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Entrepreneurs’ Top 10 Mistakes from Apple’s Former Chief Evangelist

Entrepreneurs’ Top 10 Mistakes from Apple’s Former Chief Evangelist

Building a business is hard. Don’t make it harder for yourself by making these avoidable mistakes. Take it from Guy Kawasaki, Apple’s first Chief Evangelist, serial entrepreneur, and VC investor. He’s written 13 books on entrepreneurship, startups and business. Below is an extraction of his 10 tips from a talk at Silicon Valley’s Startup Grind.

1. Projecting based on the 1 percent

How hard could it be to get a little piece of the pie? Guy open by talking about the entrepreneurs who project a huge market and figure that the conservative estimate is to capture 1%. Getting that first 1%, say one million, is no small number. Do you even have traction with your product? Also, no investor wants to hear you only have ambitions for 1% of the market. If your product is worth investing in, it should take significant market share.

Use a realistic projection funnel. Based on your traction and sales, do a more realistic prediction. Do a market feasibility test before prototyping. When you prototype, continually get feedback from your target customers and grow your customer base as you are refining your product. By the time you pitch, you will have real numbers to base your calculations on.

2. Scaling too soon

After raising money, entrepreneurs often put their capital into the wrong resources; they get multiple offices and hire in anticipation of sales to come. As Guy puts it, you have people in Bangalore waiting to provide great customer service to non-existent customers. Because re-hiring later when sales catch up seems inefficient, one isn’t willing to let go of that expanded team. However, your product will never ship on time and your sales will likely never meet your projections.

Don’t hire until you’ve shipped product. Don’t hire in anticipation of growth. Also, the most stable thing to do is to grow a company based on sales revenue and pivot based on market demands. For example, the team of programmers who loved coding began by making Pandaform, but then evolved into a web and mobile development agency that builds products in-house and for clients.

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3. Partnerships…why?

If you have a strategic partnership that translates to opening your sales spreadsheet every day, keep it. Most partnerships are just a patch for a company’s shortcomings. Partnerships entail e-mails, meetings, plans and distractions from selling a product and generating real revenue.

Only sales matter. Guy summarises sales as keeping your investors happy. A startup’s ultimate survival test is to make revenue. Make revenue and you have happy investors, employees, and (a bit more) peace of mind.

4. Treating pitches as silver bullets.

Y Combinator Startup School

    A good pitch may help you win a business plan contest and give a good impression. However, a prototype with real traction is the best way to convince an investor. Guy references bootstrapping to get your startup off the ground. He urges founder to use Rackspace and Amazon Web Services for hosting and social media for free marketing.

    Prototypes are worth a thousand pitch decks. Build a basic prototype and make sales to demonstrate the product you are pitching has potential.

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    5. Slide overkill.

    Despite all the great examples of pitch decks out there, you’ll always have the entrepreneurs who can’t help thinking they’re the exception. They’ll give you 60 slides with 8 pt font. It never works.

    Go with the tried-and-true rule: 10-20-30. 10 slides, 20 minutes, 30-point font

    How can your business model in 10 slides and 20 minutes? Think of the limitation as a challenge to crystallise your idea. If your product is unique enough, it should be easy to convey in one sentence. Also, your slides are not your notes. If pitch shows enough concrete numbers, an investor will follow-up. Check out some of the most successful startup pitch decks online.

    6. Making life serial.

    Wouldn’t it be nice if life went step by step: prototype, raise money, hire awesome people, get sales, hack hockey stick growth, then have a spectacular exit.

    Life doesn’t wait for step one to finish before starting the next. Realistically, an entrepreneur needs to be building that prototype, fundraising, recruiting top talent,making sales, and figuring out business strategy. The chicken and egg feeling will never go away. If you are growing, your next opportunity will always be that uncomfortable stretch.

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    7. Recognise that 51% is an illusion of control.

    The moment you’ve taken outside money, you’ve lost control. Walked out of your last fundraising round with 51% of company ownership? As a founder, you are accountable to all your stakeholders. Your investors may not be that involved in running your business, but they can get 100% involved in voting with their feet. You need your investors behind you, and they get behind you when they think they will get $50 per $1 that they invested in you.

