100 Insider Rules for Beating the Startup Odds

startup secrets

Lessons for Entrepreneurs

Over the course of their careers, veteran venture capitalist Randy Komisar and finance executive Jantoon Reigersman continue to see startups crash and burn because they forget the timeless lessons of entrepreneurship. But, as Komisar and Reigersman show in their new book, Straight Talk for Startups: 100 Insider Rules for Beating the Odds, you can beat the odds if you quickly learn what insiders know about what it takes to build a healthy foundation for a thriving venture.

 

“Apprentices work furiously to learn the rules; journeymen proudly perfect the rules; but masters forget the rules.” -Randy Komisar

 

Randy Komisar recently shared his perspective:

 

How did this book come about? Have you been compiling these rules for years?

We wrote this book because we were distressed by the growing frequency of missteps by entrepreneurs, many of whom are notoriously splashed across business pages and websites. Jantoon Reigersman brought fresh eyes to the situation as the CFO of a Silicon Valley rocket ship gone awry. We had been having a dialogue for years about what was really going on in the Kabuki Theaters of startup boardrooms and venture capital firms. And we felt that entrepreneurs and investors, professors and students, and frankly anyone curious about the startup game could all benefit from our conversations regarding the time-proven best practices for building successful companies. I have been part of the scene since the mid-1980s, and Tom Perkins, founder of Kleiner Perkins, was one of the original Silicon Valley venture cowboys. I had been compiling and sharing these insights with entrepreneurs since I co-founded my first company. These are the insider rules that the random hero stories heralded by the press conveniently leave out. In Straight Talk for Startups we address the nuts and bolts of choosing investors, raising money, building boards, achieving liquidity, and mastering the fundamentals by distilling decades of frequently forgotten wisdom about how to beat the odds.

 

“Venture Capitalists have one of the greatest jobs in the world. They get to sit across the table from passionate strangers who hallucinate the future for them.” -Randy Komisar

 

Rule 1: Starting a venture has never been easier; succeeding has never been harder. You’ve had an extraordinary vantage point in your career, and I’d like your perspective on the why behind Rule 1. 

It’s all about capital. Privileged places like Silicon Valley are awash is excess capital. The recovery from the Great Recession has left interest rates at record lows. Investors have been looking for ways to juice their returns, and venture capital’s black swans are a siren song. Forget the low odds of winning; the size of the pot is mesmerizing. So investors have been ignoring risk and plowing money into long-shot bets.

This may seem great for entrepreneurs. And on its face it is. But there is a downside. Too much capital means that too many companies are being funded in any single market. With easy capital comes reckless spending on scaling—often times resulting in highly uneconomic growth, that is the acquisition of customers who pay less than the cost of providing the product or service and who have little loyalty to the business. This “all or nothing” mentality leads to wasted dollars, talent and effort. And when one competitor makes the leap to noneconomic growth, the rest are left with little choice but to follow.

The cornucopia of money and startups also affects the job market. Salaries are inflated. People are quick to move from perceived losers to winners. In the Bay Area, for instance, the price of housing, the suffering infrastructure and the breakdown of communities makes building businesses much harder, even if starting them is easier than ever.

 

Startup Rule: Starting a venture has never been easier; succeeding has never been harder.

How To Turn Culture Into A Productive Force

Cultivating A Winning Culture For Your Business

A strong productive culture is a superpower behind every long-lasting success. Culture demands artful management and everyday care, which seem to remain a mystery for many. How do you turn corporate culture into a productive force and secure success?

In CORPORATE SUPERPOWER: Cultivating A Winning Culture For Your Business, author Oleg Konovalov discusses what culture is, its functions and roles, why it is important and how to fix it when it goes wrong. The book offers a step-by-step guide on how to manage this incredible asset. Oleg is a management consultant with rich experience of running businesses in different industries and countries. His book is an exceptionally well-done overview of culture and how to turn it into an asset for any organization.

