I’ve got a few questions for you, can I see you raise your hands when I ask these questions?Who here is an entrepreneur?Who here is a founder of a startup?Who here is looking to learn more about entrepreneurship?
I started out my career with a mix of commercial real estate and technology. I’ve been a part of two bubbles the Internet bubble in 1999 and the real estate bubble in 2007. I was employee #7 in a failed Seattle startup in which I helped the company blow through $21M in less than one year. … it was a valuable lesson for me because I lived the entire life cycle of a company compressed into one year. The crazy excitement of closing a round of funding, massive hiring as we brought on 80 people, sleeping on the floor in the office because we had insane deadlines and the VC’s wanted to see progress, working weekends and evenings, spending tons of money as we sponsored MLB’s All-Star Game and flew half the company to Atlanta, and as the bubble start to burst, we threw hail mary passes and tried to get acquired. I knew we were not going to survive, I could have left the company and sought out a new job, but, I actually wanted to be there when we turned off the lights, to feel the pain of all the layoffs, and pain of selling off the assets of the company. For me it was live the entire story, to know what it felt like to be a part of failed startup. That whole experience was invaluable because I look at how much money we spent and now as I run my own company I think about how to be frugal and scrappy because I’m in a boot strapped company right now.
They opened up the program with this video, so wanted to take a few minutes and show you this as it set the tone for the entire program.
There are roughly 23 million firms in the US, of which only 4 percent get above $1M in revenue. Of those firms, only about 1 out of 10, or 0.4 percent of all companies, ever make it to $10 million in revenue and only 17,000 companies surpass $50 million.There are three barriers that a company faces each time it makes a jump. Leadership, Systems and Strategy, and Market Dynamics.
Clarity around my own core values and aligning this with the companies core values. Every day I want to come to thinkspace be excited about where I’m working. Every day I want to enjoy who I’m working with. Every day I want to be moving towards my goals.Every time I get asked what is my biggest business challenge is I would have to say I always answer “hiring the right people”.
Question for the Crowd:Who’s written a business plan? Who thinks it’s necessary to write a business plan before you start a startup? With the exception of looking for funding, I would have to disagree that a business plan is required.Business plan is way too long, outdated, great source of information, but, seriously, who sits and looks at it. Hire a consultant to write a business plan, strategic plan, spend a ton of money to get all the market analysis, details about this and that, pile of manuals, and then you great put it pile on your desk and then look around and say what are we going to do today.For me, it’s the tool that I’m building my annual goals off of, which then makes it easy to break things down into quarterly goals, which then can be broken down into 13 great weeks instead.. Want to have a great year, well you need to have four great quarters, which means you’ve got a three months, or 13 great weeks. The point of the one page strategic plan isn’t about finding the exact words, or using them perfectly. It’s about having something on a single sheet of paper that says it all for your company, no matter how imperfectly, and being able to use it daily to help your company reach its potential.The process is 1 percent vision and 99 percent alignment. The lion’s share of your effort must no go into meeting, talking, and wordsmithing, but toward getting your people aligned to do what needs to be done.
unclear, unfocused BHAG = Not inspiring. Clear, number-driven BHAG connected to Core Purpose = Right on the money. 2000 recuring revenue members, I know what that means to my business. I want to have recurring revenues that is equal to my fixed operating expenses. I know of a few companies that are inside thinkspace that are operating like that. I have to tell you that those are the kinds of companies that can run forever. Their creativity flows in a different way because they are not forced to hunt deer or ward off saber-toothed tigers.Childhood is that time. Children are protected from the usual exigencies of adult life; they don’t need to hunt deer or ward off saber-tooted tigers, let alone write grant proposals or teach classes–all of that is done for them. All they need to do is learn. When we’re children we’re devoted to learning about our world and imagining all the other ways that the world could be.
Can’t have a great weekly meeting without a great quarterly planning meeting.Plan your quarterPurpose: 100% alignment with a clear sense of mission, resources are deployed on the right things.
2 days of planning each quarter and then 90 days of doing.Discipline to execute your plan.
Question for the crowd:Who’s worried about the economy? Who’s worried about starting your startup in a recession?
