How *not* to send an intro email to investors!

Aug 9, 2010 | No Comments

I often read Mark Cuban he has some really valuable insights for entrepreneurs.

When you are trying to hit up a potential investor you will only get one shot (if you are lucky enough to get hold of their email address) so make sure its a good approach.

Here is his pithy view on how to get attention and what not to do!

If you are an entrepreneur who is looking for capital and is sending letters or emails of introduction, leave out the Bullshit.  Say who you are. What you have. What makes it different than the competition. What you want to accomplish. How you plan on getting there and how I can help. Everything else will usually hurt more than it will help

How to create a motivational Dream Wall

Aug 6, 2010 | 2 Comments

One of the sales people that works for me was having a few troubles getting “psyched up” to make cold calls to prospects and we sat down to discuss how he was feeling. After a short while I decided he simply needed to do two things – to be clear on his personal and business goals and to have something to motivate him daily.

The daily motivation can be very important not just for sales staff but also small startup teams who often work alone or in small silo’s and after the honeymoon period has worn off settle down to many years of very hard work!

A Dream Wall (for those of us that are visually orientated) is great way of motivating yourself daily to what your deepest dreams and desires. 

What is a Dream Wall

A Dream Wall can be whatever you want but generally it is made up of images of the achievements or goals you wish to experience in reality. These can be short or long term goals but they want to be orientated around “visceral” things or experiences that you can get into pictorial form.

For example in the image above we have places, things, experiences, homes, books etc that signify various goals. This can also be poetry, quotes, affirmations, spiritual sayings, pictures of loved ones, people you admire or a person you would like to have in your life or whatever makes you motivated and excited about your future!

The images are designed to really make the viewer excited and remind them of the “why” in their day. Why do you get out of bed every day? well this “wall” should remind you why!

So why bother to do this?

Well the process of creating the wall can be very valuable in itself, it makes you go through a goal setting process and to consider your needs, wants and desires. It helps you choose the really important ones and it reminds you about the “why”. Then it stands as a reminder from then on when you are lacking motivation or are having a hard time why you do what you do.

You will probably know that if you engage several of your senses into recalling something i.e. looking at a picture, writing down the experience associated with it, thinking deeply about it that your memory will be far stronger around that goal than simply putting it on paper. Then if you regularly review the images and words associated with your goal you are reinforcing that memory more and more.

So this is essentially a process of focusing you and then reinforcing yourself later.

Creating your own Dream Wall

To practically go through this process you can have a virtual or physical board (like a pin board). In my case I have it on my PC as an image that I can add and change the pictures I have found from my own photo album, or on the internet or in magazines. Once you have located these pictures, cut them out or print them out for the pin board or make a collage like above.

Then place them in a place where you can easily view them in all of their glory each day. This is now your own Dream Wall. The place where you come to look at your dreams.

“Seeing is believing” as the saying goes.  The world is full of distractions, and it’s really hard to stay focused on your dreams.  That’s why it’s so important to have reminders all around you of why you are doing what you are doing. 

If you have limited space or are in an inflexible “cube” at work then why not type out some goals and stick them on your computer.  Or make a photo collage of your family, goals and dreams and put it in a little frame on your desk. 

How to use your Dream Wall

Don’t go to the effort of making this “wall” and then hide it away – it’s very purpose is to in your view all of the time, on the wall, on a desk, on your PC desktop or in view. It will not just remind you when you specifically look at it but also it will allow your subconscious mind to assist you while its in your peripheral vision!

Visit this wall at least twice a day, spending around 5-minutes per visit visualizing what you want in the future. Try and review each part of the wall, say a sunny beach home, and then shut your eyes and try and use each of your senses to feel, see, touch, smell and hear what it would be like sitting on your front porch in this beautiful new home you have just purchased. See the image in your mind in full color and see yourself in the image with the goal or desire. Breathe deeply and really get absorbed into the dream – believe it.

Each time you visit your Dream Wall you are imprinting upon your brain a positive and clear message of what you want from life. Through repetition this positive habit actually programs the brain with a positive expectation and a clear vision of what you expect from yourself. The brain then goes to work on seeking out and providing you with solutions and strategy’s for achieving what you want. The more you want it, the quicker your brain will find a solution for attainment.

Practice this daily and you’ll amaze yourself at how quickly and easily you can actually achieve your dreams in the real world.

The quickest and most direct route to achieving success is to know what you want out of life and just as importantly when you want it? The Dream Wall emphasizes this and helps keep you focused, true and determined to achieve your deepest desires in life.

