April 26, 2011

Service or Product?

For an interesting discussion on the relative merits of a product vs. service business, check out Mark Suster's post here.  Try to get past the demeaning and inappropriate headline, and the typos, and look for the reality.

April 23, 2011

Words of Wisdom from Warren

I am not good at tech matters but I have got a lot of people who are. I don’t have to be smart about everything; I didn’t deliver my wife’s baby! So, I believe in using people who are smarter than I am and it is not very hard to find the number that are and certainly in the tech field. I just don’t have that ability but I am reasonably good at spotting the people who do have that ability. We get the best people, and when you get the best people and you let them go, you get the best result.

April 21, 2011

Board of Directors vs. Board of Advisors

Every business should have either a Board of Advisors or a Board of Directors.  Period.  There is no wiggle room in that statement, except for one thing:  If you are running a lifestyle business, or if you're not really serious about succeeding in your business, then... save yourself some trouble and forget about it.

However, if you really want to succeed, and not waste your time, and want to take the shortest path, with the least stress, then get yourself a Board.  

What's the difference?  A Board of Directors is a legal entity.  The Board of Directors is there for the purpose of representing the interests of the shareholders.  They hire and fire the CEO, they approve the business plan.  If you are the CEO, you want a happy Board of Directors, or else you will not be CEO very long.  

A Board of Advisors is for a CEO who owns most, or all of the stock.  Such a CEO is not going to be fired by his Board of Advisors, because they have no legal standing, and the CEO can do whatever he wants.  His Board of Advisors is there simply for the guidance.

The benefit of having a Board comes from having regularly scheduled meetings, usually once a month in young companies, but as little as once a quarter in mature, profitable, and stable companies.  You want your Board to be actively involved in the challenges and plans of your company.  That's why you want to meet, formally and regularly.

If you are doing a startup, and going to need some angel and/or VC capital, you have some special considerations.  Check out this article for more on that.

And, finally, here's a very good article in INC magazine about some details on setting up boards of advisors/directors.

How VCs evaluate your management team

If you're going to do a startup, and it's going to need angel or VC money, then YOU (as the CEO) are going to be evaluated as one of the primary elements of success for the business.  Here's a short article on how your team will be evaluated:  click here.

Mentors, Teachers, Coaches...

Do you need a mentor, or a teacher, or a coach?
What is the difference?

Steve Blank sets us straight with his insightful post: read it here.

According to his definitions, I serve as a mentor, primarily, but I feel that being a mentor includes elements of coaching and teaching...

April 13, 2011

Founders as Artists

Legendary entrepreneur Steve Blank is featured in this brief video clip, discussing how he sees founders as artists.  I couldn't agree more...  Needless to say, the concept of success in business being both Art and Science has been the topic of this blog for the last 5 years.  Maybe Steve finally found my blog!

April 1, 2011

A Poet's Pithy Perception

"The heights by great men reached and kept, 

were not attained by sudden flight, 

but they, while their companions slept, 

were toiling upward in the night." 

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow