Grow Up Before You Grow

This is the lesson I have picked from 2016. It’s relevant for both investors and entrepreneurs. I’m actually surprised we haven’t taken this unbreakable yet simple truth more seriously in the past and moreover nowadays when venture capital money is abundant. People throw off tons of cash like it’s party time (1999 again would say the pessimistic click bait hunters). Large amounts are raised, that entrepreneurs can’t handle, that startups don’t really need. All this under the bold statement that growth requires to consume cash to create more value in a shorter period of time than the ordinary course of business.

This is certainly true.
But I wish it could be that simple…

Most founders don’t learn (or too late) their lessons and get lost. They’re sucked up into a cursed tornado where their daily agenda meets growth, high expectations and ambiant noise from stakeholders.

They hire with voodoo style, they take blind decisions with no framework, they run their business with no clue about the economics of their business, their sight of the future is either too limited or too spread out... Long story short, they lack clarity of vision and execution, struggling to build a discipline that allows them to learn and grow with velocity, excellence and talent.

One solution is to provide a decent set of basic yet powerful resources/learnings from day one. That’s what we do at Kima Ventures with our Onboarding Set even though I must admit this is useless if entrepreneurs don’t comply with it. Another solution is to send operating partners like Serena Capital does with Amélie Faure for instance to structure and build a consistent, performing organisation. But it isn’t easy to find an operating partner who has both the experience from the past and the flexibility/understanding of the present to structure young companies & founders.

Many investors will disagree. They will tell you how much time they pass to support and help their entrepreneurs. Truth is, time itself has no value. You want the best person to help you out in a mission, not necessarily your investor. You don’t want to exclusively rely on the biased view of your investors (emotionally involved, conflicted, frustrated by their position), you want genuine interactions. You don’t want to be assisted, you want to be supported. Investors provide capital, network effect and alter ego. Remember that.

Now, let’s install this 3-steps patch first for 2017. And take it from there…

  • Go inbox zero, at least twice a week. If you’re not even able to do that, this is simply ridiculous, just so we’re clear…
  • Learn to hire and manage the right way. It’s all about the people, always, and forever. Everything about it is in our onboarding set if you’re looking for resources to help you get started.
  • Know your data. Everything about the economics and the key performance indicators of your business must be known by heart, precisely, consistently. Men lie, women lie, data don’t lie. Many entrepreneurs learn this lesson the very hard way.

Don’t let yourself screwed up by too much money in the bank account. Put it at work wisely. Remember that you’re the only one responsible for the fate of your company. You’re both the parent and the child of your company, run it while you learn and vice versa.

Happy New Year :)