Cash Flow Management

Cash Flow Management – ENT650

Once you have developed a cash flow forecasting module, management of it is where you can see where your projections meet reality. Cash flow management is like pinching pennies. You pinch today in order to have reserves for tomorrow to handle those shifts in revenue. But even more than just being frugal, Rogers and Makonnen believe that it includes “…making somewhat complicated decisions about delaying payments to a supplier in order to use the cash resources to temporarily increase production.” (2014, pg. 85) A delay in payment will allow you to float cash for a short period of time, but you will run the risk of insolvency by not paying your obligations when due. Inc. suggests that “Insolvency is the primary reason firms go bankrupt; [whereas] efficient cash management means more than just preventing bankruptcy. It improves the profitability and reduces the risk….” There is a tight balancing act between outflows and inflows to ensure proper cash flow management.

Mismanagement of cash flows creates a bundle of problems for start-ups which include inability to: support consumer demand, manage unforeseen costs, limits growth potential and creates a high turnover rate. These are just a few examples of a slow drain on cash flow that dehydrates the lifeline of the business.

In a case study originally conducted by SmartCompany.com.au, Emily Ross gives best practices for managing cash flows in a “Cash flow boot camp checklist.”

  1. Focus on sales and debt management
  2. Create a cash flow boot camp checklist with clear payment terms
  3. Find a great accountant for daily monitoring
  4. Chase early, not later by setting clear payments goals
  5. Communicate, communicate, communicate – be transparent when talking fees
  6. Get disciplined by issuing timely and correct invoices with follow-up
  7. Hedge your bets with a mixture of long and short term payments
  8. Spread out payments to decrease default of total debt owed
  9. Take further action with debt collections

I believe Inc. sums the cash flow management task when it suggests, “The key to successful cash management, therefore, lies in tabulating realistic projections, monitoring collections and disbursements, establishing effective billing and collection measures, and adhering to budgetary restrictions.” For a new entrepreneur, enlisting the help of an account or accounting software with help to manage cash flows so that you can make profitable decisions about funding your business.

RESOURCES

Cash Management. (n.d.). Retrieved September 21, 2017, from https://www.inc.com/guides/finance/cashmanagement.html

Rogers, S., & Makonnen, R. (2014). Entrepreneurial finance: finance and business strategies for the serious entrepreneur. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.

Ross, E. (n.d.). Entrepreneurs reveal their cash flow advice. Retrieved September 21, 2017, from http://www.business.vic.gov.au/case-studies/entrepreneurs-reveal-their-cash-flow-advice

 

Cash Flow Forecasting

Cash Flow Forecasting-ENT 650

Financing for your company can be determined by preparing a cash flow forecast. Your financial needs can be managed much better when this forecast in place. “The forecast will tell you if your business will have enough cash to run the business or pay to expand it. It will also show you when more cash is going out of the business, than in.” (Business Victoria, 2017) Financing needs can change due to short term growth such as holiday or seasonal sales and long-term development for expansion due to demand which also will require an increase in employees. Repairs or new equipment also need to be taken into consideration. (Rogers & Makonnen, 2014)

Forecasting is about the future. Your future sustainability and your future growth. Forecasting for an existing business starts with the previous year’s sales. For a start-up, an estimation or assumptions will be used. By estimating all your expenses or outgoing cash, you will be have a better picture of the sales or capital needed to cover the expenses. A three to five year plan is a good start.

Outflows and Inflows will look different for the type of business. Below are just a few considerations for each category given by Business Victoria.

OUTFLOWS INFLOWS
Operation expenses Rebates and refunds
New assets Owner investment
Loan repayments External grant funding
Payments to owners Sale of assets
Investing surplus funds Royalties

Once you determine what capital is needed, another important consideration is when to obtain it. Rogers and Makonnen offer two common practices-Series of Funding and All Funding at One Time. Series is getting “only what you need year to year… [and All Funding] is that you should get the maximum that you will need at once.”(2017, pg. 84) Both offer uncertainties, but the determination is based on the confidence you have in the forecasts.

