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54 Mistakes of a Startup CEO

54 Mistakes of a Startup CEO | Entrepreneurial Coaching | Scoop.it
Here's a running list of my mistakes at CB Insights. They span all facets of building a company – everything from HR to culture to product to sales to operations to admin.

We’re having a pretty great year at CB Insights – revenue is up, the team is growing and we’re executing at a high level.

But things weren’t always good.

We’ve had lean times and made many, many mistakes. Most were the result of things I did (or didn’t do) and I’ve been keeping a list of my screw-ups as a reminder to myself.

With that in mind, and as the new year approaches, I thought I’d share my list more publicly as a reminder to myself and as a public way for the team to keep me honest. For other entrepreneurs, I hope this list is useful, provides a laugh, or lets you see that you’re not the only one.

As you’ll see, my screw-ups span all facets of building a company – everything from HR to culture to product to sales to operations to admin. I am what you might call “multi-talented.”

So here they are in no particular order, bucketed by category.  You’ll notice that some of these screw-ups sorta contradict each other. Yup – building a company is messy. Read more: https://www.cbinsights.com/blog/startup-ceo-screwups/

 

 

 

 

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Via ukituki, Business Credit, Marc Kneepkens
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Marc Kneepkens's curator insight, February 27, 3:41 PM

And mistakes we'll make. This CEO kept track of them and made a great list. Good stuff to learn from and shorten the learning curve.

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How to Get Traction for Your Startup and Funding

How to Get Traction for Your Startup and Funding | Entrepreneurial Coaching | Scoop.it
Most startups want to get funding, but what they need are customers to prove demand... only then will they get funding. This article will focus on ways to use Kickstarter to not only build a customer base, but also demonstrate to investors that there is demand.

Most startups want to get funding, but what they need are customers to prove demand... only then will they get funding. This article will focus on ways to use Kickstarter to not only build a customer base, but also demonstrate to investors that there is demand.

There will include lots of successful stories on Kickstarter. The press enjoys them and they are highly shareable--because of the social media era. Currently, crowdfunding sites have become a highly popular medium in order to fund and promote your following business venture, which includes the hilariously simplistic ones. Presently everybody is buzzing in regard to the Kickstarter participant from Columbus who utilized the website to attempt to raise ten bucks to cook potato salad for the initial time. The Ohio Kickstarter user managed to exceed his Kickstarter project objective and obtained more than $55,000 in funds.

Most fantastic Kickstarters, unfortunately, don't get this much success, especially the technology-concentrated ones. What is the reason for this? It's likely because individuals have a more difficult time visualizing and understanding projects with more technical topics.

For the ones who have more tech-concentrated projects, here is how you can leverage Kickstarter in order to make your project successful:

1) Simplify your Messaging

It is important that you relate to the target audience and it may be challenging if the project is extremely technical. As you are creating product descriptors, consider your audience and then ask: Do they get my product? Do they see value in my product?

If those questions are answered prior to posting the campaign, chances are the average individual is going to be more than likely to back you.

2) Promote through Social Media

This one seems as if it should be a no-brainer--particularly coming from a PR viewpoint--but it is vital that you frequently generate fresh content during the month-long Kickstarter project. Posting updates daily to Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn will assist you in driving more traffic. Plus, as you have these backers, that new content isn't just critical for updating these individuals, yet additionally from a search engine optimization perspective. You also can boost the project's engagement by reaching out to related projects, for purposes of cross-promotion, in order to dip in one another's backer pools.

3) Engaging Social Networks for Backing

It has been theorized that securing funds upon the first day of a Kickstarter launch includes the ideal method of ensuring a project is a success. One method of doing so includes engaging followers on social networks, by reaching out to your social media connections prior to launching and reaching everybody you know using email projects. You have to maximize the donor pool.

4) Spotlight Uniqueness to Provide Backers Reasons to Promote and Support You

It's crucial that you spotlight why your Kickstarter project is special. Techniques like personal marketing will be just as vital as marketing your product. With a public crowdsourcing campaign, individuals will be more than likely to turn away from an opportunity to fund if they do not feel connected to an individual requesting funding. Writing a letter or creating a video that explains why you require the funding includes a great method of connecting with the audience.

It also is useful to provide tangible rewards which will appeal to the audience, to increase backers' interest within the project.

5. Earned Media and PR

Press coverage and 3rd-party validations that highlight your campaign include the most efficient methods of driving a special audience to a landing page. However, to accomplish this type of validation will take more than merely talking about the product. Providing thought leadership upon associated product trends, the competition, and the wider marketplace could assist in securing mentions and increasing your visibility.

Piece of the Pie on Kickstarter

Launching a highly successful Kickstarter project may be a good way to increase your enterprise's visibility, as well as generate a customer base, prior to searching for seed funding. And by leveraging the above tips, hopefully more technology startups may boost their odds of taking a cut of the more than the $1 billion dollar pie of Kickstarter funding the platform has accrued so far.

