I had the pleasure of speaking with Rod Robertson, a serial entrepreneur and previous owner of various manufacturing and high tech companies. Today, he is the founder and owner of Briggs Capital, an investment firm specializing in high tech ventures. He is also the proud author of a great new book named “Winning at Entrepreneurship”, that just hit the book shelves this month.
Mr. Robertson said that over the last fifteen plus years he has analyzed over a thousand companies for potential investment and sees a definite uptick in the excitement and activity related to people starting their own companies. He went on to say that there were many reasons for this push for people to start their own companies, including the following:
- The combination of open source software development tools and the internet in general allows those with technical skills to create and market extraordinary software products with very little capital.
- Even as the economy continues to heat up, corporations have not been hiring back many of those who lost their jobs during the recession. Therefore, highly skilled and previously employed individuals are starting their own companies out of necessity.
- Once people have tasted the excitement and freedom of starting their own company, it’s hard for them to go back to traditional employment.
As we continued our discussion, I asked Rod, given his vast experience as both an entrepreneur and an investor and as an author on the topic, what advice he could give to those considering starting their own companies. He suggested the following:
- If you have a great idea, but don’t have the marketing experience or savvy to assess its potential as a viable product, speak with an honest and knowledgeable marketing person who can help you decide if your idea can be a moneymaker.
- Decide up front if you would like your company to provide your ongoing cash flow or if you would like sell your idea via a buyout. Making this decision up front will help you position your product, help define your marketing plan, and help define your company’s organizational structure.
- Take a hard look at your personal situation and your short term cash flow needs. Money to live on and a supportive family while starting your company are of great value.
- Everything will take at least twice as long as you think it will. Do your best planning and then double everything except the potential revenue projection.
- If you are leaving a job to start your own company, build your professional network first, and make sure to maintain it when you begin your company. These professional contacts can be of great value to you when launching and building your new company.
- Become a networker. For a company to succeed, it needs technology, marketing, strategy, finance and an exit strategy. No one can do it all. Surround yourself with people who can perform the tasks you cannot or will not be able to perform yourself.
- Find a way to protect your Intellectual Property (IP). Regarding your IP, there is an ongoing internal battle between paranoia of theft and putting your IP out to the marketplace to produce sales and hopefully go viral.
These are but a few of the many concepts, tips, and words of wisdom contained in Rod Robertson’s book, “Winning at Entrepreneurship”. As an entrepreneur myself, I found Rod’s book to be very thought provoking and will be of personal value to me as my company continues to grow.
Rod and his book can be found online at www.winninge.com.
Until next time, work hard, work smart, and continue to build your professional brand.