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Monday, October 28, 2013

Entrepreneurship can live forever

I can't wave a magic wand, but I can provide advice and inspiration!

Entrepreneurs have learned to dream big and they often never stop.  They learn to live with adversity and failure.  One of the great things about interacting with a wide range of entrepreneurs is having the chance to meet those with repeat startup creations.  Over the years, I have met founders of significant and profitable businesses and a number were repeat founders.

You may have read much of the press on attempts to change immigration laws.  Some feel the laws should be stricter while others want them more lenient.  People sometimes forget that the only inhabitants in America were the Native Americans prior to Columbus.  Everyone other than Native Americans had family that immigrated to this country from somewhere.  I bet, if one could look far enough back in time, the Native Americans migrated to America.

Immigrants are entrepreneurs that built this country.  I had the great fortune to meet a 69-year-old immigrant that came to the USA on a 1-way ticket.  The immigrant’s father was a farmer and the family was very poor.  This individual could only afford the single way ticket and did not have enough to buy a ticket back.  Recognizing that failure was not an option, this person went to school and managed to obtain a Ph.D. followed by obtaining a job with a Fortune 500 company.

After a layoff, the budding entrepreneur realized that developing a product was something to consider.  Starting a small test lab a novel product was developed using the small amounts of money from friends and family (mostly friends).  The product caught the attention of a larger company that flew the CEO out to meet the entrepreneur and request to buy the company.  This was the first of 5 (yes FIVE) successful BIG exits this individual experienced from the next 5 companies created. 

Today, the 69 year old loves working in the lab of the new company that is profitable.  While there are no plans to sell the highly profitable company, one never knows.  There are more than 30 people drawing excellent salaries in this company.  Their work is high quality and the business has customers that are large and small companies.  The entrepreneur loves working and creating. 

It turns out that I know a friend of this entrepreneur.  Another immigrant entrepreneur (my friend) stated that of the 5 companies he invested in 2 and received a more than 10x in 2 years on just one!   I do not know about you, but that return is something I find exciting. 

This is not the only entrepreneur that has created multiple businesses and I have been fortunate enough to meet several.  I can only hope that you are one of those success stories in the future and that I can meet you after such great success!
  Taffy Williams is the author of:  Think Agile:  How Smart Entrepreneurs Adapt in Order to Succeed to via Amazon

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Relationships can make a difference in your startup

Great relationships can be a great neutralizer in getting deals done!
A few years ago, a corporate real-estate executive learned that a Fortune 50 company planned to create a new facility.  The billionaire executive had many friends one of which relayed the message about the need for a new location.  Repeated attempts to arrange a meeting with the Fortune 50 Company failed, so the executive flew up and requested to meet in person. Discussions eventually led to the topic of the Fortune 50 needs.  At this point, the upset CEO of the Fortune 50 Company indicated there were only a few people in the world that knew about the search for a new site. The CEO asked who informed the real-estate executive about the search and then escorted the billionaire out of the office.  Obviously, no deal came from the discussion.

Two things are apparent from this story; 1) the real-estate executive had a great relationship with someone affiliated with the Fortune 50 Company and received confidential information, and 2) the executive did not have a relationship with the Fortune 50 executive.  The approach was risky but may have yielded a positive result had confidential information not been passed along.  Anger about the breach of confidence cut discussions short resulting in insufficient time to develop a relationship that might result in a deal.

In a different example, an administrator joined a smaller university to help build the institution to greater prominence.  The administrator had made many friends over the years and was known as someone that was worthy of trust.  In the first year, the administrator engaged with a different Fortune 50 Company about establishing a significant research program.   The Fortune 50 Company was already investigating such an arrangement with top Universities.  The corporate executive responsible for developing the program knew the administrator on a personal basis. Great trust existed between the two.  The trust was so great that the corporate executive went to the CEO and pressed that the research programs occur with the smaller institution. When asked why, the executive simply stated because “I trust the administrator to deliver as promised.”   

In the second example, there was no reason for the two institutions to get together except for the high level of confidence created over years between the two individuals.  A program was created that complemented what each side wanted.  The two enjoyed working together and had done so in the past.  When the University President asked the Administrator how such a great deal was created with the institution, the Administrator simply answered, “the Company Executive trusts me to do what we agreed to do!”

The moral of these true stories is that you may be able to beat the Big Companies at their game by developing lasting great relationships.

  Taffy Williams is the author of:  Think Agile:  How Smart Entrepreneurs Adapt in Order to Succeed to via Amazon