What are some tips for starting a new company to prepare?

A tough question that can only be answered well by looking at the big picture. “Tips” implies simple little things, but none of these are tips really. They “must do” things if you want to have good chances of success.
Prepare for years in advance, building your skills in management, domain expertise and marketing/sales.
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Get a mentor who has experience as an entrepreneur growing a company successfully
Read at least 2 to 3 books per month
Bootstrap taking your time to build out your plan doing market research, competitive intelligence and talking to prospects and iterating your business model. Be sure it is 100% differentiated and unique, and you can create some sustainable competitive advantage. Without both of these, raising capital will be near impossible.
Set up financially to need no income for 6 to 12 months minimum after you quit your job. Moonlight until you are very clear on the plan and vision, and get...

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What are Some Common Incorrect Adages in the Business World?

So many to choose from that deceive people and can even cause failure of a company. Here are just a sample:

1. Your “idea is worth millions”. There is no such thing. As by definition anyone can steal an “idea” and do it better, with more capital and/or a better team. Anyone with just an idea will not raise any capital. You need team, plan, traction. Even a patent (exclusive on the implementation of an idea, not an idea) only gets 5% royalty. The other 95% goes to the people who invest and execute. How many people had the idea for the electric car before Elon Musk started growing Tesla? There were hundreds of competitors to Facebook, and almost any other company you can name. But only the few that do everything right will survive the Darwinian world of the marketplace. 

2. Anyone can start a company - We have a new company failure rate of over 85%, and a new product failure rate over 90%, because people greatly underestimate the experience...

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Why Are OKRs in Vogue?

I would not say they are “In vogue” at all. They have always been a fundamental building block of good management. Recently the term OKRs has become more common because it has been used and promoted by some VCs, Google, Intel and other successful companies. However, OKR is almost identical to Management By Objective (MBO) that was created in the 1960s by Peter Drucker, The Father of Management.

This is a classic management principle that any professional manager should understand which most business schools fail to teach well. It is the “Blocking and tackling” of management that cannot be ignored. Sometimes it is called SMART Goals, a slightly different take with 90% overlap too, that is an acronym for Specific, Measurable (metrics), Attainable, Realistic and Time bounded. All-important attributes to set non-ambiguous goals.

Decades of research has shown a 56% improvement in value creation at companies that use good goal setting systems, specifically...

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Why does OKR or MBO Work Less Well in a Research Environment?

MBO and OKR is a proven way for companies to improve performance dramatically. But it is not a panacea either. It is just a structure and cadence for good management to insure great communications and cooperation between people and areas of the business. And one very good manager should use - no exceptions. 

To be fair OKR is just a repackaged (plagiarized) version of Management By Objective (MBO) created by The Father of Management (Science) Peter Drucker in the 1960s. All his books are timeless, and I highly recommend any serious manager read them all over time. Start with The Daily Drucker.

That said in research (and development), which I did full-time for 8 years in my earlier career, there are more unknowns, and it is harder to set clear timelines for things, mainly because the next steps depend on the result of earlier steps and also iteration.  However, you can still have release dates and other things agreed to -- you just may not have exact expectations on what a...

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Is HR allowed to veto a hiring decision by management?

Simply put, generally, no, but there are various scenarios and circumstances.  So, this is really not a yes or no question and requires more information to answer.

Legally, any Officer of the company (a legal status according to the Secretary of State filings in the state in which your company is incorporated) has the right to commit their company legally to any contract, and hence to hire someone.  This status comes with a large “Fiduciary responsibility” to act in the best interest of the company and its stockholders.  It also means you have liability in certain circumstances.  You have a responsibility to all shareholders and cannot make any decisions for personal reasons, only in the best interest of the company.

When on a "Board of Directors" there is a very high standard for that in law called "Utmost good faith". And you can and should be sued and removed for any violation of that responsibility.  But that's another article for another...

