FAQ for Founders

After my recent entrepreneurs classes and the various posts for founder on LinkedIn, I‘ve bundled these findings and am sharing these.

Yes the Pitch Deck is still important and so is the business plan. But beside the usual number crunching, other aspects are very important.

THE STORY

Your story defines your way, your offer and is the door opener to investors and customers. Can they relate to it? Is there an emotional factor? Don’t underrate the power of your story.

Describe it, tell it. But do not allow it to (over) rule your biz. Every huge corporate was once a startup, had a founder and these stories are pieces of history.

In addition to the facts and figures, this story could be the underlying reason to decide for your business.

THE WHY

What problem do you solve? Is it a real problem? Really?

You sure? Who else has a similar challenge?

This will define your customers.

Btw There is NO way a persona can be of help. A persona is an idealisation of a customer that does not exist. Don’t waste your time with it. Asking five random ppl is more helpful. IF you want a persona, create one for your product.

If your baby would be a human, HOW would it be?

Back to the problem question. What if a regulation solves the problem you’ve identified? Is it such a huge issue that ppl will spend 1$,10,100 or more for it?

This brings us to…

THE CUSTOMER

Is your customer “someone” or a professional?

Maybe they are ok with the current bypass solutions?

So tell the story what else you solve. Will the solution reduce costs? Will we have more time? Point this out.

Eco design is great, but when it’s significantly more expensive, you need an additional motivator. Longevity, upgradability, robustness becomes important features.

Customers want to reduce dependencies. If a cloud service is part of the product, the customer wants to be sure to have at least a basic usable product. An expensive investment with the risk of only having a paperweight when the cloud service is switched off is not acceptable.

Of course your USP should never be the “cheaper” thing. There will always be someone cheaper around.

At the same time internalise

MULTIPERSPECTIVITY 

as one of your drivers.

By understanding HOW your customers will think about your solution. To see how they might use or misuse your solution, you learn.

Plus you will be able to share your vision with new employees, investors, freelancers.

Only a few situations are worse than not being able to explain your idea.

The others cannot see your thoughts. They are (hopefully) good in what they are doing, but YOU are the mastermind, you connect the dots. You have sometimes knowledge that is normal for you. How shall coder understand your biz?

Changing perspectives is your job.

This brings me to

THE TEAM

A solopreneur is a cool one. But needs to be experienced. We see these mostly being a serial entrepreneur in his x-th journey. A newbie should not start in this way. (Read again the Founder from Hell).

You need ppl around that can help you with tasks. Delegating and sharing is key. Do not become a control freak. You need trust in your co-founders, advisors and mentors.

Build the right ecosystem to grow.

Your BFF, lover, parents will or cannot tell you always the “truth“. Or it’s THEIR (biased?) view on your way. 

So after you clarified what ppl you want and need around, define responsibilities.

Start with you. The world is full of CEOs.

Do you want to be just an additional one? FIND your role. You can be anything you want. The Chief Dreamer (aka CEO), the Architect (aka CTO, CIO, CDO). The people whisperer (aka HR, CMO).

Anything, as long you stay authentic.

THE BIZ

In fact the storytelling, explaining vision and strategy to investors, developers, partners becomes your main biz. You will have to delegate dev, research, onboarding (and offboarding). 

Your baby is now in daycare. Find the best kindergarten for it.

Countless times I’ve heard the “I don’t have time to explain them”.

Sorry to say it’s time to grow up. You need to! And documenting when explaining means having a comprehensible multiplier.

Through the decades I’ve learned, whoever tells you they have a big problem is a really big failure, because every big problem was small and could have been solved as a small one. Then they wouldn’t have a problem now.

Solve these things as long it’s just annoying.

THE ECOSYSTEM

What crossovers will you have? What areas can you sneak in? Alone or with a partner?

This is part of the story AND an additional motivation for investors. When we see a remonetisation possibility, not to lose but winning in addition, we’ll be easier in.

Here, the right understanding, the puzzle pieces have to be articulated. And you have to understand how you fit in.

Sometimes (well mostly) advisors, investors, board will ask about your mission/vision/purpose statement.

Keep it simple. A founder knows the purpose. The reason why you get up in the morning.

Hopefully not (only) for money.

How will you make the world better place. How will others see you. Do you remember Google’s “don’t be evil”? Try Multiperspectivity.

How do you want to achieve this. Do not mix up Vision and Strategy. Vision is the long term thing. The what if. Uncertainties.

We can spend weeks (yes WEEKS) in workshops and designthink such nonsense. So best is to define these at the very first beginning. Later you will not have to waste your time to please this monster.

We can spend weeks (yes WEEKS) in workshops and designthink such nonsense. So best is to define these at the very first beginning. Later you will not have to waste your time to please this monster.

What is the difference between a mission and a vision? A company’s mission defines its business goals and the values it will embrace to achieve them. By contrast, a vision is a more abstract idea of how the organization intends to impact society. Rather than setting specific goals, it’s something to strive for.

Apple’s Vision Statement

To make the best products on earth and to leave the world better than we found it.

Apple’s Mission Statement

Bringing the best user experience to its customers through innovative hardware, software and services.

Apple’s statements are clear, concise, and to the point. But does anyone really believe they’ve been sitting in their garage and brainstorming?

One more thing:

The Pitch Deck and the Business Plan… yes, still important.

But no-one will read it. I am getting mails and LinkedIn messages with huge descriptions and attachments that take forever to download, especially when on the road.

You need a candy one pager as opener. Tell your magic. This is the easiest way to start a discussion, and we can far easier share a good one pager with our network.