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"Value First": Time to Focus on the Fundamentals of your Startup.

Especially those of us that can sometimes get wrapped up in the emotional side of starting and trying to grow a business.

Do you watch Shark Tank? The hit ABC show where startup founders from all over the country try to access funding to grow their businesses. Of course, you do. I mean who doesn't- at this point, right?

And as exciting as the Startups/ideas/Founders that pitch often are - even the "bad" ones- as equally fun to watch are the world-famous entrepreneur judges we have all come to know and love- and hate.. ahem, Mr. Wonderful.

Although, I gotta be honest. I am a big fan of the guy. Most fans of the show dislike dude but me? I think what he brings to the table is the reality check that we all need sometimes. Especially those of us that can sometimes get wrapped up in the emotional side of starting and trying to grow a business.

He - Kevin O'Leary - might not be for everyone but I love his direct, blunt, take on the businesses that come out to pitch on the show.

I can see it now!

We all get into this state of mind when we go out to start a business - especially if we are first-time founders. We often have this picture in our minds-eye of the type of business we want.

We know what we want our brand image to be, what specific type of products and services we want to offer, how want our offices to look and feel like, and so on.

What we often miss is that, if you went out and raised capital from outside sources to start your business, your investors - especially if they are professional ones- will not share your specific vision for how you get there but will rather be focused on the destination, with an eye out for alternative paths that may not necessarily match yours.

The destination

For example, it would make sense to go "remote" and abandon your picturesque offices if doing so makes sense for the long-term success of your company.

It may make sense to commit the funds raised to buying a fully-functional restaurant as opposed to starting one from scratch.

We, as entrepreneurs

often clash with our investors as in these moments, both parties seem to be at odds. I say "seems" simply because, you are often better served when you focus on the fundamentals of your firm. And typically, for obvious reasons, your investors will be even if you may not agree with them.

You will always have the chance to circle back to the glitz and glamour once you are on solid ground financially. Keep in mind that since most startups raise several rounds of funding prior to some kind of exit and since investors, happy ones at least, will often participate in several rounds of funding in a single startup - A.K.A give you more money when you need it - it is curcial that you remain in lockstep with those who will continue to support you.

More than just a check

This means listening to them and tapping these same men and women to fill advisory roles when needed. As tempting as it may be to go rogue on your investors - in times of disagreement - you do yourself no favors by alienating these folks.

The bottom line is sacred.

I cannot focus on anything else, as a founder if my business is not making money.

I know that may sound old school to some but I have learned that everyone involved, especially your investors, are happy when you have a business that is profitable or cash flow positive. Therefore allowing you access to better credit terms, higher valuations, and so on.



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