Of course this is not a “miracle working” device – you need to do the work, the planning and goal setting to be clear on the “road” to these wonderful goals and to do what you must to achieve them! Below is my post on setting your goals and this should preferably be completed before your Dream Wall.

Set your life goals now to make sure you know what your business needs to deliver to you!

Ron Conway and Paul Graham startup success data

Aug 2, 2010 | 2 Comments

I was watching Michael Arrington interviewing Ron Conway and Paul Graham and this is what I learned and also my own view after several startups of my own and those of friends.

So Ron’s very simple data from 500+ startups on success and failure was:

  • Ron Conway data shows a fail rate of 40% 2002-2010.
  • Bubble years much worse – failure rate 77% (i.e. a total loss)
  • Serial entrepreneurs better: 66% chance of success on repeat entrepreneur i.e. 20% edge on the second company i.e. vs 60% on current success rate.
  • Regardless of economic climate, success probability is still the same i.e. any time is a good time to startup.
  • Great defining companies are built at a faster rate than 10 years ago…now a couple of “mega” companies being built per year vs. one every 10 years.
  • Younger entrepreneurs are more exciting, they will try anything and anything is possible.
  • Trust gut and move faster – be decisive is also key to success.

* Success means still in business, a sale or not a total loss with no return at all.

OK so this data is from a small “gene pool” of companies that have managed to GET funded and doesn’t apply to all companies, also they will tend to be Silicon Valley companies and one’s where the founders have done a good job of working their network to get attention from Ron Conway…that’s a massive difference to the average startup – this is a very select group of companies already.

So from this select group who must have a big idea, a good basic team and have convinced their network to open doors in order to get funded in the first place…they have a current “success” rate of around 60% – what we don’t really know is what % actually got a good exit (yet) and therefore made money for themselves and Mr. Conway!

So what have we really learned from this then?

Only that if you are funded by someone as “networked” as Ron and can convince him then your odds are improved over the average…

So the learning for me is simple – pick your backers and investors very carefully and spend the time and effort to keep looking for funding until you get some “smart money” that will support and help develop you and your business. If you can’t get smart money then your risk goes up exponentially.

Additional comments from Paul Graham data from 400+ startup since 2005:

He didn’t get to say much but he saw some basic patterns for picking better startups:

  • 4 person teams do badly, most likely security in numbers but this doesn’t work out after team formation. 2-3 optimal member teams.
  • Men/women no difference. Couples good if they are stable.
  • He has invested in 18-43 age range but no real difference based on age.
  • Tough founders are best as they can weather the ups and downs vs. the others.

So my take from this is that you need a strong leader in a startup team and not a “committee” mindset. Anyone with the passion and drive can get started regardless of age, education or gender. If you have a team with a good mix of skills that has a good idea and that functions well then you are more likely to succeed (but that could be said of any team sport!).

In my opinion, Entrepreneurship is like “Chaos Theory” and that so many factors affect a good outcome that its hard to draw too much from these indicators other than what these big investors look out for when picking who to invest in – it’s not really a true indicator of success.

Watch the video here:

So you want to be an entrepreneur makes it to Spanish

Apr 26, 2010 | No Comments

Not much to say about this one other than the details, if you want to learn about being an entrepreneur and you prefer Spanish this is the book for you!

Its published by: Panorama Editorial

Here’s the link to the book page:

Spanish Summary:

Es una manera rápida y divertida de averiguar si puedes triunfar como empresario. Averigua cómo es realmente este estilo de vida y cuáles de tus rasgos de carácter podrían llevarte al éxito. Explora tus metas, talentos escondidos, pasiones, recursos y aptitudes de fondo reales. Las sencillas herramientas de auto-descubrimiento en el libro te facilitarán el análisis de esta información y dar los pasos siguientes hacia tus sueños empresariales con confianza total.

A small gift can go a long way…

Feb 4, 2010 | No Comments

I was reminded recently that saying “thanks” with the smallest of gifts can really have an impact.

In this case, one of my Stanford teams from last year met up for a dinner and they sprung a surprise on me!

A small but thoughtful gift to say thanks for me helping them with their business plan and pitch to VCs.

As I said to them at the time, this was really fantastic as it’s not often you get any reward or praise for your help as a mentor…and when you do it feels really good!

They had gone to the effort of making this little mug that sits on my desk and that means a lot to me.

You will be surprised how little ideas like this can make people happy, remember you and want to help you…try it in your own life and work and see.

So thanks to my team, we had a blast and they were excellent to work with and got great grades in the Stanford course…what more can you ask for?

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