Friday, June 28, 2013

Great Startup Articles

Links and thoughts on some excellent startup related articles I've been reading on the Andreesen Horowitz blogs.

Lead Bullets - This article got me thinking about whether we're over investing in silver bullets, for example finding a scalable customer acquisition channel, and underinvesting in lead bullets which for us would be improving the price, quality and delivery time of our shoes. If we could reduce our retail price and charge $149 for a pair of custom, high quality heels with a great brand and delivered within a week how could customers buy shoes anywhere else?

Notes on Leadership - There are 3 key attributes in leaders people want to follow:
1. The ability to articulate the vision - particularly when things are not going successfully. 2. The right kind of ambition - ambition for the company and employees rather than ambition for themselves. 3. The ability to achieve the vision - If people buy into the vision and believe the leader cares about them, do they believe the leader can achieve the vision? (I've just ordered the book 'High Output Management' recommended in the post!)

What’s The Most Difficult CEO Skill? Managing Your Own Psychology - This article was fascinating, the author points out that very few people talk about the challenge of managing your own psychology as a CEO, and I'd agree that in my experience that's the case. Fortunately I don't think we've experience a "WFIO" (We’re F#%ked, It’s Over) moment yet but there have definitely been some challenging times along the journey and it's been helpful to read this article in case a WFIO comes up. My key takeouts:

  • Everyone learns to be a CEO by being a CEO. Mistakes are made on the job because you're thrown a broad set of challenges, many of which you've had no experience in doing, and you're often expected to do them by yourself. The author doesn't mention it but this can be alleviated by hiring an awesome team, and I'm fortunate that there are people on the team who are better than me at most things we do as a company, but new issues do come up that no one has experience in and sometimes these fall to me, that's actually one of the things I love about the job, it means I'm continuing to learn at a rapid rate.
  • CEO's often make the mistake of either taking things too personally, or not taking things personally enough. I've fallen into both categories at various times on our 4 year journey to date. The goal is to move aggressively and decisively without feeling emotionally culpable.
  • Hard decisions sometimes have to be made, the choice can be between options that are horrible and cataclysmic. We haven't had any decisions like this yet, but the author points out that most companies have gone through WFIO moments where very difficult decisions need to be made. Companies survive these moments, and the author says they often feel much worse than they are. Good to keep in mind.
  • To calm your nerves through these challenges - Have people to talk to about similar challenges (my EO group is a perfect forum for this). Get it out of your head onto paper. Focus on the road, not the wall.
  • And finally, don't quit.

No comments:

Post a Comment