Startup Advice for Non-Starups

Peter : On Rad's Radar?
| Peter Radizeski of RAD-INFO, Inc. talking telecom, Cloud, VoIP, CLEC, and The Channel.

Startup Advice for Non-Starups

The topic of Startups is a favorite of mine. Over the years, I have worked with a number of startups. I have been a Mentor at Startup Surge, StartupCamp and other events. Co-founded BarCamp Tampa Bay where startups begin their journey in this area. Yet find that some of the advice that startups get is missed by companies in growth mode or who have been around a while because they think that it is only for startups.

Companies hire me to visit, talk to their employees, listen, poke, prod and report back what I am seeing. This gives the business owners an extra set of eyes without the filter of the familiar (you see it everyday so you may not recognize it, like paint on the wall).

Here are some pieces of advice for non-startups (or companies that want to re-energize or act like startups):

Present clear mission and vision statements. Why? Exactly. As Simon Sinek says, Start with Why. People want to work with purpose, for more than just the dollar. You give them a Why with a clear vision and mission.

"No matter the state of the current fundraising environment, presenting a strong business plan can be the difference-maker that convinces someone to take a chance on your business." I often hear mentors say that a business plan is a waste of time. Huh? You need one to take to the bank. The whole underlying purpose of business planning is to be strategic, get clear and think through the idea. That is never a waste of time.

Zeroing in on customer needs. This is the tough one. We just saw a fiber company go BK because there just wasn't enough customer demand. You have to sell something that people will buy from you. In Hosted PBX, it took almost ten years to get traction.

Mentoring helps. Coaches, mentors and master mind groups are all designed to help you grow. "Wealth is a team sport," says Loral Langmeier. You can't do it alone.

Now this may be aimed at startups, but it is solid business advice: "Barring a broader economic slowdown, we don't expect a secular decline in venture capital markets. That being said, we would encourage every tech startup CEO and decision-maker to tread carefully in the months ahead. To succeed long term, the name of the game will be financial prudence, careful growth and a customer-focused approach to innovation," from Jaidev Shergill, Managing Partner, Capital One Growth Ventures.

Ben Evans writes, "There are very strong deterministic forces that drive the industry forward - Moore's Law, network effects, economies of scale, migration of value up the stack and so on. But there's also a strong element of chance and luck. Great talent and execution and great ideas are part of the mix, but sometimes you're also in the right place at the right time." Timing is just as important !!!!

Looking at the failures at RIM and Nokia, Evans says that the failure was a decision made 5 years earlier as they mapped out what the company would do / become. That decision is what missed the boat. Interesting because he mentions AOL and Yahoo falling asleep for 10 years. And I look at the ILECs to see how they made a pivot to cellular not realizing cable was going to eat their lunch. Bell Labs was gone. They were busy consolidating, not watching their ass or planning for the future.

Good luck!

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