03/13/19

You Are All Alone

Nice warm day in the ATX after a morning of rain. Ahh, On Earth as it is in Texas! It’s SXSW time in the ATX.

As a founder, entrepreneur, CEO there are times — most of the time — when you must rely solely upon yourself. You are all alone.

Even when you are a member of a team, at times you are all alone because you are the decider.

This is not a bad thing; it is just a thing. You can relax knowing that every other founder, entrepreneur, CEO has had the same feeling.

That feeling — when the butterflies in your gut become condors and they try to slice their way out with their sharp talons. Your stomach is an acid pit and your breath is like kerosene.

It is real, but you can handle it. Learning to rely upon your own judgment is critical.

I am not counseling you to ignore advice. Solicit advice, but know that sometimes, you will jump alone.

Here is a video of a stick of paratroopers (with equipment) getting ready to jump over White Sands as part of a training exercise. Every soldier who approaches that door is a member of a team, but when they jump they make that decision alone. You as a founder, entrepreneur, CEO will make that same decision.

You got this, trust me.

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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?”

Related image

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10/15/18

Voting Trusts

Big Red Car here on a rainy Monday in the ATX. [Whoever has been praying for rain locally – you can stop now.]

So, a founder calls me and says, “I read where you recommend a voting trust for a startup. Do tell?”

A voting trust is a good idea right from the founding of a company. It is something which should be in your founding documents:

 1. Articles of Incorporation;

 2. Corporate Bylaws;

 3. Option Plan;

 4. Founding Shareholders Agreement;

 5. Voting Trust; and,

 6. Employment Agreements.

[You do have the Big Six, right? Haha, half of y’all couldn’t find these docs even if you made them. Sorry, that was mean.]

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04/24/18

CEO Shoptalk – Staying in Your Lane

Staying in your lane, Big Red Car? Huh?

Big Red Car here on a lovely, sunny Texas Spring day. On Earth as it is in Texas, y’all!

So, the Big Red Car talks to CEOs all the time and I am seeing an odd trend. CEOs are wandering a bit.

They wander a bit because they are successful and they wander a bit because they are not.

When they are successful, they wander because they can afford to do it. [Pro tip: We never make as many mistakes when we are broke. We can’t afford to.]

When they are struggling, they wander because they are looking for that inflection point which will put their compass on the azimuth to the Promised Land.

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04/23/18

Building a Fundraising Database

Building a fundraising database, a perfect subject for an incredibly lovely Monday morning in the ATX. Cool, crisp, sunny — ahhh, on Earth as it is is Texas!

So, you are ready to begin fundraising. You need a target list, a database of potential investors. This is true whether you are in the family & friends, angels, syndicated angels, seed funders, or venture capitalists arena. You need to identify the funders.

So, how do you do it?

In our example, I will build on ten such campaigns I have assisted entrepreneurs in the last year.

Remember, you are dealing with people whose job is to invest money. If they don’t invest money, they don’t keep their job. You, dear entrepreneur, are helping them keep their job.

 

It is hard work, but it is not a difficult task.

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09/28/17

Critique — CEO Shoptalk

Everybody needs a good critique, right? Ahhh, criticism is the breakfast of champions, no?

Big Red Car here on a cloudy Texas day. Only going to be in the low 80s today. Time to start thinking about the swimming pool, eh? Haha, Hell no. Swimming today, y’all.

So when you’re a CEO you will receive and give critiques. Makes sense, no? Performance appraisal — feedback — is the breakfast of champions.

Today, I want to get your mind right about how to receive this when it is you being critiqued. Ready?

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09/12/17

Editing for CEOs — CEO Shoptalk

Editing for CEOs, Big Red Car? Huh?

Big Red Car here on a perfect Austin By God Texas morning, y’all. Day for a long run with the top down in the 70F weather? Indeed!

OK, today, we talk about editing in the context of finally getting you to commit to writing the Strategy for your company, dear CEO. Just a first draft.

That is Strategy in the Vision, Mission, Strategy, Tactics, Objectives, Values, Culture continuum with a side of crawl, walk, run. Whew! That is a mouthful.

Nothing is done until it is done and that means you have to edit it. So what exactly does that mean?

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09/2/17

Strategy — First Draft

Strategy — let’s get you writing that First Draft, shall we? First, let’s figure out where it fits.

Big Red Car here on a sunny, dry ATX morning. Sun is shining, but it is cool. Maybe the summer is over? Haha, you’re so silly. This is Texas. Summer doesn’t end until October 23.

OK, so I keep getting folks who don’t get where Strategy fits into the Vision, Mission, Strategy, Tactics, Objectives, Values, Culture continuum.

I want to help y’all, so I made a picture of it for you.  Continue reading