Accuracy in forecasting is crucial for cash flow management. You are not only looking at the inflows and outflows, but also timing. Your projections determine your success and growth. Part of the process also includes checking actual results with what has been projected, which we will take a closer look at in the Cash flow management blog.

Resources to help you manage this process include software packages like Quick Books and Excel Templates.

RESOURCES

State Government of Victoria. (2017, July 21.) Cash flow forecasting. Retrieved September 20, 2017, from http://www.business.vic.gov.au/money-profit-and-accounting/getting-paid-on-time/cash-flow-statement-projection-with-template

Rogers, S., & Makonnen, R. (2014). Entrepreneurial finance: finance and business strategies for the serious entrepreneur. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.

Bank On You

The life-line for creating a successful start-up entails securing capital. Be it your money or someone else’s, the financing of your big idea or dream translates into cash flow-in and out. Maybe you have been saving for this new venture or you are enlisting financial support from venture capitalists or angel investors. Another alternative funding source could derive from a financial institution. Any external funding support will require that you prove your ability to be trusted in order for risk to be taken by others. You can risk your own money at your expense, but when you enlist the help of others, your dream becomes their expense or profit.

You, the entrepreneur are the key factor for debt or equity financing. What makes an entrepreneur attractive for risk? “Ideally, investors prefer people who have both entrepreneurial and specific industry experience.” (Rogers and Makonnen, 2014, pg. 2) Investors are more comfortable with those who have the know–how to make it work. It is similar to applying for a job. The employer may require a certain degree level and years of experience or the years of experience in lieu of the degree. They want to see a proven track record of success.

RATING EXPEREINCE
A Entrepreneurship and industry
B Entrepreneurship or industry
C No entrepreneurship or industry

Table 1-1 (pg. 2)

 

Investors rate entrepreneurs with an A, B, or C depending on experience. The table above taken shows how these ratings are determined. An A rating is given to a person who has “…experience as an owner or even an employee of an entrepreneurial firm and also experience in the industry that the company will compete in.” B rated entrepreneurs “…have experience either in entrepreneurship or in industry, but not both.” (pg. 2) The C rating, which is least desirable, with no entrepreneurial or industry experience, sends a red-flag to investors. No history in business says that you are still a dreamer.

Position yourself for favorable outcomes. The life of your business depends on your expertise. A race car only experiences the checkered flag because of the driver’s practice, passion, and pursuit. Even though a race car only has a seat for one, the help of the pit crew (management team) creates a winning situation for everyone. But it is you, the driver, which everyone is banking on to come across the finish line first. Bank on you to make the business successful and others will bank on you too.

RESOURCE

Rogers, S., & Makonnen, R. (2014). Entrepreneurial finance: finance and business strategies for the serious entrepreneur. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.

Who’s Driving Your Bus?

 

 

I have this saying “who’s driving your bus?” There are many people and things vying for our time which can not be redeemed. Are you true to yourself, your vision and your dreams? Stagnation creeps in, and you stop chasing dreams with moving parts and uncontrollable variables that push you out of your recliner into unknown risk. Every day that we decide to be present, whether in our homes, at work or in the marketplace we take risks. There are relationship risks (do they like me, am I funny enough, will they call me back). We take business risks (today I am going to stand for what is right and not for what is profitable). Alternatively, we ignore health risks (our internal alarm warning us of hidden dangers under our skin). Whoever or whatever gets the most attention is driving. Where are you going? Only time will tell. That is a lie for time cannot be recaptured. It just keeps slipping away.

Time is an “un-renewable currency.” Dr. Johnathan Welton, founder of the Welton Academy Supernatural Bible School, author and lecturer, believes, “All cultures and societies have currency, whether it is paper money or a barter/exchange system, at the root of it all is time. He calls it “Time-Wealth.” (2017, Welton) There are four stages of time-wealth that feed into entrepreneurship: selling your time, selling your knowledge, creating investments, and receiving inheritance.

