08/18/19

CEO Shoptalk — The Founder’s Tale

In the life of the successful startup is a slightly disorganized story of its founding. It is a powerful story. It provides a keen insight into the who, what, when, why, where, how of the company. It is a story of creation. Only one person can tell it with an authentic voice.

It is a tale told best by the founder, hence the name: The Founder’s Tale.

It is a story that is the glue that binds people to the company and makes them want to follow the leadership. If you want to lead a pride of lions, then you have to tell the story of how you formed a pride.

Image result for images of lions packs

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04/1/19

Believing — An Essential Leadership Skill

This is the big month for a few things — Christianity, college basketball, and CEOs. It is all about believing.

For Christians, Easter is the essence of their belief. Jesus came to Earth to atone for our sins, lived amongst us, taught, provided a living example, offered a few miracles for the disbelievers, was crucified, died, and buried. On the third day, He rose from the dead and ascended into Heaven and sits at the right hand of the Father to judge the living and the dead.

If you are a Christian you believe the preceding paragraph to be a true statement. That belief — faith — is the glue that holds your life together. It is, literally, what makes you a Christ follower.

If you are a college basketball fan, next weekend is the Final Four and you believe with all your heart that your team is going to win it all.

You have had a tough time of it as the #1 seeds have been decimated — Duke, North Carolina, Gonzaga — leaving only Virginia to represent the elite and the Atlantic Coast Conference. ACC had three #1 seeds and only one remains.

You — like me — have been forced to transfer your allegiance to, say, Auburn University. War Eagle!

Image result for war eagle images

[Allow me to digress for just a second, WAR EAGLE! Is that a great motto or what? I went to a military school and we never came up with WAR EAGLE! Auburn was, once upon a time, a military school, but still. WAR EAGLE!]

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03/27/19

Anchors Aweigh, Tech IPOs

First quarter of 2019 was a bust for tech Initial Public Offerings. Some blame it on the government shutdown and the inability to get the United States Securities and Exchange Commission to respond to preliminary S-1s (registration document). Fair play to that sentiment.

A company files an S-1, the US SEC reviews it, the SEC provides comments, and the issuer makes revisions in response to the SEC’s comments. Now, your preliminary S-1 has become a final S-1 and you are registered. In two weeks, you can begin banging your drum. If the government is shut down, this process doesn’t happen.

If you just take a Mulligan for Q1-2019 and focus on the rest of the year, you may see a deep lineup of tech companies, familiar names amongst them, getting ready to make the leap.

Here is my favorite recent public offering, demonstrating her flexible approach to the world. Can you reach down and grab your foot while in a seated position? Her name is Tempe and she is a Southern girl from Savannah. But, I digress.

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03/27/19

Drone Profits

For the first time ever, a drone has been used in a commercial application that derived revenue for its owner. This is the story of UPS and Matternet providing a drone delivery service in Raleigh, North Carolina. UPS is a delivery company while Matternet is a drone tech company.

This just happened yesterday, so it is a fresh and new happenstance. Here is the actual drone.

UPSDrone 20

Their customer is WakeMed whose campus is in Raleigh. Using the drone reduced a 30-60 minute transportation time across campus to three minutes and fifteen seconds. This time savings could be life saving as, sometimes, the delivery might be blood or an organ sample.

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02/21/19

Scaling Talent in a Growing Startup

Today we talk about how a company scales its talent as the company grows. Can it be done? What do you need to watch for?

So, a conversation that recurs from time to time is this — the talent with which you found and initially grow a company may not be strong enough to grow the company in the mid to long term, and get to the Promised Land.

When you are a band of brothers or sisters, it is beguiling to believe that you have the right mix of people to grow the company to its ultimate size.

This is how co-founders think of themselves when they first found the company. They are killers, happy, genial killers, but still killers. Look at these sweet co-founders.

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Beguiling.

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01/29/19

Making Progress in the Real World of Startups

Big Red Car here on a crisp, sunny Texas winter day. It is 40F, which is bone chilling cold in the ATX.

So, the BRC is talking to a couple of CEOs and they are describing their growth curve–from founding to launch to the Promised Land. All of them have made it to the pay window, a nice arrival point.

It was an interesting discussion and one you might want to have with yourself.

In an ideal situation — something that never, ever happens — fictitious growth might look something like this. You are looking at performance over a period of time. We all want it to be high and to the right. Performance appears to increase at a uniform rate, at a steady rate. Not very realistic?

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01/8/19

Accounting Thinking for Startups

I hate accounting, but I love orderly accounts. I love it when the checkbook, the bank reconciliations, the cash receipts/disbursements journals, and the balance sheet all agree. Takes a bit of sleight of hand to make that happen, but I love it.

As a startup CEO, you need to get a good handle on how accounting works. This blog post is not going to teach you accounting, but it is going to give you the Stations of the Cross as it relates to what you do from the perspective of accounting.

Ready?

First, accounting can be a little time consuming and boring. As a CEO, never, ever, ever get involved with it. In your early days, hire an arm’s length bookkeeper and have them put your operation together on QuikBooks. [Pro tip: You could run the Pentagon on QuikBooks Enterprise, so don’t let anybody tell you it isn’t robust enough for your enterprise.]

