Can entrepreneurs live inside corporations?

Incentives shape behaviour – a statement to live by.  One which gives more guidance to corporate and gubernatorial behaviour than anything else. It’s the reason why the disrupted, got disrupted, and why most governments in developed economies favour industrial protection over reinvention. Whenever we think about how anyone, or any organisation might behave, the best course of action we can take is to stop, and imagine what their incentives might be.

A favoured form of reinvention for companies facing a technological disruption is the birth of the corporate accelerator program. Or smaller efforts of finding and funding internal ‘entrepreneurial’ activity – the startup inside. The concept is valid, but so often the execution fails. Over the years I’ve been involved with a number of multinational corporations who’ve sponsored such activity to try and build out internal startup firms. They rarely work for one simple reason – misaligned incentives.

If you’re really an entrepreneur, the first things you want are ownership and independence. But all too often these accelerators have majority equity stakes, or expect their newly minted internal entrepreneurs to magically stop behaving like employees. They expect an entire new perspective on risk taking inside their culture. When the mindset and rewards are so often about protection and risk mitigation.

The simplest and best way to ensure anyone truly cares about anything is via ownership. People need to have ‘skin in the game’ and own the outcome. It’s only when we wear the cost of failure and benefit directly from any success that the true entrepreneurial spirit can ever be found.

When something bad is good

Today I was lucky enough to record a Beers Blokes & Business podcast with Wil Anderson – about funny business.  Turns out the business side of comedy has a lot of similarity with entrepreneurship. Comedians are, certainly in their early days – solopreneurs.  Wil was amazingly honest and generous with his insights and story, but there was one thing in particular which stood out to me. While I can’t remember the quote verbatim – it went something like this.

Some people are not lucky enough to hate their job. Their job is not quite bad enough for them to pack it in and leave. So they get stuck there doing something they don’t like for years. They miss their chance.

My interpretation – this is one time when hating is good. If you’re in a job you hate – remember sometimes it’s the pure pain and divine discontentment which is really required to take the leap. You can listen to the entire podcast here: Funny Business with Wil Anderson

You can subscribe to our Beers Blokes and Business podcast right here. But more importantly be sure to go see his Comedy Festival show Wiluminati.


Unlearning & decorporatisation of self

Another interview I did with Fiona Boyd the uber successful on-line entrepreneur who built and sold about ‘Unlearning’. A concept which we need to embrace when leaving the corporate world to start up land. Enjoy.


Fiona has a great site with interviews and ideas on niche content. The title says it all – and she’s done it. Check it out.


Web Economic Models

There are 3 major economic models we see  with web businesses.

Option 1. Create value, and take a small percentage of the value they create (ebay / amazon)

Option 2. Create value, and take nothing. The free model (twitter, youtube)

Option 3. Take more value (either from VC’s or customers) than the value they create.

Obviously option 3 is what we’d call unsustainable. There are many dot gone companies under this banner. comes to mind as does

Option 2 ends up selling advertising, or to another internet company with deep pockets – Facebook comes to mind. We are not Facebook, we will never be Facebook. We don’t have the page impressions, loyalty or any of the stuff needed to sell enough advertising, or sell the entire ship.

Startup blog advice is simple. If you want to have a web business, have a price for your service. Call me old fashioned, but it’s the simplest way to make a living on the web. Sure, we may have to provide more than what we sell – have an augmented product, but the economics of ‘free’ aren’t enough for ‘us’. Free might work for them…. But if we’ want to survive, we’ve got to sell something. If people wont buy what we sell, then we have 2 options.

(A) Improve what we offer

(B) Sell something different

But be sure of this, we need a price and giving stuff away is a quick way to go out of business.


Business Pitch

The other day I was involved in pitching my business – I wanted to stay true to my beliefs and present a largely visual presentation to what I expected was an ‘info hungry’ crowd. The type who don’t mind a page full of words and numbers. My rule was no more than 6 words per slide. Some had only 2.

I think the format is pretty useful, so I thought I’d share it. Basically in each chart just change the word ‘rentoid’ and insert ‘your business’ and I think it would be just fine. It was for a pitching competition (I know they seem to be the trend of the day) and we made it to the final after a few stages so I guess it’s a method which has worked. It’s only 5 slides. I think talking to pictures works because it makes people listen, not read, and it shows you know your business.



Know what to do

I was thinking about my business and why I believe we, the rentoid team can succeed making this business something incredibly valuable for all our people. (I’ll do my next blog entry on those two important words, valuable & people).

These are the 4 reasons:

  1. Our concept has been validated in market.
  2. We know what to do.
  3. We know how to do it.
  4. We are are actually doing it – right now.

If you have these 4 factors working in your favour, then success is inevitable. Of course all of these elements need some explaining.

1. Our concept has been validated in market.

Firstly let’s look at the last two words in this sentence – in market. This means we have launched, we are live, we have customers, and revenue. We have gone beyond the idea (the easy part), and launched something which makes the original business launch plan a historical & irrelevant document. Concept validation – this has occurred when people are buying what we sell as well as any positive coverage we have. Coverage includes  people and media talking about what we are doing for other people, the people who buy from us, not us. Basically – the business has potential and isn’t a stupid whim.

2. We know what to do.

We’ve been doing what we do, selling what we sell long enough to know the crappy parts of our business. We know what we must improve to make our semi-broken, yet still alive startup get better. We’ve been around long enough to have feedback from the market which gives us a good indication of how to improve our ‘thing’. Until this point innovation, location, good people and lots of saying sorry has kept us alive. But time has nearly run out, and we’ve learned what must be done to grow and eventually thrive.

3. We know how to do it.

Not only do we understand the above conceptually, but we actually know how to make this stuff happen. We’ve gone beyond ideas for improvement like – make the website more usable, reduce the price of the widget, create national brand awareness or increase distribution, and actually have an executable plan in place. A plan which isn’t a pipe dream, but an achievable reality. A reality in which we have the team, the skills, the financial resources and the time needed to bring our improved offer to market.

4. We are actually doing it – right now.

The plans have been put down as discussed in parts 2 and 3. In fact we won’t even look at them again. They are now ‘historical documents’. Instead we are fully engaged in implementing what we have agreed is the correct strategy. They are live projects the team is actively engaged in on a daily basis which will fundamentally change the marketing mix of our business. The projects have budgets and deadlines and we will not rest until they have been completed. Only then will we go back to part 2, 3 and 4 again.

When we do this – we are on the path to success.

(Which by the way we should define as follows: Success = the progressive realization of a worthwhile ideal. )