As someone who sees dozens of new businesses in the conception stage each week, I’m struck by how many never address the risk inherent in relying on a dominant player’s platform for the heart of their business. I’m speaking specifically of Google and Facebook. Whether you’re relying on Google search for customer acquisition or AdWords for revenue, or on Facebook for customer acquisition and marketing, you have put your business at the mercy of the competitive whims of these companies, most often without a backup plan.... Read More
Starting a business is not for the faint of heart and, unfortunately, many would-be entrepreneurs don't stop to question themselves before they make the leap. If things go well, the successful entrepreneur will often blindly dive into the next deal feeling like he or she is golden. That's what one billionaire entrepreneur I know did; in fact, after a huge sale of his very well-known company, he dove into three very diverse high-risk ventures believing that he couldn't lose--he had the Midas touch.... Read More
One of the most important lessons I've learned in my years as an entrepreneur and investor is not to get greedy, not to hold out for the bigger deal, and not to negotiate a win-lose situation. I have seen entrepreneurs turn down great offers because their egos told them that their companies could command a bigger number. Trouble is, these days offers don't come often, so the risk of turning down a good offer in hopes of getting a great offer is huge. .... Read More
A while back Peter blogged about the importance of focus, specifically, focusing on what your business does well.and not getting pulled in a lot of different directions. I agree with that, and especially if you're a rocket scientist, brain surgeon, or race car driver ,you definitely need to focus or you're in big trouble. But if you're facing the unknown--uncertainty--the LAST thing you want to do is focus...... Read More
Everywhere you look today the pundits are making predictions about what’s going to happen in the coming year, in the next 4years of Obama’s presidency, and even as far out as 2020. With so much uncertainty out there, how do they think they can predict anything? After all, life is not a sterile, controlled laboratory.
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I have to thank Nassim Nicholas Taleb for writing one of the best business books I’ve read in a long time—The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable. It has really changed the way I think about start-ups, success, failure, and the ubiquitous and annoying bell curve. Let me explain. Taleb’s core thesis is that the inventions, companies, and events that have the biggest impact on society, either positively or negatively, are not predictable. You can’t see them coming because there are no obvious signs announcing their arrival. In other words, you can’t plan for Black Swans (BS). You can’t, for example, come up with a business concept and an ingenious strategy to create the next Google (a Black Swan business). Even the founders of Google didn’t know when they started what impact their little search engine would have. After all, there were plenty of other search engines out there. Why did the funky, plain toast version offered by Google hit the mark? The truth is: BS technologies, inventions, and businesses—those that change the world—are rare events that hit us when we’re not looking and when we least expect them.... Read More
The other day I sat in on an angel investor screening where two entrepreneurs were pitching their businesses for capital. If you ever get the opportunity to do that you should, because it’s a great learning experience. As many times as I’ve heard people pitch their businesses and as many times as I’ve coached people in their preparation to pitch, I always either learned something new or reminded myself of something I had forgotten. This session was an eye opener.
I don’t know about you but I’m a glass-half-full kind of person, so I find it troubling that everywhere you look today, the news seems to be negative—layoffs, tight credit, foreclosures – you name it, it’s there. I would never deny the reality of these problems, but as an entrepreneur, I tend to see opportunity in any situation.... Read More