Focus - Focus - Focus

August 28, 2010

A big challenge for companies going through their start-up phase is "FOCUS".  I was recently with a client. They are early start-up. Their product is built and they have won their few first customers

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Youthful Entrepreneur: An Oxymoron?

August 23, 2010

I read an interesting article in Newsweek (The Golden Age of Innovation) that argues that "new research has found that older workers are more likely to innovate than their under-35 counterparts." Contrary to stereotypes, the most successful entrepreneurs are not the 20-something tech savvy, but rather the 40+mature, experienced engineer. In fact, "the highest rate of entrepreneurship in America has shifted to the 55-64 age group, with people over 55 almost twice as likely to found successful companies than those between 20 and 34." Intuitively, this makes sense. At 55, I have a heck of a lot more connections to talent, resources, and capital then I did when I was in my 20's and 30's. But, what I don't have as much of is energy. Last year, a mid-50's friend of mine who is a construction engineer and develops large scale properties was bemoaning the fact that he could double is income if only he had the energy he had when he was 40. He stated the irony that when he finally had the experience and resources, he was too tired to exploit it to the maximum.

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How I hire Sales People

August 18, 2010

A CEO of a start-up recently asked me how I hire software salespeople.  I have a simple rule that has served me well. I look for three things in a salesperson's resume.

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Managing Risk in your Go-to-Market Strategy

August 18, 2010

If you haven't read Howard Gwin's blog on Digital Puck regarding VC's and start-ups in Canada, I would recommend that you do. It has some powerful arguments about how VC's and entrepreneurs should look at building great companies.

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When is it time to fire?

August 9, 2010

I recently met a CEO of a start-up. He was describing his business to me and that even though he had hired a Sales leader, he was being dragged into every sales deal in order to close it. His sales leader had been hired to find & close deals, create & grow a sales force and free the CEO's time for other critical tasks. The CEO was frustrated because sales were not happening without his daily involvement.

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A glimpse into the VC world

August 8, 2010

In sales, a good salesperson learns what motivates their customer's behaviour, including how they are personally incented and rewarded in their job. When negotiating any deal, they must understand what is "in it" for the other side, both at a business and personal level. They also learn to speak the customer's language and acronyms. Yet, I often meet entrepreneurs who don't yet understand how a VC's works.

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Teach me, Coach me, Tell Me

July 29, 2010

Early in my management career, my bosses' boss Bert taught me about "teach me, coach me, tell me" management.  Bert had been a very successful sales rep but as a rookie sales manager, he was failing. He was struggling to make quota and his team was not happy working for him. He had been an aggressive sales person who used to run over competition using brunt force so his people sensitivity skills were not tuned.  A much older and experienced manager took him aside to explain the "teach me, coach me, tell me" technique and Bert claimed that it saved his management career.

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Senior Talent - The Art of a Great Hire

July 27, 2010

Howard Gwin  and I developed a Leadership presentation a few years ago. We argued about one slide. Howard's assertion was that when hiring senior level talent into your business, a world class executive's batting average will be 400. In other words, only 4 out of 10 hires will be good or great hires. From my experience, I agree. Consider the number of senior folks that you know who started a new job and only last 6 to 18 months.

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