Posts Tagged ‘entrepreneurs’

The Next Big Thing

Monday, February 4th, 2019

In my business transition advisory work, I find 80% of entrepreneurs and executives in high-growth and mid-sized businesses very clear about the preferred outcome for the business, 50% very clear about the simplest path to it, 20% very clear about their own ideal future post-transition and less than 10% very clear on the optimum way to get “there”. Why? They’ve consciously or unconsciously ceded power and control to others, not prioritised themselves, or worse, they are in hiding behind a veil of procrastination. Have I hit on a very uncomfortable truth?

Pull up a chair, eliminate the distractions and let’s resolve now to clearly, and unambiguously, answer the three most important questions:

  1. What am I tremendously passionate about?
  2. What rare and powerful combination of skills, behaviours and expertise do I uniquely possess or could quickly develop?
  3. Where would the application of those talents have a transformational impact on the future of (enter organisation name), and its’ key constituents (enter clients, employees, investors, board members, business partners, suppliers names and so on)?

Armed with that level of clarity, what stops you setting aside time now in your diary to meet with those individuals? For many of my clients, it is really one of three reasons: you don’t trust your own judgement (“I am unfamiliar who’d have a need for me outside what I know”), you don’t see a need (“opportunities will come to me”), or you don’t see the urgency to do it (“I’ll get around to it once my immediate business goals are met”). Some site money as an excuse but that is very rarely the case unless you are broke.

The harsh truth is without the discipline, hard work and talent, to make it happen now, it will rarely lead to a desirable personal conclusion. You’ll end up forever circling half-explored opportunities, amid growing frustration of wanting to get “stuck into something”. When you do have the need post-transition, finding the “right opportunity” is incredibly difficult (your ideal relationships and interactions have changed markedly). Finally, you find perhaps for the first time, in the case of entrepreneurs, founders and executives on “exit”, you are beholden to others’ timing and priorities, which don’t align with your own.

Hiring qualified experts like me (depth and breadth of insight globally supported by a track record of success) can demonstrably help, strategically, where you are seeking validation of your own judgement, and tactically, pathways to ideal names, monthly accountability or creation of a post-transition structure “in waiting”. For example, the entrepreneur, who decides that he wants to invest in other entrepreneurs or the executive, who wants to work with private investors or philanthropic initiatives. However, it is really down to you and your desire to mitigate the risks of an unsatisfactory outcome.

Entrepreneur’s Talk

Thursday, January 10th, 2019

I meet a great many entrepreneurs, who readily talk about the fears that grip their clients but a small minority, who will voluntarily talk about their own fears and the consequences. It is “as if” vulnerability = failure or weakness. When in fact it is the polar opposite.

The reluctance to talk has a spiralling effect on individuals’ health and wellbeing, where stress is overlaid by more stress. That is why very few entrepreneurs succeed long-term without a strong support system. People, who are ideally placed to listen and offer qualified feedback. To be blunt, to be honest and to be supportive. Who those individuals are only the entrepreneur can ultimately determine.

Entrepreneur’s Legacy

Monday, October 29th, 2018

It is not what wealth you acquire that matters (Sir Philip Green), it is how you contribute to the world we live in (Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha).

Entrepreneur Blindspots

Sunday, October 28th, 2018

Who get’s my time and interest? Two exploratory conversations with contrasting entrepreneurs with high-growth businesses this week. 

Entrepreneur A: “Let me show you my powerpoint presentation.” Five minutes later in response to what are you seeking to accomplish and where might I be immediately helpful, “I am just looking for money, I don’t need anything else.”

Entrepreneur B: “Let me tell you where I am at with my business, where I’d ideally like to be in future and what I am needing to change including raising new money.” After ten minutes of discourse and accepted vulnerability, “I’d be interested in your advice for me.”

As investors we want confident, not humble entrepreneurs. We want entrepreneurs with high levels of self-worth and a willingness to be vulnerable. To voluntarily admit weakness and display smart judgement.

We don’t want defensive entrepreneurs or those, who seek to excessively control our view into their business. Entrepreneurs don’t have to be transparent, translucent will do fine. When your use of powerful language, social skills, and intellect is obscured from us, little wonder investors move on.  

Here is my observation: have you adapted your behaviour to the life you now lead (entrepreneur), or insist on behaving as you learned to do in a former life as a former Citi banker, BCG consultant or CEO of a global company? 85% of the first-time entrepreneurs I meet persist in behaving as they have in their prior life with one obvious exception. Money. They happily claim poverty “I am not in the position I was….” at the mere mention of paying for advice. When the reality is they remain in the top 2% of the nation’s wealthiest people.  It is simply not credible. 