I spoke with Oleg about the book and his findings.

 

“Culture is a measure of success and a cause of it.” -Oleg Konovalov

 

Why do you think culture is getting so much attention these days?

We are well into the Knowledge Era, a time for new thinking about people, and appreciate that everyone has a stake in building the future. This is an era of a competition of corporate cultures, not processes.

Culture influences people’s actions, vision, minds, and hearts. In fact, an organization’s culture is its soul, and whoever controls the culture controls the soul and so, organization.

No company can move further than its employees’ competencies, where strategic development is bounded by the development of people. A successful implementation of corporate strategy directly depends on the active involvement and constant improvement of everyone.

Organizational culture is the most crucial ingredient of success, giving life to all of its many processes. Strong culture stimulates the enhancement of productivity by homogenizing the best psychological qualities of employees, the sense of unity and belonging, internal cooperation, and employees’ loyalty. Also, sustainable development depends on an organization’s ability to attract and retain the best people.

 

“Culture influences people’s actions, vision, minds, and hearts.” -Oleg Konovalov

 

Why Leaders Must Care for the Culture

Think Like a Navy SEAL to Achieve Greatness

navy seal

Think Like a Navy SEAL

This is not your typical career: after graduation, start as a CPA with a prestigious accounting firm, then go back to school at night for an MBA at NYU Stern School of Business, and leave it all behind to become a Navy SEAL. After full-time active duty, show your entrepreneurial side by co-founding Coronado Brewing Company, NavySEALS.com, and then other businesses like SEALFIT and Unbeatable Mind.

That’s the unconventional career of Mark Divine.

I love to learn from people with varied experiences, and Mark is in a rare category. Of all the people I’ve met, no one has quite this type of resume.

His book, The Way of the SEAL, caught my attention a few years ago, and he is now re-releasing it in a second edition.

Truth be told, I’d much rather read his book than go through his brutal training program!

I recently caught up with him to talk about his work and his new book.

 

You were already a successful consultant when you decided to join the Navy and become the best as a SEAL. What drove you to make this decision? 

Shortly after starting my job as a CPA and consultant with PriceaterhouseCoopers (I was with Coopers at the time), I began a practice of Zen meditation with a martial arts grandmaster. Though I was a competitive athlete growing up and in college, meditation was new to me, and at 21 years old it had a powerful neuroplastic effect on my mind’s development. What I experienced as a result of extended practice over several years was increasing clarity and ability to see how the choices I had made subconsciously had driven me into this career that I did not feel inspired by. So I began to challenge all of my assumptions and see them as biased. Then I pondered different questions, such as what is my true purpose or calling in life? I found that what I was called to do was serve as a warrior and leader… and the SEALs became my new focus. This experience taught me the powerful truth that we must all align with our calling, or what Buddha called “dharma,” to find true fulfillment in life.

 

Think Like an Elite Warrior

The subtitle of your book is “Think like an Elite Warrior to Lead and Succeed.” A powerful statement. How is our thinking directly tied to leadership?

We are all leaders and followers… leading our family, our corporate tribe or ourselves. Whether we do it well is another issue. To think like an elite warrior means to train your body-mind to be able to excel in an environment that is volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous. All Special Operators become masters in “VUCA” environments, and the business world is becoming a lot like the battlefield of the Spec Ops warrior (albeit less risky). If the corporate and entrepreneurial leader can learn to find clarity amidst the uncertainty and take powerful action in spite of ambiguity, then they will lead and succeed at an elite level.

 

Leadership Tip: Find clarity amidst uncertainty. Take action in spite of ambiguity.

 

Lead from the Front

Thank You for Your Support, Kind Words, and Impact

The Book of Mistakes

An Amazing Launch

Three months ago, I released my first book: The Book of Mistakes: 9 Secrets to Creating a Successful Future. Before its publication, I described the experience as a rollercoaster ride with the same mix of emotions ranging from fear to excitement.

