10/9/21

The Three Year Itch, The Second Scale

If you are a startup that has survived for three years, have a substantial gross revenue, are EBITDA positive, are GAAP earnings profitable, and have an attractive annual growth rate — CONGRATULATIONS.

You are a top 1-5% startup company and now you face the Three Year Itch or the Second Scale issue.

The problem is this —

 1. You are as busy as a one legged man in an ass kicking contest. Everybody is working their butt off. You can feel the effort in the air. Taste it. You are proud, but exhausted.

 2. Noting the above, you feel the need to add hands and person hours to the organization — maybe, just to relieve the perceived burden currently. Belay that thought.

In your exhaustion, you are struggling to figure out how. Perfectly normal, sorry.

 3. You want to grow — double in sales in the next 2-3 years [in my mind, you are in the $10MM range headed to $25MM in Year 3 of the New Plan (meaning Year 6 from founding)].

 4. You are clearly a powerful entrepreneur, but you have no idea how to handle the next three years — you had no idea how to form a company and take it to market, but you seem to have knocked it out of the park, so do not fret.

 5. You are going to do this thing. Why not do it under control? Continue reading

07/29/21

For Founders Only — The Thrill Of It All

In life we get paid in cash, ego enrichment, and self-esteem nourishment.

There are certain things that only a founder can experience or appreciate in the ego enrichment and self-esteem nourishment arena.

Here is a list:

 1. Only a founder gets the thrill of finalizing — owning — an idea that is either an aspirin (removes some of the pain of living) or a vitamin (improves the quality of life) — or both.

 2. Only a founder gets the final say on the name of the company. Jeff Bezos and his wife picked the name “Amazon.”

Same thing on the logo. You do this. You get the thrill.

One of my favorite logos. It comes from the corner of the Littlefield Building, an historic building at the corner of Sixth and Congress in Austin By God Texas, USA.

Continue reading

01/24/21

Performance Appraisal And The PLAN

You’re a startup on your way. You are at that magic 50+ employee level at which you start to pay attention to things like Performance Appraisal. With that level of staffing, you will find out that when the tide goes out, some folks have been swimming naked — meaning not everybody is a super star.

Sure, you remember this — click on to see larger:

Business planning building blocks graphic

Continue reading

01/24/21

Looping The Feedback

I am struck by how sometimes in startup world we miss the obvious.

Suppose you are a startup founder with a subscription element of some type to your future unicorn business. Being an analytical person, you check to see how many total subscribers/customers you have. About nine (or fifty) times a day.

You undoubtedly want to know, “Why did you subscribe to my website/product/genius?”

Continue reading

01/22/21

A Thought About Startup Ideas

This week I had the great pleasure of chatting with all the Austin Techstars new class members. As usual, the Austin Techstars team did a great job of assembling world class ideas and talent to accelerate them. Every single company with which I visited has an idea that can and should work.

Bravo!

I was invited because I often am a mentor to a company that my skill set fits. I am never looking for the work, but I will do what I can. I like the Techstars approach and it has really gotten traction in Austin. Very classy outfit and the guy who runs it is a brilliant guy who has assembled a brilliant staff.

Put your COVID fears at rest; this was a Zoom meet up.

Which got me thinking about how one describes an idea and communicates it to others.

We have the typical pitch deck introduction, but that is for an idea with some bulk on it, some maturity — post accelerator. I am talking about more raw ideas.

Continue reading

01/4/21

The $10MM Gross Revenue Reality Check

If you are a startup, I hope one day soon you get to $10,000,000 in gross revenue. If you do, I have some thoughts for you.

A caveat first — there are a great number of exceptions to what I am going to share with you, so do not fall prey to missing the difference of your situation or embracing every word I say, but there are reasons big and small as to why I hold these views.

Continue reading

12/30/20

Rebuilding Your Website

If you are a successful web based business there is a phenomenon that occurs with regularity at the end of your second year of operations — the necessity to rebuild your website from the ground up.

If you are not successful, you are out of business by then. Sorry.

You wake up and realize the following:

 1. In your rush to launch back two years ago, you did not have the opportunity to develop a website as good as you wanted.

Continue reading

12/15/20

Quibi — A Casualty of COVID19?

Quibi, an exciting new media streaming service launched by some of the savviest players in the media business, closed down in late October after only six months.

Was it a casualty of COVID or was it an ill-advised venture that got its comeuppance with a dash of COVID on the side?

As a startup, it is fair to take a jockey, horse, course approach to evaluating the product, no?

Continue reading