Tell your story – ‘Quickly’

People are very time poor, or maybe just a little impatient. Regardless of which it is we have to be able to tell our story quickly.

Vanguard Investments do it in 2 seconds. Click here to see how they do it. (Watch the animation)

Even this chart below tells the story on long term ‘index’ investing. Of which Vanguard are the founding forefathers.


The recent downturn is a best a ‘blip’.

How long does your startup story take to tell? Here’s a tip – we’ve got a few seconds at most.


What do investors invest in?

While dropping into Startup Camp in Melbourne last week I started chatting with Jonathon from Melbourne Angel Investors. I asked him just one question:

What is more important in their investments, the team or the concept / product?

His reply was a simple one and here it is:

We’d invest in an A Grade team with a B Grade product, but we wouldn’t invest in an A Grade product with a B Grade team.

Startup blog agrees. Though I did here that he was pretty ‘anti-tech’ as far as their investments go…

But the first piece of advice is worth adhearing  to. Above all things build an A Grade team, be an A Grade entrepreneur.

And so again we hear that the people in your startup are way more important than the secret sauce. It is without irony that A Grade teams more often than not find A Grade ideas too.

Simple maths

“…I would have, but I’m not very good at maths”. How many times have we heard that?  I love quadratic equations and differential calculus as much as the next guy…

Good news bulletin: Simple Maths rules the business world.

If you’re familiar with the following symbols you’ve got all the number skills you need.

+         –           x          /           %         <          >

You only need grade school math. But, you’ve got to be quick with your numbers, know which ones matter, understand industry averages and which ratio’s to look for – top of mind. The most important of all these symbols is %.

Everything that matters is represented as a percentage:

Gross margins

Net margins

Rates of interest

Return on investment

Price earnings ratios

Growth rates

Quick ratios

Debt to equity

Get to know your key financial indicators. Simple tools used on the share market are your best friend even for a small start up. Fundamental analysis is always based on ratio analysis.

Your company will only ever be what it earns and remember these two things that entrepreneurs often forget:

– Revenue must exceed expenditure

– The crocodile always gets the biggest piece!

What exit strategy?

I once said that “investors only ever get married with divorce in mind”. In fact, it’s often the most popular question at most start up events. “What’s your exit strategy?”


At the Hive event last week, local entrepreneur Simon Crowe of Grill’d  had a refreshingly alternative view: He doesn’t have one.




What Simon wants to do is build a profitable business which grows beyond him. One which can operate without him. Simon gets it.


Here’s some advice all young entrepreneurs should heed. Because when you can achieve the above you don’t need an ‘exit’, you have ‘options’.

Why everything matters

Here’s a list of things which actually do matter:


Our diction and vernacular

Our personal presentation & dress code (Doesn’t mean a suit, but to wear what we wear well, have a sense of style)

The way we engage people and treat them

Our smile and attitude

How neat  and organized our workspace is

Being on time

Our posture

Knowing our next steps every day

Making sure our technology is in working order


All these things and others, matter all the time. Not just the day you have to do it right, have the big VC presentation or the day you’re meeting your biggest customer. 


And here’s why – they’ll become habit. Good habits. And when things are habit, they’re performed much the same way – time and time again.


If we do them well when it doesn’t matter, we’ll do them well when it does.

Pop quiz

Two people went to work on their startup business.


Joseph got up early started at 8am and worked until midnight, he finished all the tasks on his to do list.


Mary slept in, was tired, got up mid morning flicked through the newspaper, had a few good solid hours in the afternoon and goofed off after 5.30pm. She did not complete all the tasks on her to do list.


Question: Which entrepreneur achieved the most in said day?


A)    Joseph

B)    Mary

C)    Cannot tell.


Answer: C


As entrepreneurs the most crucial mistake we can make is confusing activity with progress. The entrepreneur who achieved most is the one who made the most progress towards their end goal.


We should not confuse time spent with value created.

Business plans

For those of us not raising Angle or Venture Capital, our business plans should be directly proportional to the size of our business.


No revenue = no plan.

(ok – a small mud map that focuses on the very basic business model which will lead to revenue.)


<$1 million revenue  = 1 page.


The law of diminishing returns sets in at around about 10 pages, regardless of the size of the business.