OVERVIEW & OBJECTIVES
12 ENTREPRENEURIAL EPIPHANIES & LESSONS LEARNED (IamNOTaCEO.com)
"My (relatively unique) experience / expertise is creating and evaluating potentially-viral concepts and content that resonate with large/diverse audiences, intuitively recognizing/analyzing MANY factors (the art, science, math, psychology, mechanics, etc.) impacting virality and differentiating “ideas” from “IDEAS+++" (ideas plus vision, plus viability, plus viral potential)..."
1. My First Epiphany - Most entrepreneurs / founders will put “CEO” on their first business card when starting a company. And I was no different back when I started my first company. But I
quickly eventually realized a few things... (full column at IamNOTaCEO.com)
2. "I'm Fired?!?" - In 2007, I made the (difficult) decision to “fire myself” as CEO of my own company - and it quickly became the BEST decision of my entrepreneurial career! Six months later, we had raised $750,000 in funding - and six months after that, we were a profitable 7-figure company... (full column at IamNOTaCEO.com)
3. Strengths, Weaknesses, and #SelfAwareness - I suck at MANY things. I am great at a few things. My (relatively unique) experience/expertise is creating/evaluating viral concepts with the potential to reach/engage huge audiences... (full column at IamNOTaCEO.com)
[Jeff's extended bio - including 12+ years creating "Viral Whatever" - can be found at ViralWhatever.com]
4. From a small JOKE to a Million-Dollar Startup - The Rejection Hotline / Humor Hotlines / RH Brands - #MyStartupStory ... (full column soon)
5. The Stomach-Punch Feeling of Losing 4 Million Dollars... (full column soon)
6. My Battle With Burnout... (full column soon)
7. My ENTP Epiphany... (full column soon)
8. My ADD Epiphany... (full column soon)
9. Entrepreneurial ADD - Curse or Gift? ... (full coming soon)
10. 80% Done... (then I lose interest and my brain gets hyper-focused on a new challenge...
...80% Done? --> 80% D --> 80 D --> 80D --> Iam80D.com / IamADD.com... (coming soon)
11. An Open (Thank You) Letter to Mark Suster - which (ironically? coincidentally? embarrassingly?) has sat on my laptop, 80% DONE, for a year...(full coming soon)
12. Speaking of my Entrepreneurial ADD...
12 THOUGHTS & THEORIES - Pertaining to Pervasive Problems & Prominent Pitfalls (ThoughtsOnStartups.com)
~99% OF STARTUPS WILL FAIL!
12 THOUGHTS & THEORIES
But WHY is that accepted as
“just the way it is”?!?
(Pertaining to Problems & Pitfalls)
A) “Startup” (Ridiculously - and dangerously - broad / vague / undefined)... [Analogy: It would be ridiculous - and potentially dangerous - to constantly talk about "Water" regardless of whether you meant rain, ice, steam, puddle, or river, or ocean!] (full column soon)
B) "Entrepreneur" (There are MANY types! Entrepreneur does NOT (necessarily) mean CEO, or that the startup was your idea, or... (full column soon)
C) “Best Practices” (Dangerous when ignoring type, size, stage, etc.) (full column soon)
D) “Success" vs. "Failure" (Spoiler: It's NOT as obvious a distinction as you'd think!)
3) Lack of Self-Awareness/Acceptance of Strengths & Weaknesses... (full column soon)
4, 5, 6) MANY misconceptions (and problems/pitfalls) related to "IDEAS"
-- Most entrepreneurs know if they are great at hustling, at web development, at graphic design... at MOST components of a startup. But most entrepreneurs do NOT know if they are great at ideas/vision/strategic-thinking/etc. (full column soon)
-- Why do so many also feel like it has to be THEIR idea? Probably because we've been told since the age of 5 that "there's no such thing as a bad idea" (FALSE!) and because every Entrepreneurship class or Startup Weekend or "how to build a startup" blog starts with something like "Step 1: Think of an idea." (This, in my opinion, is a big part of why ~99% of startups fail!) Not everyone is a web developer. Not everyone is a graphic designer. Not everyone is an idea person! (full column soon)
-- Open Letter to Gary V. ("Ideas are Shit" vs. "MOST Ideas are Shit")...
