I write a regular column for the Sunday Business Post on the experience of doing a startup.
How to approach a contract – 28 March 2013
There are many joys to the startup life: none are greater than a day spent mining legal prose for hidden traps that can bankrupt your business. And if the contract terms don’t get you, the lost time will cost you that golden deal you could have closed before the legal fees finally finish you off. To make it as an entrepreneur, you must learn to swim with the sharks.
How to measure risk – 15 March 2013
Starting a company is risky. Entrepreneurship is risky. These are things we take for granted. Some of you may even have lost a few shirts already. I know I have. But in popular culture, we are wrong in the way we think about risk and startups. Startup risk is not about taking a gamble on a big idea or a new mousetrap. This is a misconception.
Startup disasters – 1 March 2013
To be a true technology entrepreneur you must experience the exquisite trauma of data loss. Of all the disasters that can befall a startup company, this is the worst. Because it is truly, only, your own fault. Clients may fail to pay, governments may regulate, employees may embezzle. But only the founder can be blamed for failing to have a Plan B. Plan B is how you stay alive.
How to hire well – 12 February 2013
There will come a time in your startup life when you have money to hire employees. This is not a moment of celebration, it is one of abject fear. Many mistakes can kill your startup. The wrong employee at the wrong time is one of the worst. Nothing can suck the energy out of your business, your co-founders, and your customers more quickly than a bad egg. You need everybody on the team to be smart and to get things done.
how to deal with people problems – 25 January 2013
When you start a technology company, it’s a good sign that you believe technology can solve your customer’s problems. You’ll be tempted to use technology to solve your own problems too. This does not work with one kind of problem – people problems. Instead, you need to get on the phone, grab a coffee, buy lunch, and fix things by talking to a real person.
5 business trip tips – 11 December 2012
Where should you locate your startup? The standard advice is that it should be in a “startup hub”. Taken to its logical extreme, that means you really should go to Silicon Valley. This is where the best investors, talent, and customers are and you can’t make it without that critical mass. But there is another school of thought and it is this: find the best – wherever they are – and stay connected over the wire.
To go or not to go to conferences – 3 December 2012
Conferences are like drugs. They give you such a buzz that you just keep spending money on them. As a company founder, it’s not the money you should be worried about. Instead, ask yourself the question – are you getting anything back for your time and mental focus?