I’m working with a few of our portfolio companies and some clients that all have similar issues. Post funding execution.
It seems so easy right?
Raise the money then build the stuff. Simple formula right?
But it isn’t that simple.
I am parachuted in to do one of two things regularly:
- Fix a broken or failing software team (I used to run a line of business that was defined as follows “I help business owners UNFUK their software and technology teams.”). or
- Help build out a high-performance software team to ensure success (i.e. avoid that first situation).
The pace of things in the blockchain and self sovereign identity world is so high that it’s happening more and more.
So I figured I would share out a few pointers for those that can use them.
This is a short list that I’ll likely be expanding upon over time, but here are the major areas that need your attention:
- Funding – having too little or too much cash on hand is a bad thing. Too much means you may make stupid decisions because you figure you can pay your way out of it later. Under funding means you can’t do the job properly. If you’re going to go one way go for under-funding – just keep raising. It keeps you lean and mean. ICOs are bringing in often ridiculous amounts for unproven teams – that’s just a recipe for danger (and first class flights, expensive hotels, etc.).
- Culture – Are you taking the right approach to consciously create a culture that will define your business? As Peter Drucker says, “culture eats strategy for breakfast”. Make certain that you’re making the right micro-decisions that feed the culture you want. Kill off the culture inhibitors as soon as you find them – they grow into monsters quickly so get them early.
- A-Player Approach – Are your people A-Players AND are you using their A-Player talent. If not you’re likely moving at <50% (my number – pulled out of the air) of your real capacity. Take me – I can do Sales but I am just a B-Player there. Building and unf***ing software teams is my A-Player talent. I am a monster there and just “meh” on sales. Where are you an A-Player and where are your team members A-Player level? Are you working in those areas? If not – fix it.
- Scope – Have you bitten off too much? Do you actually understand the scope? The blockchain world has some deep technical uncertainties and underestimating them can be very dangerous. On the flip side are you doing enough? Is your idea of MVP really just an “it would be better if…” proposal that will fail?
- Ghosts from the Past – if you’re building on something that already exists (e.g. working prototype) do you really understand what is under the covers and is it ready for primetime? What technical debt needs to be paid down?
- Learning to Say and Respect “No” – This is one of the most powerful things that I do when intervene in a client or portfolio company. People are so afraid of saying No that they overcommit and get bogged down doing the wrong thing. Creating an environment where No is possible – and even encouraged – is crucial.
- Decide – Decisions drive success. Spinning in circles while learning more and more about something that you’ll never get all the information about wastes times. The velocity of your decisions will determine how well you execute. If your decision was wrong that’s fine – correct and move forward again. That’s better than standing still.
Use these points as a high-level guide and I think you’ll find you’re moving in the right direction. Being a founder is a hard path – but you’re not alone – lots of us have been down that road.
If you want to discuss where your company or project stands you can apply for a strategy session with me here – it’s free and I deliver you a blueprint that you can use – no strings attached.
Update: I recorded a quick video about the approaches.
Also published on Medium.