Viewing entries in
Leadership

Green Grass, Gratitude, And Things Being Hard

Anything worth doing is going to be hard. Let me repeat: no matter how simple, easy, or straightforward something appears to be, it will be difficult. In the beginning, it’s just not always obvious why.

How to Sell Anything: An Introductory Guide

Regardless of your business, sales matter. Sales are your organization’s oxygen. They drive the resources that power the business and provide the opportunity for profits. Despite being so critical, sales often take a backseat to sexier topics.

While innovation, culture, and efficiency are key to success, without sales, you’ll always find a failed organization. I’ve sold big contracts to multinational corporations and formed partnerships between startups — and I’ve made mistakes in between. While I’m still learning, my modest ability to sell has provided the breathing room to improve other areas. Here’s my take on sales.

Read More on Medium >

Important Metrics for Small and Mid-Market Companies — Part 3: Team

In an average month, my organization explores around 50 companies for possible investment. We review everything from organizational structure, culture, and financial performance, to sales systems, competitive position, and leadership style. This gives us an unusual vantage point from which to recognize patterns of success, and failure.

Getting data is never the problem. In fact for most executives, information can be overwhelming. Getting accurate data and interpreting it appropriately is an entirely different story.

In The Ceiling of Brute Force, we discussed what operational areas impede a company from continued growth. In a series of posts, we’re going to break down 19 of the most important key performance indicators (KPIs), which demonstrate how effectively the business is being run. Think of KPIs as the canaries in your coal mines. If one starts going south, you know it’s time to take a closer look.

Presented in a five-part series, here’s our take on what you should pay attention to, allowing you to focus your time, effort, and dollars. The five parts are: BasicsCustomers, Team, Operational Efficiency, and Investment. In Part 3, we’re presenting key metrics on the group of people that make your company function: leadership depth, employee tenure, and payroll ratio.

Read More on Medium >

Important Metrics for Small and Mid-Market Companies — Part 2: Customers

In an average month, my organization explores around 50 companies for possible investment. We review everything from organizational structure, culture, and financial performance, to sales systems, competitive position, and leadership style. This gives us an unusual vantage point from which to recognize patterns of success, and failure.

Getting data is never the problem. In fact for most executives, information can be overwhelming. Getting accurate data and interpreting it appropriately is an entirely different story.

In The Ceiling of Brute Force, we discussed what operational areas impede a company from continued growth. In a series of posts, we’re going to break down 19 of the most important key performance indicators (KPIs), which demonstrate how effectively the business is being run. Think of KPIs as the canaries in your coal mines. If one starts going south, you know it’s time to take a closer look.

Presented in a five-part series, here’s our take on what you should pay attention to, allowing you to focus your time, effort, and dollars. The five parts are: Basics, Customers, Team, Operational Efficiency, and Investment. It’s all things customer-oriented in Part 2: customer profitability, average acquisition costs, and concentration.

Read Part 2 on Medium >

Important Metrics for Small and Mid-Market Companies — Part 1: Basics

Getting data is never the problem. In fact for most executives, information can be overwhelming. Getting accurate data and interpreting it appropriately is an entirely different story.

In The Ceiling of Brute Force, we discussed what operational areas impede a company from continued growth. In a series of posts, we’re going to break down 19 of the most important key performance indicators (KPIs), which demonstrate how effectively the business is being run. Think of KPIs as the canaries in your coal mines. If one starts going south, you know it’s time to take a closer look.

Presented in a five-part series, here’s our take on what you should pay attention to, allowing you to focus your time, effort, and dollars. The five parts are: Basics, Customers, Team, Operational Efficiency, and Investment. We’re starting with the essentials in Part 1: market size, cash, and margin.

Read Part 1: Basics on Medium > 

The Ceiling of Brute Force: Small Businesses Don’t Stay Small on Purpose

In an average month, my organization explores around 50 companies for possible investment. We review everything from organizational structure, culture, and financial performance, to sales systems, competitive position, and leadership style. This gives us an unusual vantage point from which to recognize patterns of success, and failure.

