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6 Secrets to Startup Success

256 Pages · 2011 · 1.34 MB · English

  • 6 Secrets to Startup Success

    6 SECRETS TO


    STARTUP SUCCESS


    How to Turn Your Entrepreneurial


    Passion into a Thriving Business


    JOHN BRADBERRY


    Foreword by Pamela Slim,


    author of Escape from Cubicle Nation


    AMERICAN MANAGEMENT ASSOCIATION


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    LibraryofCongressCataloging-in-PublicationData


    Bradberry, John, 1961–


    6 secrets to startup success : how to turn your entrepreneurial passion into a thriving


    business / John Bradberry ; foreword by Pamela Slim.


    p. cm.


    Includes bibliographical references and index.


    ISBN-13: 978-0-8144-1606-8 (hardcover)


    ISBN-10: 0-8144-1606-3 (hardcover)


    1. New business enterprises—Management. 2. Entrepreneurship. 3. Success in


    business. I. Title. II. Title: Six secrets to startup success.


    HD62.5.B723 2011


    658.1'1—dc22


    2010039039


    © 2011 John G. Bradberry


    All rights reserved.


    Printed in the United States of America.


    This publication may not be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in


    whole or in part, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying,


    recording, or otherwise, without the prior written permission of AMACOM, a division


    of American Management Association, 1601 Broadway, New York, NY 10019


    About AMA


    American Management Association (www.amanet.org) is a world leader in talent


    development, advancing the skills of individuals to drive business success. Our mission


    is to support the goals of individuals and organizations through a complete range of


    products and services, including classroom and virtual seminars, webcasts, webinars,


    podcasts, conferences, corporate and government solutions, business books, and


    research. AMA’s approach to improving performance combines experiential learning—


    learning through doing—with opportunities for ongoing professional growth at every


    step of one’s career journey.


    Printing Number


    10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1


    AmericanManagementAssociation•www.amanet.org CONTENTS


    Foreword by Pamela Slim v


    Acknowledgments vii


    Introduction xi


    PART I Entrepreneurial Passion:


    A Double-Edged Sword


    Chapter 1: True Believers: Why Founders Fall in Love with


    Their Ideas 3


    The Sparks of Entrepreneurial Ambition


    Fanning the Flames of Commitment


    If You Build It, Will They Come?


    Chapter 2: The Passion Trap: How Attachment to Your Idea Can


    Sabotage Your Startup 23


    What Is the Passion Trap?


    The Damage Done: Six Negative Impacts of


    Entrepreneurial Passion


    The Core Pattern: How the Passion Trap Works


    Icarus Qualities: Who Is Most Vulnerable to the


    Passion Trap?


    Early Warning Signs: Are You in Danger of Being Trapped?


    Moving Forward: Six Principles for Making the Most of


    Entrepreneurial Passion


    PART II Your Foundation: Six Principles for Launching a


    Can’t-Miss Startup


    Chapter 3: Founder Readiness: How to Prepare for the


    Entrepreneurial Journey 51


    The Fundamentals of Founder Readiness


    Purifying Your Entrepreneurial Passion


    AmericanManagementAssociation•www.amanet.org iv Contents


    Chapter 4: The Pull of the Market: Attach to Your Customer,


    Not to Your Idea 81


    Developing a Strong Market Orientation


    Antidote to the Passion Trap: Give Your Idea a Market Scrub


    Chapter 5: Your Math Story: Charting a Path to Breakeven


    and Beyond 103


    Planning Is Clear Thinking


    Constructing a Compelling Math Story


    Securing the Right Funding


    Chapter 6: Startup Agility: Executing with Focused Flexibility 125


    The Paradox of Strong Execution


    The New Venture Learning Curve


    Chapter 7: Integrity of Communication: Your Secret


    Startup Weapon 149


    No One Is Immune to Reality Distortion


    Integrity of Communication: The Basics


    Four Personal Tools for Bursting the Feel-Good Bubble


    Chapter 8: Staying Power: Give Your Venture Time to


    Take Flight 169


    Venture-Level Strategies: Strengthening and Lengthening


    Your Runway


    Founder-Level Strategies: Performing and Persevering


    over Time


    Appendix A: Startup Readiness Tool 191


    Appendix B: Resources and Readings 207


    Notes 215


    Index 227


    AmericanManagementAssociation•www.amanet.org Foreword


    Most of us harbor thoughts of starting a business.


