Category Archives: Leadership

Syl’s Stance: How Leaders Stand Out in Doldrum Market

Business leaders at all levels have an opportunity to rethink and engage everyone in your ecosystem for the good. Here are five areas to consider and to act upon.

1. Give more care to your existing customers. Anticipate. Call. Visit. Find out what would help them in this economic environment and find ways to help on a business or personal basis.

2. Give more care to your employees. Help them develop new skills as individuals and groups. Listen to their ideas. Consider new service lines or product lines. Find ways to improve customer experience, product quality and profitability by making smart, low cost or no cost innovations with a group effort – nurturing camaraderie and moral along the way.

3. Take time to reflect on your own situation – from a business and personal standpoint. How might I improve in terms of setting goals, aligning my team, managing my priorities and time, and fostering a ‘to innovate’ culture? Where might I give energy for self development for physical, mental, emotional and spiritual improvement?

4. Consider employees family situations, including extended family needs in these rough economic times, as well as those of key suppliers and customers. Are there ways to help people? Live your values and contribute as a member of the social communities which touch your people, product or ecosystem.

5. Consider how you might reposition your product, service or company. Are there ways to outflank or stand above your competition? You might use some resources to do some competitive intelligence. Or consider following specific persons through social media or connecting more in business networking circles. Share insights and suggestions. Strengthen the relationships outside of the sales context.

By such intentional efforts to sharpen and care for yourself, your employees and other stakeholders in your business and personal ecosystem you will build value and meaning for all.

Be well,
Syl

© Strategy Dynamix, LLC All Rights Reserved

What is your perspective?  Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.

About the Author
Sylvester (Syl) Di Diego, Managing Partner, Strategy Dynamix, LLC is a venture advisor and interim executive. Syl  has empowered hundreds of entrepreneurs and investors to successfully navigate the venture growth lifecycle. Learn more and connect with Syl at http://www.strategydynamix.com/aboutus/executives.php

12 Ways to Avoid ‘Dead Weight’ Founders and Partners

For various reasons start up ventures often end up with ‘Dead Weight’ Founders and Partners. These are people with misaligned expectations from yours who often become an energy zapper and in the worst cases become an obstacle to technology development, capital raising, strategic alliance formation, etc. In my last article I advised you to “Dump Dead Weight’ Founders and Partners Overboard”. In this article I offer my recommendations about how to avoid taking on ‘dead weight’ founders and partners. Here we go.

1,  Recruit people to help with your venture in an intentional manner.

2. Address expectations about contributions, compensation, etc. from the initial point of involvement.

3. Hold discussions with each person in a scheduled and formal manner – not just at the bar or in the car.

4. Start documenting discussions and mutual understandings early on. And continue this practice.

5. Clarify roles and compensation understandings according to each area of contribution by a person.  It is ok to have one person serve in several roles, but you should delineate different compensation schemes for each distinct role – for example, programming (fee based) and sales (fee plus commission).

6. Establish goals and performance metrics for each person and each role as soon as practical.

7. Consider offering consulting roles or deferred compensation in lieu of offering equity shares or expectations of employment early on.  When long-term involvement becomes mutually desirable, then, and only then, move on to consider other compensation arrangements with each person– such as salary, profit sharing, stock options or equity share.

8. Describe the conceptual business understanding of functional roles, responsibilities and associated compensation in a general non-binding memorandum before meeting with attorneys. This saves time and money with attorneys.

9. Clarify ownership and equity expectations carefully (and from a long term perspective) and then formalize the understanding with legal documentation and mutual sign off.

10. Revisit roles and compensation arrangements with each person whenever appropriate, as the venture evolves, and document any changes.

11. As you add people to your team you need to balance the overall scheme of roles, responsibilities and compensation on a relative basis by considering the entire team as well as future roles to be filled at the company.

12. Engage a venture consultant or HR consultant who deals with start-ups and ramp-ups and who can guide you with workforce planning, role definitions, expectations setting, compensation approaches and other issues.

By following the above best practices you will be able to avoid many situations which might otherwise result in “Dead Weight” founders and partners. Instead, you will be able to focus your energy and mindshare on technology and product development, gaining customers, etc. – all in a more positive working environment. And there will be clarity for all stakeholders to more smoothly move through transition stages and grow your venture.

© Strategy Dynamix, LLC All Rights Reserved

About the Author
Sylvester (Syl) Di Diego, Managing Partner, Strategy Dynamix, LLC is a venture accelerator and venture consultant who has assisted hundreds of entrepreneurs and investors to successfully navigate the venture growth lifecycle and to ReDesign, RePosition, ReLaunch and to Scale technologies, products, services and businesses. Learn more about Syl and connect with him at http://www.strategydynamix.com/aboutus/executives.php

Dump “Dead Weight” Founders and Partners Overboard

Too many ventures are burdened by ‘dead weight’ founders and partners. This can seriously sap momentum and even kill a deal for a strategic alliance or for venture capital. If this is happening to your venture then take control today to clean up any tangled messes among partners, no matter what the cost, or else pay the price.

Often a VC or strategic partner is interested in moving forward, but a range of unresolved issues among people involved with the venture are now stumbling blocks to doing a deal – or even to finishing due diligence. These might be misunderstandings, misaligned expectations, or outright disputes about roles, contributions, equity shares or technology ownership.

How Does One Find Themselves in a Founder/Partner Quagmire?
Typically a start up venture has a champion who enrolls their friends, family or other associates to help at the early stage of a venture when the entrepreneur has no resources. Associates offer to help out for various reasons – perhaps out of friendship, or they may have keen interest in the app, technology, product or service. Others have hopes to snag an official role in the venture as it grows and hope to win a big payout if things go well.

The entrepreneur’s motives are usually much simpler and short term. Struggling to develop a product or launch a company, the entrepreneur looks around to pull in any breathing person who can relieve some of the stress to help get 100 things done at once. With little or no money, entrepreneurs respond openly to friends’ and associates’ offers to help with a bit of code, prepare some branding materials or to make a few sales introductions. But all this is often done in a vague manner with very little clarification of expectations or responsibilities and most often with no documentation. This is especially becoming harder to manage as entrepreneurs work at incubators, accelerators and co-working spaces where the thrill of cross-pollination is enjoyed on a personal level, but which may launch the venture into perilous waters in terms of the entity’s corporate interests.

Take Control of Your Venture’s Destiny
As the venture champion, you are the captain of the ship. You must intentionally chart the course, design the team and draw upon experienced start up advisors in order to define and navigate your venture to a desirable destination. Bring clarity to the ownership and management of the venture as soon as possible. By addressing partner confusion you will set the stage for renewed energy and momentum for developing the technology and business. And you will also be able to meet new strategic partners and potential investors with confidence. Finally, you will have smoother exits when the time comes, while still maintaining friendships. So if you find you are now in such a quagmire, by all means, don’t be afraid to throw overboard any dead weight players in order to keep the venture moving onward and upward.

© Strategy Dynamix, LLC All Rights Reserved

About the Author
Sylvester (Syl) Di Diego, Managing Partner, Strategy Dynamix, LLC is a venture accelerator and venture consultant who has assisted hundreds of entrepreneurs and investors to successfully navigate the venture growth lifecycle and to ReDesign, RePosition, ReLaunch and to Scale technologies, products, services and businesses. Learn more about Syl and connect with him at http://www.strategydynamix.com/aboutus/executives.php