In Good Company

Tuesday, October 9th, 2018

If you are an entrepreneur wanting to attract the highest quality investors,  people, business partners and so forth, think about the company you are keeping. Am I spending time with gatekeepers, window shoppers or real buyers/investors of my product, service and relationships? Does the event or platform put me in rarefied company or am I circling around with a largely undifferentiated crowd? Will my presence and affiliation with the audience dramatically build my brand or have a negligible impact?     

Where is the hard evidence or observed behaviour to validate my judgement?

It is myth that any “exposure” is a valuable use of our time. That is rubbish. If you are not in front of a high proportion of your target audience, decline the invite with a simple “No”. You don’t need to explain yourself, you do need to avoid wasting time talking to the wrong people.

Lloyds Bank UK National Business Awards 2018 

Monday, September 3rd, 2018

  

Inflexion Private Equity’s UK Entrepreneur of The Year Award Jury 

James Berkeley

I am delighted to be returning for a second year to participate in the UK’s pre-eminent national business awards, as a judge with 12 fabulous nominees.  In my experience, there are 12 traits that inform the “complete entrepreneur”. Here is three of my favourites:

  1. Self-determined. They do not rely on “handouts” from others to achieve success and they realise they can control their own destiny. 
  2. Wealth perspective. They realise that money is the fuel for their dreams, not actual wealth, which includes freedom, independence and discretionary time to pursue interests that excite them.
  3. Presence. They immediately come across as socially adept and confident, not one dimensional. They are fun to be around, not a pain to hang out with. 

 

Actual “Skin In The Game”

Friday, July 27th, 2018

Having “skin in the game” as most people understand it, the amount of personal money at risk, is one of the biggest myths in private company investing. If you are willing to be intellectually honest, it is about the symmetry of risk and reward amongst the key constituents and the personal consequences for each individual after they are done with the investment. Specifically, putting your “neck on the line”, is the sum of four elements: “financial” (impact on personal/professional lifestyle choices), “intellectual” (trust in your intellect and talent), “social” (impact on family, friends, communities and so forth) and “cultural” (impact on the beliefs that inform your attitudes and behaviour). Work that out and you can really see what the actual alignment is, not what people say it is.

© James Berkeley 2018. All Rights Reserved.

Killer Language For Entrepreneurs: Strengths

Sunday, June 3rd, 2018

“Why are you smarter than your peers?” To know your unique strengths, to encapsulate them briefly in a powerful sentence or two, and to place them in the context of your audience’s immediate improvement, is a rare skill. 90% of responses from entrepreneurs are “weak”.

©  James Berkeley 2018. All Rights Reserved.

 

 

Snow Joke

Monday, February 5th, 2018

Climbing out of a snow drift back onto a piste for a first-time skier is hard if you have never done it before, “raising money” from investors is equally hard for a first-time entrepreneur or private equity manager if you have never done it before. I have helped tens of people with both challenges. Yet I run into smart people weekly, who have been a success in the past but refuse to act today like a success when it comes to investing in their own development.

The common factors for success are do you possess the requisite combination of skills, behaviours and expertise to accomplish your goal (climbing a mountain or raising a fund)? If not, can you find someone, who has successfully accomplished what you are seeking to do, and possesses the skills and volition in the real world to help translate and transfer their success to you (qualified expert)? If you can, hire them. If you cannot or even refuse, you are seeing the problem. The pathway is either excessively risky or ambiguous for even experienced individuals or your own behaviour is contributing to your difficulties. Which is it?

© James Berkeley 2018. All Rights Reserved.

Poverty Advice

Wednesday, December 20th, 2017

There is a word for entrepreneurs and small advisory businesses that insist on only rewarding their employees with hard dollars for successful business they can touch, “sharks”. There is a word for employees, who voluntarily accept those terms, “plankton”. You might enjoy, as I do, recreational gambling (horses) for intellectual interest and fun but why would you commit to that bargain when seeking to feed your family? Unless of course, you enjoy living with a constant fear of falling over the cliff edge, are desperate or are merely seeking to find lifestyle work (substantial means). As an entrepreneur, why would you think that is a fast track to building a powerful, sustainable and profitable business? Clueless.

© James Berkeley 2017. All Rights Reserved.