Guy Kawasaki, who runs a VC blog that changes names often enough that I want to just brand it with a symbol like “the artist formerly known as prince”, put a post up the other day about “After the honeymoon.” In it, he lists 9 common problems that startup companies encounter after they get their funding and begin operations. Since I have a little bit of experience in this realm with DOTM, I thought I’d go through them each and give my two cents.
1. Problem: A founder isn’t delivering.
I think that this problem is numbered 1 because it is probably the most common. We’ve had partial issues that entailed this problem. In our case, it hasn’t necessarily been pinned on any one of the founders, but alternating amongst the founders. So far, the remaining founders have been able to get the one that isn’t delivering a kick in the butt and get him going. Perhaps, one day that won’t work anymore. What would we do about it? Kindly ask the founder to leave. If that fails, we vote him off the island.
2. Problem: The product is late.
We actually ran into this problem our very first shipment. It happens. In our case, we didn’t have body but ourselves and our customers to apologize to. We did. Nobody asked for a refund. Will it happen again? Maybe. What will we do then? Apologize again. Never underestimate the power of a sincere apology.
3. Problem: Sales aren’t meeting projections.
Unless you have a uber product, everybody is going to run into this. We did. We got over it and made adjustments to the way that we were doing things to help out the bottom line. We survived. Will it happen again? You Betcha.
4. Problem: Our team is not getting along.
Our team is our founders. If we don’t get along, we have issues. Does it happen? Yes. But more often than not, we make a compromise and get along with business.
5. Problem: We are getting slammed by the press/analysts/blogosphere.
We haven’t really had too big of a problem with this one. Of course part of that could be that we’re the oposite of Norm from cheers. Nobody knows our name.
6. Problem: VCs are micro-managing us.
7. Problem: VCs aren’t helping very much.
I’m lumping 6 and 7 together because we do not have any VC’s and as a result, 6 & 7 do no apply.
8. Problem: Our PR/ad agency/consultant is not delivering.
We do not have a PR/Ad Agency/Consultant. We fulfill those things ourselves. Of course, that could be the reason behind the “nobody knows our name” problem. We have done some PR and advertising, but really, none of us has any true experience and have exhausted most of our resources.
9. Problem: We are going to run out of money before we can raise more.
Last, but not least. This is a lot like #1. Most everybody is going to feel the crunch at some point. We are in that crunch now. Our subscriber base isn’t growing as fast as we would like and we’ve cut corners where we can, but we most certainly are out of money. Anything more comes from our pockets. Ouch!
I hope that this little foray into another list by Guy has been as meaningful and incitefull as it was for me. I know that when we began DOTM, we had “visions of sugarplums dancing in our heads”, but now we are faced with some hard realities that are expressed by these nine items along with some items that aren’t included. That’s fodder for another post however.