 


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Via Marc Kneepkens
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Marc Kneepkens's curator insight, November 8, 2014 8:59 AM

Traction, sales, customers is the big plus when trying to convince investors that you are the real thing.

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Startups Avoid the Talking To Yourself About Yourself Blackhole

Startups Avoid the Talking To Yourself About Yourself Blackhole | Entrepreneurial Coaching | Scoop.it

Popping Startup Bubble
As we create our Triangle Startup Factory funded startup called Curagami (http://www.curagami.com) we operate largely in self imposed bubble. Books such as The Lean Startup explain the need to get OUT THERE working with customers to create validated learning as soon as possible.

We can see why. Problem solving can be solipsistic. Problems can create more problems on into infinity. Since our tool is about know what content matters and why the irony of falling into the problem black hole would be crippling. Here are a few ideas for how to break out of the startup bubble:

* Work with "beta customers" who are almost part of your team but running businesses your tool can help (such as Moon-Audio and Vestique for Curagami).

* Start forming community ASAP. We stumbled a little on this when our Curator Contest got swamped with my need to have chemo again. We ill get back on the horse because forming community is a CSF (Critical Success Factor).

* Create Key Performance Indicators for EXTERNAL validation metrics such as whitepaper downloads, unique visitors, time on site and email list growth.

* Curate content from a wide range of experts and sources because curation is easier and cheaper than content creation, more relevant to what is happening now and it helps your brand because you gain in authority by curating content from authorities.

* Define your "competitive space" BROADLY. Don't just look directly across the table discover who and what is competing for your customers mindshare and then steal the good stuff and lead with asynchronous marketing.

* Find a universal topic such as seasonality (locally "universal" and others can easily empathize with HOT and COLD) and the weather.

* Create asynchronous marketing and if that sounds disruptive and as if you should blow shit up you are getting the idea. Sometimes you should do some strange things JUST TO SEE how they blow up. Try not to blow up the good stuff :).

When startups do any two of those ideas they are less likely to fall into the talking to themselves about themselves black hole that can easily swallow a startup whole.

The link to Google Plus shares more information about how to use universal signals to create empathy and community:
https://plus.google.com/102639884404823294558/posts/JzD6DmrPWWa


Via Martin (Marty) Smith
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Creativity More Valuable Than Passion: An Entrepreneur's Rules of Creativity

Creativity More Valuable Than Passion: An Entrepreneur's Rules of Creativity | Entrepreneurial Coaching | Scoop.it

After @Hannah Kramershared a great post about Creativity being more important for startup entrepreneurs than passion I wanted to weigh in and share related experience growing up with the right side of the brain being my dominant hemisphere (lol).

I share 5 ideas from the daughter of Gatorade's inventor:

* Creativity Bigger Predictor Than Intelligence.
* Creativity Can Be A Hard Row To Hoe.
* Creativity & Structure.
* Creativity can be learned and taught.
* Creativity happens at intersection of disciplines.

Great post hope my hard won experience contributes something helpful.

 


Via Martin (Marty) Smith
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Dennis Staples's curator insight, February 19, 2014 2:35 PM

Creativity can guide your business growth!

Ali Anani's curator insight, March 7, 2014 4:08 AM

Make the right brain and left brain intersect 

Dennis Staples's curator insight, April 2, 2014 5:30 PM

Make cREATIVITY the foundation of your actions

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The personal costs of raising money | VentureBeat | Entrepreneur | by Francisco Dao, 50Kings

The personal costs of raising money | VentureBeat | Entrepreneur | by Francisco Dao, 50Kings | Entrepreneurial Coaching | Scoop.it

http://snip.ly/7bMn

In the tech industry, we celebrate raising money as a victory second only to that of a successful exit. But there's a huge downside to raising money that isn't often discussed.

And while I recognize that venture capital is often an unavoidable requirement for growing a business, most entrepreneurs, and the tech community at large — who often seem to push people into raising VC — would be better served viewing it as a necessary evil as opposed to an absolute win.

I’m sure you’ve heard the horror stories of entrepreneurs getting fired from their companies by their VCs, but most of those stories only tell the tale of the final straw. Have you ever thought about all the intermediate steps and indignities that came before the firing? Before those entrepreneurs signed the first term sheet, whatever they were working on was theirs and theirs alone. If you think about it, it’s a long journey from owning it all to getting fired from your dream. That’s a journey that is rarely discussed and not well understood.


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Marc Kneepkens's curator insight, December 22, 2014 11:54 AM

Keep your independence or work for the VC's? Big question.

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7 Principles for Propelling Your Startup to Success | New Beginnings

Want a venture to succeed?

I developed seven principles that can help a startup improve its odds at success based on analysis of more than 1,500 public companies that I did for my book Value Leadership.

Companies that followed these principles the most closely (I call them value leaders) grew sales 35 percent faster and generated 109 percent higher net margins than their peers and increased shareholder value almost five times faster than the market in the 10 years before 2003. Companies that do a better job of creating value for key stakeholders, such as employees, customers and communities, also happen to generate more value for shareholders.

