What Are You Missing? Start-up executives can become too close to the project, to busy managing the minutia, and stretched too thin due to lack of staff, time and financial resources to notice the flaws in their plans. In most cases, the work is extremely hard and requires numerous, long hours that turn into days and then turn into months. It becomes difficult for the Founders, and executives to stay focused on the critical tactics and strategies necessary to lift their company to the next phase in growth.
Meetings with trouble-shooting Consultants or venture Coaches can help Founders navigate through the challenging times and rough waters of launching a startup. Experienced Consultants know how to walk the fine line between enthusiastically recognizing the business model and market potential while offering critical consulting advice and strategic planning. Founders need to recognize that the Consultant’s analysis and criticism is a strategic necessity for the realization of the company’s short term and long term potential. Moreover, a good Consultant will be able to quickly assess the strengths and weaknesses of the plan and zone in to recognize the problems or blockages – good Consultants are natural trouble shooters and problem solvers. Founders need to recognize when their plans are not being realized and take the risk by hiring and paying for an outsider who can become a part-time addition to the company’s strategic capital.
In a recent meeting with confident and enthusiastic Founders of a promising startup business, let’s call it The Glick Company, and myself (a business venture consultant), it became evident that the Glick’s Founders were overlooking and not performing on several critical issues in their plan.
In this case, the Glick executives had an incomplete product launch and capital strategy. They were busy working on the product refinements and hoping for one large customer that they were not paying attention other critical problems. Collectively, the Founders could not “see” some of the problems that were blocking the progress of their company. One of the two Founders determined outside advice was critical for the company to reach its potential. Many of the strategic pieces were in place, but the firm lacked the cohesive tactical and execution plan in several areas.
After a meeting and several telephone calls, the consultant identified that the Glick Founders had not tested the product in the marketplace, put together any other pricing or marketing strategies (besides the one large deal), did not have a strong capitalization plan in place and were not aware of how to take advantage and re-position their strengths for an upcoming investors meeting. There were workable solutions to their challenges, but it took an outsider to recognize the challenges and provide a vision and a plan for the executive management team to follow.
During the two hour meeting between the Glick Founders and the Consultant, the payoff was recognizing what was not working and how to avoid additional, future problems.
The meeting ended with several new ideas, plans and strategies for the Glick team to implement. The product was to be tested in the market place; the Founders would have very useful and accurate feedback from a qualified focus group. Marketing materials outlining the features and benefits of their product were going to be developed. The Glick sales team was to begin marketing the product to the top 1000 qualified buyers to try to obtain Letters of Intent and fill the manufacturing pipeline. Back up manufacturers in place were to be found and pricing guidelines and models were to be implemented. We determined ways to best present the company, the team strengths and the progress at an upcoming investors meeting to ask for additional capital investments. Each of the solutions became milestones towards the progress of launching the product in the marketplace.
Would this outcome have been the same without hiring a Consultant or a Coach? It is hard to say, but the Glick team was extremely pleased with the time and money spent working through some of their strategic challenges and determining new solutions to existing problems. Within a week after the meeting, I received a email from the Founder stating that the investor meeting went well and additional capital was raised. This was the best news I could hope for….