start up

7 Thoughts for the Start Up CEO

Fairly often, I am asked to chat with entrepreneurs about their start ups. I enjoy this immensely and find their excitement contagious!  I had such a call today and thought I'd post some of the feedback I shared.

  1. Find your voice - at some point, something you do will resonate with customers.  Find that "sore tooth" and sell to solve.  Keep digging by asking a lot of questions.
  2. Don't explain what you do - I say this 100 times a week, "It's not what you do, it's what. what you do, does for your customers".  Find an analogy, catch phrase, illustration or imagery that makes the benefit easy to understand and remember.
  3.  Partner up - Finding allies for a young company is critical.  Map out the eco-system and find those with common interests and enemies.  Look for ways to work together, refer to each other and brainstorm.
  4.  Leverage your investors - Money is overrated.  The value in an investor is the experience and relationships they bring to the party.  Ask them for help, introductions and referrals.  Put both their time and their money to work for you.
  5. Disrupt - Find a way to leverage your data, your solution, your service... to disrupt.  Change things, challenge the status quo and push out messages that hit at the heart of the problem.   Find a way to make waves, become known and valued.
  6. Stop emailing  - Email is our enemy, not our friend.  Pick up the phone, invite to coffee or camp on their doorstep.  Nothing replaces a conversation.  Get out to conferences, events and go "old school"... face to face.
  7. Zip it and listen - Ask  10 questions for every statement you make.   Find people that have been there, outside your industry and your comfort zone.  Perspective is valuable and you won't get it if you don't listen.  Join a peer advisory group, get a coach or mentor and learn to zip your lip!

I'm always happy (as time allows) to talk to those at the beginning of the journey.  Let me know if I can help.

Tom Cuthbert