Entrepreneurial

Why startups should embrace conflict

– Jeff Bussgang is a general partner at Flybridge Capital Partners and an Entrepreneur-in-Residence at Harvard Business School. He is the author of “Mastering the VC Game” and writes the blog “Seeing Both Sides“. The views expressed are his own. –

One of my favorite business books of all time is Patrick Lencioni’s “Five Dysfunctions of a Team”. Like all books by Lencioni, it begins with a short fable in a corporate setting of a management team that is operating dysfunctionally. Then he provides a framework that analyzes the situation and draws out the general lessons as to why teams operate poorly together and how to systematically combat it.

The following pyramid graphic summarizes his advice:

Each of the layers of the pyramid resonate with me (which is probably why I have this pyramid printed and hung up in my office), but the one that I always come back to and re-read is “Fear of Conflict”. Again and again, I see management teams and boards of directors shy away from conflict.

It’s quite natural for humans to avoid conflict. In fact, our deeply programmed “fight or flight” instincts are designed to protect ourselves and run away when we sense danger. Interpersonal conflict is a danger we all prefer to avoid as it makes us uncomfortable. Your stomach gets a little queasy, your heart beats a little faster, and you think, “How do I get out of this situation?”

So, you tell a joke. You change the topic. And you feel a sense of relief.

When I see this happening in management teams and in board rooms, it makes me uncomfortable because I know where it leads. It leads to mistrust, simmering issues, politics and dysfunctional behavior. Here are a few techniques I’ve found that help address this issue, particularly in startups.

5 lessons businesses can learn from WikiLeaks

– Jeremy Reis is the founder and president of That Network, an interactive publishing firm. This article originally appeared here. The views expressed are his own. –

WikiLeaks is in the news due to their release of U.S. government files, but for many years the site has been releasing both government and corporate secrets – and with a pending release of files from a large U.S. bank, it provides an opportunity to think about the lessons this teaches business managers.

A business generates a lot of internal documents from the inane emails to complex, secret business processes that provide us a competitive advantage. Learn five lessons every manager should know from the WikiLeaks affair.

1. There are no completely secure systems

Top 5 funding mistakes by entrepreneurs

– Adam Hoeksema is the founder and CEO of startup consultancy firm ExecutivePlan. This article appeared on Under30CEO. The views expressed are his own. –

For most entrepreneurs these days, funding is nearly impossible to come by.

According to the report titled, “Important Things for Entrepreneurs to Know about Angel Investors” and distributed by the Angel Capital Education Foundation, only 1 to 4 percent of applicants successfully raise angel investment capital. So before you ruin your chance at securing investors, make sure you have not committed any of the following deadly mistakes.

1. Wait until you need it. So many entrepreneurs make the mistake of waiting until they need the capital “tomorrow” to begin the process of seeking funding. Make no mistake about it, the process of raising capital can take months and months. Even a simple loan will require enough paperwork to kill a small tree. Ironically bankers and investors are more likely to provide you with additional capital when you don’t need it. So don’t wait until you have an immediate need to begin the funding process.

Health insurance advice for entrepreneurs

– Ryan Hanley is a Commercial Account Executive for Guilderland Agency Inc and author of the “Albany Insurance Professional” blog located at www.RyanHanley.com. This article originally appeared on Under30CEO. The views expressed are his own. –

For an entrepreneur, skimping on insurance – especially health insurance – is like playing Russian Roulette with your future.

At no time in your business’s growth will the health and wellness of employees be more important than the startup years. Think about the set-back in growth if the founder of a second year business became ill and had to miss a month. A terrifying scenario for most young businesses.

10 tips for securing angel or venture funding

– Chris Lynch is vice president of economic development at the Irvine Chamber of Commerce. The views expressed are his own. –

During the Internet boom, investors were mostly interested in the potential of a company. These days nothing is considered a sure thing and if your startup business isn’t on the right track, or if you haven’t done your homework as an entrepreneur, then you won’t have much luck raising capital.

The following are 10 tips to help you secure the financial support and funding your business may need to succeed.

Don’t celebrate until the cash is in the bank

– Mark Suster is a partner at Los Angeles-based venture capital firm GRP Partners. This article originally appeared on his blog “Both Sides of the Table”. –

Recently I wrote a blog post about how I hated losing, but I embrace it as a way to learn, improve and increase my win rates.

One of the things I learned from my “post-game analysis” is that you’re most vulnerable right after you’ve won the deal. I know it sounds counter-intuitive, but my experience tells me it’s true. At the moment you pop the champagne cork and let down your guard is when you’re easiest to attack.

What entrepreneurs can learn from Taylor Swift

– Ashley Bodi is the founder of Business Beware. This article originally appeared on Under30CEO. The views expressed are her own. –

When Taylor Swift was 11 she would go up and down Music Row knocking on producers’ doors telling them “Hi, I’m Taylor and you should listen to me sing. Call me!” And of course nobody ever did. Without getting discouraged she used that rejection as rocket fuel and was determined to turn some heads.

Starting out you have to know that you are going to get rejected by some or maybe everyone but don’t think for a second that it means you don’t have something that’s worth taking a look at. Just imagine how many of those people that turned her down are now thinking to themselves “why did I not give her the time of day?”

The entrepreneurial stress test

– Neil Patel is a serial entrepreneur that blogs about business at Quick Sprout and is the co-founder of KISSmetrics. The views expressed are his own. –

It’s been roughly 10 years since I started my entrepreneurial journey. There were definitely good times as well as times where I felt like ripping my hair out. However, looking back to when I first started, even though I made a ton of mistakes, for some reason they always led me in the right direction.

Now, you could say that it’s because I am persistent, but I wouldn’t agree to that being the reason. Scrappiness is another quality that people believe I have, but again I don’t think that’s what got me to where I am either.

How to deliver a killer elevator pitch

– The following article originally appeared on Under30CEO.com. The views expressed are their own. –

The elevator pitch is one of the most important elements in starting your business successfully. Picture this: you are searching for funding for your new business, taking an elevator from a big meeting when in walks Donald Trump. What do you do? Do you freeze up when he asks you what you are doing here or do you nail him with a perfect pitch, snag his business card and score a meeting?

Here is a guide to the several core elements of the elevator pitch. This is not your “commercial” and is not a sales pitch. That can be crafted from this, but this serves as a professional pitch with the purpose of raising investment for your business. This is a pitch for your company, not what you are selling. Tell them why your business will be successful.

TechStars’ founder predicts accelerator implosion

Less than two months from launching its New York program, TechStars co-founder David Cohen is already anticipating a critical mass being achieved in the startup-mentoring space within the next five years.

Cohen said that when he and two friends first launched TechStars in Boulder, Colorado four years ago there were just a handful of these accelerator programs. Now he said there are upwards of 60 across the country and he expects that to triple before the bubble bursts.

“There will be a run up to a couple hundred and then we’ll probably see a run down to 10 would be my guess over the next five years,” said Cohen, who has expanded TechStars to Boston and Seattle in recent years and has invested in more than 70 startups since launching the program. “There will certainly be a little mini accelerator bubble.”

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