October 6, 2013: Last week we held our monthly installment of Operators Studio, an element of the Longhorn Startup program that is an invitation-only seminar for officers of companies that are moving from startup to growth stage and are dealing with all the issues of trying to achieve scale. We were fortunate that Allen Nance, CEO of WhatCounts, was in Austin and was available to share with our group his 10 secrets of scaling the sales and marketing function.
September 28, 2013: Here’s a question that comes up often in startups where any financial projection is a dream. But, it’s also one I’m seeing increasingly in companies that have bootstrapped to some scale and then find themselves throttled by inadequate capital underpinnings. Your financing strategy needs to be consistent with your company’s overall goals and with your personal objectives. Developing this strategy correctly is core to your ultimate success and is far more than an accounting exercise, with all due respect to CPA’s.
September 22, 2013: Last week’s class lecture by our own Professor Bob Metcalfe was on the general topic of selling, and he included one slide differentiating sales and marketing. Selling is hard; finding, hiring, and managing sales people even harder; but is marketing easier? Let’s take a look today at that topic.
September 15, 2013: Our class this week enjoyed a regular semester presentation by Ash Maurya, author of Running Lean and an international lecturer on the lean canvas method of de-risking startups. This gospel has been espoused by other noted authors and is regularly preached by advisors at every accelerator, incubator, or class on startupery (Bob Metcalfe’s term). It’s an important concept to understand and use, and all our students are required to submit a lean canvas early in the semester.
September 8, 2013: This past week featured the first episode of the Longhorn Startup Operators Studio, a monthly seminar I’m facilitating for senior operating executives of companies that have attained growth stages with some level of capital, 25 to 50 or more employees, $1M++ in revenue. This invitation-only event drew well, and the discussion gravitated toward sales hires. The next day in our regular Lab class Brett Hurt of Bazaarvoice fame was the guest speaker, and he also spent a good bit of time explaining his sales techniques in launching that now-public company. There are almo
September 3, 2013: This post by Chandeet Shoudary on how Paypal and Reddit faked their way to traction is one of several I’ve read on that subject in recent weeks. This is an obvious issue in P2P ventures where you need to bring along at approximately equal rates both the providers and consumers, or sellers and buyers, or whatever pairs you need to match for your offering to be valuable.
August 25, 2013: Steve Ballmer has been the story this weekend with the announcement of his pending retirement. The 7% jump in MSFT shares on that news probably won’t be highlighted in his personal memoirs, but he apparently made some investors happy. Personally, I’d give him credit for protecting the core franchises of Windows and Office while trying a few radical changes of late. He wasn’t afraid to start making his own hardware in the Surface line, adding touch to the latest version of Windows, and even emulating Apple’s retail store concept. The Surface Pro isn’t bad for a Microsof
August 18, 2013: My previous post talked about why it may be hard for you, even though you are a great communicator, to get things done when you must manage upward and outward and depend on the timely responses and actions of others outside your supervision. As promised, here’s the same list this week but oriented toward achieving desired results from your own employees, particularly when you’ve achieved a bit of scale, say 50 or more.
August 11, 2013: Several experiences this week brought to the fore issues of dealing with other people as you try to grow your business. First, let’s assume you are a capable, organized person who knows the appropriate ways to solicit responses from customers, vendors, investors, colleagues, and others not under your direct control. You use clear, concise, no-nonsense terms and can communicate by phone, email, text, meeting, or even carrier pigeon. If these assumptions don’t apply to you, then check back next week.
August 3, 2013: Several years ago I met with a young entrepreneur already on his way toward building a glorious business, and he asked me a question I didn’t really expect: “What should I be worried about?” I was immediately thinking that if I were in his shoes, I wouldn’t be too worried about anything, but I decided to reply that just his asking the question demonstrated a healthy respect for the vagaries of business. I recall telling him that he should probably be concerned only if he ever quit worrying. All of us who have matriculated as entrepreneurs from startup to exit know how m