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Getting time and attention from experienced advisors is a rite of passage for the first-time entrepreneur.
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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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TLDR GraphicYet another “Lessons Learned” post from a first-time entrepreneur.  Except this one is incredibly wise beyond his years.  The insights are so in depth and valuable that even the most seasoned serial entrepreneur would be envious. The sad part is, since the article is not one of those pithy “10 secrets to building a successful venture” posts, it will be lost on the typical reader seeking quick-fix advice.

 

Worthless Advice?

I have a deep cynicism when reading first-time entrepreneurs pontificating

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SWOT Analysis is not just a B-school exercise.  It is indeed a valuable tool for entrepreneurs – whether for internal planning and “reality check” exercises, or as a way of explaining the new venture’s prospects to investors and other external stakeholders.

SWOT1What is SWOT?

SWOT is an acronym that stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, & Threats.

SWOT analysis is a methodological tool designed to help workers and companies optimize performance, maximize potential, manage competition, and minimize risk.

SWOT is about making better decisions, both large and small. It can help you determine the efficacy of something as small as introducing a new product or service or something as large as a merger or acquisition. Again, SWOT is a method that, once mastered, can only enhance performance.

The Essential Guide to SWOT Analysis is a well-researched, well-written, and well-rounded guide co-authored by Justin Gomer and Jackson Hille from the University of California.

Give it a read!

 

A few days ago someone posted a question on Quora:  Chief Executive Officers: Who is the greatest living CEO?

One of the answers (unusually, posted by an anonymous member), simply posted the following chart:

Originally cited in a 2010 ZDNet article, it is a thought provoking  illustration.   On the surface it seems to scream “aha – look how much better Bill Gates was, than Steve Ballmer.”   But the reality is a lot more complicated than this simplistic observation:

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Silicon Valley and the high tech world have long ago gotten over the notion that talent doesn’t always conform to dress codes and other norms. I’m not sure if it started with Steve Jobs in the 70’s – wearing shorts and sandals to meetings (without showering) – but I am pretty sure there was very little tolerance for non-conformity in prior decades. Entrepreneurs are almost by definition nonconformists and iconoclasts. In order to do business with the outside world, they often have had to conform – at least enough to get through the door.

But ever since the first high-tech entrepreneurial boom of the 80s through the subsequent dotcom 90s, the tables have turned:

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