Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Freeloaders have bad karma.

Lately I've gotten burned by a few freeloaders. Let me explain.

Company A emails me:

"Hi Chris, we found you (Twitter/LinkedIn/Facebook/Other). We really liked what you had to say, looked at your site and think you'd be perfect to help us get to the next level. We have a business plan/financial model, and think it needs a final review and input, and then we want to go on with having a CFO as we really ramp this up. Would you start with taking a look at the plan and letting us know what you think of us, if it'd be a good fit, any feedback?"
So I'm nice enough to skim read a business plan and give feedback. Usually I can't help myself but to point out all the things wrong with it, small or big. I do hold back, mainly because I don't want people to think I'm a total jerk and out to rip them apart, and because I want to hang onto some leverage of what I could actually do for them. In an effort to build good will and a connection, I do give honest feedback, good and bad, and indicate all the ways I could add value.

None the less, about 3 times now in the last month I had people who were very clearly indicating they wanted to work with me, only to take my feedback and go "thanks! we'll work that in and let you know down the road if we could use your help". After saying how excited they were to work with me, how much they want a CFO now, how they want me to take their work and put my polish on it.

Not to say everyone is that way. Often it does go as it should, the company sees that I have a lot to add, things they didn't even think about, and we go down the appropriate road, usually a project for now to fix up what they have, with the potential for an ongoing CFO role if it makes sense.

Just wanted to get that off my chest, and let the freeloaders know that there was plenty more wrong than what I told you. Should have hired me like you promised.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

True entrepreneurs vs. "get rich quick" vs. cool sites with no revenue.

After reading through several posts both in this group and plenty others geared towards startups/entrepreneurs/web 2.0,3.0 etc. I had some thoughts...

Having worked with a lot of startups and talked to 100X more than that, there's some very clear distinctions between the true entrepreneurial startup, and someone who just has a cool idea for a site but no business behind it.

First off, building a cool site, lets say a new Twitter application, with absolutely no revenue possibilities doesn't make you an entrepreneur. It makes you good at building sites that are "neat". Sure people might come to your site. Throw up a few Google ads, maybe make a few dollars. Really though, sustainable business? Have a growth strategy? It's easy to put on paper "our site will continue to grow at an exponential rate" and associate higher and higher ad revenues with this, but in reality, if it's that great, someone will copy it. And chances are, it's just not that great, sorry.

The get rich quick companies almost aren't worth discussion. Their blatent posts in attempts to lure anyone willing to throw money at them are laughable. It's sad to think people still get drawn into pyramid schemes and ideas of grandeur that really wouldn't take long to think about in terms of a business, and realize there's nothing there. I've often found anyone who contacts me with the more passion and enthusiasm than actual information and conceptual facts about their business, doesn't have one. It usually goes hand in hand with them talking extensively about how much money everyone involved is going to make, and that alone should be why I should or anyone should be involved. Sorry guys, I've been around the block enough times to spot you a mile away.

True entrepreneurs, these are the guys and girls that keep me going. Passion, spirit, dynamic, an actual business model, experience in the industry they are entering are just a few traits. They know how to command a team, have realistic ideas about what it takes to start a company, how long it takes to really ramp up revenues, and what expenses they'll incur.

Any thoughts? Agree, disagree, think I'm a startup snob? I'm the first one to admit I am, but when you are amongst a sea of fools, you have to have some qualifiers to find those rare few.