Selling your time is working for an hourly wage. “When a sixteen-year-old wants to buy a $1000 car to get around town, typically he must get an hourly job …$10 a hour, the hours of his life are bought from him….” One hundred hours equal a hooptie. Selling your knowledge consists of gaining knowledge that “can be sold at a much higher rate than selling your time directly. For example, this would be a lawyer, author, doctor, mechanic, etc., essentially all specialized knowledge.” Creating investments, “…can provide a lot more time and freedom for the individual that is living in the knowledge level. By finding a way to create a system where paper money begets more paper money, this creates Time-Wealth because the money is making more of itself without time being used to create it.” Moreover, finally receiving an inheritance is generated from the creating investments. “[It] only comes because someone previous has gone through the first three levels, then they have passed the investments to the next generation without that generation having to go through the first three levels themselves” (Welton).

This time wealth model moves us from wage earner to entrepreneur for our children to imitate! We are teaching the next generation how to obtain wisdom to secure their future by our actions? We are providing a platform for leadership and business.

I found three character traits from Micha Kaufman’s article 10 Traits for Great Business Leaders (2014) that can help one get back in the driver’s seat and better manage time. Since we all can identify with our passion, the trait I will start with is a Singular Vision. Our many talents are not meant to be explored all at once. Kaufman says, “It all starts with an idea. Howard Schultz envisioned a single brand with coffeehouses across the globe. He turned that dream into a reality and founded Starbucks.” The next important driver trait would be Persistence. We have to keep it moving forward until that vision or dream is out of your head and in the homes of millions. “In the 1890s, Henry Ford came up with the Ford Quadricycle …it wasn’t a success. Ford later founded the Ford Motor F +0.00% Company [;] invented the Model T…, “and the rest is history. Finally and what I saw as most the most important trait, Can’t Get No Satisfaction. The sky is not the limit. There are countless galaxies beyond what we see. “Great business leaders are never satisfied and continually strive to take their business to the next level. As Ingvar Kamprad, the founder of IKEA, said, ‘The most dangerous poison is the feeling of achievement. The antidote is to every evening think what can be done better tomorrow'” (Kaufman). We were created to solve problems! We should be in relentless pursuit of problems to be solved.

The course of your life is in your hands. The decisions you make to take control of it and your time will change your life and others around you. Ultimately our perception and focus have to change. Our understanding gives us conviction, hope and determination to be doers. Our focus keeps us on track. One idea or invention can mean the difference between poverty or prosperity; mediocre or marvelous; and average or anomalous. Energy, money even our youth is renewable, but the one thing we cannot get back is time. Don‘t continue to let time and wealth fade into the distance.

Resources

Kaufman, M. (2014, September 08). 10 Traits Of Great Business Leaders. Retrieved June 22, 2017, from https://www.forbes.com/sites/michakaufman/2014/09/05/10-traits-of-great-business-leaders/#118279f12dc7.

Welton, J. (2017, May 25). The Four Levels of Time Wealth. Retrieved June 10, 2017, from https://weltonacademy.com/blogs/jonathanwelton.

 

Let’s Make a Deal

ENT640 – Winning Angels -Negotiating

Last Friday night I had the opportunity to watch some television. The remote is not the first thing I grab if I have some down town. Usually it’s closing my eyes. As I scrolled, I came across SHARK TANK (ABC). I call it the 20th century let’s make a deal. It is motivating to see how they all came from humble beginnings, yet with perseverance are now the shot callers to make dreams come true. They all have different personalities yet their commonality make each one a force to be reckoned with when it comes to negotiating.

