Archive for November, 2011
There is nothing quite as thrilling in business as igniting a startup and watching it blossom. Especially when starting a company with personal savings or money from relatives and friends, early signs of success are intoxicating. Each new customer, each mention in the press or online adds to the feeling of early accomplishment. And it is more satisfying because it is yours, from idea to execution.
But the excitement begins much earlier. With newfound freedom to make independent decisions about finding a company name, where to locate the company, whether to lease an office or start from home, how to engage talent, even whether to provide free coffee to employees, the newly minted entrepreneur can only think of positive thoughts and great outcomes.
[Email readers, continue here...] This moment is not to be spoiled by such mundane warnings from advisors or consultants to plan carefully, research the market and competition, and execute the plan with tenacity and enthusiasm. This moment is to be enjoyed for what it is: the ignition point in which the dream becomes a reality and anything is possible.
This moment is to celebrate every action, including shopping for supplies, furniture and technology to support the newly minted enterprise. There is never again going to be such a pristine, simple, problem-free time in the life of this business. Relish the experience of creation. Celebrate each important “first,” including the first customer order, the first day in a new office, the first new employee hired, the first earned dollar actually deposited into the bank account.
Because it is yours to write alone, there is no Hollywood script more thrilling than the one you create during those first days when everything is so very new.
This week, for the first time, we republish an earlier post. With readership up three-fold since that posting in April, 2011, and with many great reader comments then, it is only natural to send you to the original post with those reader comments attached, rather than republish it here.
So press this link to go right to that original posting. And thanks for your many comments and emails after last week’s final posting in the first cycle of BERKONOMICS. Be assured that the tank is not nearly empty, as we begin the second cycle examining the stages of corporate growth from startup through raising money, marketing, board-building, protecting the business, and more, including cashing out.
As I look back over more than fifty years as an entrepreneur, I can think of the financial focus of my three entrepreneurial businesses as a prime driver in my life during the early stage of each. And yet, as I recall the greatest thrills, the memorable events, the best of memories, almost none are about the money. The stories of people rising to the occasion, victories in the form of great sale successes, great continuing relationships, occasional awards from valued industry or academic institutions, being able to give back to those who appreciate the gift of time or money – all seem to rise well above the feeling recalled about the check or wire transfer that represented a completed sale of a company.
I found one of my joys in angel investing, putting money to work by investing time and money into promising young entrepreneurs much like I once was, coaching them, putting them together with others who have needed skills, helping to build someone else’s dream. If you are in such a good place in your life, find a local angel investing group by Googling “angel investing”. You will find such a group near enough to drive to their periodic meetings. You’ll quickly be drawn into the governance of the organization and introduced into the process of discovery, coaching, leading deals, herding investors, serving on boards and helping entrepreneurs toward liquidity events.
[Email readers, continue here...] I found another joy in community organizations, joining a total of four non-profit boards, learning at first much more than I could teach, but rising over the years to leadership positions with large psychic rewards along each step of the way.
And then there is family. Be honest with yourself. Have you ever spent enough time with your family? Can you ever? Isn’t it time to try?
For those of you still struggling to find that security, to find that balance, I wish you all the skills and all the success possible. For those with the blessing of time and room to breathe, I wish you the wisdom and energy to make use of this most valuable gift. Your most satisfying journey will never be about the money.
If you’ve enjoyed this series so far, all of the previous two years of these insights have been combined into a single book, BERKONOMICS, available from your favorite bookseller, via Amazon Kindle Edition - or signed by the author in either hard cover or soft cover editions, by clicking this link.
Isn’t the goal of any negotiation to get the maximum possible out of the other side? I have learned from long experience that the last bit of concession is the most expensive in a negotiation. Invariably, it’s after the negotiation, whether during the final documentation of the deal or after the closing when the buyer finds those unexpected surprises, and that the seller who drives the hardest bargain is the one attacked with the most energy by the affronted buyer.
Certainly, sales contracts usually call for a basket or amount of findings below which the buyer will absorb the costs. The problem comes when the buyer finds surprises that could have much greater effect, but whose cost will not be known for years. Customer contracts that come up for renewal but are not renewed as expected, a customer bankruptcy after the closing, a group of employees that leave together to start a new business. There are so many unforeseen opportunities to make a buyer unhappy after the closing, that it is good strategy to leave enough on the table, labeled carefully as such, so that there is no doubt as to the “gift” from the seller. As a percentage of the total package, often such a gesture is small, but the benefit can be great if the unexpected happens