2 months ago
The three-year business plan is obsolete for startups.
If asked, run.
An entrepreneur asked me about her pitch deck. A Platform as a Service (PaaS).
She told me she hadn't done her 5-year forecasts but would soon.
I said, Don't bother. I added "time-wasting."
“I've been asked”, she said.
“Get another VC. If he asks, it's because he doesn't understand your solution or to waste your time.”
Some VCs are lagging. They're still using steam engines.
10-years ago, 5-year forecasts were requested.
Since then, we've adopted a 3-year plan.
But It's outdated.
Max one year.
What has happened?
Revolutionary technology. NO-CODE.
Product viability tests are shorter. Hugely. SaaS and PaaS.
Let me explain:
Building a minimum viable product (MVP) that works only takes a few months.
1 to 2 months for practical testing.
Your company plan can be validated or rejected in 4 months as a consequence.
After validation, you can ask for VC money. Even while a prototype can generate revenue, you may not require any.
Good VCs won't ask for a 3-year business plan in that instance.
If you want, establish a three-year plan, but realize that the second year will be different.
You may have changed your business model by then.
A VC isn't interested in a three-year business plan because your solution may change.
Your ability to create revenue will be key.
But also, to pivot.
They will be interested in your value proposition.
They will want to know what differentiates you from other competitors and why people will buy your product over another.
What will interest them is your resilience, your ability to bounce back.
Not to mention your mindset. The fact that you won’t get discouraged at the slightest setback.
The grit you have when facing adversity, as challenges will surely mark your journey.
The authenticity of your approach. They’ll want to know that you’re not just in it for the money, let alone to show off.
The fact that you put your guts into it and that you are passionate about it. Because entrepreneurship is a leap of faith, a leap into the void.
They’ll want to make sure you are prepared for it because it’s not going to be a walk in the park.
They’ll want to know your background and why you got into it.
They’ll also want to know your family history.
And what you’re like in real life.
So a 5-year plan…. You can bet they won’t give a damn. Like their first pair of shoes.
3 months ago
Your entrepreneurial experience can either be a beautiful adventure or a living hell with just one decision.
DNA makes us distinct.
We act alike. Most people follow the same road, ignoring differences. We remain quiet about our uniqueness for fear of exclusion (family, social background, religion). We live a more or less imposed life.
Off the beaten path, we stand out from the others. We obey without realizing we're sewing a shroud. We're told to do as everyone else and spend 40 years dreaming of a golden retirement and regretting not living.
“One of the greatest regrets in life is being what others would want you to be, rather than being yourself.” - Shannon L. Alder
Others dare. Again, few are creative; most follow the example of those who establish a business for the sake of entrepreneurship. To live.
They pick a potential market and model their MVP on an existing solution. Most mimic others, alter a few things, appear to be original, and end up with bland products, adding to an already crowded market.
SaaS, PaaS, etc. followed suit. It's reduced pricing, profitability, and product lifespan.
As competitors become more aggressive, their profitability diminishes, making life horrible for them and their employees. They fail to innovate, cut costs, and close their company.
Few of them look happy and fulfilled.
How did they do it?
The answer is unsettlingly simple.
They are themselves.
They start their company, propelled at first by a passion or maybe a calling.
Then, at their own pace, they create it with the intention of resolving a dilemma.
They assess what others are doing and consider how they might improve it.
In contrast to them, they respond to it in their own way by adding a unique personal touch. Therefore, it is obvious.
Originals, like their DNA, can't be copied. Or if they are, they're poorly printed. Originals are unmatched. Artist-like. True collectors only buy Picasso paintings by the master, not forgeries, no matter how good.
Imaginative people are constantly ahead. Copycats fall behind unless they innovate. They watch their competition continuously. Their solution or product isn't sexy. They hope to cash in on their copied product by flooding the market.
They're mostly pirates. They're short-sighted, unlike creators.
Creators see further ahead and have no rivals. They use copiers to confirm a necessity. To maintain their individuality, creators avoid copying others. They find copying boring. It's boring. They oppose plagiarism.
It's thrilling and inspiring.
It will also make them more able to withstand their opponents' tension. Not to mention roadblocks. For creators, impediments are games.
Others fear it. They race against the clock and fear threats that could interrupt their momentum since they lack inventiveness and their product has a short life cycle.
Creators have time on their side. They're dedicated. Clearly. Passionate booksellers will have their own bookstore. Their passion shows in their book choices. Only the ones they love.
The copier wants to display as many as possible, including mediocre authors, and will cut costs. All this to dominate the market. They're digging their own grave.
The bookseller is just one example. I could give you tons of them.
Entrepreneurs might follow others or be themselves. They risk exhaustion trying to predict what their followers will do.
Life offers choices.
Being oneself or doing as others do, with the possibility of regretting not expressing our uniqueness and not having lived.
“Be yourself; everyone else is already taken”. Oscar Wilde
The choice is yours.
4 months ago
In 5 minutes, you can tell if a startup will succeed.
Or the “lie to me” method.
I can predict a startup's success in minutes.
Just interview its founder.
I question "why" till I sense him.
I need to feel the person I have in front of me. I need to know if he or she can deliver. Startups aren't easy. Without abilities, a brilliant idea will fail.
Good entrepreneurs have these qualities: He's a leader, determined, and resilient.
For me, they can be split in two categories.
The first entrepreneur aspires to live meaningfully. The second wants to get rich. The second is communicative. He wants to wow the crowd. He's motivated by the thought of one day sailing a boat past palm trees and sunny beaches.
What drives the first entrepreneur is evident in his speech, face, and voice. He will not speak about his product. He's (nearly) uninterested. He's not selling anything. He's not a salesman. He wants to succeed. The product is his fuel.
He'll explain his decision. He'll share his motivations. His desire. And he'll use meaningful words.
Paul Ekman has shown that face expressions aren't cultural. His study influenced the American TV series "lie to me" about body language and speech.
Passionate entrepreneurs are obvious. It's palpable. Faking passion is tough. Someone who wants your favor and money will expose his actual motives through his expressions and language.
The good liar will be able to fool you for a while, but not for long if you pay attention to his body language and how he expresses himself.
And also, if you look at his business plan.
His business plan reveals his goals. Read between the lines.
Entrepreneur 1 will focus on his "why", whereas Entrepreneur 2 will focus on the "how".
Entrepreneur 1 will develop a vision-driven culture.
The second, on the other hand, will focus on his EBITDA.
Why is the culture so critical? Because it will allow entrepreneur 1 to develop a solid team that can tackle his problems and trials. His team's "why" will keep them together in tough times.
"Give me a terrific start-up team with a mediocre idea over a weak one any day." Because a great team knows when to pivot and trusts each other. Weak teams fail.” — Bernhard Schroeder
Every VC must ask Why. Entrepreneur's motivations. This "why" will create the team's culture. This culture will help the team adjust to any setback.