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Some of the very first decisions founders must make early on in their ventures are crucially important to the future of the business. Many of these decisions concern the ubiquitous "people problems" that challenge even experienced entrepreneurs. When should I found? Should I co-found with someone? With whom? How should we split the equity? Bad or ill-informed choices at critical junctures could have significant consequences for startups. In fact, research has suggested that 65 percent of new firm failures were related to problems within the management team.
When I read Meg Hirshberg's book "For Better or for Work: A Survival Guide for Entrepreneurs and Their Families" I knew instantly that I wanted Meg to join our slate of Founders School experts. The goal of Founders School is to provide entrepreneurs with crucial skills and knowledge, and to do so with an eye to topics that are important but rarely discussed in typical entrepreneurship education programs. The subject of Meg's book is just such a topic. We all know that entrepreneurs have to juggle a variety of considerations when founding a company: team building, assessment of product/market fit, intellectual property, and how to get that first important customer. What many entrepreneurs and, more importantly, their families, know is that there's a juggle on the family side of the equation as well, but it's one that many entrepreneurs may be reluctant to talk about.
"No business plan survives first contact with customers," Steve Blank says. What? Isn't the point of planning that you maximize the likelihood of success in the marketplace? Well yes, but perhaps not the kind of planning you might be thinking about. A business plan conceived on paper, powered by a great idea or invention, enhanced by research on the size of the market and a customer profile, has great potential. But it also has a crucial flaw.
In this audio podcast, Professor Bob Sutton discusses "breakthrough" ideas in his latest book about dealing with difficult and conflicting relationships in a work environment. Sutton describes strategies to deal with "jerks" in an organization, and he illustrates the application of his ideas by using real-world examples sourced from readers' email responses to his new book.
Mohr Davidow Ventures partner Erik Straser offers insight on the unfolding sector of new energy technologies, and discusses how it will be affected by an economy in credit crisis. He unveils the market's high level of industrial innovation, and offers students of entrepreneurship sound advice on finding the next crest in grand socioeconomic opportunity.
Entrepreneurs hoping to preserve wealth may want to avoid selling big stakes in their businesses to raise capital. The founder of a major mutual-funds company built his net worth by selling preferred, rather than common, stock.
Jack Stack gives back to entrepreneurship in a variety of ways, but one of his main contributions has been through delivering a consistent message: employees at all levels of a company should think and act like they own it.
Jeff Smith's trip to Honduras has evolved into a model that encourages aspiring entrepreneurs and helps struggling communities in the process. Smith received the Kauffman Community Award in honor of his accomplishments at a special presentation at the 2006 EO Chicago University.
Are today's newly wealthy entrepreneurs robber barons or 21st-century heroes? Those who profit from the process of wealth creation are under increasing pressure to apply their skills and business experience to philanthropic ventures.
Mentors help us confront adversity, seize opportunity, learn from mistakes, understand our strengths and grow as leaders. Learn how to be an effective mentor to other entrepreneurs. (Published Oct 2002)
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