Entrepreneurship, Leadership

The Key to Startup Success?

A friend of mine recently asked me what I thought the key to a successful startup was. Even though I’m involved in the entrepreneurship community and have heard many others speak on this topic, I wanted to make sure I gave him a thoughtful answer. I kept thinking of everything I’ve learned over my number of years engaged in entrepreneurship from both an operator and facilitator standpoint: Business Model Canvas, Learn Canvas, the importance of customer development, user experience design, etc. The one thing that kept sticking in my mind, however, is the need for great people. What I mean by this is leaders who have complementary skills with the ability to productively work in concert to accomplish a goal. There are several important parts of this definition:

Leaders – individuals who can inspire and enable the success of others. This includes the recruiting, training, and retaining of employees and cofounders.

Complimentary Skills – See previous post.

Productively Work in Concert – This doesn’t mean that founders have to cover favorite bands at the local coffee shop every night, but teams should have compatible working styles.

To Accomplish a Goal – Your end goal will change along the journey but whatever it changes to, the team must still work together to reach it.

Want your startup to have the best chance of success? Have the best team possible. You need only read the latest startup news in your favorite tech publications to see the impact this can have. By the way, this doesn’t just apply to the startup world: in any size corporation, the most fundamentally important asset is great people. Tweet at me with #startuphire, and tell me whether you agree or disagree!

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Entrepreneurship, Technology

Why Regulation Would Help Bitcoin

A lot has happened in the world of Bitcoin this week. The Chair of the Federal Reserve recently gave the opinion that the Fed does not have the authority to regulate Bitcoin because the technology is not tied to the financial institutions under its jurisdiction. While the Fed may not have jurisdiction over this new platform, if Bitcoin is to serve a long-term proposition, it is necessary to establish a regulatory framework in order to protect stakeholders. Hopefully the loss of about half a billion dollars from Mt. Gox will inspire some global action. While many in the Bitcoin industry (if we can call it that, yet) have assured the community that they believe in “transparent, thoughtful, and comprehensive consumer protection measures,” we have learned throughout our world history that financial services companies (particularly those operating on a global scale) are not able to sufficiently self-regulate.

The reality is that this is a huge opportunity for those in the Bitcoin space rather than an impediment. If the goal is to push Bitcoin mainstream, then it is necessary for the platform to get legitimate recognition from the major global economic drivers. This means enacting certain consumer protections that are not present in the system today. This is a rapidly evolving space that leaders like the Bitcoin Foundation can play a significant role in.

What are your thoughts on the future of Bitcoin? Tweet at me with #bitcoin, and let me know!

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Entrepreneurship

On Shoulders of Giants

In the last 15 years, we have seen tremendous disruption of certain industries, with everything from human resources (Linkedin) to movie rentals (Netflix) being affected. Not every startup can be a Linkedin or Netflix, however, and most in fact aren’t. Industry disruption, however, it not the only path to success. There are many businesses which leverage existing platforms, both software and hardware, in new and innovative ways. With the right value proposition for those existing stakeholders, there is a very good chance of creating win-win situations.

So when thinking about innovative solutions, don’t just think of how existing infrastructure can be replaced, also consider how that infrastructure can be used in a new and innovative way.

What are some antiquated platforms that are ripe for innovation? Tweet at me with #polishneeded, and let me know!

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Entrepreneurship

Which Corporate Life to Live

I have had a diverse set of work experiences in my professional life. I’ve done everything from individual consultant work, to startup work, to working in a small organization, to now working at a relatively large organization. From my perspective, here are a few culture benefits and disadvantages to each:

Consultant Work

Advantages: Responsible for yourself, work on your own schedule, only work on your interests

Disadvantages: Lonesome, not necessarily considered “part of the team,” terms are dictated to you, no traditional corporate benefits, no stable paycheck

Startup Work

Advantages: Your work matters ALOT, you are probably doing something you are passionate about, you will learn ALOT, potentially large financial upside

Disadvantages: Not many professional development opportunities outside your core job, your job is your life, no/little paycheck until (if) the business grows

Small Organization

Advantages: Stable paycheck, (usually) local impact, (usually) set work schedule, family of colleagues

Disadvantages: Few advancement opportunities, family of colleagues isn’t likely to change

Large Organization

Advantages: Stable paycheck, good benefits, (potentially) global impact, (usually) set work schedule, advancement/development opportunities

Disadvantages: Bureaucracy, segmented responsibility

The nice thing about careers is that they are not static. The real opportunity is for you to experience different types of organizations throughout your career, and choose the type of organization that best fits your lifestyle.

Tweet at me with #BOptions, and let me know what should be added or changed!

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