This interview speaks to what I want to talk about most in newer articles, which is scaling and targeting companies that have some product market fit and are ready to begin growing.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
We help businesses with 5 to 200 employees scale their business by installing all the systems needed for strategy, management, metrics, process improvement, budgeting, and human capital.
Tell us about yourself
As a serial entrepreneur for 14 years, I built and sold four different companies, returning 25x ROI to my investors and over $1 billion in profits.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
Disrupting the real estate industry by creating the first high-definition, remote touring for residential real estate. Also disrupted financial services with five different products and created The CEO Boot Camp (2004), where we have trained thousands of CEOs...
Prepare for years in advance by study and experience in management, leadership and smaller companies. Read 2–4 books per month. Always be learning. Now, you can build a tiny house alone, but building a significant company requires a team without about 20 different skills that no one person possesses. Many think they can build a skyscraper alone, even without capital! Dumb. A formula for disaster and why 85% of new companies fail. It takes tremendous commitment and perseverance and is always a rollercoaster ride. Almost never a straight, predictable, linear process.
Here are some great educational sources I have created to solve this exact problem click here to check
All entrepreneurs and CEO must be committed to life-long learning. After 31 years as a CEO it gets hard to find and learn new things, but the world changes and there is always something new to learn. Most success comes from great strategy and great team....
If you have to ask this question, you are likely not passionate enough or ready in other ways to do this. The commitment to any startup is likely five or more years. And long working hours that can easily be sixty-to-eighty-hour weeks at times. As a result, you need to know for certain you would both enjoy the work and are qualified to do the job offered. You also need to do your due diligence to understand the company’s team, finances and chances of success. About 85% of startups will fail. Just a fact.
Asking about a specific company is almost not relevant because the decision process for you is the same and we (advisers here) do not know your background or private information about the company. Nor did you say if this was a promotion, good salary, equity offer, no pay, or whatever. All 100% relevant to any answer.
My main career advice to people is, “Always be learning”. By increasing your knowledge and experience, your market value and options will go up....
Firstly, these are two very different things. A BOA is usually a domain expert while a BOD member may bring skills like finance, sales, operation, scaling, marketing or other expertise. Too many boards are dominated by investors who only know finance.
The right time to start is yesterday. Usually as soon as you are clear on the mission of the company, which allows you to build out the skills you need on your team. It takes time and patience to develop a BOA member. Few want any formal connection until some value has been built, as the risk is so high, like 90% that the company will go nowhere for a long time. You can work with them informally and work your way up to something more formal when needed.
An informal Board of Advisers (BOA) can be started very casually and develop over time. Start with lunch and discussions to get their input of the business plan. Tell them everything, hold back nothing. Be vulnerable to show you are coachable and will listen to people with other...
Absolutely. That is called a “niche” and often is the intersection of a vertical market and application/problem. And even smaller is okay and sometimes an advantage in the beginning. Of course, you also need a vision and steps into larger markets. Generally, $1 billion minimum if you seek institutional capital, as they only invest in companies that can reach $100M in sales after 5–6 years.
Even if your price point is $250 that’s a $12.5M market opportunity. Which may be enough to validate your product, tune it, prove your value proposition, price point, marketing, and sales economics to raise funding and go after larger markets.
An MVP and initial market entry is best smaller, so you are not facing competition from much larger companies and can be the only solution to that problem in that niche. An ideal market size is probably $100M to $250M, but is fine as long as your offering is unique and has some barriers to entry.
Tesla’s first product, the...
I spent 10+ years preparing to launch my first big company opportunity at age twenty-nine. Having already started four different businesses before I finished high school, I had some basic experience and knowledge. I worked as a software engineer in my first full-time job after college. I worked on both mainframes and the first major Apple computer (Apple II). I then quickly move up the ranks to Senior Software Engineer, Architect and Vice President of Engineering by year five of my professional career. That is exceptionally fast because I read every book available, did consulting on the side, worked long hours and had little social life. I also had the benefit of working in a newer field (microcomputers) where no one had five or ten years more experience than me because the field was new and rapidly changing too. I had been programming computers since age sixteen, which was rare then, so even starting my first job I had the equivalent of a couple of years full-time...
Yes, I personally have created two platforms with about 40 courses total for this purpose, and a third set of courses for executive teams preparing to scale a company. There are at least 30 skills an Entrepreneur/CEO should learn before founding a company, not that they can be expert at all or even most, but all these skills will be needed on a team.
We have trained thousands of CEOs from over 40 countries at The CEO Boot Camp since the first one in 2004. This program is for aspiring and active entrepreneurs to learn what they need to become good CEOs and entrepreneurs. It has 12 foundational courses on the things required to design a business, build a product and launch. We find even very experienced CEOs do not know 50% of what we teach there. You can learn about that certification here
The second platform unbundles all of our 40 courses to be available individually for team members on specific topics. Taking all these together is likely better than getting an MBA or other...
This is a simple but good question, but does depend on what your definition of “successful” is, too. A lifestyle business is successful if it provides a decent living for the owner. Most freelancers, consultants and coaches are this kind of business. So are most local retail stores. They sell commodity products and services like millions of others.
To me, a successful business is one that can reach multi-millions in revenue, create jobs and has good margins for profit that can be reinvested to grow the business. This kind of business can grow exponentially and reach hundreds of millions in sales over time. These create true wealth and even generational wealth to leave to your children. And can have a big impact on the world too. What these businesses have in common, almost always, is:
There are too many to list individually, but most come from having someone with experience. People often confuse smart with experienced and think they can do anything new well. Science and logic says this is not possible with anything complex.
Few things are as complex as entrepreneurship. Hardly anyone would read a book on flying and hop in a plane alone to fly it. Or try to climb Mount Everest alone. But everyone thinks they can build a new business for some strange reason. As a result, we have an 85% failure rate of new businesses. Ones with coaches and mentors greatly outperform because they avoid the hundreds of common mistakes and pitfalls, some of which can be fatal to a business. These companies where the CEO and executives use coaches even outperform the S & P 500 (mature companies) by a wide margin. They are working on constant improvement of the team, which makes all the critical decisions. And this reduces turn-over, challenges people and gives them career growth...
This varies by the amount of money being raised and stage of development of the company. I have posted a due diligence checklist on my blog, you can find for full detail.
Any amount over $1M will likely require substantial look into all company officers, financial statements, customer records in addition to review of the company’s business plan and product(s). Expect serious investors to ask about everything you can imagine. And the more open you are, the better. Although VC will likely refuse to sign NDAs as many of these would place too many constraints on them over time, this does allow you to withhold some trade secrets and protect your “secret sauce”. This could be your source code, trade secrets and algorithms or other secrets you do not want to expose to competitors. This is a big gray area and negotiable, but you should be careful, as VCs are not prevented from investing in your competitors after pulling out of your deal. And they can legally transfer...