    8. Using patents for protection.

    Guy puts it succinctly: patents are for your parents. You’ll make them happy, and if you’re lucky, maybe the company acquiring you in the future will like it. That’s a big maybe.

    Realistically patents do not bring you sales and if a larger company produces something similar, are you going to sue them? Are you really going to spend all your investor money on litigation? Your investors probably wouldn’t want to take on Microsoft or Apple.

    Market share is the best self-defence. Get over yourself. For every product that you come up with, someone else in the world has probably developed something similar. One of Oursky’s favourite in-house products is Filesq, which is similar to many other prototyping and wireframing tools out there. Companies like InVision got market share. We didn’t. They didn’t steal our idea; most product managers and UX professionals wanted the same thing. Life moves on.

    9. Thinking VCs add value (and trying to make friends).

    Your investors are busy people. VCs and angels alike are looking at a dozen portfolio companies and maybe even running their own business on the side. Of course, they want you to succeed and will pick up the phone to connect you to the right person, but they won’t do much more.

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    Earn attention by performing. VCs think you may be a good investment and after closing the round, they’ll hover to see how you do. Your investors are much more likely to engage if they see you’re gaining traction and growing sales. Guy suggests you expect 2-3 hours from your investor. They’re not there as a buffer for your screw-ups. Guy summed it up as a Tindr world.

    10. Hiring yourself.

    He just gets it. From the moment you sit down for coffee, you two can go on and on for hours. You both have the same vision, concerns, working style and, of course, sense of humour. He fits the company culture. He’s hired. By the time you’re on your 10th team member, you’ve got a hundred blind spots and one big HR problem.

    Fill the gaps with complementary people. Hire someone who is different from you and brings in a complementary perspective. Bringing in men, women, people of colour, people with experience, people with inexperience depending on where you are. You need a team that can make, sell, and collect your product. A systematic way to do so is to map out all the different hats you (and your early team members) are wearing. Figure out where each of you are weakest and where the company has the greatest need. Start scouting for someone to fill that gap, even before you’re ready to hire.

    You can check out Guy Kawasaki’s talks on Youtube. Let us know what your best biggest learnings were as a founder!

    Featured photo credit: Drew Bennett via flickr.com

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    Last Updated on November 5, 2018

    20 Best Places to Work for a Great Career in 2018

    20 Best Places to Work for a Great Career in 2018

    Looking for a job? There’s no doubt to the fact you will want to work with a company that appreciates you for who you are.

    Well, good news. The labor market today is one that has peened up with more opportunities for advancement and personal employee improvement. This is partly due to the fact that a lot of companies have been made to understand the value of their biggest assets: the employees.

    To wit, here’s a list of companies- across a wide array of industries- that have been able to develop working environments that are healthy and accommodating to workers.

    Take a look at these 20 best place to work for a great career:

    1. Salesforce, San Francisco, California,

      Salesforce is in the information technology business and the company ranks highest due to their commitment to learning and innovation. They are ready to try new things and everyone with a new idea is always welcome to share it at the company. The company has also been known to exhibit an exceptional approach to alignment.

      Find out more about careers in Salesforce

      2. Wegmans Food Markets Inc.,Rochester, New York

        Based in Rochester, New York, employees have been known to enjoy a sense of purpose from working here. The company has been able to achieve an optimal level of engagement across all working tiers and they’ve been able to achieve great things together. They even do deliveries.

        Find out more about careers in Wegmans

        3. Ultimate Software, Weston, Florida

          Employees get amazing benefits here but that’s not the only reason why this place is so awesome to work. Whenever there is a need or a death of an Ultipeep or any of other family members, the company shows love and support like no other.

          Find out more about careers in Ultimate Software

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          4.The Boston Consulting Group, Inc., Boston, Massachusetts

            Development is at the center of anything that goes on here. The business is about people and employees are the company’s biggest asset. Employees are able to challenge the status and also leave impacts on clients.

            Find out more about careers in The Boston Consulting Group

            5. Edward Jones, St. Louis, Missouri

              Edward Jones is admired for their ability to acknowledge history without being mired down by it. The company builds on a solid foundation but there is also a level of flexibility that allows for innovation.

