the crystal ball

July 24, 2016: Last week’s essay dealt with the fine art of pricing your startup product or service. Pricing is inextricably tied to your volume projections, so let’s now look into your crystal ball on that topic.

The most common mistake I see is estimating from the top down. You’ve created a must-have product for left-handers, and you know that approximately 10% of the US population is left-handed. So, there are 30M+ customers. Surely you can get 10% of that market and have 3M users, right? Or left? It looks easy.

A master's violin

July 17, 2016: Several meetings this past week about pricing have made that the startup topic for this essay. I recall the Christian poem “The Touch of the Master’s Hand,” which was used often in speeches by John Imlay as a dramatic conclusion. He would bring on stage the prominent Atlanta Symphony violinist Martin Sauser to show the power of a musical instrument in the hands of such a master.

an early 1900's campaign -- in Finland

July 10, 2016:  Unless you started ultra lean and have managed to claw your way to profitability, there will be times when you have to choose between raising money and running your venture. This is a time-honored dilemma for most aspiring entrepreneurs.

Boehner at play

July 1, 2016: My “Keep Calm and Carry On” essay last week was written before the Brexit vote, and I’ve since seen that slogan and flag in all types of media including the Colbert show. As of this writing, it appears the response of Britain’s leadership, including David Cameron and Boris Johnson, has been to let others carry on, and Labour’s leader Jeremy Corbyn seems in danger of being nudged aside himself. My essay was about seeing your startup through and maintaining a steady helm during difficult periods in the business.

Keep Calm and Carry On poster

June 26, 2016: My birthday this past week brought the usual reflections along with all the greetings and trappings of the occasion. To me the birthday reminder is one of the nicest features of Facebook, just to refresh our memories of the many people who are part of our lives and with whom we aren’t always in close touch.

postcard of Public Square pre-1914

June 19, 2016:  This week’s essay is a reprise of a call for technology leaders to become involved in the figurative Public Square. None of us are insulated from today’s governmental actions at the local, state or national levels.

Nixon''s Saturday Night Massacre

June 12, 2016: This essay is a sequel to last week’s war stories and advice on firing people. Let’s say you’ve pulled the trigger, what can you expect next? There are many potential problems, to wit:

Corvette Z07

June 5, 2016: Have you ever been fired? I have, a few times. My first was in the retail hardware business that predated my transition to software. The owner by whom I had been engaged to execute a turnaround brought into the business his brother-in-law, much my elder (I was 23 at the time.) who had some relevant experience in paint products, versus my having no experience in anything to speak of. A change in personal circumstances caused the owner not to want to continue to fund this enterprise, and there wasn’t enough cash flow to cover two executives. How did I respond?

GT Astrophysics Team

May 30, 2016: May we respect the Fallen on this Memorial Day...on now to my essay:

This past weekend I attended a Georgia Tech Research Corporation board meeting in the North Georgia mountains. Our meeting was highlighted by fascinating research presentations on Einstein’s gravitational waves and water on Mars, but more on those in a moment.

auto wreck 1923

May 22, 2016: Enough about TNC’s this week. That issue continues to dominate social media in Austin, but let’s get back to our own businesses. I’ve had a few occasions over the past month to witness startups going through the normal anxieties that accompany each inflection point. There’s no magic cure for those. A leadership team all acting in good faith will have vigorous and honest disagreements about major decisions. Startups are usually bereft of solid data and are forced to “wing it” more often than not. And, it all gets very personal.


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