Vijay Anand | The Startup Guy.

Speed is Important. Accuracy is Crucial.

Posted on: August 15, 2008

Startup Entrepreneurs are oodles of Fun to work with. Perhaps its that drive within them to change things, and the paranoia of taking on a bigger industry which adds to all that. As hectic as it could be, its nothing short of exhilarating – I seem to be gasping for breathe during the slow times for sure.

So the point is speed. Its a crucial element. I think its the first criteria anyone looks at to evaluate and measure the strength of an entrepreneur. “Fire in the belly” “passion”, are all just variables of the same thing being described, I’d say.

I think the second most crucial aspect when it comes to that is the accuracy – The quality of implementation so to speak.

I wanted to briefly write about this, for a couple of reasons. There are quite a bit of early stage ventures out there – almost 2000 of them at any given point in time, and the truth of the matter is that less than 10% of them survive the first two years. That’s a lot of enterprises dying out. And if you really look at it, what stands as foremost in the list of reasons is the lack of guidance in terms of implementation and execution that counts towards it.

There are this couple of folks who are in the back of my mind (Who are part of the incubator) while I am writing this, and I am wondering if they would survive out there in the world, if not for day to day guidance. Probably not is what i’d say.

In a recent discussion with some investors, the enlightening moment was when someone made the statement that ‘investment is pretty much rocket fuel. It’ll help you go faster, dont know where though”. And I think there is more than an ounce of truth in that matter. Investments, especially money will accelerate the direction that you are aiming for – and God help you if you are aimed at the wrong direction looking at the wall, because the thud will just be that much louder. And as much as everyone claims that they will provide support, guidance and all that, ping me whenever that really does happen.

The truth of the matter is that early stage ventures require almost a weekly review meet. That’s essentially the time period when the company is accelerating and the strategy starts to fall in place. In three months (between board meetings), the company would have gone so off the tracks that it would take years before you can bring it back on track – and dont complain if that window of opportunity you were chasing, isnt there.

So if you are an early stage venture and someone promises you guidance, demand that the minimum guidance you require is one where he/she is available to you any time of the day, and will meet with you for atleast an hour once in a week or fortnight. Its crucial to be accurate when you are racing like a cheetah to take down the elephants.

If you are an advisor, I would suggest sitting with the team in the beginning and doing a brainstorm of all the possibilities in terms of directions, products, market trends and potential exits (its good to think of that distant tunnels). If a company has no scope of going IPO on its own, but will just create a whirlwind of an opportunity and spin to be part of another company, I dont think there is anything wrong with that – and having that clarity will make a lot of difference, because you start focusing on strategic partnerships much more intently.

So coming back to the advisor. Do one elaborate meeting – which you can continue to hold during every three months, and in the meantime meet every two weeks or so and talk about everything that goes towards that. Revenues, Morale, productivity, Team, partners – everything. Jot down all the questions, and start working out possible solutions. The percentage of solution creation is what should shift slowly – starting off with the mentor contributing the most, to a half and half to a point where the mentor just listens and corrects if something goes terribly wrong, and letting the entrepreneur take the helm. You gotta teach them to fish at somepoint Mister!

So Run, as fast as you could. Also make sure you are running in the right direction and doubly make sure that there is infact a door on that wall, and its open.

4 Responses to "Speed is Important. Accuracy is Crucial."

I agree.. Accuracy, with quality is most needed.

But brainstorming and weekly meetings always do not help… most of the times they go tangential…

Satish, That just means that you cant reach an agreement. Either stop wasting time, or move on to the next topic 🙂

Weekly Meetings might be too much. The human brain can only handle 45 mins of creative brainstorming after that it starts to drag and it takes atleast 2 weeks to come up with enough (if actively pursued) creativity to last another 45 minutes. So keep that all in mind.

I have asked all my companies to do a three month projection and during the fortnightly meets we sit with the numbers and then see where we ought to be, where we are and what we need to do. And Numbers never let you go around in tangent – they are absolute and god bless their soul for that – it helps keep focus.

Simple rule: do your homework and meet.

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