So many times, it seems like I’m focusing on the wrong things. The problem is not about whether or not you’re using one ply instead of two ply toilet paper. I’d be lying if I didn’t at one time look at the cost of using powdered non-dairy creamer instead of real half and half. But seriously, the amount of time that I spend even thinking about that instead of going out to find a new customer is silly. I know what the life time value of a customer is and I can tell you it’s more than switching from liquid to powdered.One of core services of thinkspace is to allow your business to focus on what it does best. My team takes on the stuff like making sure that your clients are greeted with the best possible customer service, they make sure that the phone systems, the Internet access is up and running. They keep the place clean and professional, why? So you can focus on getting new customers, focus on writing great software…
You don’t create core values, you discover them. These are the values that have been there since you were 8 years old. Core values are who you are and not what you aspire. Got to get rid of the table steaks! Also if you list things like integrity, you’d better be doing this at a level that is absolutely amazing level. The surest path to ruin is to disconnect from core values and core purpose.Attitude – Goal crushing attitude. We’re going to set the bar, you’ve got to be striving to exceed that.Impact – You accomplish amazing amounts of important work. You demonstrate consistently strong performance so team members can rely on you. You focus on great results rather than on process.Innovation – You re-conceptualize issues to discover practical solutions to hard problems. You challenge prevailing assumptions when warranted, and suggest better approaches. You create new ideas that prove useful. You keep us nimble by minimizing complexity and finding time to simplify.Passion – You inspire others with your thirst for excellence. You care intensely about thinkspace’ success. You celebrate wins. You are tenacious.Competence – Smart and skilled at what you do. What you don’t know you learn. You reinvest in yourself and take it upon yourself to learn new things.Communication – You follow up to each other quickly. Over communicate is better than under communicate. Never talk to each other in a rude way. If you have a problem, address it in private. In all channels of communication with people, maintain professionalism. Avoid dropping the F-Bomb in social media. You maintain calm poise in stressful situations.Commitment – You are making a pledge to be passionate for the company and brand, internally and outside in public. This is not a clock in clock out job or workplace. You are committed to work as a team and be helpful to each other. Behaves like an owner.No Excuse Attitude – When you are committed to something you do not make excuses.You figure out how to break through and come up with the results.Honesty – You are known for candor and directness. You only say things about fellow team members that you will say to their face. You are quick to admit mistakes.
Who cares if somebody has a 90 percent chance of achieving a set of outcomes that just about anybody could accomplish? You don’t want to be good. You want to be great.
B- Good performance, bad culture, this is the area that creates the most problems for people. The best thing to do is “free up this person’s future”.
This section might have been one of my favorites. It was about using creative innovation to create an unfair competitive advantage over your competition.We were given a challenge, to think about your biggest bottleneck -- solve it -- and if possible think of a way to improve your process or product in a way that would get a 10 times advantage over your competitors. Solve that and you will win in your business.I had a two million dollar lawn care company that seemed to be stuck; I could not grow at more than 5 – 10 percent per year. The problem, the bottleneck was the cost of customer acquisition due to a long and complicated sales process. While brainstorming with fellow classmates on my bottleneck I came up with my “X” factor a way to reduce customer acquisition costs by a factor of 7 while decreasing the sales cycle from 3 weeks to 3 minutes. *Remember do not limit yourself do something that you feel is solvable just get to the question the solution will come later. The X Factor is really a great thing because it helps us eliminate the natural competition of the market leader and allows us to go in there and kick their butts in our industry. This is in line with the Blue Ocean Strategy: How to Create Uncontested Market Space and Make the Competition Irrelevant.Think about your industry from the customer’s perspective what are the parts of the industry that are just messed up. The thing that keeps the customer from getting what they want from the industry. Think about your industry from a business operator’s point of view. What are the parts of the industry that are just messed up, the things that make your business seem difficult. Think about the psychology of your customer. Are there bottlenecks that the may be the result of your customers emotions? Could they be fearful or unsure of something?Think about the biggest cost in your business. The bill you pay every month that dwarfs all of the other bills. Could this be a place to find your bottleneck? What if you could reduce this expense by a factor of 7-10X? Understanding the X-factor concept Understanding how other business have successfully used their X-factor to expand their business Identifying the bottleneck in your industry that if solved will give you a 7-10X advantage over your competition Formulating The Essential question for your business Programming your reticular activator so that your sub conscious mind will help you to find the answer to the essential question Taking massive and immediate action to create your X-Factor Implementing continuous innovation by using creativity generated from X-Factor breakthroughs
Hackers and Founders Meetup Peter Chee, Founder of thinkspace August 3, 2011