              Find out more about careers in Edward Jones

              6. Kimpton Hotels and Restaurants, San Francisco, California

                Kimpton is a trendsetter in the hospitality industry. The company always strives to try something different and that perspective is welcomed there at all times. Enjoy the weekends with luxury rooms, conformable mattress, furnished and well dressed service staff. A great opportunity for job seekers.

                Find out more about careers in Kimpton Hotels and Restaurants

                7. Workday, Pleasanton, California

                  Newbies will find no issues with feeling welcome and at home here as this has always been a core culture component of the IT giant. Everyone is treated like family and this fosters a sense of oneness.

                  Find out more about careers in Workday

                  8. Genentech, South San Francisco, California

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                    Here, employees are encouraged to be themselves. There is a feeling of care, safety, and acceptance that you get here that you can’t get at many firms. The development of an all-inclusive environment has always been foundational.

                    Find out more about careers in Genetech

                    9. Deloitte, New York, New York

                      Deloitte is one of the biggest professional service providers in the world, noted for their focus on constant learning, development and improvement. They invest in their employees and are concerned about their well being.

                      Find out more about careers in Deloitte

                      10. Baird, Milwaukee, Wisconsin

                        Baird is a financial services provide that is known for adopting a “no asshole policy’ which guides the way people relate with and respect each other, regardless of their position on the company’s hierarchy.

                        Find out more about careers in Baird

                        11. Quicken Loans, Detroit, Michigan

                          At Quicken Loans, the views and opinions of everyone are respected and heard. The organization is revered for the amount of investment they put in their team members and everyone looks for ways to grow and be better.

                          Find out more about careers in Quicken Loans

                          12. Capital One, Mclean, Florida

                            Capital One has adopted a culture that encourages employees to take risks and try new things. They foster a healthy work-life balance and associates are challenged to live better lives.

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                            Find out more about careers in Capital One

                            13. Cooley LLP, Palo Alto, California

                              Cooley LLP is a law firm known for their ability to care about the company culture and being able to develop a working environment that is empowering and fun. Cooley is known to go for the best when it comes to their employees, regardless of the occasion.

                              Find out more about careers in Cooley LLP

                              14. Southern Ohio Medical Center, Portsmouth, Ohio

                                The medical center has been known for their propensity to delegate so much to their employees, thereby providing them with the ability to grow and learn on the job. In the end, you get a workplace that is all-engaging and super fun.

                                Find out more about careers in Southern Ohio Medical Center

                                15. American Express, New York, New York

                                  American Express is a firm that celebrates wins, no matter how small. Everyone is made to share the same attitude towards service and the people they are to serve, thereby making people care about what they do.

                                  Find out more about careers in American Express

                                  16. Adobe Systems Inc., San Jose, California

                                    The culture at Adobe Systems is one that encourages employees to develop their own ideas and get a strong viewpoint. As opposed to encouraging competition, work-life balance is fostered everywhere here.

                                    Find out more about careers in Adobe Systems Inc.

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                                    17. The Cheesecake Factory Inc., Calabasas, California

                                      The Cheesecake Factory rewards dedication and hard work. Promotions come pretty easy, and there is always space for guidance to develop your experience and skills.

                                      Find out more about careers in The Cheesecake Factory Inc.

                                      18. Sap America, Newtown Square, Pennsylvania

                                        If you’re looking for a new career path, SAP might be the best bet for you. The company is adept at recognizing value and transferable skills. And you can always look for a new path while maintaining your employment.

                                        Find out more about careers in Sap America

                                        19. NVIDIA Corporation, Santa Clara, California

                                          NVIDIA is known for looking after even the smallest of things. With even a “pets allowed” policy this company accepts you for who you are, and helps you to work within your personality. Advancement is also fostered, and you are able to collaborate effectively.

                                          Find out more about careers in NVIDIA

                                          20. KPMG LLP, New York, New York

                                            Communication and progressive collaboration are the foundation of this company’s workforce treatment. Regardless of the level you are, someone is always at the ready to help and the company rewards extra effort with gratitude.

                                            Find out more about careers in KPMG LLP

                                            All in all, it’s safe to say that you will be able to find somewhere to apply your skills (whatever they are) that is all inclusive and highly accommodative. Companies today are being made to understand how much they can get when they treat their employees right and this has opened the door to an encouraging work environment for all.

                                            Happy job hunting!

                                            Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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