Entrepreneur: A Job Description

IMG_2329What are the personality traits, core values and motivations that make for a great entrepreneur? It’s a tricky question to answer, because the best entrepreneurs come from wildly different backgrounds, started businesses for a wide variety of reasons, and often have deeply personal missions driving their work. Steve Jobs and Bill Gates couldn’t have been more different in terms of personality and their approaches to fostering the personal computer revolution, for instance, but both were clearly exceptional entrepreneurs.

To gain a better understanding of what makes a great entrepreneur, it might help to think about the topic from another perspective. Let’s put the role of the entrepreneur into a format most of us are familiar with. What would the job description for an exceptional entrepreneur say? Continue reading

Elementary Startup Planning: Financial Models and the Path to Profitability

SIBP-Blog-NEW-B-2We’ve all heard the stats about business failure. According to some fairly reliable sources, as many as 8 in 10 businesses will fail within the first 18 months. But that statistic doesn’t tell the whole story. Many of those businesses were doomed to fail long before they ever opened their doors. Why? Their founders had no idea how the business was actually going to make a profit.

In my last post, I stressed just how important the financials are when planning a new business. The better your understanding of your path-to-profitability, the easier it is to both communicate and implement that plan. Continue reading

Elementary Startup Planning: Why Financials Matter

SIBP-Blog-NEW-B-5A few weeks ago, I was talking with one of the first-time entrepreneurs I mentor as a Kauffman Foundation Entrepreneur In Residence. As we were working through the details of getting them ready to start their first funding round, they asked me a really great question.

“Tom, if you were starting a new business today, what is the first thing you would do?”

As I started to think about the answer, I found myself getting really excited. Even without having a specific business concept in mind, my mind was flooded with some great ideas for getting a new business off the ground. At the same time, the answer to their question was obvious, because every plan I could come up with was built on the same cornerstone: Getting the financials in order. Continue reading