Category Archives: Entrepreneurship

5 WAYS TO PIVOT YOUR BUSINESS DURING A CRISIS

“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.” —Charles Darwin.  There are likely changes you wanted to make in your business but haven’t and now is a time to act. Evaluate your talent, review your contracts, decide what is truly necessary to run your business.  It’s time to streamline so you can move forward without the weight of unnecessary cost burden.  If you’re primarily run out of a brick-and-mortar store, it’s time to find the digital version of whatever work you were doing.  Leverage your current assets and resources and align them with your customers’ current needs.  Continue to maintain a strong relationship with your clients whether directly, individually, in newsletters, and or/via social media. Show them you care.  The objective of collaboration can be new ideas, exploring synergies, and creating new business partnerships, where 1+1 = 5.  There has never been a better time to try (and fail!). Now is the time to experiment. Quickly launch new ideas with minimal investment. Focus on results. Learn and improve with each iteration.  Persistence pays off in the end.  If your business has been greatly impacted by the current crisis, you’re not alone.  Don’t focus on what you can’t control…think about what you CAN.  Read More >>

WHAT START-UPS NEED TO SCALE AND SUCCEED

Statistically, the odds against a start-up are formidable. Companies that emphasize talent, customer-centricity, and core principles are the ones most likely to succeed.  Most start-ups have one thing in common: they usually fail. But the minority who beat the odds and survive share a number of traits. To overcome those extraordinary odds, an unusual amount of speed, hard work, and agility is required by the founders and first employees to rapidly develop the business and achieve enough momentum to delight initial customers, attract great talent, and secure further funding. The impatience you highlight is more about ambition, competitive instincts, and, ultimately, survival.  Successful scale-ups also need to listen carefully to what customers, staff, partners, and other stakeholders are telling them—through data or otherwise—and act quickly to adjust their model accordingly. Fundamentally, the frame of reference needs to change. You need to think like a start-up about the market and how best to serve customers, free of legacy and other constraints.  Read More >>

USE THE CALM TO PREPARE FOR THE STORM: HOW TO TEST YOUR BUSINESS PROCESS DURING THE LOCKDOWN

The long-term effects of COVID-19 on society and the global economy are yet to be fully seen, however, is that as markets plummet, businesses of all shapes and sizes are facing a harsh reality–rapidly adjust or risk going under.  While remote working was once a flexible perk for employees, it’s now commonplace amidst the COVID-19 outbreak. The result is a mass experiment whereby companies have to coordinate teams in separate locations and still function efficiently.  Your client relationships are likely to be strained during a crisis. Keeping regular contact with your clients is crucial. Many founders are panicking and making impulse decisions to counter temporary shortfalls in revenue. Instead, ask yourself if the time could be used for other activities that deliver more value in the medium and long term.   Read More >> 

 

HOW TO ACTIVATE MENTORING AND CAREER DEVELOPMENT WHEN YOU WORK FROM HOME

As more employees work from home because of the COVID-19 outbreak, virtual mentoring and collaboration have become part of the new normal. Companies are suddenly transitioning to remote work, which can impact development. Leaders need to rethink how to manage and develop their teams.  Virtual mentoring is a key investment for companies to build talent capability. A virtual mentoring program done well motivates and inspires employees and increases productivity by providing structure rich with career development opportunities. It boils down to three essential components: communication, clarity, and connection.  Cultures thrive when employees are learning and rising to meet new business challenges, which drives sustained success and long-term value creation. By prioritizing development, companies grow effective leaders to create a better employee experience.  Read More >>

CO-FOUNDER COLLISIONS

You’ve worked side-by-side with someone for over a year: iterating over and over again until you have your MVP, bootstrapping your way to your first users and revenue, arguing over how to best present your app in the stores, working all-nighters to get your investor deck just right, networking from coast to coast.  And just when the pressure reaches a new height, the little grievances compound and you’re contemplating ending the whole thing before your startup rocket ship has a chance to take off. When looking at statistics for marriage in the U.S., where between 45–50% of couples will divorce, and comparing marriage to a co-founder relationship, it kind of (sadly) makes sense.  If founders take the time to talk through issues rather than allow every discussion to devolve into a battle, there is usually a good chance that an amicable solution can be discovered. There’s no perfect formula for finding the best possible co-founders. However, you can arm yourself with knowledge and take precautions where possible, and boost your odds of success.  Read More >>