As a general rule, small businesses don’t stay small on purpose. Companies “top out” for good reason(s) and rarely because of the business model. Beyond a certain point, sheer effort no longer works to overcome critical challenges. This is the ceiling of brute force. Each company hits it at some point, but the size, specific issues, and level of complexity varies dramatically.

A comprehensive study of organizations by Dunn and Bradstreet concluded that 90% of small business failure was directly attributable to a lack of management expertise. In my humble opinion, that number seems low. If failure occurs, it’s virtually always a fault of leadership. The question is “what kind of fault, and is it preventable?”

Read More on Medium >

The Little Things Impress Me Most

What impresses you? It’s a crucial question, because it says a lot about your goals, values, and purpose. Everyday we compare, evaluate, and judge. We watch others’ decisions, preferences, and outcomes in an effort to optimize our own lives. Yet what we consider to be signal, and noise, is critical to how we adjust our thinking and behavior. Brent shares his thoughts on noise and meaningful effort. 

From 2000+ to 3: Our 2015 Investment Recap

Adventur.es is entering the new year wiser, stronger and a great deal larger. In the course of making 3 late stage acquisitions and 27 early stage investments, the future of adventur.es, and who will contribute to it, became a bit more clear in 2015.

5 Minutes Early Is On Time; On Time Is Late; Late Is Unacceptable

I have a magic pill to sell you. It will help you make more money, be happier, look thinner, and have better relationships. It’s a revolutionary new pharmaceutical product called Late-No-More. Just one dose every day will allow you to show up on time, greatly enhancing your life and the lives of those around you.

All joking aside, being late is unacceptable. While that sounds harsh, it’s the truth and something that should be said more often. I don’t care if you’re attending a dinner party, a conference call, or a coffee meeting – your punctuality says a lot about you.

Why And How Entrepreneurs Should Read Public Company Filings

Good entrepreneurs crave information. They meticulously analyze their industry, competition, and internal data, constantly optimizing for success. But finding reliable and accurate sources is extremely challenging.

After eight years of being an entrepreneur, I can definitively say that most people are full of it. I participated in a peer group that disclosed financials, until I discovered I was apparently the only one not wholesale fabricating the information. I’ve watched acquaintances outright lie to gain admittance to a “fasting growing companies” list. I consistently meet people who are “killing it,” only to be out of business within a short period of time. I’ve had multiple friends get splashy headlines upon their company’s sale only to find out they hardly made a dime. I’ve seen salary data reported that is a far cry from reality. I’ve learned that most are regularly attending the church of “fake it till you make it.”

So where does one turn to get a handle on reality? I’d offer up an unlikely source that has helped me tremendously: the public markets. Once a company is public, the leadership has to frequently report accurate information-or eventually go to prison. They don’t have to tell the whole truth, but what they do disclose must be accurate.

This provides a treasure trove of data points. Want to know the average return on invested capital of your industry peers? What about debt terms, sales trends, or net margins? Ever wondered what risks your company might face, or what “normal” client concentration looks like? It’s all publicly available and just a few clicks away.

For U.S.-listed companies, the first step is to visit sec.gov. In the top-right, click on “Company Filings.” Type in the name, or ticker symbol of the desired company and click “search.” You’ll notice a number of codes that correspond to different filings. Here’s what they mean: 

  • 10-K: This is the annual report and the best place to start. This report will cover the previous full year’s annual performance and contains a tremendous amount of detail about every aspect of the business.
  • 10-Q: This report is filed quarterly and gives a more granular view of the operations. You can monitor trends from report-to-report and see how the business evolves.
  • 8-K: If anything material happens in between 10-Qs, it shows up here. Reviewing these helps build the story and show what’s happening in real time.
  • DEF 14-A: This is called a Proxy Statement and serves as a notification of items for shareholder votes, as well as information about the Board of Directors and executive compensation.
  • Earnings Call: Most companies will host a post-filing call that goes into extended detail and offers an opportunity for analysts, and sometimes shareholders, to ask questions. You can usually find written transcripts of these calls, but listening certainly provides more coloring.

There are more filings, but those are the go-to ones. At a minimum, I’d highly suggest all entrepreneurs check out their public company counterparts. It’s a reliable source for accurate information and might even spark a few ideas. Happy hunting.

This post was originally published on Forbes.