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Capital, Competition, Culture, Change

Posted on Feb 1, 2015 by in Leadership | 0 comments

The entrepreneurial journey, have you noticed no one is talking about it.  I don’t get it, why are more people not talking about entrepreneurship, or raising money, or starting a business, or opening real estate to support entrepreneurs?  Of course I am kidding, Atlanta is now officially a GIANT INCUBATOR!

That is not a bad thing.  I am all for more.  This week I had an opportunity to spend a lunch with the SalesLoft team and decided to test drive this blog post with them.  They didn’t boo or throw Chic-fil-a at me, all in all the feedback seemed positive.  The SalesLoft team was the perfect audience for this post because it ties to some new lessons I am sharing with current entrepreneurs seeking to scale their businesses and teams.

Allen and Kyle

Lessons and thoughts:

Capital:  I continue to be surprised by the lack of alignment around an entrepreneurs stated goal and the amount of capital they are raising, or have.  I consistently keep hearing I want to go dominate this market (because that is what you are suppose to say) and I am raising $200,000, would you like to invest $25,000.

Competition:  I continue to be disappointed by the lack of understanding of the competition, and I continue to surprise people by my understanding of their competition.  I hear, no one else is doing this, or that other company – yep, they suck, or worse yet, a complete lack of acknowledging adjacent competitors.  Competition is healthy, we need to understand it better and encourage it.

Culture: I wish more people understood that cultures change.  Teams change.  The best companies adjust as the company scales.  Does this mean core values change, or mission, not exactly.  What I mean is I visit with young startups that have 30 employees, all of which are members of the exact same fraternity or sorority, and they are all best friends.  That will change if you scale your business.  Ten years from now those same team members will look completely different (well a few won’t change and be that dude that is just a little too old to be up in the club, you know what I mean).  How will your culture adapt to families, children, and the general assault of life?

Change: What got you to $1 million of ARR or $3 million, or even $5 million will not be exactly the same as what it takes to get to $10 million, or $20 million or $100 million.  Change will come.  Building a team that is proud of the past but focused on the future is key to scaling.  Challenges will come, I promise, they will come, be ready to change and attack the new opportunity in a new way.

Building a business is really hard.  Be proud of just starting and being employee number one, be proud of any little success, determine the right capital structure to build the type of business you want (there isn’t right or wrong answers, but there are right or wrong structures to support a stated goal), understand that you do have competition, acknowledge your culture will be different in the future, and change is required.

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