to do with the moment, right now, right here. Intensity is real while Stress is not real. After all, stress is just an interpretation, existing as a human-invented internal conversation mode. Human perception becomes a reality (at least for most of us). (comment: not sure this sentence belongs here)

Jet pilots train their brains to realize that stress is not real and “automatic” response to it is inappropriate. In other words, stress is an inadequate interpretation of the experience of intensity or of operation in an intense environment.

Why is this conversation so critical to the world of management?

In my professional opinion, today’s world of most senior managers, corporate executives, and business leaders is very similar to that of the pilot in the cockpit. The volume, complexity, and speed of the world around them are increasing at a rapid pace – i.e. the environment becomes highly intense. Their human operating system (their brain) cannot keep up, and before they know it, they can find themselves in “G-Force” situations very quickly. In the professional environment, this can mean losing their job, being demoted, or going out of business.

So what do we do with this internal conversation mode?

I created a few power tips that guide you to start developing prowess and best practices to overcome this paradigm.

  • Know and train your brain that the reality and your experience of reality are two different occurrences altogether. Doing your job and your experience of doing your job are two distinct things.
  • Look at things the way they are. Do not add anything or subtract anything. The sky is blue, the grass is green, and you are 6’1” tall.
    If you experience emotions such as frustration, anger, resentfulness, etc., realize that at that moment, temporarily, you are disconnected from reality (went away); you are now in the “Stress Zone.” Get back!
  • If the desired results and/or outcomes in any given moment are not correlated to your intentions and actions, stop! Apply the 60-second rule, step back, and get yourself centered. Evaluate the facts and information you have, refocus, and purposefully re-engage.
  • Nothing is wrong!  Things are the way they are, you do not have to like it, agree with it, believe in it, or stand for it. You just need to understand (or recognize) what is happening.
  • You are human, and to counter an automatic response to intense situations is against human nature. It will take a lifetime of training and practice to master it. The moment you stop training yourself, it will go away and disappear, and you will be back on the downward spiral very quickly.

You can use these guidelines to start developing your toolbox of best practices that work for you. There is no ‘one size fits all’ solution, we have different DNAs. What works for one does not necessarily work for another. Be creative.

So, are you stressed now or just intense?

Sidepitch Media
Author: Sidepitch Media

Sidepitch media is an online ecosystem, connecting startups, capital, and innovation from around the globe!

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Entrepreneurship

Why do Startups fail? – Brief No.01

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Founders, what is your greatest weakness? After spending the last 20 plus years watching over 2,000 pitches from around the globe, I can tell you the following, with a high degree of certainty; most often you have a wonderful technology solution, you address very well a real need in the market, you have identified a sizable market that can be adapting your technology, etc. Then you arrive at the go-to-market strategy and all the investors realize that you have no clue (to say the least) how you will accomplish your big dream and turn it into a profitable and scalable business. 

“We are going to sell nationwide” or “many potential customers show interest” or “we have a letter of intent from..” or “We have few customers in the hopper” or “we are the only ones..” (which is unlikely), is not a strategy. The addressable market your company targeted is a red ocean full of competitors or at least other hungry and driven founders with alternative solutions, like you, that are looking to solve the problem and fill the need, some of which are not bad at all, and your solution does not necessarily offer a better and more stable alternative with very distinct differentiation factors.

Without a solid, detailed Go-To-Market Strategy, your innovation does not have any real value if it can’t be commercialized for the economy of scale. Have you identified the sales channel and costs, the sales cycle, the user versus the person that controls the funds (decision maker), does the person overseeing the sales and marketing activities have a successful background in this market, etc.? The investor is less interested in the in’s and out’s of the technology, the only thing they are interested in is how will you get it to market as fast as you can and make as much money as you can, as long as you can. Many companies with great opportunities and technology solutions fail to understand the market, plan for it, and to execute and end up disappearing.

The technology “Graveyard” full of promising companies, some with the best technology that we have ever seen, that can really change the world, they died, due to lack of the ability to market it and sell it. It is just as simple as that.

So, what is your Go-To-Market Strategy?

Sidepitch Media

Author: Sidepitch Media

Sidepitch media is an online ecosystem, connecting startups, capital, and innovation from around the globe!

Continue Reading

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