March 21, 2012
I’ve had the benefit of exposure to real life entrepreneurship through the two businesses I founded, built and sold. I’ve also been exposed to entrepreneurship in an academic environment through my role in helping form entrepreneurship@UBC.
I think both points of view are correct.
There is no better way to learn how to be an entrepreneur than to just go out and do it. But I believe that universities can teach people how to be better entrepreneurs. They can also serve a very important function by weeding out those people who are romanced by the excitement of entrepreneurship but really crave the security of a regular paycheck.
March 20, 2012
Here is a summary of a recent HBR article that I think does a great job of outlining Steve Jobs’ leadership secrets.
He was not perfect (are any of us?) and was clearly a very difficult boss. But in reading Isaacson’s biography of Jobs it’s clear that many of those who worked for Jobs would likely do so again if given the opportunity. That to me is a clear sign of someone’s leadership.
Here is a list of the high level characteristics. A link to the article is at the bottom of this post:
(1) Focus – one that is difficult for me but so very important.
(2) Simplify – he says you have to go very deep to effectively simplify. I believe this to be very true with the most successful and effective (eight word or less) vision statements. You have to go deep into strategic planning before concluding with an effective vision.
(3) Take responsibility end to end. Very few people do this.
(4) When behind leapfrog. I think laser focus is required to successfully leapfrog.
(5) Put products before profits.
(6) Don’t be a slave to focus groups. I really enjoy the Henry Ford quote, “If I had asked customers what they wanted they would have said, ‘A faster horse.'”
(7) Bend reality – this was one of his key tools to getting the most out of people.
(9) Push for perfection. I find this interesting. Particularly in technology where businesses focus on shipping their minimum viable product in order to get real life customer feedback and then improve, ship, improve, ship.
(10) Tolerate only ‘A’ players. I think this comes directly from passion. If you’re passionate about what you do then you’re already a long way toward setting yourself up to be an ‘A’ player. Conversely, I don’t believe you can be the best at something without being totally passionate about it.
(11) Engage face-to-face. I couldn’t agree more!
(12) Combine humanities with the Sciences.
(13) Stay hungry, stay foolish.
Enjoy the article: http://hbr.org/2012/04/the-real-leadership-lessons-of-steve-jobs/ar/1
March 13, 2012
The best investor pitches I’ve seen are the ones that are straight forward, concise and, most importantly, answer the questions that matter to a prospective investor.
In my experience the questions that matter include:
(1) What is the market problem that needs solving?
(2) What is your company’s solution?
(3) Who are you and why are you the best team to execute?
(4) How much money do you need and how is the company going to make money?
Business Insider recently posted Airbnb’s first investor pitch. You can find it here:http://www.businessinsider.com/airbnb-a-13-billion-dollar-startups-first-ever-pitch-deck-2011-9#-1
It’s ten slides long, is short on words (you want the audience focused on you and not reading the slides), long on facts and gets to the point quickly. This would have been a ten or fifteen minute presentation allowing for a good discussion (wanted) afterward.
If you’re an entrepreneur looking for that first tranche of cash then take a look through this pitch.