-- The difference between an “idea” and an “IDEA+++”)
7) Several sports examples/analogies [TEASERS: 1) Michael Jordan: Basketball vs. Baseball... 2) Why doesn't Bill Belichick doesn’t throw, catch, run, block or tackle? ... ] (full columns soon)
8) Optimism vs. Realism - and why I think those "Never Give Up!" and "Winners Never Quit!" motivators can do more harm than good! (full column soon)
9) The problems/pitfalls of using OUTLIERS as benchmarks... (full column soon)
10) Funding Frustrations? (Spoiler Alert 1: MOST investments are BAD investments! Spoiler Alert 2: Friends & Family Funding = Founders Frequently Failing) (full column soon)
11a) Investors don't invest in one company; they diversify their portfolio to mitigate risk and increase chances of big wins. I believe entrepreneurs/startups can (should?) now consider that too! (more soon)
11b) I believe the ideas of "you must be all-in" and "you must have one sole focus" are somewhat outdated from a time (just a few years ago!) before the cloud and AWS and WordPress and Shopify and Facebook Ad-Targeting and countless other services made it MUCH easier/faster/cheaper to launch MVPs! (more soon)
11c) Why don't more startups proactively anticipate their pivots? Why not use economies of scale and shared resources to simultaneously build/launch your next pivot (or 3!) BEFORE you're actually forced to? A-B testing is common in marketing campaigns, why not A-B test your core startup/product? (more soon)
11e) What if we start thinking of “Startups” as “Products”... and “Products” as “Content” - while continuing to think of "Content as Marketing"??? [Note: This will be a central theme of the entire "Whatever Network" master plan.]
* * * * * * * *
12) The Particularly-Prevalent "Puzzle Pieces" Problem:
Step 2. Read it again; use the drop-downs this time
1) IMAGINE that you have...
...the very real potential to be HUGE - and make MILLIONS of dollars!!!
2) NOW, imagine that you...
...actually take it to the next level and truly realize your (multi-million-dollar) potential!
IMPORTANT: Take a moment to notice how dramatically the situation changes with / without those drop-downs! This simple exercise not only illustrates some of the most common problems/pitfalls in the startup world, but also represents one of the biggest (simplest!) opportunities for improvement!
12 IMPROVEMENT IDEAS & INNOVATION INITIATIVES (ReThinkingStartups.com)
~99% OF STARTUPS WILL FAIL!
But WHY is that accepted as
“just the way it is”?!?
12 Improvement Ideas & Initiatives:
1a) The "Magical 10% Theory"... My key premise is that adding an additional 10% on a round of funding would almost NEVER be a big deal (or a deal-breaker) to an investor at ANY funding level. (The difference between investing $200k and $220k? The difference between $2 million and $2.2 million? If you're comfortable with the investment level of the former, then the latter really isn't likely to be a deal-breaker.) HOWEVER, almost magically, the dollars that comprise that "insignificant 10%" will simultaneously represent a HUGE (game-changing!) percentage of the PREVIOUS round...
...I believe that investing (in Idea Stage and/or Seed Stage startups) would become SIGNIFICANTLY more appealing if investors knew that they would receive that "Magical 10%" from the NEXT round of funding (making them whole or closer to whole, while still maintaining their upside/equity). It would:
- increase the likelihood of successful investments (because, in addition to betting on the ultimate success of the company, they're also investing in the ability to simply make it to the next/larger round of funding - a much more frequently attained milestone).
- AND, it would put more money back in the pockets of seed-stage investors (much sooner), thus making more funding available to other startups!
- and I believe all of that could be accomplished with MINIMAL effect on investors of subsequent rounds...
...I'm not saying it would be easy to start this movement, but IF it could somehow (magically?) become a standard practice, I truly believe the "Magical 10% Movement" could have a magical (game-changing!) effect on Startup Investing across the board!!!
