March 16, 2009
Entrepreneurs: Making It Up & Making It Happen
At GTD this week, David Allen's Getting Things Done conference, the sessions of most interest were not so much on the methodology behind it although incredibly useful at times, but the sessions on serial entrepreneurs and creativity.
In Entrepreneurs and GTD: Making It Up and Making It Happen, we heard from Peter Gallant, Buzz Bruggeman, Frode Odegard, John de Souza and Bruce Somers. Questions posed included: has GTD methodology set you back? Guy Kawasaki says "start before you're ready. If you have an idea, do it."
Two chief characteristics in all successful people Buzz has seen over the years are discipline and focus. In other words, they didn't allow themselves to get distracted. GTD is partially about getting rid of distractions and focusing on what's important yet in a world where the hype around Twitter is moving towards the level of hype around Google in some circles, we're talking about a world with more distractions than anything else. And, being okay with it, leveraging it to your advantage rather than the other way around.
"When you're an entrepreneur, its not if your business plan will change, its when. Pricing, ideas, product will all change. The discipline means preparing and being ready to hit it on the mark," he says.
We ask the panel and later the room, has your values and perspective changed because of the recession?
Peter says, "when we started our business, there were two others who have raised $10M+ and they've now closed their doors. We're still going. Recession forces discipline and if you don't have a lot of money, you get disciplined about where and how to spend it." In other words, crisis takes away all the options. Or almost all.
Another perspective is looking for partners, and as soon as you get a clearing, you can go back to the table and look at where you were stuck before and things may have shifted.
A general theme was naturally: adapt or die. One example cited was the move from software in a box to software as a service. Things are moving too quickly now to wait 2-3 months to close a large enterprise deal in the old model.
On things learned and what to do right: picking good people and raising smart money. The other piece of advice: don't hire people like yourself. You need different people with different functions, which helps you avoid a lot of mistakes.
On things the panelists fear most? "Can I really trust these people I may sign a deal with? Can I read them correctly? A lot of times in business when you're operating at the edges of a process, you constantly ask yourself: are these people really telling me the truth or not? Another worries about hiring the wrong 'senior person.' Talk about wasted cycles I quietly thought to myself, remembering a number of my own experiences in agencies and with clients.
There was also fear about whether there's truth to serious interest from a prospect and how to gauge that. "When someone says we're serious, that means that the deal is done. You believe that seriousness into a closed sale and think 'onto the next deal,' says Buzz. In fact, moving onto the next deal after that intial handshake rarely happens, at least not quickly.
Recession or not, bottom line is focus. My take aways were: get smart money, hire strategically and know what business you're in.
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