Amis and Stevenson believe, “How you think about negotiation is important not only because it impacts the terms, price, and overall structure of the deal, but also because it is a prelude to the highly interdependent relationship formed between the investor and the entrepreneur.” (2001, pg. 225) At the end of a deal, the investor gives the entrepreneurs a hug instead of just handshakes. Even though negotiations usually involve “structure (terms), price, amount of capital that will be invested and role,” the entering of personal space with an embrace points to a deeper relationship than just clicking a button to invest. (p. 225)

Amis and Stevenson tell us to consider “your preferred role, time availability, preferred relationship with the entrepreneur, whether you are the lead investor, and the amount of capital you tend to invest” for determining your negotiation strategy. (pg.225) Last night’s episode brought a few deals where young and eager entrepreneurs already had lead investors. I saw how a good deal was no longer attractive because of their secondary position. Of course at that point there was no relationship with the entrepreneur and the amount of capital was not a huge concern. The timing of when an investor receives the return-on-invest (ROI) is crucial to the deal. It’s a difference to wait and be first in line, but to wait and to be second is not an attractive view for the risk.

I watched as the interested investors negotiated the terms rather than the price and deals were at $100,000, which is change for a millionaire. “By giving the entrepreneur their own proposed terms, it should be hard for them to regret it later.” (pg. 226) Here again we are looking at relationship. But that relationship does not trump ROI. Of the four investors at least two “take a pass” leaving them to drill down until they strike water or pull out beforehand. The investors do exactly as Amis and Stevenson propose when taking a pass. They let them know with “positive feelings about the project (rejection is always a sensitive undertaking) along with whatever issues led [them] to [their] conclusion.” (pg. 227) And they do it with a smile; it’s not personal, just business.

Negotiating is like a work of art. The entrepreneur brings the canvas and the brush bidding the investor to provide the paint for their picture. But are the colors right to make this a masterpiece that they envisioned? Or will there be compromising to make this vision a tangible offering in the marketplace? Only the entrepreneur can decide.

Resources

Amis, D., & Stevenson, H. H. (2001). Winning angels: the seven fundamentals of early-stage investing. London: Financial Times Prentice Hall.

Burnett, M. (Producer). (2017, June 16). Shark Tank [Television series episode]. In Shark Tank. ABC.

 

Creating Win-Win Situations

ENT640 – Winning Angels – Structuring

“Structuring the deal is a key aspect of completing an angel round of financing. It is critical to ensuring that management, employees, past investors, current investors and future investors are all satisfied with the company under its new capital structure.” (2007, Koss)

How do I create win-win situations when structuring a deal? Amis and Stevenson tend to think that “both enlightened and so-called virgin angels think that structure doesn’t matter too much.” (2001, pg. 182) Trust is the anchor or they reserve to preserve the relationship instead being a hard-noise.

What does a win-win or “sensible deal” look like? Questions to ponder:

Is it simple? Think of the document like a resume-one or two pages is enough. “…complicated structures create more work and less flexibility down the road.” (pg. 206) The courtship will end if the exchange is too complicated. Is it fair? Structure can be used to limit the entrepreneurs exit and to ensure that they are on course. Is there a reflection of trust or verbiage? Here again we reflect on trust in the relationship which will show transparency instead of terminology that confuses and even deters the deal. Is it robust enough to weather a slight differentiation in the plan? Is there a perverse incentive section to cause all involved to behave badly? (pg. 182) Remember the relationship for the greater gain.Structuring is about equity ownership. A lesson in stock options… “Equity ownership structures commonly used are common stock, preferred stock, participating preferred stock, and convertible notes. Preferred stock is distinguished from common stock when the company goes bankrupt or undergoes liquidation. Then the preferred stock holders have priority in getting their invested capital back, along with any unpaid dividends (known as a preferred return), before the common stock holders receive any distributions. In contrast to preferred stockholders, participating preferred stockholders will be repaid their original investment plus any unpaid dividends upon liquidation, and then share in the remaining assets as if they held common stock. Thus, the participating preferred stockholders still earn a return, even if common stockholders realize little or no return. Convertible preferred shares are able to be converted to common shares at a predefined conversion rate. They perform like a note by providing downside protection for the investor because they have preferred status and the option to convert to common stock provides upside.” (Koss)

The key to structuring is equity departure on the part of the entrepreneur. How much equity you are willing to share will affect future aspects of your business.

