SI Forum: Internal Issues

Quick Summary: ignoring day-to-day and growing pain details are always a threat to long-term success.


From the first day, that an entrepreneur starts their business they are inundated with details that need to be addressed.  Prioritizing them and spending the right amount of time and effort is necessary to avoid thrashing or worse, fatally stumbling.  The entrepreneur needs to keep their vision in mind but in the back of their mind while they focus on the road and obstacles that are directly ahead of them.

As described in article 8.041001, the Startup Insights Forum program consists of interactive discussion sessions on pre-announced subjects.    The attendees have a wide variety of backgrounds and experiences including first-time entrepreneurs to seasons startup veterans, as well as coaches, and service providers.  They all share one thing in common:  interest in all phases of the entrepreneur/startup ecosystem.  The open-dialogue, informal format provides all participants with the opportunity to share their experiences and ask for guidance from others.

Forum subjects are summaries of the content contained in the website articles.  The website is a collection of over 620 short articles covering a wide range of subjects for entrepreneurs and company managers.  Typically, a two-sided, one-page handout is provided to participants at each Forum session.  The handouts consist of outline notes on the topic and a list of relevant articles from the CxO-Atlas website that may be of follow-up interest to the participants. Occasionally, a PowerPoint presentation is used.  The PDF file session notes can be downloaded by all registered CxO-Atlas website users by clicking on the links included below.  The handouts are in the form of bulleted notes that may be of limited value to the reader.  During the sessions, the bulleted notes are used to prompt discussions among the participants. 

The session topics are divided into four categories.  This article contains the notes in the Internal Issues category.  As soon as a would-be entrepreneur takes the plunge and starts a business, they become the Chief Everything Officer that needs to address a seemingly limitless number of issues.  Often, these “details” seem to “get in the way” of the vision that the new “CEO” has created.  It is not uncommon for the new CEO to stumble on the tactical issues that are directly in front of them while their gaze is set on their vision.  Further, the sweet sound of success often masks the voices of practical reason offered by others.  The subjects included in this category address some of the most obvious stumbling blocks that may be encountered but could be avoided.

Attorneys: Necessary or Evil

There seems to be an infinite number of “Lawyer jokes.”   In aggregate, they are the poster child for Rodney Dangerfield’s line, “I don’t get no respect.”  However, when dealing with a troublesome legal issue, their value comes through loud and clear.  They ARE “necessary” and are NOT “evil.”  The challenge is to utilize their services effectively before you are reacting to a difficult situation.  Attorneys ARE necessary – for some things, some of the time.  You have to decide what, when, and how involved they should be.


Avoidable Pitfalls

The visionary and optimistic nature of entrepreneurs makes them susceptible to stumbling over issues that could have been easily avoided.  In hindsight, most of the issues are obvious.  Being aware of them by regularly reviewing a list of these issues will save time and money and even help avoid business failure.  The discussion will be based on article 3.010007, from the (free) website.


Don’t Hire Your Double

It seems that no one has enough time to do everything that they feel that they should do. In a business setting, the often “logical” solution is to hire your double to relieve you of some of the urgent tasks at hand.  You should do the opposite, find someone who compliments – not duplicates-- your skill set. But first, learn how to separate the urgent and important things and focus on responding instead of reacting to issues.  If you resolve those issues, you may find that you don’t need to relieve your workload – you have reduced it.


Good Intentions But Bad Advice

Entrepreneurs and new CEOs will receive lots of “help” from well-meaning people who “know” exactly what they should do.  Often, it is good advice, but, unfortunately, it is often bad advice!  Only in hindsight will it be obvious which was correct.  It is important to seek help from individuals that have first-hand experience in your similar situation.  Although the success equation has the same components for every organization, what to emphasize and when to do it varies widely.


Keeping the Books to Keep You Out of Trouble

Even entrepreneurs with Business Degrees, spending time on bookkeeping and other accounting activities seems to them to be a waste of their precious time.  Entrepreneurs without formal training are likely to be even more frustrated with the “time wasted” on financial details.  However, sooner or later, the need for accurate accounting and financial management becomes apparent – even if the business is closing down!  Understanding what financial details are important at what point in time needs to be part of every entrepreneur’s regular activities.


To Scale or Not Scale: That is THE Question

Are you the irreplaceable lynchpin of your business?  Is your business based entirely on your own talent or experience?  If so, scaling your operation may not be possible, and you should not even try.  A good example of this is a popular singer or actor whose success is totally based on their individual talent.  On the other hand, can you morph the business into one that others can deliver the products or services instead of you?  Can you bring them up-to-speed within a reasonable time and effort?  Ask these questions first and then decide what you should do.


Unforeseen Consequences When Others Join the Party

As a sole entrepreneur, you can call all the shots with your success or failure based on the decisions that you make.  All that changes when you add partners or investors.  Although on the surface, you may think that your partner’s and your investor’s goals and your goals totally align, but subtle differences will always exist.  Those differences will require you to alter your vision and path.  Openly discuss those potential areas before you offer someone else a seat at your table.  Adding employees and other members to the company’s ecosystem can have similar impacts as well.  There will be many seats at the table that will be occupied; most occupants will have different appetites. As they join, you have to start thinking in terms of “we” instead of “I.”


What if They Say Yes?

What would happen if you all of your current prospects said “yes” at the same time? Could you satisfy their requests within the time frame they expect?  Or, will you have to give them each a sequential number and ask them to patiently wait their turn – just as they do at the Deli counter?  Between these two extremes is the more likely reality.  Getting prospects to say “yes” is always a battle, but once they have said “yes” and you do not deliver, you have not only lost the battle but, perhaps, the entire war.  Think through how you will handle potential success.


Article Number : 8.041003   

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