If I Had To Pick Top Thing I Look For In People I Hire
I think a lot about hiring the right people. It is almost to the level of obsession for me to understand how each colleague I hired has become the craftsmen they are. As technology, tools, and knowledge are becoming highly available, age isn't much of a factor anymore. Some of us are lucky to have parents, who exposed us, to what we ended up falling in love with as our craft while others stumbled into theirs later in life. I am the one who stumbled into business operations in my early 20s, but I have colleagues who discovered themselves in their early teens. When you meet someone, who to their essence, is in the right craft, conversations you get are very different. Where they learned,[more]
The Hardest Skill To Master – Empathy
Any growing venture is hard. My last three years have been at an incredible pace with days blurring into weeks and months. It does not have to be a startup, it could be a lifestyle business, it could be a mid-size business. The faster the growth, the more extreme are the swings and tensions. It is way too easy to lose sight of what matters, end up with agenda, and kill your relationship. So how do we survive and thrive? It all starts with empathy. The more the person you should be supporting is different, the harder it is for you to relate and understand where the other person stands. You are ineffective without the empathy. So you must try to gain understanding about what is affecting[more]
Scalable SaaS Best Practices: The Legal Agreements Discipline
SaaS is a beautiful business model. Most modern companies owe their efficiency to cost savings that services provided under SaaS model bring to the table. But sometimes week or day does not pass without someone sending me back marked up MSA (master services agreement). And every time my answer is the same: "I am sorry, but all our customers are under same MSA, and we don't allow edits". Look, I would love to do business like my father did - handshake agreements. But that isn't something possible in a globalized economy. So here is why being very disciplined about using same legal agreements makes sense: Few SaaS companies have in-house counsels, good law firms charge several hundred[more]
3 Questions 90% of Sales Job Candidates Fail
I have started my career in sales as a talent agent. Selling to college market, which is more brutal than selling enterprise SaaS, gave me an immense appreciation for the job of being the sales rep. I also had the pleasure working with some founders early on, who had the same appreciation for art and science of the sale and invested in training/professional development. I have done Sandler, Challenger, etc. Jeff Hoffman's (SalesMBA) one is my favorite by far. A lot of reputable SaaS companies, at least in Boston, run their own "flavor" of Jeff's methodology. Maybe because he teaches how to think and not what to think. It is a lot more empathetic style of selling. So it is no surprise when[more]
Why Bad Mouthing Competitors Is Bad For Business And How To Handle It Better
In the early days, your company hasn't earned the attention, so there was no “bullseye” on your back. There was no real sellable product, so there was no competition. But then the product is seeing the daylight of the market. People are noticing you, and you are starting to notice competitors you never knew existed. And the fun part begins, because if there is no competition, there is no need for what your team has built. The more you are out there, the more people will compare you to the competition. That is human nature. How you answer is what will distinguish you as a pro. And that is when the temptation to speak negatively of those you are being compare it is just bad for you busine[more]
Reflections on Raising Money and Fetishes of Those Watching
For those of us in startups, opening up Twitter means seeing at least 1 or 2 funding announcements every couple hours. And the congratulations and retweets roll in, if you are any good, journalists and bloggers need a piece of you too. But the fanfare and congratulations fizzle out, and you are standing there with all that glitter and confetti on you, yet your customers don’t care. They have problems you promised you would solve yesterday. All those sales people are clogging up your phone lines trying to get at least some of your raised money just does not help. Yes, my company, Robin Powered, closed a round of funding several months ago. I have been through angel rounds before. And som[more]
Case For Not Taking Small Investments and Why Early Employees Are Unsung Heroes of Startups
It does not come as a surprise to anyone who knows me that I am not a stranger to getting into occasional passionate discussion. This weekend I made a statement which caused such discussion. Unfortunately, Twitter is the worst place to have a discussion. Arguments in 140 character format make people extremely susceptible to interpretation and overreaction to the meaning of individual words. Does not help that often people, who were never part of the original conversation, end up getting involved half way without understanding original context. Unlikely a constructive or valuable conversation. So what the heck did I say? "Apparently in Boston you are an angel investor if you wrote measl[more]
Male Perspective on Lack of Women in Startups and What Women Can Do About It
This article has been brewing in me for a while. I credit some of the biggest wins in my career to the most diverse and smart people around me. Best decisions are made after hearing a broad range of perspectives. You can't do that in an echo-chamber of people who are exactly same as you and think like you. As you have seen me tweet, post, and speak in public, I am just not OK with the low numbers of women we have in technical fields and in senior leadership ranks. Though there are more females than males graduating from colleges, browsing most "About" pages of startups, and especially tech companies, will still show you that white or Asian males dominate the teams. I admit my One Mighty R[more]
On Being a New Father and the Struggles, Biases, Lessons Learned While Building a Business
For the past decade and a half, I have read countless articles on how it is impossible to build a successful company and be a good parent at the same time. I call bullshit! Yes, I know, I now owe money to the swear jar, but I’m happy to pay. Here is the TL;DR for those of you with short attention spans - being a great parent AND running/building a company are complementary to each other. The "hustle" needed to run a successful startup multiples many fold when you have a little human depending on you to win. I had NO IDEA what focus, drive, and effectiveness were until I became a new parent. When you have a little child running at you with arms stretched out and big smile on his/her fac[more]
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