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Establishing a Foundation: My ‘SOB Moment’

Everything I write about in this blog is gathered from personal experience and having lived through it – I know there’s nothing like a story to help people realize the importance of what I’m recommending you do. So here goes…

A couple of weeks ago I had a ‘SOB moment’. It came the morning after TECH Cocktail DC 2 at the Hangover Breakfast hosted by Micah Baldwin of Lijit.

A few of us were sitting around shooting the breeze talking business, business models and investment options. One of the guys sitting in the crowd was Eric Olson…and the fact that he delivered my ‘SOB moment’ is unbeknownst to him. Eric is an associate at DFJ Portage. He ran through a few scenarios of the entrepreneurs they see at DFJ Portage and the type of investments they make and why.

As he kept talking the main theme about the people they invest in was very clear: “They invest in the most knowledgeable and qualified people within their fields in relation to the startup they aim to start.”

They invest in the most qualified of the people/teams; I obviously knew that and had heard it many times before but it hadn’t really sunk in the way it did that morning. The way Eric explained things, clearly parted the clouds for me to have my ‘SOB moment’. It made me think about what we’ve been working to establish and what our qualifications were to pull it off. I realized as I walked away…”Fuck – We’re not quite there yet.”

In our case, the qualifications have nothing to do with how well I can lead a team and be the CEO, how awesome our tech is or how sharp our sales team is – the qualifications have everything to do with the market…our contacts, knowledge, and background of our market.

Forgetting About Our Target Market

When I started WhyGoSolo – I knew that I needed to establish a foundation by having a strong presence on the web, the startup community and within the social media circles for when WhyGoSolo would be ready to launch. I did that and I did it well.

I just happened to overlook a major key foundation over time – Our Market. Granted, our market has shifted, but I hadn’t caught just how much of a disadvantage we were getting ourselves into, until that morning.

Going To Skin that Damn Cat

It’s a crappy time to realize you’re on first base when you’re suppose to be on third base and you’ve got a lot of skin in the game.

Side story…

This kinda reminded me of The Basic School. “What now Lieutenant? We’ve lost communication with second squad, first squad took two causalities and they need a medical evacuation for two others; we’re low on ammo and completely surrounded. What now Lieutenant? What are your orders?”

The Situation

What now boss?? We’re exposed to the market, the competition is moving in our space and we don’t have the contacts, knowledge or background needed to address our target market…

It took me a few days…but than I gathered the team and said “Gents, here is what we’re going to do” (Sorry – not going to divulge the specifics just yet).

We’re going to skin this damn cat – we might not have had the best foundation in place when it comes to our current target market, but we’re building it now in a strategic fashion off of the foundation that has been put into place.

Hello, McFly!!

I can’t go back in time but I can ask myself “WTF, Hello McFly…how did you miss that?” (My internal dialogue has more cursing than my external dialogue) I missed it because this is my first go-round and I’ve had to learn on the go; it’s painful to learn things first hand. I did however, try to avoid that.

Advisor/Mentor

For the past year I’ve been looking for a good advisor/mentor but haven’t found him/her. That’s a huge part of establishing your foundation. Find someone who has been there before, so they can help to guide and direct you in order to avoid making mistakes as much as possible. (Will do a blog post on what to look for in an advisior)

Do Keep Reading This Blog

I will continue to pass on what I’ve learned and know. Hopefully you’ll listen to it and avoid some setbacks…particularly if you’re not strong at thinking on your feet when bombs are coming your way.