7 Team Attributes That Can Make Any Idea Come Alive

Playing_mafia_gameThere is an old saying in the startup investor community, “Smart investors invest in the team, not the idea.” As an angel investor, I’ve learned to believe in this approach, since I have seen great ideas go astray, due to poor execution and I have seen apparently marginal ideas make millions, managed by a savvy entrepreneur. Giving the wrong people money doesn’t help at the idea level.

Who would have forecast that entrepreneur Gary Ross Dahl would make millions by starting a “pet rock” business way back in 1975? Some business successes can be attributed to luck, timing, or available funding, but in this case most agree that Gary was simply a marketing genius and he created his own market through creative advertising, emotional appeal and exclusivity.

7 Leadership Tips When The Business Is Struggling

Richard-LindenmuthIt’s easy for an entrepreneur or a CEO to feel like a leader when things are going well, but the challenge is to keep that confidence and drive in the face of economic downturns, business turnarounds, and stressful personnel situations. Working twenty hours a day, losing your cool, and falling back to a no-risk strategy are not conducive to long-term success.

I saw some practical tips for business leaders under pressure a while back in the book “The Outside the Box Executive,” by Richard Lindenmuth, a seasoned interim CEO, who has stepped in and revitalized more than his share of struggling companies. I’m convinced that his advice is equally relevant to early startups, where the challenges are legion and the path is far from clear.

10 Tips On Finding The Best Career Fit In A Startup

start-entrepreneurToday is the new age of the entrepreneur, and I see an increasing number of new startups as the economy stabilizes. For new aspiring entrepreneurs, that’s the good news and the bad news, as it increases opportunities, but also increases the startup risk. Thus I often recommend taking a job in a startup first, to build connections and learn what you can, before stepping into the lead role.

Find Your Sweet Spot To Excel As An Entrepreneur

the-purpose-effect-etsyFinding your sweet spot as an entrepreneur needs to start with a meaningful personal purpose that is also a business opportunity. Some people are so passionate about a cause that they forget to consider the lack of business potential, while others are so enamored with profit that they jeopardize their ethics. Both ends of this spectrum fail to bring long-term satisfaction or success.

Many entrepreneurs are finding their “secret sauce” these days by combining a strong purpose with a good business opportunity. For example, the handmade-item platform Etsy sponsors free entrepreneurship courses for underemployed and unemployed people, including assistance in setting up a store on Etsy, thus adding more artists and artisan sellers to their platform.

9 Great Paths To Recurring Revenue For Your Startup

NetflixDVDEvery new business quickly realizes that revenue coming in every period on a committed basis is the Holy Grail to survival and growth. According to many experts, getting new customers is five to ten times harder than getting additional revenue from existing customers. Thus the subscription model (low fixed monthly payments), is rapidly becoming the norm for new products and services.

Subscription pricing has been around for a long time for magazines, cloud-based software, and gaming, but now I’m seeing it used for just about anything, including for more stylish clothes via Mr.Conection, gourmet foods via TryTheWorld, and toys for your kids via Pley. If you are an entrepreneur not using this model, it may be time to consider a pivot.

7 Reality Checks On Your Funding Odds With Investors

The_Reality_CheckIf you expect an equity investment from reputable investors for your new startup, you need to know the boundaries that often limit their interest. In the jargon of investors, certain businesses may be viable but not fundable. For example, investors recognize that online gambling sites or a medical marijuana site may generate big returns but may tarnish their squeaky clean reputation.

There are many other more mundane reasons that your startup might be deemed non-fundable, depending on your own circumstances, where you live, or the case you have put together. As an active angel investor, here are some key ones I have seen, with some guidance on how to improve your odds.

6 Principles For Overcoming Entrepreneurial Adversity

entrepreneurial-adversityEvery entrepreneur knows what it’s like to face adversity. It comes with the territory, and includes cash-flow challenges, fickle customers, belligerent investors and unpredictable economic downturns. The best entrepreneurs tackle these one at a time without losing their stride or their passion and many secretly get their highest satisfaction from overcoming an impossible problem.

For example, you probably didn’t know that the world’s richest entrepreneur, Bill Gates, found that his first venture, Traf-O-Data, failed to make money because he couldn’t solve the technical problems quickly enough and selling to municipalities was a nightmare. Instead of making excuses, he credited his later success with Microsoft to the lessons he learned with Traf-O-Data.

For Equity Investors, A Startup Has To End To Win

startup-ipo-exitThe last thing a new entrepreneur wants to think about for a new startup is how it will end. Yet one of the first things a potential equity investor asks about is your exit strategy. The answer you give can make or break your ability to get an investment, so you need to have the right answer ready before anyone asks. Here are three important reasons for the question:

  1. Good investment paybacks normally require an exit event. Equity investments are not loans, so there is no loan payback period or interest payments. Equity is stock, but private company stock has no market value until the company goes public or is sold or merged with another company. These events may take three to five years at a minimum.

8 Ways To Prevent Burnout While Running A Startup

burnout-businessNew entrepreneurs routinely jump into a startup with a full charge of passion and energy, but often find themselves drained of both after a few months by the workload and challenges. As a result, burnout and loss of passion are consistently listed among the top causes of startup failure, according to many studies. The challenge is find ways to continually recharge along the way.

Of course, this same challenge extends well beyond the entrepreneur, into all walks of life and work. I just reviewed a recent book, “Are You Fully Charged?” by human relations expert and bestselling author, Tom Rath, which explains well the three keys to energizing all your life pursuits. These keys are meaning, interactions, and energy.

7 Entrepreneur Attributes You Need To Lead The Market

ETalk2008-Sir_Richard_BransonThere are a few entrepreneurs who seem to always be ahead of the rest, and are able to sense where the market is going tomorrow. Investors reverently call this the ability to “see around the next technology corner,” and fight for a place in line to put their money down. Everyone wants to support the entrepreneur with the courage to make bold decisions, and can make it happen.

Elon Musk seems to be highest on this list these days, with his record-setting order rate on the new Tesla Model 3 all-electric car, and well as groundbreaking progress on SpaceX and SolarCity. Steve Jobs of Apple and Richard Branson of Virgin Group are other popular examples. Most investors probably have one or two more favorites, but their list is always short.