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11/12/18

Mature Startups

Big Red Car here on another cold, rainy Monday in the ATX.

So, I’m chatting with a seasoned startup CEO, and he asks, “What is the first sign that a startup is bursting through the crawl, walk, run continuum, Big Red Car? What are the things you look for?”

Says I, “When they start their own training program, conduct offsites regularly, and have an industry leading conference as part of their marketing program.”

To which he says, “Do tell, Big Red Car. What does that mean? The industry leading conference part?”

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04/29/18

CEO Shoptalk – Energy

Energy, today we focus on energy.

Big Red Car here after an afternoon of menial labor. I like menial labor, I do.

So, today we talk about how a startup, a small business, or a medium size business deals with energy.

First, there are energy sources and energy sinks. An energy sink is an absorber of energy. We will come back to this issue of energy sinks. Now, we focus on creating, maintaining, and multiplying energy.

Here is an example of a dragon projecting energy, hence, the name “dragon energy.” Haha, Kanye and Donald, both DRAGON ENERGY.

Fire breathing dragons are sources of energy. Usually, they have eaten burritos with jalapenos.

Every enterprise is, essentially, an energy equation. Let’s apply that to business, shall we?

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04/23/18

Revenue, the Essential Nature of Revenue

Revenue. Big Red Car here to talk about revenue. Y’all love revenue as much as the Big Red Car loves revenue?

I think you do.

If you whip out your accounting text, you will read first about operating and non-operating revenue. Scratch a little harder, you will learn about sales, rent, dividends, and interest.

If you are really on your game, you may stumble on “contra” revenue. Contra revenue is discounts and returns.

For what we are doing — startups — the revenue picture is slightly different. Let’s bring it into focus, shall we?

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07/23/17

Training — like the Rangers, training for the startup

Training table for the Big Red Car today — looking forward to a nice steak with a 10W40 mushroom sauce.  We are talking training today for both the Rangers and the startup.

So, in the continuum of crawl, walk, run — somewhere about the walk to run transformation, the startup should start thinking about training.

If you look at this picture of these sharp Rangers, the difference between them and the rest of the straight leg Army is the quality of their training. They train to their mission.

U.S. Army Rangers with the 75th Ranger Regiment make up the “honor platoon” in a funeral procession to the gravesite of Gen. (retired) Wayne A. Downing during his internment service at West Point, NY, Sept. 27, 2007.

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07/17/17

Rent A Ranger.COM — A Gender Norming Startup

Big Red Car here on a very bright Monday morning with a very bright new idea — Rent A Ranger.

So, the Big Red Car is a libertine of sorts. On the other hand, the Big Red Car thinks this sexual predatory climate in Silicon Valley/Alley/Gulch/Plains/Mountains, etc. is out of control.

The solution — which the Big Red Car has been all over since the start — is for an afflicted woman to send their big brother to “reason” with the transgressor. The transgressor wants this service to get him back on the straight and narrow. [OK, maybe not.]

But, Big Red Car, how about if a lady doesn’t have a Big Brother? What then?

Ahhhh, dear reader, you have identified the pain point which the Big Red Car seeks to relieve — voila — Rent A Ranger.COM at your service, mademoiselle.

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03/3/17

IQ v I Will — Tale For the Ages

IQ v I WILL, really, Big Red?

Big Red Car here on a bluebird Colorado day in Steamboat Springs (channeling the experience with the Samsung Tablet) with a nice snowfall and some nicely groomed skiing.

So I’m thinking about two of The Boss’s CEO pals. Very different guys.

One is someone The Boss thinks of as being, perhaps, the smartest human he has ever met.

The other is a plodder — Big Red Car’s opinion, not The Boss — and is not the sharpest knife in the drawer.

Who gets the better outcomes?

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04/5/15

Inevitability — The Final Four

Big Red Car here in the glorious ATX where it is the best time of the year because of the azaleas, the weather, the bluebonnets and the Final Four.

Inevitability anyone?

In all of this is a lesson for entrepreneurs struggling with their startup businesses — an excellent lesson. A lesson of hope.

As an aside — Easter? Happy Easter! Talk about a lesson of hope, y’all? Easter is the big one — the triumph of life, love, redemption over sin. Wow! Continue reading

09/11/14

Evolving Co-founder Relationships

Big Red Car here. Ahh, the last days of a nice cool summer. Bit of rain possible today and nice and cool in the meantime.

The Boss was talking to several of his brilliant CEOs and they got on the subject of how the relationship among co-founders evolves during the first few years of a startup. A very interesting and timely topic — co-founder relationships. Continue reading

04/3/14

Dangerous Inflection Points, the Turn to Final

Big Red Car here.  Bit cloudy and cool here this morning in the ATX, still Spring is in the air.  It is currently 72F and it will be 87F before the day is through.

So The Boss gets talking with a couple of venture capitalists and the conversation drifts toward “inflection points” or pivots and how to deal with them. Continue reading