Resources

Amis, D., & Stevenson, H. H. (2001). Winning angels: the seven fundamentals of early-stage investing. London: Financial Times Prentice Hall.

Koss, A. (2007, July). Best Practice Guidance for Angel Groups-Deal Structure and Negotiation. Retrieved June 18, 2017, from http://www.angelcapitalassociation.org/data/Documents/Resources/AngelCapitalEducation/ACEF_BEST_PRACTICES_Deal_Structuring.pdf

Preparing for the Dive

ENT640 – Winning Angels – Valuing

The five stages of early investing as proposed by Amis and Stevenson in Winning Angels are:

  1. Quick and Easy
  2. Academic/investment banker
  3. Professional venture capitalist
  4. Compensated advisor

As a novice angel investor, I want to dive into the quick and easy method, not just because of the name, but more so because of the description- “…to resolve the challenge of early stage investing: the lack of information, the high level of unpredictability, the need to move with relative speed, and the need to garner a significant share of the upside.” (2001, pg. 148) I want to consider venturing with the $5m limit and the rule of thirds method.

You may have $2,000 – $2,000,000 to invest, but one thing should be established…what is your threshold to invest and stick with it. The bottom line will focus your investments. The amount is irrelevant because “…the end value of the company determines your return as a multiplier of the amount invested.” (pg. 149) The upside, a one out of ten ratio will allow you to recoup your initial investment. The downside is determining how much is too much to invest.

With this method you don’t waste time. My mind goes back to vacation time share presentations. You sit through this hour and a half spill even though you either are not going to buy into the great escape, or you know how much you are willing to invest. I have been to enough of them to know that after all the packages, they go speak to someone with authority and power to make that $5000-$7000 deal with deferred maintenance fees every other year. Bingo! Now it’s attractive and affordable. But it took almost three hours of your life to make the deal; time wasted. The quick and easy approach doesn’t even let you step in the building or give an ear to what is over your risk tolerance point.

How much time do you have for a due diligence recliner? “‘Angels don’t have as much leeway to do due diligence that would get them comfortable with high valuation.’ ” (pg. 150) The rule of thirds method gives you a reasonable gain measure and yet it is still not time consuming. You don’t want to get lost in the numbers unless you like crunching them or have someone on your team with the skillset. The upside, fewer moving parts. The split is between founders, investors and management. The downside, “the line between founders and management is not always so clear and founders often have high personal value perceptions.” (pg.150)  The perceptions skew the reality of the truth-this is not worth what you think it is; there is clearly a plank in your eye.

Your approach fit will depend on your risk tolerance, which can change with your upside experiences. The most important factor is to begin. Learn to swim in the angel investment waters then try diving then flipping. Your experience will increase your depth and return on investment.

Resources

Amis, D., & Stevenson, H. H. (2001). Winning angels: the seven fundamentals of early-stage investing. London: Financial Times Prentice Hall.

A “High Potential Opportunity” in the Making

ENT640 Winning Angels – Evaluating

Amis and Stevenson (2001) hold to four elements that create a perfect opportunity as offered by William Sahlman and Howard called the Harvard framework. One missing link and failure looms from all your efforts. “The investment opportunity [is] an interconnected combination of four elements: people, context, business opportunity, deal.” (pg. 75-77)

People are made up of key players: the entrepreneur, management team and stakeholders. From the outset the creator “has more freedom to mess up, save it, bring it to boil, or take it onwards, than [he or] she will ever have again.” (pg. 81) This is their baby, and if they are not a veteran parent, there will be casualties of parenting along the way. As a start-up entrepreneur, these same casualties will be opportunities to mold experiences that will bring the project into maturity and success. They are hands on everything in the beginning so the angel investor banks on the entrepreneur. They will pay particular attention to “their goals, their knowledge and their capabilities.” (pg. 81)

Key questions for the investor (pg. 83-84):

  1. What are the underlying goals and are they relevant?
  2. Do they know this business and are they respected by their peers?
  3. Can they do it and get others to do it?