    It is a delicious fantasy while staring at gray cubicle walls, or toil-


    ing outside for an hourly wage under the command of someone who


    is profiting from the fruits of your labor.


    “I can do this,” you say, “How hard could it be?”


    Some, emboldened by the desire to take charge of their own des-


    tiny, actually take the leap.


    Things can go well for a while, until the moment when they real-


    ize that there are a whole lot of things that can go wrong.


    And that if they had known then what they knew now, they may not


    have been so quick to give notice at their job, or to invest precious money,


    time, and energy in an idea that was not quite ready for prime time.


    The greatest heartbreak, popular success publications tout, is failing


    to do something about your burning passion for a world-changing idea.


    A greater heartbreak, in reality, is placing this idea onto a shaky


    foundation, and watching it fall apart.


    What is really driving your desire to start a business? If you are


    like most people:


    9 You want to make an impact in the world.


    9 You want to create wealth for yourself and your family.


    9 You want to translate your idea into a tangible product or


    service.


    9 You want to have flexibility to spend time with your family.


    9 You want to feel fully alive.


    9 You want to use your strengths in a way that leads to deep


    value.


    These desires are not fantasies. There are thousands of entrepre-


    neurs who have built successful businesses on a solid foundation and


    accomplish these goals every day.


    AmericanManagementAssociation•www.amanet.org vi Foreword


    The difference between them and others who end up in the


    “failed” pile of startup statistics is that they cared enough about their


    ideas to give them the very best chance to succeed.


    Caring means researching. Caring means testing ideas before


    committing too many resources. Caring means not brushing off peo-


    ple who challenge your idea. Caring means getting the very best ad-


    vice from people who have successfully guided companies through


    the startup phase and beyond.


    In 6 Secrets to Startup Success, John Bradberry, a calm, steady hand


    and seasoned mentor, brings an invaluable voice of reason that will


    guide you every step of the way without preaching or dampening your


    enthusiasm. He celebrates entrepreneurial passion while giving it the


    structure it needs to result in business success:


    The solution lies not in ratcheting down passion, but in elevating


    awareness. By pausing early in your startup process to take an ob-


    jective look at yourself and what you bring to the table—your pur-


    pose, goals, skills, resources, and needs—you can develop a highly


    valuable kind of optimism, one that rests on the rock of clear, hon-


    est assessment and willful preparation. I call it earned optimism.


    It is such a relief to know that sustained energy to grow your busi-


    ness is not based on manufactured enthusiasm or pep talks from mo-


    tivational speakers. It is based on executing a well-defined yet flexible


    plan in tiny steps, leaning into the market and adjusting your business


    model as you go.


    If you want to mitigate and reduce risk to your career, your fi-


    nances, your relationships, and your health before starting your busi-


    ness, read this book.


    You will breathe easier.


    Most important, you will increase the likelihood that your busi-


    ness will be a raging success.


    —Pamela Slim, author, Escape from Cubicle Nation: From


    Corporate Prisoner to Thriving Entrepreneur


    AmericanManagementAssociation•www.amanet.org Acknowledgments


    Writing a book is similar to launching a business. Each requires more


    time and effort than expected, and most of the sacrifice comes from


    people other than the author (or founder). Looking back, I’m amazed


    at how many talented people generously contributed to this project.


    I cannot name them all here, so I will hit the high notes.


    The only thing harder than being married to an entrepreneur is


    being married to a first-time author. My wife, Kristin, has endured


    both. She advised and supported me throughout the writing process,


    providing invaluable feedback on chapter drafts and all kinds of emo-


    tional and tactical support. She took on more than her share of re-


    sponsibility for our family life while continuing to inspire me in her


    own professional career. Thanks, Kristin, for being my best friend


    and most trusted editor.


    Thanks to Phoebe and Isabelle, for cheering me on while putting


    up with the strange hours and obsessive habits of a book-writing dad.


