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

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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?”

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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?

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09/27/20

CEO Shoptalk — All Risk Is Not Created Equal

If you are an entrepreneur, founder, CEO, you swim in a sea of risk, alternating amongst the butterfly, the backstroke, the breaststroke, and the crawl. You must do it all.

In the early days, you are a minnow (or a little mullet if you are feeling salty) and the dangerous waters of startup land are populated by voracious, big-toothed sharks, vicious sharks, all of whom want to devour you.

In these early, formative days every risk can eat you (kill you, destroy your company). [Worse, you don’t yet know the nature of risk. You are in that classic posture of not knowing what you don’t know.]

As you exit the size 2 Pampers, the list of things that can kill you begins to thin, but you add to it — you begin to take risk.

You visit risk upon yourself as you sharp elbow your way upward in the food chain. [Soon, you may become a shark.]

The big question is this — Do you understand the nature of the risks you are taking?

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03/9/20

CEO Shoptalk — Staffing

The subject of how companies staff their businesses, manage their employees, and administer the employer-employee relationship has been lingering in my mind for some considerable time. Today, I will try to put some order to it. Staffing.

At the core of every business is people. It starts with the founder(s) and then grows. A company cannot grow without being a capable employer, but little is said as to the system by which that happens.

Allow me to jump ahead. Assume:

 1. You are a founder/CEO who now has some semblance of a product, are struggling with product-market fit, have raised a bit of capital, and will have to hire people to drive and scale the business.

 2. Assume, in the alternative, you are a founder/CEO who has more than 50 employees, plenty of money in the bank, have achieved product-market fit, have 1,000 customers, and are now ready to really scale.

I use these two examples because I hope the logic is universal.

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