The management team is the vehicle aimed at forward movement. When a management team is in place, you can assign another degree of confidence in the investment. Expertise by these members should translate into “relevant skill set[s].” (pg.87)

“Stakeholders (angel investors, advisors, board members, venture capitalist, customers and suppliers) are important because they can have a major impact on value creation and perception.” (pg.89) Do you see what I see through a lens of worth and growth? A trusted name supporting an endeavor will create trust in the market.

The context is joined at the hip with the opportunity. It includes: “economy, technology development, regulation, and stage of industry.” (pg. 99) And don’t forget the competitors. You can marry an opportunity when “you understand the fundamental business and that all of the big questions have been answered.” (pg. 91)

Key questions for the investor (pg. 92-97):

  1. Does the business model show how you obtain, keep and serve customers for profit?
  2. Where are the customers, ready and eager to obtain the product or service?
  3. Is the timing right for purchase?
  4. What is the return-on-investment in direct relation to the size of the company?

Now we are ready to deal – price and structure. Putting price on the table first is “one of the easiest methods to eliminate the deal.” Structure can make or break the deal as well. It includes investment terms, board control, or management team limitations “…directly impacts the likelihood and the size of the harvest events.” (pg. 104)

From the seed (people) to planting and growth (context), to maturity (the opportunity) and finally the offering (the deal), an investor must balance the investment of time as well as money. The evaluating stage is the courtship that can be like speed dating when you lay your cards on the table of what your intentions for investing are or it can be a slow dance to access risk. Either scenario can yield a profitable harvest.

 Resources

Amis, D., & Stevenson, H. H. (2001). Winning angels: the seven fundamentals of early-stage investing. London: Financial Times Prentice Hall.

“How will you invest your time in order to invest your capital?”

ENT640-Winning Angels-Sourcing

I believe angel investing has a core of passion that vibrates or ripples outward to others. That ripple is just enough to move an entrepreneur forward along a still stream, a dead calm, or a cold silence where one act of favor gives light and sound.

So how do I cast my rock into the pond? How do I make it skip across the water to multiple pockets of investments? In their book, Winning angels, the 7 fundamentals of early stage investing, Amis & Stevenson suggest four categories of sourcing activities that will help you create a strategy that will guide you on “how to invest your time in order to invest your capital.” (2001, pg. 34) These activities are preparation, networking, visibility and focus. (pg. 35) As a newbie, if I could start with one doable activity from each category, I can start my ripple effect.

The preparation activity of writing (and distributing) a one pager gets you on the map. When you can articulate your position, you are more likely to gain success in a particular area. This one pager “describes what you are interested in and what you are willing to consider.” (pg. 37) You are not writing a narrative here but instead giving your direct position on what you are willing to do, who you are willing to do it with and how you are willing to do it. Focused deals are the easy deals. This one pager brings start-up entrepreneurs to your pond.

The networking activity of personal meetings with bankers, lawyers, and venture capitalists is a great avenue since I spent 18 years in the financial industry. I can recall the times when bankers could not partner with new start-ups because of so many lacks-credit history with the bank or good credit, sustainable cash flow, assets, etc. Nerdwallet suggests six reasons why businesses are rejected for small business loans to include: bad or no credit; lack of collateral; weak cash flow; lack of preparation, seeking small loans (under $100,000); and risk averse bank. (Nykiel, 2015) This networking activity gives focus to a preparation activity by filling the gap for start-up funding under $100, 000. Even if that number is reduced, it will still fill a need. I liken it to the secondary lenders like where the interest is high but the deal can be done without with less stringent qualifiers. Networking gives you a steady stream of referrals.