1b) "Investment Dollars" vs. "Investment Hours" - In a nutshell: Many Founders spend A TON OF TIME trying to get funding. In MANY cases, that funding is needed to hire employees. I believe that SOME "entrepreneurial employees" out there would actually be interested in that equity (rather than just the dollars that the Founder is attempting to sell the equity to attain)... Instead of struggling to find X dollars in funding (to use as salary to pay employees), why not entice employees by letting them work for that equity, the same way they would work for the dollars that you're trying so hard to find. (Equity-Earning Employee-Entrepreneurs? #AlliterationAddiction) I'm not talking about traditionally insignificant amounts of equity via stock options with long vesting schedules (like startup employees are currently duped(?) into viewing as a valuable part of their compensation package). I'm talking about REAL chunks of equity - the same kind of equity you'd give up to a real investor (to get the funding necessary to hire those same employees). Every hour/day/week/month of employment would be tied to an amount of equity (based on value of the employee and valuation of the company) - just like every dollar of funding from an investor is tied to an amount of equity based on company valuation. (The primary difference is that you generally get the full round of funding at once whereas the Equity-Earning-Employees would be earning their equity one hour/day/week/month at a time, but that's just a little math/legal work to be done.) If you're a founder struggling to find funding to build your team, then what do you care if you give X shares to an investor for Y investment dollars so you can turn around and pay that Y dollars out in salary - OR - if you cut out the middle man (investor) and use that equity to pay employees instead of salary? (Note: Common response: Most people can't work for no salary. Ok, so they'll work 20 hours instead of 40, get half as much equity, keep their full time job, and either it'll take twice as long or you hire 2 of them... not ideal - and obviously this model won't work for all people/companies - but still could be an interesting alternative for startups who struggle to find funding!)... (more soon)
3) Multiple Horses in the Race! (Obviously not for ALL startups or ALL entrepreneurs - but we do ALL have experience multi-tasking:
4) The S.W.A.N. Startup - "Sacrificing Weekends And Nights"
5) "CoFounderator.com" - I believe we can address some of the (many) problems in the typical "Co-Founder Search" process, by A) encouraging self-awareness (recognition of strengths/weaknesses) in founders, B) looking at the the potentially huge impact that "part-time startups" and "multiple horses in the race" could have on the co-founder "do it or don't do it" decision-making / risk-analysis process and D) creating a movement (a new incubator/accelerator model?) to match co-founders (great at something) with co-founders (great at something else) - in conjunction with some of these "ReThinkingStartups.com Strategies" (and more!), intended to create more efficient (smarter) startups...
6) Startups Within Startups - whether it's proactively anticipating a future pivot and starting it now or even an entirely different concept, when else can you start a startup and benefit from so many shared resources and economies of scale? (while avoiding all the traditional time-consuming parts of starting a startup - finding office space, interviewing/hiring, all the learning curves, etc. - you already did all that!)... (more soon)
7) Startups For Students - APPLY NOW FOR SUMMER 2017!!!
11) Pitching For Partners ... (more soon)
12) Economies of scale, shared resources, a cross-promotional network effect... THE WHATEVER NETWORK! ... (much more soon)
SEVENTEEN (17?!) STARTUPS?!? (17startups.com) -- PITCHING FOR PARTNERS! (PitchingForPartners.com)
Yes, as ridiculous as it may sound, we plan to launch 17 Startups (by the end of 2017!) - all based on some of the "ReThinkingStartups.com Ideas and Strategies" above, including but not limited to:
- Entrepreneurial Self-Awareness
- Complementary Co-Founders
- Recognizing the MANY types of Startups (and their respective pros/cons)...
Our SEVENTEEN (17?!?) STARTUPS, mostly B2C, will at least START as Low-Risk "Starter Startups" - started quickly, inexpensively, and with PART-time commitments... with modest goals of ~$1 Million -- not $25 Million, not $250 Million, not Billions!
- The many benefits of "Multiple Horses in the Race" (shared resources, economies of scale, a cross-promotional network effect -- and WORST case scenarios of "failed startups" simply becoming "content" or "marketing" or "lead-generation" for other "Whatever Network" startups - and serving as experience, training, A-B testing, market-research, customer-discovery, etc. for the team)
- Some intangible "Idea+++ secret sauce" provided by ~15 years of "ViralWhatever.com" experience
- Some tangible marketing assets, including a portfolio of proven-viral content and a database of 1.4 MILLION fans of our (past/present/future) "Rejection Hotline / Humor Hotlines" business - all of whom are legally subscribed (MMA-compliant, double-opt-in process) who have requested to receive updates from us when we launch new stuff!
More Info Coming Soon. In the meantime: