Lessons from Facebook for Entrepreneurs

So the big financial news this week was that Facebook filed it’s IPO.  On Thursday, if you watched the financial news channels, you might have been forgiven for thinking there was no other financial news that day.

As I listened to the news reports and read the articles in The New York Times, I was struck by the little nuggets behind the news about how to be the founder/CEO of an entrepreneurial endeavor.  Not that any of this is new and hasn’t been said a thousand times before, but it always seems worth repeating.  So, I thought I would share with you what leaped out at me.  Perhaps you saw/heard some different things that could also be “lessons from Facebook for entrepreneurs”.

Building a Better ‘First-Time Entrepreneur’

This week I talked with an entrepreneur (no names; no pack drill!) who isn’t happy with the speed with which their business is progressing (come to think of it I’m not sure I’ve ever met an entrepreneur who was happy with their speed of business progress [superemotions file=”icon_biggrin.gif” title=”Big Grin”]) – and, actually, my conversations were with more than one such entrepreneur.

This got me thinking about weaknesses exhibited in the businesses of first-time entrepreneurs, specifically during the period before they get to revenue.  My conversation with this individual covered most of the topics that I’ve detailed below; they are ones that commonly come up in conversations with first-time entrepreneurs (I’m sure you can come up with others!!).

Business planning, not business plans

I usually cringe when I hear an entrepreneur or small business owner talking about writing (or worse, being told to write) a business plan.  The reason I cringe is that, too often, what people mean by “business plan” is some 30+ page Word document that no-one will ever read and which will end up as a dusty binder on a bookshelf, or some forgotten bytes on a dusty hard drive.

Isolation vs. collaboration

In The New York Times’ Sunday Review section (January 15th) the front page opinion article was “The Rise Of the New Groupthink” by Susan Cain.  It was subtitled “Collaboration is in.  But it may not be conducive to creativity.”

As someone who believes in the power of collaboration – it’s part of the name of my company, Collaborative Xceleration – I had to read the article to see if my view of collaboration and creativity needed to be revised.

Would You Want a ‘Fool’ Investing in Your Business?

Recently, in one of the LinkedIn Groups I belong to – Business Owners & Entrepreneurs – Sandra Brevett-Dib posted a link to an article on Forbes.com: ‘Early-Stage Startups Need Friends, Family, and Fools’ by Martin Zwilling.

I posted a comment that, when I talk about the 3Fs, I use the term Fanatics not Fools, because:

“I don’t like the term ‘fools’ when applied to people who are investing in your business – because to me it implies that your business is a foolish one to invest in.  Fanatics are people who love your idea so passionately that they are willing to overlook some things that a ‘professional investor’ may see as dealbreakers.”

That inspired me to talk in more detail here about Fools vs. Fanatics.

Gifts for Your Business?

In many cultures this time of year includes a ritual of gift-giving.

When you think about your business, what gift(s) are you giving to it to make 2012 the best year it can be for your business?  Or, don’t you think your business deserves the same love and attention that you give to your other family members?

Maybe you are starting a new business in the New Year; what gifts will you bestow on your new baby to give it the initial boost it needs as it starts out on the road to success?  And, what gifts – gold? frankincense? myrrh? – might others bring?

Thanksgiving and the Holiday Season 2011

Today is Thanksgiving here in the U.S. Traditionally, it is the start of the year-end holiday season which lasts through the New Year. Many business owners (not those in retail!) see this as a slower time of the year with people distracted by shopping, holiday parties and vacations tacked around the actual holidays. So, if the customer side of your business is slower, maybe it is a good time to spend more time than usual on planning and improving your business.

What Is An Entrepreneur; and Why Does It Matter?

Last month my blog was partly inspired by reading Carol Roth’s The Entrepreneur Equation. This month I’ve been reading Peter Drucker’s Innovation and Entrepreneurship (1985) and Scott Shane’s The Illusions of Entrepreneurship (2008). I must admit that this thematic reading has, in part, been prompted by the LinkedIn question my friend Steve Breitman asked “What do you feel are the biggest small business/entrepreneurship myths?” and the follow-on discussions – particularly with Dave Reading – that have stirred up questions of “what is an entrepreneur?” and what are their characteristics. I am particularly interested in revisiting this question at this time because I’m trying to ensure I understand the entrepreneur market – after all, my current business, and two others that are in the feasibility and planning stage, all target entrepreneurs as their primary market niche.