Let’s get Visible, Visible by talking. Amis & Stevenson suggest giving an interview, speeches or writing a book. (pg. 43-47) Remember you don’t have to be the expert for everyone. You have to be the solution for your niche. This type of visibility also creates a ripple for you to gain more engagements which increase your networking circle. How many times have you thought or said “I could write a book on…” Your speaking engagements will be the retail spot for your book. People like to take the tangible home to review and duplicate the processes of success. The brain can’t absorb it all, but literature is a lifelong teacher and refresher.

And finally you will need focus activities and tactics. By narrowing your scope to one or two areas, you can better target your investing. It goes back to passion for me. I have a passion for the arts and I know I want to cause ripples in that industry. I believe the arts is the focus industry, but I can skip my rock amongst any of the artist expressions.

There is no perfect pond except for the one that you create for others. As an angel investor, sourcing puts your eye and heart on the group of entrepreneurs for you to have a life changing influence that makes their dream a reality.

Resources

Amis, D., & Stevenson, H. H. (2001). Winning angels: the seven fundamentals of early-stage investing. London: Financial Times Prentice Hall.

Nykiel, T. (2015, May 13). 6 Reasons Businesses Are Rejected for Small Business Loans. Retrieved May 21, 2017, from https://www.nerdwallet.com/blog/small-business/6-reasons-businesses-rejected-small-business-loans/

Company Building-Internal and External Customers

The final stage in The Four Steps to the Epiphany: Successful Strategies for Products That Win is Company Building. Just to recap, the first three stages focused on discovering and understanding your customers, validating sales through the Earlyvangelists, and creating and sustaining a market for the product or service. This stage adds key internal factors.

Blank suggests three ways for a company to evolve from a startup to a major company:

  1. Build a mainstream customer base beyond the first earlyvangelist customers
  2. Build the company’s organization, management, and culture to support greater scale
  3. Create fast-response departments to sustain the climate of learning and discovery that got the company to this stage (2013, pg. 211)

The early stages focus on the customer, but in this stage focus is share with the organization and its culture. “Most startups don’t give much thought to organization and culture, and if they do, it may have something to with Friday beer bashes, refrigerators full of soft drinks, or an iconoclastic founder.” (pg. 214) This bureaucracy translates into “…a hierarchical, command-driven management style, process-driven decision-making, an HR driven employee handbook, and an ‘execution’ mindset.” (pg. 214) The culture extends beyond what it done, but how things are done. It creates the very threading to perception, policies, and the politics of an organization.

In this stage, the company becomes “mission critical rather than process oriented.” (Brown, 2012) Blank further expounds, “For mission-centric management to work, you need to ensure the intentions of all missions (corporate and departmental) are understood, not just by a few key executive, but everyone, top to bottom, in the company.” (Pg. 250)

Think back to your previous work experiences. How well were you orientated with the company? In banking, I was oriented by key people in the organization and in the departments. In academia, my first day was with a computer. The difference was like night and day. I can say that I felt more a part of a team in the former than the latter. What type of culture are you creating for you company and how is that culture perceived by employees? This Customer Develop Models pours so much time and energy into the external customers, please don’t forget to pour into your internal customers as well.

The Four Steps to the Epiphany: Successful Strategies for Products That Win is a great resource for growing a startup. I found that my SME used these stages without even knowing it. They have a successful restaurant and catering business that began with Customer Discovery; literally going door to door to businesses. The potential customers didn’t know they had a problem, but the city did lack restaurants. It took five years to actually move into what is now the restaurant site, but they would take nothing for this fifteen year journey of success!

Resources

Blank, Steven G. The Four Steps to the Epiphany: Successful Strategies for Products That Win. 2nd ed. California: Steve Blank, 2013.

Brown, P. (2012, June 03). The Four Steps to the Epiphany [Review]. Retrieved February 28, 2017, from http://culttt.com/2012/02/27/the-four-steps-to-the-epiphany-review/

ENT 601 Reflections Week 8