The Last Post

April 12th, 2014 → 11:05 am @

I have taken a Government role which isn’t really compatible with some of my other activities, including blogging.  So this will be my last blog.  My thanks to the rather surprising number of you who have taken the time to read my ramblings.  Here’s an offer to thank you for your listening….

As I am changing cities, and have some copies of my book (“Becoming an Entrepreneur”) that I can’t be bothered moving with me, I am making them available to anyone who reads this blog for $9 per copy plus postage.  At that price, the postage may cost more than the book, depending on where you are… so why not get one for you and one for a friend!  You can bypass the usual purchase process and price ($29) by emailing your name and delivery address to enzmet@hotmail.com as well as how many copies you’d like.  I’ll give you a delivered price and when that’s paid by Paypal or direct to account, then I’ll send the books.

Naturally, this offer is “while stocks last”.

Thanks again for taking the time to follow my blog.

Norman

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Assembling a Board of Directors

June 18th, 2012 → 8:12 am @

Last week I facilitated a discussion of Governance with a Master of Entrepreneurship class. Before the class, I sat over a leisurely lunch reviewing my notes.  I felt uneasy, and realised that I wasn’t comfortable about what I was about to say.  So I explored the source of my discomfort.

The problem was simple.  I had prepared a strong case for good governance in start-up companies, and clearly identified the differences between governing young companies and governing more established ventures.   But I had glossed over the biggest ‘real world’ issue …. Most start-ups I’ve come across would have been better off without a Board than with the Boards they assembled.  It’s hard to promote something which is theoretically valuable but which has so often proven to be useless or even harmful to the start-up. (more…)

Blog &Governance &Start ups &Uncategorized

Entrepreneurs make lousy politicians

February 14th, 2011 → 7:04 am @

Intolerant and insensitive?…. Could that be me?…. Apparently, yes!  A friend was recently explaining to me how I’d offended several people, in separate incidents.  She said, “The trouble is, with the language you use, it sounds like you’re saying your views are UP THERE and you’re looking down on other people’s views.”  Bummer! She could be right!  What I’d seen as ‘expressing strong opinions’ some saw as ‘strong personal attacks’. (more…)

Entrepreneur behavior &Uncategorized

Interview with Stephen Greer

December 23rd, 2010 → 11:24 am @

Norman Evans: You say it’s difficult to “teach a heart”, while conceding that an MBA programme gives an entrepreneur valuable skills. I’d like to reverse the question: can an MBA programme crush an aspiring entrepreneur’s “heart”, making them more of a conformist? ie Is there downside risk for an entrepreneur in doing an MBA?
Steven Greer: I don’t think an MBA will do that to you – but the more you know the easier it is to become scared of all the risks. I may never have expanded as aggressively if I’d known then what I know now. Not knowing how to analyse all the risk makes you more bold. This is an important characteristic for an entrepreneur. The perfection is to understand all the risks and still have the courage to move forward – you’ll never have absolute certainty in analysing a business plan.
Norman: Yes, in my book I describe the “accountant profile” – the reason they don’t build great businesses is they know too much!
Stephen: An MBA programme is a breeding ground for entrepreneurship. They are all chomping at the bit waiting to get out into the business world. A lot of great ideas have been born in MBA classrooms. The $100k MBA fee is seed capital for a business.
Norman: What do you think of the idea that aspiring entrepreneurs learn best by working with experienced entrepreneurs? The value is obvious, but does working with “the Master”, take away the need to face the personal risk factors which drive an entrepreneur to learn?
Steven: If you are the inexperienced [person] you are looking to the generosity of the more experienced ones to see you though. I don’t like to bet on others’ generosity.
Learning by doing is better than learning by watching. You don’t want to expose yourself to bankruptcy unnecessarily. Take smaller risks and learn by doing – understand your strengths and weaknesses. My overconfidence from early success and over-ambition meant we grew too fast and nearly lost the whole company because of it. Accumulate as many tools in your tool belt as possible on your MBA.
Norman: You say you would have benefitted from an MBA. But you succeeded without it. Would you advise an aspiring entrepreneur, who had plenty of “heart” but not much education, to seek more education, perhaps including an MBA, before building a business, or to leap into the business while the opportunity was still hot?
Stephen: Don’t be 100 years old and still acquiring tools. If you see an opportunity you’ve got to grab it. They don’t hang around. Everyone on earth has an amazing opportunity presented 2, 3 or 4 times in their lives. By the third time you’d better start grabbing because you’ll run out of them. You should go do it. If you think you can come back and do it later after your MBA, [the opportunity] won’t be there.
My friend has a book in which he wrote down ideas for businesses. Whenever he saw a problem he wrote it down… as any kind of problem is an entrepreneurial opportunity – he’s now 42 and hasn’t done any of them yet.
Norman: Many business schools are now offering both undergraduate and postgraduate entrepreneurship programmes as alternatives to an MBA. Do you believe such courses have the potential to both teach theory and give useful experiences? i.e. Is a business developed as part of such a programme likely to give the experiences entrepreneurs need?
Stephen: I have been speaking to a lot of universities and speaking to students.
Any kind of case study opportunity is great for potential business people – learn from successes and mistakes. But these undergraduate MBA programmes [are not good]. These people should have gone out and worked, and be learning on top of their work experiences. If all you’ve done is study business the learning experience is a bit of a challenge. They have a fine degree from a fine school but no work experience. That is not a compelling package.
If you have no intention of getting an MBA, get as much business study in as possible as an undergraduate. Once you have that the MBA would be a duplicate of the work.
Take as many business courses as you can. The entrepreneurship courses teach using case studies but learning about Coca Cola is hard because you’ll never have the marketing budget that Coke has.
Norman: Thanks Stephen

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Questions and Answers – Launching your product

December 7th, 2010 → 11:08 am @

I have started reading Quicksprout and writing answers to some of the entrepreneur’s questions posted there.  Publishing the answers I give both on their site and here should give the opportunity to build a catalogue of answers.  Please contact me if you have a question you’d like answered.

At what point of a lean startup model should the product launch process begin?

As some one who works as a product launch manager I have been looking at how to find the right angle to approach VC’s to due product launches for their incubator’s as a outside consultant. I believe the right approach on this is to talk with VC’s. Can someone add some valuable insights on how I should approach this?

My answer

I’ve launched 40 start-ups and the answer is always the same… “You should begin the launch process as soon as you are sure you can sustain theprocess to completion.”  That means, the earlier the better as long as you have enough money to fund the launch, product available to meet expected demand, channel relationships in place, and so on.

The value you can add as a consultant is to get in early and help plan the launch so that the company goes to market as soon as possible, but fully prepared.  I have a marketing person helping me with a launch right now.  She sold her services by adding value in the pre-launch phase so I was prepared to trust her with the launch.

This perspective is not a VCs. I am an entrepreneur and investor, but I also run a business incubator so I’m pretty aware of what investors, incubators, and the entrepreneurs need.

They need credible help.

Unfortunately, the world is full of “consultants” who talk a big game but can’t deliver.  Be prepared to prove you can deliver and you’ll never be short of work.

Questions and Answers &Start ups &Uncategorized