From Corporate to Entrepreneur


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Slides for Liz Fraley panelist on Sean Murphy's panel

At Silicon Valley Code Camp 2011, Sean Murphy, CEO at SKMurphy, hosted a panel outlining important tips and issues to consider if you are investing your time in a startup. This session -- entitled "Are you considering joining a startup?" -- explored: difference between employees, contractors, alliances, partners and co-owners; defining the key roles in a startup; what partners need from you; how to pitch to a co-founder; joining a global team.
* Liz Fraley founder of Single-Sourcing Solutions.
* Apurva Mehta founder of RecordBox.
* Carl Ludewig CEO of Ludewig Multimedia.

For slides from the full panel:

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  • One thing I soon discovered after spending time in the corporate world, it was not for me. I had worked in organizations that had thousands of employees to companies that had a dozen or so. Some that were well funded and some that started on Angel investments. I experimented with these organizations trying to find one that really felt right to me. In the end, I believe I was destined to run my own company. So when the time was right, I took the leap to break out on my own. I did have a plan, at least of sorts, and the first step was to get that first contract. Then the next etc…. I knew I did not want to rely on investors or loans so we started out and are still 100% self-funded. As the contracts began to come in, I needed to expand and hire additional staff. Now looking back over the last 5 plus years, I can tell you that who we are today is different than the plan I had laid out, but not that much different.
  • When it came time to add to my team, I was well aware of both my personal strengths and my weaknesses. I hired people around me who excelled in areas that I was weaker in. That way there is always a compliment or a balance and it makes the organization stronger because of it. As the team grew and evolved, so did the customers we reached. A natural extension of that is in the services we offered. Advisory line – was not something I had foreseen in the beginning, but arose from customer needs. It is now starting to take on it’s own legs and grow. Other paths we choose to follow did not pan out as well. We chose a path and dedicated a great deal of resources to pursuing this path. Over time we realized the return on this investment was not panning out. So we tore it back down to the foundation and rebuilt a new path that is more congruent with who we are and what we do. At the core, we have not changed.
  • Just as I had to know who I am, it is equally as important for you to know who you are. While many start up organizations from the macro to the micro size, share a some common traits, they all take on a personality of their own. To survive and thrive, you need to know who you are because there is no place to hide in a small micro organization. Perhaps, like me, you feel the draw to be independent or to become a CEO of your own company, Invest in the time to objectively research the need you are planning to fill whether it is services or solution based. If there is no market or you are seriously lagging the market, then you may want to rethink your model. I know a man who ( Dave and his two software ideas) …… Go back to the drawing board. Now just because there are competitors in a market space, don’t be afraid to enter it. I know another entrepreneur (this is Carol) who took a look at the world of Job Boards and built a company that competes in a market with very large players. He focus is on a special niche that had not been addressed, green careers. You may start out with one plan, but 5 to 7 years down the road, you may look back and realize that you are very different than what you thought you would be when you first started out. All of the start ups I talked about, had one rough sketch but evolved as the environment around them evolved. Nothing stays the same – but just because you may shift the sails to reach a different target market in a new way, it does not mean you lose the core foundation. Who you are or who your team is at the core, remains steady and fixed.
  • From Corporate to Entrepreneur

    1. 1. Copyright 2011 1 from Corporate to Entrepreneur
    2. 2. Know thyself 2 Goldie Locks and the three bears Breaking out on your own Have a plan – then be prepared to change it Copyright 2011 Single-Sourcing Solutions
    3. 3. Core is everything in an agile organization 3 Who you are as a team defines who you are as a company Evolve as your environment evolves The nice thing about a solid foundation, you can rebuild on it Copyright 2011 Single-Sourcing Solutions
    4. 4. Know thyself 4 Who you are will guide you Breaking out on your own Have a plan – then be prepared to change it Copyright 2011 Single-Sourcing Solutions