Services For Startup and Early-Stage Companies

Early-stage companies are the most fragile, have the least resources and the biggest challenges ahead of them.  Developing a new business is one of the biggest challenges in life and generally requires experience in at least five key disciplines (product/service development, finance, sales, marketing, and operations) to do well.   For a founder or entrepreneur and their team to be successful, they must have not only industry domain experience but all these skills available to design the business at both the strategic and tactical levels (a vision).  Taking all these disciplines into account and then allocating resources appropriately for the specific situation among these areas requires much experience and entails many trade-offs and judgment calls.  The only experience can be our guide here.  Identifying and managing risks is also something only experience and knowledge can conquer. For very early-stage businesses, hiring a full-time,...

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Is Customer Service Dead or Just Dying?

Plus the Top 8 Ways To Ensure Your Customer Service Is Not!

 

 

Where Are Your Company's Customers Now? Only in the top right "Loyalty" is a sustainable business, everywhere else is living on borrowed time.

 

Examples of Poor Customer Service

Customer service seems to be going down the drain today at more companies than not. It is difficult to have a remote customer experience or transaction with any significant size company without several problems along the way. It is much less of a problem where there is face-to-face contact than on the phone, so I am confining this to telephone service issues.

I recently wanted to add a second satellite dish to my house and also upgrade to a high definition dish with a large, well-known company that provides satellite signals directly to your home TV (who shall remain nameless). Although I am still working on this, I have now spent over two and one-half hours talking to people on the phone and being stood up three times in a row...

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Checklist For Your Company's Next Steps Agenda for the Future

What are TODAY'S real top priorities for both you and your company? They may have changed since you last looked.

If you're busy slaying daily dragons, priorities can change without warning. And you may not even notice -- until it's too late to do something about it. Instead of dragons setting the agenda for you and your company, invest ten minutes on this pop quiz.

Because either you or your daily dragons WILL control your Agenda for the Future.

It won't take long to review which of these thirteen major issues are the most critical ones to your future. It's not complicated. Either print out this page using your web browser software and circle them -- or just jot down on a sheet of paper which ones are top priorities for you.

Biggest Problems Currently:

  1. ____________________________
  2. ____________________________
  3. ____________________________
  4. ____________________________
  5. ____________________________


Almost by definition, your five biggest problems are those that are specific to you and...

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Startup Versus Big Company

A Comparison of Operations Modes

 

This table compares the two extremes that should be considered when selecting a management model or style for your company. Any company using an inappropriate management mode will be a significant disadvantage and could easily fail.

Big Company
Startup
Hires ahead of the curve, against quarterly and annual plans Hires just-in-time or even too late when the pain reaches an intolerable level, or some sales target is met.
Does everything "right", spending whatever it takes to produce a high-quality result. Does an 80-90% job at less than ½ the cost, knowing that we will have to do it over soon when we learn more (next month!). Always attempting to build a flexible platform to build on. Remaining fast and flexible to alter course on a dime.
Job descriptions are narrow and the phrase "not my job" is heard a lot EVERYONE wears several hats with very broad job descriptions. People with "not my job" attitudes or the...
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Big Company Disease is Most Often Fatal For Startup Companies

Definition: A startup is a company without any revenue and 50 or fewer people, which must deliver a product to the market shortly.

Easy access to capital and not adjusting to the new world after leaving a big company or another industry are some major reasons for "big company disease". This was very common in the bubble, when huge Series A and B venture capital rounds were easy to get without a real business plan or vision that showed how a company would make a profit. Many companies would have survived easily on so much capital if they did not contract this disease.
Unfortunately, it was common to see a large company CEO placed in startups and look like fish out of water. It was also common to see recent college grads acting as CEO. Some investors made quick money this way, flipping the "companies" to IPO that had no real or sustainable revenue stream before anyone realized there was no path to profitability. Some knew this and therefore were acting unethically, others got sucked in...

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The Art and Science of Business Design Part-4

The lack of a good business design process is the number one reason why most businesses fail today.  Almost everything else, like poor market, running out of capital, unexpected risks and poor sales, is just a symptom of this root problem.

  • How Many People Does It Take?
     

Consider for a moment all the things we as individuals do not know!  It is pretty sure that today no one can even keep one-tenth of one percent of the knowledge available to mankind in their head!  Scholars say the last Renaissance Man existed in the early sixteen hundreds sometime.  This was the last century in which anyone alone could claim to be an authority on everything.  Today, four hundred years of collecting knowledge later, we now double human knowledge every few years!  How can anyone be silly enough to think they can know enough across a whole industry plus management, sales, finance, marketing, technology, and operations to actually design a business...

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The Art and Science of Business Design Part-2

The lack of a good business design process is the number one reason why most businesses fail today.  Almost everything else, like poor market, running out of capital, unexpected risks and poor sales, is just a symptom of this root problem.

 

  • Defining "Business Design"
     

For purposes of this discussion, let us consider the inner concentric circle of the vision pie below as the definition of a business design.  Therefore:

 

DEFINITION: A Business Design - The sum of the complete strategies for each of the business disciplines required to deliver a product or service to the market.

We can assume the tactics can be driven by, or fall out of, the strategies developed.  Certainly, this is best at any early stage of development.  This is a simple, straightforward definition and very useful for our purposes.  Note, however, that this definition does not mean the business design actually works, only that you have a design.  A...

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The Art and Science of Business Design Part-3

The lack of a good business design process is the number one reason why most businesses fail today.  Almost everything else, like poor market, running out of capital, unexpected risks and poor sales, is just a symptom of this root problem.

  • Where Do Entrepreneurs Go Wrong?
     

The sad fact is, most businesses should not be run as originally envisioned by the founders for two main reasons:

1)   You never, never, ever know enough when you found a business not to make many, many adjustments along the way, and

2)   It is highly unlikely the founder has exactly all the right experience for this new business across the many business disciplines needed.

With the many thousands of business models possible for any given product or service, expecting to pick the best purely based on one person's previous experience out of the gate is almost absurd.  Only if this business is tremendously simple and the founder has spent decades in that...

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The Art and Science of Business Design

The lack of a good business design process is the number one reason why most businesses fail today.  Almost everything else, like poor market, running out of capital, unexpected risks and poor sales, is just a symptom of this root problem.

 

  • Why Business Design Must ALWAYS Be The #1 Priority of Any New Venture?
     

Designing a business is more art than science because it is something that takes lots and lots of real-world experience.  Personally, I do not think you can learn it at any university, or by any amount of study, until after you have spent many years working in management to understand people and business well.  It would be like someone reading for ten years about painting, without ever picking up a brush, and then when they finally pick up a paintbrush to paint their first person or landscape; and expect to paint a masterpiece.  Pretty unlikely, huh?  We may be able to teach strategy in school, but even that is just a small...

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Are Corporate Directors Becoming Obsolete?

When The Liabilities Exceed the
Benefits of Being a Director

By Peter Cohen

In the last week, some corporate directors have written checks out of their personal accounts to settle suits against the companies on whose boards they served.  Earlier this week, 10 former WorldCom directors paid a total of $54 million -- $18 million from their own pockets, representing 20% of their net worth.  Today announced that 18 Enron directors agreed to pay $168 million, 10 of them paid $13 million from their own pockets, to settle their portions of securities class action suits.  These events probably mark the beginning of a trend that will cost directors of other bankrupt companies more money.

While these directors no doubt made these payments to avert the risk of even higher ones, their decisions alter the cost/benefit analysis for current and potential corporate directors.  It is no longer enough to show up at quarterly meetings, enjoy the CEO’s hospitality, and collect...

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