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What’s the most effective way to train employees to thrive as managers?

Training like this is best done with an ongoing Management Development (MD) program. This is also often called Learning and Development (LD), or Management Development (MD). Management is an art, not a skill. Hence, only actual practice and experience increases someone’s abilities. Of course, a foundation of knowledge of best practices, styles and some structure is very helpful and that can be learned.  Models, rules of thumb and reading will help a lot. It will just not be enough. 

Any company over about 10 employees should have ongoing monthly or quarterly education goals for managers, or ideally all employees. This allows people to grow with the company, creates loyalty and is a big win-win. This does not have to be expensive. I generally recommend about 2% to 3% of management salaries for an MD program.  This can pay an RPI that is 10 to 100X. 

Some MD can be just reading assignments. The key is knowing the best books for a given employee at that...

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How Do You Compete with a Company Doing the Same Thing as You?

The short answer is you never should. You should slightly adjust your business model or target market to be differentiated. Read this article to learn how. 

A startup should never really have a direct competitor. Its target market, where it can do something that others cannot, must be unique at the start to establish a beachhead in a niche. You need to target another niche market (often an intersection and application and industry sector) where you have a Sustainable Competitive Advantage (SCA).

Sometimes geography can be this difference if a service is delivered locally, or you are going after a country where a new service does not yet exist (i.e. Starbucks). However, this is less powerful than proprietary product and service capabilities that others do not have long-term. You could be attacked locally at any time, even by ex-employees you trained who leave. It is also possible and better to layer in other SCAs over time. First to market can give you advantages like...

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Do good employees make good managers?

Sure, but only a certain percentage. Usually 5% to 15%. These are the ones willing to work hard, develop themselves, learn more rapidly and develop EQ and people skills. Google The Peter Principle to understand better.

Management is an art, not a skill. An art requires vast experience, and literally rewires your brain neuroplasticity over the years. See Malcolm Gladwell’s book Blink. You cannot learn it in school. Only practice it for many years to hone your talents there.

The fact is, most people are lazy and do not want to continue to develop, think for themselves and excel. Only that do should be allowed in management. This is called “Self-Actualized”.

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Bob Norton is a long-time Serial Entrepreneur and CEO with four exits that returned over $1 billion to investors. He has trained, coached and advised over 1,000 CEOs since 2002. And is Founder of The CEO Boot Camp™ and Entrepreneurship...

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What's the difference between a CEO and a COO?

Easy. COOs deal with short-term management and daily, weekly and monthly issues. This is the “Care and feeding” of employees to coordinate resources and track results. CEOs work more on the long-term from 1 to 5 years out. CEOs also spend their time, maybe as much as 50%, on proper staffing at the management level, coaching this team up and developing these managers to grow professionally to take on more responsibility with that growth. Often the CEO will spend 50% of their time divided between: Strategy development, customer contact (direct input), and optimizing processes for marketing, sales and finance. In smaller companies where there is no full-time CFO 50% of a CEO’s can go to fundraising at times too. So, you can see how many situations can require more people power.

Typically, a CEO and COO are not both needed until a company exceeds 50 employees, but there are many factors. Some Founder/Owners also lack the management skills, patience or detail...

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What is the difference between a CTO and a technical Product Manager?

This is kind of a silly question as these jobs are so very different. But it is something many do not understand well and so needs a good answer too.  This answer is mainly in the context of technology companies. As a CTO in a service company where technology is not the product is an different animal. 

A CTO understands technology deeply and broadly.  And also, business considerations like development and operations costs, risk and development life cycles of products.  They guide an organization in the use of newer technology, across the organization and all its IT, software, hardware and products.  They would be responsible to see the organization is keeping up with and/or passing competitors to use technology strategically for competitive advantage, cost savings, speed or other advantage in their industry.

In a tech startup, the CTO is often a cofounder. They need to have a deep understanding of technology AND broad understanding of business and even...

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