Tag Archives: Business Insider

Thinking of Quitting? Don’t Let Survivor Bias Ruin Your Life

You may have missed Alyson Shontell‘s piece asking an answering the question When You Should Quit Being An Entrepreneur? I marked it when it first appeared earlier this year, then left it in the back burner. If you’re an entrepreneur, especially if you’re engaged in a startup and not yet rolling strong and on your own, it’s a good piece to read. After musing about multiple pivots and startup failures, she concludes:

While we’re not trying to encourage quitting, more founders should ask themselves tough questions. Maybe it’s time to help someone else make their dream really big. Tomorrow’s companies depend on it. Plus that corporate experience could be what makes your next startup a success.

That relates to a really interesting comment added to my April 20 post on the myth of persistence. The comment, signed by faxauthority, was:

Most common phrase I hear from successful entrepreneurs: it was all about persistence. 

Most common phrase I hear from failed entrepreneurs: I’m glad I got out before all my money ran out…

That comment is a great illustration of survivor bias. We hear only from people who succeeded, never from people who failed. 

Have you read Seth Godin’s The Dip? Here’s a quote:

The old saying is wrong-winners do quit, and quitters do win

Do I sound negative about entrepreneurship here? I’m not. My wife and I own a multi-million-dollar company we started ourselves, without outside investment, that has 40 employees, profits, and no debt. But I am negative about sloppy thinking in entrepreneurship myths. On this one I’m with Alyson, faxauthority and Seth Godin. 

(Image: bigstockphoto.com. It’s suppose to represent a bottomless pit. Y’know, where the money goes, when an entrepreneur sticks with a bad business?)

Friday Footprints: 5 Good Posts For July 8

First, my thanks to Catharina Belgraver for helping me come up with Friday Footprints, in response to my post here last Friday.

  1. Steve Tobak has a good one on the real secret to personal productivity on BNET. He lists what other people say on this subject, then gets down to his own formula.
  2. I remember a cartoon I saw in 1999. The woman says she’s really looking forward to the new millennium. The man answers “You should; you’re a woman.” Fast forward to Jessica Bennett and Jessie Ellison with Women Will Rule the World on Newsweek.com. This is a very well researched and well written think piece, well worth reading. And it makes a lot of sense.
  3. Evelyn Rusli posted Rejecting Wall Street, Graduates Turn Entrepreneurs Instead on NYTimes’ Dealbook. This is about MBAs becoming entrepreneurs, which is a theme I believe in. I say it’s about time. And maybe I started a trend back in 1983, when I did it.
  4. Ami Groth tracked statistics on the age of startup founders in People Over 35 Have Recently Launched 80% of the Startups on Business Insider. Woman RunningBeing an old guy, I can’t resist quoting this one, at least this paragraph:

    According to the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor, people over the age of 35 made up 80 percent of the total entrepreneurship activity in 2009. That same year, the Kauffman Foundation conducted a survey of 549 startups operating in “high-growth” industries — including aerospace, defense, health care, and computer and electronics — and found that people over 55 are nearly twice as likely to launch startups in these industries.

  5. Alex Rampell posted an excellent analysis of the guts of new marketing in The Power of Pull on TechCrunch.

Also, some calendar items:

  1. I’m going to be live with with Dr. Amy Vanderbilt at 11 AM PDT today on Trend POV at trendpov.com/content.
  2. I’m live with Corrine McElroy Next Wednesday July 13 at 1 pm PDT at www.edgeofchange.com/interview.
  3. I’ve discovered Plancast.com, which lets me post my interview and speaking dates online at plancast.com/timberry. I hope you can join me. I’ll be putting a widget on my sidebar … plancast.com, are you listening? Widgets, maybe?. If you go to that site you can follow me to be able to see my schedule; actually, I think you can see it on that URL whether you follow me or not.
  4. Finally, if you’re an SBDC person and you’re going to the annual conference in San Diego, please join me for a training and certification of my free-for-teachers online curriculum. That’s Sept. 6, the Tuesday before the opening, as part of the “pre-conference.” Please click here for more information on that.

(Image: MrUllmi via Flickr cc)

Angels vs. VCs on Business Pitches

Over the weekend I caught Business Insider’s Five VCs Explain What They REALLY Think About Your Pitches. It’s a great post, gathering points together from discussions with several high-end VCs. If you’re looking at venture capital, read it. Business Insider

Part of what they said reminded me that angel investors and VCs have a lot in common. For example, these important points:

  • Keep it short.
  • Avoid buzzwords.
  • Answer questions quickly without getting defensive.
  • Be a good storyteller.
  • Know the people you’re pitching.
  • Don’t forget the financial info.

I’m pretty sure all of the 30+ investors in my local angel investor group would agree with every one of those. I particularly like the three about answering questions, telling stories, and not to forget the financial info. Those three are critical.

Some of the other points, however, remind me of the differences between VCs and angels. For example, the VCs say introductions matter:

The person introducing the entrepreneur is a big deal — if [the VC quoted] doesn’t trust the referral, he won’t even take the meeting.

Our group, in contrast to this, looks into every submission we get. Introductions aren’t required. Some of them don’t get past a quick read of the executive summary, but I think most angel groups are similar. We’re going to read the executive summaries, at the very least. And we invite submissions. Every plan submitted before March 31 is considered for our May investment. Some are not considered very long — like less than five minutes — but still. Introductions don’t matter. The plan does.

Two other points probably depend on the group, the particular angel investor, and the moment. The VCs said:

  • Think big or don’t bother.
  • Forget saving the world.

I don’t think those points are as true for angels as for VCs.VCs are investing other people’s money, mostly institutional money, and they’re paid to do that well. Professionally. Angels, on the other hand, are investing their own money. Maybe that makes a difference. It does to me. Angels invest smaller amounts, generally, and at an earlier stage, generally. Maybe that’s why sometimes we’ll consider a not-so-big deal, and sometimes saving the world, or not, makes a favorable difference.

That’s my opinion, anyway.

10 Reasons You’ll Actually Miss Newspapers

I wish I’d thought of this first. But I didn’t. So instead, here’s 10 Reasons You’ll Actually Miss Newspapers, by Dan Frommer on businessinsider.com (he’s got it illustrated one picture per item, too, worth clicking on the original just for the pictures):

  1. Starting a fire
  2. Wrapping presents
  3. Espionage (that one really needs the picture, a guy with a newspaper hiding his face).
  4. Pet bedding
  5. Papier-mâché
  6. Feeling good about recycling them
  7. Wrapping fish and chips
  8. Party hats
  9. Around the house (needs some examples; the picture shows newspaper crushed around the edge of an air conditioner)
  10. Quality international and investigative journalism. Dan adds:

Sure, today’s new, lean-staffed Web publishers are good at reporting and analyzing the news back home. But who’s going to staff the Baghdad bureau?

And I say, really? Baghdad bureau? Today’s new lean-staffed Web publishers are good at reporting and analyzing the news here in the United States?