Your Most Valuable Resource

When I ask entrepreneurs what their most valuable resource is, I ALWAYS get one of two responses: money (aka – funding, cash) or people.  And it’s hard to argue about the relative importance of these two things.  But those resources are replaceable.  There’s another resource that isn’t, and it’s Time.  Time is an entrepreneur’s most valuable resource and is the subject of this article.  Given the various other tools and resources you have, how can you maximize time?  Let’s explore further.

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Importance of the Time-to-Value Metric

time to valueWhat do buying a new smartphone and being given a gift card have in common?  In both cases you want to extract value as soon as possible.  With the gift card you immediately want to go shopping and with the new smartphone you immediately want to port over your contacts and download your favorite apps so you can start using it.

The same thing happens when subscription-based companies sell their offering to a new customer.  This article describes the all-important time-to-value (TTV) metric and the various ways it can be measured.

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Expanding Beyond Your Home Market (Marketplaces)

Flight MapSome online marketplaces that have a local services component on one side of the marketplace carry an extra burden that “pure” online marketplaces don’t have.  Such marketplaces can’t immediately gain broad geographic coverage for their offering.  Examples, include transportation network companies (ie – Uber, Lyft), food delivery services (ie – GrubHub, Postmates), in-home cooking services, on demand photography services and many other types of services that aren’t easily on-boarded into the marketplace and activated without some local presence by the marketplace company itself.

This phenomenon creates an extra burden when trying to scale after initial business model validation and that, in turn, creates an extra burden when trying to convince investors to put their money into the company.  If you have such a company, read on because in this article I describe some key things to consider and possible approaches to take when devising your market expansion plan.

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Your First Board Meeting

first board meetingWhen you first incorporated as a C-corporation, probably only you and your co-founder were named as board members. You never really had official meetings or voted on anything, that you were aware of. Your attorney would have you sign some documents from time to time but you didn’t pay much attention to them. After some time and some success, you raised an equity round of funding from a VC and one thing they required was a board seat and quarterly board meetings. Now it’s time for the first board meeting and you’re having a mild panic attack because you don’t know what to expect or how to prepare. And you certainly don’t want to embarrass yourself in front of your new VC investor.

This article is just for you. I’ll describe typical participants, presentation topics, formalities, common courtesies and other administrative activities associated with board meetings. Let’s get started.

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10 Tips for Controlling Legal Costs

controlling legal costsIt’s amazing how quickly legal costs can add up. If you’re running a startup, it’s possible that your legal costs are second or third highest amongst all of your expenses. And just like medical bills, they always seem to be higher than you imagined possible. Even if you don’t like the lawyer you are using, you know you can’t do without one. So what can you do to control your legal costs? Here are 10 ideas to try.

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Visualizing the Interactions Between CAC, Churn and LTV

CAC Churn and LTVAnyone that has taken an accounting class or learned basic business financials knows the interaction between key elements of a P&L (revenue, cost, expense) and a balance sheet (assets, liabilities, equity).  But it’s surprising to me how many companies with recurring/subscription revenue don’t understand the interactions between the elements that make up customer acquisition cost (CAC), churn and lifetime value (LTV).  There are other important operational metrics to help steer your company (see related article titled “You Never Know What Operational Metrics You’ll Need – So Instrument Everything“) but these are some of the first to start with.

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MBOs Demystified

MBO bonusCertain roles in the company call for a bonus as part of the total compensation plan.  But what criteria should be used for determining the bonus payout?  Common choices include company-level, department-level, individual or some combination of these.  These are different from sales commission plans (see related article titled “5 Golden Rules for Setting Sales Compensation Plans“) and are commonly called Management By Objectives (MBOs).  The original concept of the MBO was introduced by Peter Drucker decades ago.  And although the way MBO bonus plans are administered has evolved over time, it is still is an important part of many management systems today.  This article will explain the basic components of an MBO bonus plan and some tips for administering them.  I’ve also included an MBO template for you to use.

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