SPEED, POWER, AND FLOW: USE SURF CRITERIA TO RATE START-UPS

To measure the value of a company, traditional valuation models look at certain variables, which tend to be quite objective and concrete, such as traditional assets or at least some mature state of revenues or cash flow.  While some models are more complex than others, most of them rely heavily on assumptions and some level of acceptable and shared semi-rational delusion regarding what value truly means. However, start-ups are in a different world. Not the world that is, but rather in a world that may be. Valuing them sometimes seems more an exercise in imagination or gambling.  How does surf relate to start-ups? In our analogy, the speed-power-flow criteria of surfing competitions can help us evaluate three fundamental dimensions of start-up competitiveness and success. The speed-power-flow triad provides a quick, yet reliable way to assess the go/no-go value of a start-up, as well as more comprehensive valuation of its potential. Investors do not have infinite resources or risk tolerance to invest in any or all start-ups. They have to spot, accurately and correctly, the best quality start-ups within each wave.  Investors can also profit from the speed-power-flow framework to select and invest their assets in quality start-ups with a high probability of success.  Read More >>

BEING CREATIVE IN THE FACE OF CRISIS

One thing that we know for sure is that change is inevitable. And it often comes when we least expect it.  Creativity is born from anguish, just like the day is born from the dark nights. It’s in crisis that inventiveness is born, as well as discoveries made and big strategies.  Being creative isn’t a natural human response to stress. But fight-or-flight response isn’t the only option. Panik, blame, and fear doesn’t help you solve anything. What does is collaboration, focus, choosing thinking over reckless reacting and working toward changing things for the better.  In her talk “How to Lead When You Don’t Know What You’re Doing” Tea Uglow makes a good point. When she was asked how she should be a leader, she honestly said “I don’t know”. And to be honest, no one does. “It’s really simple. It’s really straightforward. You just do it. Right, you have values, you have beliefs, you have ideas, you share those ideas, you drink lots of coffee, you talk to people. You just do it. And then you do it again, and again, and again…”  Read More >>

HOW YOUR START-UP CAN SURVIVE A WORLDWIDE PANDEMIC

With the Covid-19 virus now a worldwide pandemic, if you’re leading any startup or small business you have to be asking yourself, “What’s Plan B? And what’s in my lifeboat?”  Social distancing and a declared national emergency have had an immediate impact on industries that cluster people. Shutting down the economy for a pandemic has never happened.  If your business model today looks the same as it did at the beginning of the month, you’re in denial. Through the last three financial crashes, the biggest mistake CEOs made was not making draconian cuts to expenses quickly enough.  In every major downturn, inflated valuations disappear and the few VCs still writing new checks find it’s a buyer’s market. Prepare for a long cold winter. But remember no winter lasts forever, and in this moment, smart founders and VCs will be planting the seeds for the next generation of startups.  Recognize that your investors will act in their interests, which may no longer be yours. Take action now, but act with compassion.  Read More >>

HOW WILL THINGS BE DIFFERENT WHEN THIS IS ALL OVER?

We should not expect that the resolution of the Covid-19 epidemic will be a return to a 2019 reality. Many organizations are understandably focused on reacting to and coping with the short term challenges presented by the unfolding epidemic.  A rebound of demand is inevitable, and using high-frequency data proxies for the movement of goods and people, production and confidence, we can see that it is already beginning to happen in China. In China, the stock indices of all sectors dipped sharply in parallel, but after this initial shock, different sectors recovered at different speeds. Some, such as transportation and consumer durables, continue to be depressed; most are already recovering to pre-crisis levels; and others, like software and healthcare equipment and services, have already exceeded their pre-crisis levels.  There is opportunity in adversity in every business. It may seem callous to stress opportunity in the midst of a humanitarian crisis, but leaders have an obligation to look ahead, to anticipate and meet new customer needs, to evolve their strategies and organizations, and in so doing sustain the prosperity of their enterprises.  Read More >>

ZEBRAS AND CAMELS: NEW ALTERNATIVES TO SILICON VALLEY’S UNICORN OBSESSION

Many investors proclaim to be unicorn hunters. They are not stalking mythical animals but looking for companies that will reach valuations of over $1 billion. “A new kind of startup founder will emerge,” predicted LinkedIn’s co-founding editor Isabelle Roughol in LinkedIn’s 20 Big Ideas that will change your world in 2020. Roughol sites the Zebra manifesto, written by entrepreneur Jennifer Brandel, which makes the case for companies that focus on building sustainable profits at reasonable speed. Brandel chose the zebra to present her point because “zebra companies are both black and white: they are profitable and improve society. They won’t sacrifice one for the other.” Alexandre Lazarow, author of Out-Innovate: How Global Entrepreneurs from Delhi to Detroit are rewriting the rules of Silicon Valley talks about the camel. Camels companies are “organizations that can capitalize on opportunity but can also survive in a drought.” Alternatives are a response to high profile market failures. They are also arising because the Silicon Valley model of fast growth at all costs is simply not available to many entrepreneurs.  Read More >>