 

Would the book be well-received?

Would you be inspired like I hoped?

 

I’m pleased to say that the book took off right away, soaring in its first week to the top 25 list of all nonfiction in the United States. Week three saw it hit the Wall Street Journal bestseller list. Over 100 five-star reviews hit Amazon in week one and many others on Goodreads. It has also hit local lists across the country.

Foreign rights requests started immediately with deals reached quickly in languages ranging from Korean to Spanish and even Ukrainian.

Near to my heart is libraries, and the book is in over 200 libraries across the country.

Thank you for your support of the book and its positive message. Only you have the power to determine if your future mimics your past.

 

“Only you have the power to determine if your future mimics your past.” -Skip Prichard #TheBookofMistakes

 

Humbling Endorsements & Support

It was gratifying to have so many early endorsements from amazingly talented authors, friends, and personal heroes. They are on the cover of the book and on the book’s website. But it is even more gratifying to receive notes from individuals around the world sharing the book’s impact. That’s why I wrote the book. For you!

Here are just a few comments to show you why I’m so encouraged (from people I had not met previously):

  • “Your Book of Mistakes was absolutely the most interesting and thought-provoking book I have ever read.”
  • I have asked my assistant to order 100 copies of the book for my team and expect great conversation on the subject once they enjoy your book. Thanks again for writing a book that will appeal to everyone in every walk of life with lessons of a lifetime!”
  • “I could not put your book down. My whole life is now going to change!” 
  • “One of the best motivational books I have come across.”

These notes are completely unexpected and just amaze me. They are humbling to say the least.

I also want to thank my amazing Book Launch team. They took the book’s message to places I never dreamed of.

 

“Readiness is when your desire is stronger than your distraction.” -Skip Prichard #TheBookofMistakes

 

Media Support

And I want to thank the many publications, radio stations, podcasts, blogs, and websites that have featured the book.

Here are a just a few of them that you may enjoy visiting:

 

Book of Mistakes by Skip Prichard

Get The Book of Mistakes: 9 Secrets to Creating A Successful Future

 

Podcasts:

Create Your Successful Future by Avoiding these Mistakes. Podcast.

The One Mistake We All Make that Hinders Success. Lead X.

Zig Ziglar Podcast. Make Your Future Successful.

Bob Burg’s The Go-Giver Podcast.

Jeff Brown’s Read to Lead Podcast. 9 Secrets to Creating a Successful Future.

Rory Vaden’s Action Catalyst Podcast. Mistakes Leaders Make.

Kevin Eikenberry’s Remarkable Leadership Podcast. Nine Mistakes People Make. 

 

YouTube:

Youtuber Evan Carmichael interviews Skip Prichard on the 9 Mistakes.

 

Selected Articles:

The Power You Didn’t Know Fiction Can Have On Your Business. Entrepreneur Magazine. May 2018.

Launch the Best You

launch

Time to Launch

Not too long ago, I spoke with an astronaut about what it takes to launch into space. Since I don’t work at NASA and am not a rocket scientist, we were way outside of my comfort zone. He was patient and talked me through the various parts of a successful launch.

It occurred to me, as he was sharing his extensive knowledge, how so many of the elements in a rocket launch are appropriate for launching things right here on planet Earth.

 

“We are more fulfilled when we are involved in something bigger than ourselves.” -John Glenn

Energy Required

The factor that really interested me was the energy required to launch. We talked about the amount of fuel it takes to propel a rocket into space. I learned that the Space Shuttle had over two million pounds of solid propellant in its boosters.

Two million pounds!

All of this is to fire up the engines, create liftoff, and escape the velocity of the Earth’s atmosphere. The rocket must overcome gravity drag.

What may have been a simple, elementary explanation for a non-scientist crystallized some ideas for me.

If we want to launch something big, it often requires more fuel than we imagine.

 

“The greater the obstacle, the more glory in overcoming it.” -Moliere

 

Feed Your Success