    Phoebe consistently motivated me with her own quiet determination,


    and Isabelle single-handedly risked life and limb to save thirty pages


    of a chapter draft that had blown into the street from the roof of my


    car. Thanks, girls, for encouraging me and for keeping me going.


    This book couldn’t exist without its central characters. I’m in-


    debted to founders Lynn Ivey (The Ivey), J.C. Faulkner (Decision


    One Mortgage), Mark Williams (Modality), and Mark Kahn (TRAF-


    FIQ), for their courage, expertise, and openness—and for allowing


    their founding stories to be shared with the world at large. One of


    the themes of this book is that launching a business is a highly per-


    sonal, emotional process. I have not taken it for granted that these


    founders were willing to be so generous with their lessons learned,


    and I know readers will benefit greatly from this generosity. I owe a


    special thanks to J.C., who has been a favorite client, trusted friend,


    business partner, and mentor for many years now.


    Thanks also to other colleagues and experts who lent their voices


    to the narrative by allowing material from their interviews to be in-


    cluded, especially Chris Holden, Robert (Bob) Tucker, Ken Macher,


    Shaun Cassidy, John Davenport, Doug Crisp, and Jerry Schiano.


    AmericanManagementAssociation•www.amanet.org viii Acknowledgments


    Dawn Ballenger, who came to this book project just as the writing


    of the manuscript was beginning, has been the person most indispens -


    able to the quality and integrity of the finished product. Dawn spear-


    headed the book’s research, was a close partner in developing the


    ideas and structure of each chapter, and brought a gifted editorial


    eye to all drafts. She has also become the rock of Ready Founder


    Services and ReadyFounder.com, driving our most vital research and


    product development efforts.


    I owe a great debt to David Fugate, founder of LaunchBooks Lit-


    erary Agency and a thriving entrepreneur himself, who was willing


    to back a first-time author and provided expert coaching throughout


    the process. Lori Spangard, of Terrace Blue Marketing, was vital dur-


    ing the project’s earliest days, helping me shape first proposals and


    connecting me with David Fugate (thanks also to entrepreneur ex-


    traordinaire Louis Foreman, founder of Enventys and creator of


    Everyday Edisons, for the assist here).


    It’s been a pleasure working with the publishing professionals at


    AMACOM Books, especially Robert Nirkind, who believed in this


    book and invested more than his share of energy and ideas in making


    it a reality, and Erika Spelman, who did most of the heavy lifting to


    bring it past the finish line.


    Adam Ortiz, of Executive Development Consulting, has provided


    tremendous thought partnership and friendship throughout the proj-


    ect. Thanks, Adam, for reading early drafts, for codeveloping the En-


    trepreneur Core Characteristics Profile (thanks also here to S. Bart


    Craig of North Carolina State University), and for being a rock-solid


    business partner.


    Thanks also to Mary Bruce, a pro’s pro when it comes to business


    and management consulting, an early believer in the concept of as-


    sessing entrepreneurial readiness, and a trusted colleague and busi-


    ness partner.


    To Pamela Slim: Thanks for your generosity, leadership, and sup-


    port for me and for Charlotte’s (and the planet’s) entrepreneurial


    community.


    In no particular order, for a range of contributions without which


    this book would not exist, thanks also to: Matt Spangard and the team


    AmericanManagementAssociation•www.amanet.org Acknowledgments ix


    at Enventys, Daniel Isenberg, Barbara Spradling, Mark Peres, Colleen


    Gentry, Ted Zoller, Jill Olmstead, Ken Murrah, Bruce Nofsinger,


    Julie Nance, David Schroeder, Carol Ham, Ben Williams, Suzanne


    Fetscher, David Dotlich, Peter Cairo, Stephen Rhinesmith, Fletcher


    Fairey, George McAllister, Ron Meeks, Paul Wetenhall, Phil Hajek,


    Gary James, Karen Hills, Nancy Owens, Julie Negrin, Richard Good-


    man, and Jeffrey Kane.


    Finally, I am grateful to my parents, Mary and George Bradberry,


    for instilling in me a curiosity and a love of learning, and to brothers


    George and Jim and sister Julee. Your teaching and spirit are deeply


    imprinted throughout this book.


    AmericanManagementAssociation•www.amanet.org


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