The organizations that apply all these principles will outperform those that skimp on some. For example, one of Google’s glaring weaknesses today is its inability to create a significant new source of revenue beyond advertising. That does not seem to hurt the company too much now but it could in the future.

Although I developed the following seven principles years ago, I believe they can help a startup succeed today as has been borne out by recent company history

1. Value human relationships.

Entrepreneurs can’t do it all themselves, which means they need to hire talented people. Treat talented people with respect and be sure they are a good fit with the values of the company.

For example, Google hires very smart people who fit with its unconventional approach to problem solving. Google has used its famous data-driven approach to decision making to identify traits associated with effective management. And it has used those insightsto hire and promote peope who demonstrate these skills.

2. Foster teamwork.

If an entrepreneur hires talented people, he or she should demand that they debate solutions. Ask them to use their skills to develop better solutions from working together than they would by toiling on their own.

In the last few years, Google has encouraged more teamwork, which has helped the company bring new ideas like Google Glass to fruition.

3. Experiment frugally.

Startup CEOs must resist the urge to perfect their products before launching them. Instead, they should build fast, inexpensive versions of their products, receive feedback from the market and improve the product in response.

Google encouraged this kind of frugal experimentation by letting its employees spend 20 percent of their time working on projects of personal interest.

In 2011 new CEO, Larry Page, decided he wanted to “put more wood behind fewer arrows” and phased out 20 percent time while phasing in the Google X lab to work on innovations, Quartz reported.

4. Fulfill commitments.

A startup will not succeed unless the team knows the management’s intentions and then leaders act accordingly. And leaders who tell their people they’ll do one thing but do the opposite will lose trust.

Google has certainly tried to follow through on its oft-stated value “don’t be evil.” Sadly, it has not always succeeded, such as when it decided tocensor search results in China in 2006. It stopped in 2010.

Don’t make the same mistake. It’s better for a startup to give up on a business opportunity than to violate its core values.

5. Fight complacency.

Don’t let the success of a particular product or service keep the company from searching for better ways to meet customers’ needs. Remember Blockbuster? To fight complacency, maintain a healthy paranoia and always be on the lookout for how to adopt new technologies that will give customers superior value.

Consider how Netflix transformed itself from a DVD-by-mail service to an online streaming provider. Not only has Netflix managed the transition masterfully, it has also added new capabilities like creating popular shows and managing relationships with high-bandwidth service providers.

6. Win through multiple means.

Don’t let the startup become dependent on one product that competitors can copy. Protect sources of revenue and profit by being good at a few key skills that are difficult for rivals to copy.

Under Steve Jobs, Apple could enter into existing businesses (like MP3 players, smartphones and tablets) and cut itself a big slice of the profit pie. Apple won through multiple means: It had great product design, superb marketing and customer service, an efficient supply chain and the ability to motivate third-party providers as evidenced by the success of iTunes and the App Store.

7. Give to the community.

Running a startup is especially challenging because business owners can’t pay enough to attract top talent. But they can make up for the smaller pay packet by developing a meaningful mission.

Consider the case of Embrace Innovations, whose CEO, Jane Chen, I interviewed in June 2011. The social enterprise was started in an attempt to save the lives of premature babies in developing countries. In India, many premature babies died after not being kept warm during a four-hour journey to the hospital.

Because of its inspiring mission, the company attracted talented employers, who developed a tiny sleeping bag of special materials able to keep infants at the right temperature. This saved many lives.

This week my class of 30 Babson College undergraduates explored how Google has applied these seven principles: The students concluded that despite some flaws, notably in its privacy policies, Google is a value leader. The students concluded that Google excels at valuing human relationships, winning through multiple means, experimenting frugally and fighting complacency.

Ready to try these principles? In my book I listed 24 specific activities that companies should perform to follow the seven principles as well as 107 more detailed tactics to accomplish these activities.


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Via Marc Kneepkens
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Marc Kneepkens's curator insight, October 19, 2014 1:08 PM

Good principles to keep in mind when doing business.

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Why Bootstrapping Is a Better Choice for Value-Driven Startups

Why Bootstrapping Is a Better Choice for Value-Driven Startups | Entrepreneurial Coaching | Scoop.it

"In the age of startups and micro-enterprises, the first thing you hear about, when it comes to creating a new company, service or digital product is a whole new glossary of words starting ranging from venture capital to angel investors."


Via Robin Good
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Brenda Collins's curator insight, May 8, 2014 3:37 PM

If you can boot strap your venture then do so before talking to investors. Gather around you people who have no vested interest in your company except your success and will speak honestly to you. 

OneView Tunis's curator insight, June 15, 2014 4:12 AM

Profitabilité vs. service rendu. Tout se décide dès le début

HUBMODE's curator insight, July 26, 2014 6:30 AM

Je crois au financement pas a pas et a l'argent bien dépensé,la philosophie du "bootstrapping" qui peut se traduire par "débrouille maximale"