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Prior to the dotcom era and the age of Facebook and iPads, it was the lemonade stand or newspaper route that was quintessential first job of the future entrepreneur. Certainly these jobs instill (or at least expose) the essential entrepreneurial qualities of discipline and persistence while offering a daily lesson in dealing with competition, business ownership, cash flow, and direct interactions with customers.

Today’s budding entrepreneur is probably more likely to be working on the next great iPhone app or social sharing sensation – all formidable tech pursuits that have a chance to reach millions of users or be acquired by Facebook.

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An excellent overview of the kinds of funding available for entrepreneurs (startup funding). But this can be very misleading in a way: The “money available” and amounts invested absolutely do not reflect the likelihood of attracting funding from each source – nor do the amounts indicate how effective the funding source is towards the success of the startup.

Startup Funding Infographic

 

As an investor, advisor and mentor to entrepreneurs and new ventures, I get to hear a lot of pitches – whether as a judge in a competition, in a boardroom, classroom or a face-to-face pitch. After a while, they all start to sound alike. In fact, when investors get together, they lament (or even parody) how all the pitches sound alike. To be fair, as an entrepreneur, I used to lament with other entrepreneurs on how predictable venture capitalists can be in their responses.

Today, giving more evidence that I apparently have way too much time on my hands – I created this “Pitch Bingo” game for investors and advisors.   The next time you are listening to entrepreneur pitches at an event, click on the Entrepreneur-BS Bingo Game link, and you will get a BS-Bingo card (everyone’s card has a different random combination of entrepreneurship buzzwords).   Cross off the word when you hear it.

 

Entrepreneur-BS Bingo Game CJs Entrepreneur-BS-Bingo

CJ’s Entrepreneur Pitch Bingo

 

The first person who completes a BINGO with a row or column must shout out Zuckerberg!
And Tweet to #CJ-BS-BINGO.

And just to be fair, I’ve also created one called Investor-BS Bingo!   Now entrepreneurs can keep track of the predictable jargon investors mindlessly toss out during pitch meetings.   (notice the phrases “Term Sheet”  or “Yes” don’t appear – since they say it so rarely).

CJ’s Investor-BS Bingo

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It was a brilliant observation from Tim Huntley of An Entrepreneurial Life, based on an exchange with an entrepreneur. The entrepreneur is stuck in some sort of circular-loop thinking preventing him and his team from making progress. In a rather rare display of self-awareness, the entrepreneur likens his dilemma to a concept taken from an obscure documentary called Waiting for Superman.   In this case:

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Getting time and attention from experienced advisors is a rite of passage for the first-time entrepreneur.
Free Advice

Entrepreneurial advisors provide everything from informed feedback, market validation and technical direction, to introductions that can lead to partnerships, investors and customers.

Advisors are often former serial entrepreneurs themselves with well-earned battle scars from risking, failing and succeeding enough times to have sharp
insights into the venture building process. They have a special empathy for the struggling entrepreneur. There’s satisfaction in helping an up-and-coming entrepreneur avoid the same mistakes, and giving them insights that will help accelerate their progress.

Not all advisors have the right experience, and it is very hard for the entrepreneur to know which advisors can truly help their company.  It takes many first dates to find those perfect matches. But advisors kiss a lot of frogs too: Frogs, hunchbacks, maniacs, dreamers, neurotics – and I suspect a few psychotics. Entrepreneurs come in all sizes and for advisors it can be exhausting to try to help them all – particularly those entrepreneurs who don’t really want to be helped, or who are not ready for outside advice.

So, for the entrepreneur about to go seeking advice from advisors, here’s some blunt, very blunt, advice:

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Brilliant and spot-on, as usual, from Scott Adams’ Dilbert:
 
Dilbert.com

 

 
Wizard-of-Oz-w24Most entrepreneurs end up enduring  the “Wizard of Oz Syndrome” dozens of times before they develop their own sense of wisdom – or cynicism born from experience.

The Wizard of Oz Syndrome goes something like this:

Entrepreneur is standing before Big Influential Investor or fill-in-the-blank [Big Influential Customer, Big Potential Partner, or Big Venture Capitalist or Angel Investor].   The feeling is like proverbially standing before “The Great and Powerful Oz”:

Your very future depends on having him granting a wish that only he can make happen.

But there is a catch.  The Great and Powerful Oz wants proof that you are worthy.  You have to jump through a hoop.  He commands you to go and perform some extraordinary feat:  “Bring me the broom of the Wicked Witch of the West.”

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