In this order: Mom, sober alcoholic, seasoned businessperson, writer, compassionate bitch.
I'm an experienced leader currently offering a few free sessions to those having difficulty with colleagues. Feeling beat up and pushed around? Watching your team beat up each other? Let's talk about what YOU can do to make things better.
You're in the business of making money, right? What else matters? That might work for some people, but a lot of us launch down that path with our eyes on the reward and then become discouraged and burned out without knowing why. The work you do can feed you in more ways than the material *if* you're willing to dig deep into your personal values and apply them to your working life. That won't just make your days feel better. You'll produce a better product, build customer loyalty that lasts, and attract team members who can't wait to work with you. Get in touch with me and let's talk about what happens when you bring your full self and your core values to your work.
You're already hearing the short answer: there is no answer. If you want to talk about the best stage for YOUR startup to seek funding, I'd be interested to learn more. Meanwhile, some things to think about:
-What are you really trying to fund? Internal growth? Product development? Team? Marketing? If you're hurting for money, where is your biggest hurt? And from there, what can you do to support your startup without outside funding?
-Try thinking against funding. What can you cut? What can you focus more tightly on so you can reduce expense elsewhere.
-And more anti-funding: What can you sell now? What is viable, ready to ship, or even ready to consult on? What wisdom have you gained in your development so far that you can turn to use?
-Don't forget: seeking funding is a full-time job. Are you ready to add *another* full-time job to your startup regime?
-Though it depends somewhat on the kind of funding you intend to seek, keep in mind that a typical funding relationship lasts seven years. Rather than asking the best stage, ask yourself if you're ready for that much of a long-term relationship.
I've organized lots of speaker events from near-scratch and brought in committed, interesting and very high-profile speakers (and performers) to what you'd think would be very low-profile events (since I've worked mostly in early-stage).
Here's the secret: They love speaking.
That inside information should embolden you to approach them, since you're asking them to do one of their favorite things.
Another way to say this is to think of this not at all as a difficult problem, or a hill to climb, but as a favor you're extending the prospective speaker.
I'm going to assume you know what you're doing and have thoughtfully aligned your brand and themes with the speakers you want.
And of course, you can call me if you want to discuss further. :-)
I'm so excited for you! Build that puppy. Then build another and another. And keep me -- nay, us -- posted on all of them.
I am so excited about your venture! Congratulations. If I can be useful to you, let me know. I advised fashion and socially conscious, women-led endeavors while helping found Women's Startup Lab in Menlo Park.
The brief answer is you will not regret allying your brand with women's business groups. Growth may be slower than launching into market directly, but your risk will also be somewhat more diverse. And you will get feedback at scale.
I would love to hear more about your goals and progress. Let's definitely talk!
I bet you already know what you have to do: fire her.
Although I like how Kelli says it-- help her find a better fit -- if you're really appropriately focused on your own work, you won't be helping anyone who's not helping you, so firing her and *suggesting* she find a better fit seems more accurate to me.
And I congratulate your insight -- you seem clear that it's not about job skills or diligence. And you're identifying how critical culture is to your success.
You made the wrong choice. Forgive yourself, cut loose, and hire differently (like hiring on a paid trial, as is suggested here) next time.
Lee Greenwood, thanks for a brave answer. Asker, I am sorry you are living in such dire circumstances, and I applaud your raising your voice to a broader community.
I can, in only a small way, relate to the circumstance of environment you describe: my sons are black, which means they face potential discrimination and violence whenever they leave the house. But it sounds like you are deep inside several circles of threat supported by layers of institutions.
You say depression is setting in, and I am not surprised. Depression's super-power is to overwhelm -- the best way to fight it is the chip away at it daily. You are doing so when you reach out to people on Clarity and elsewhere. How can you apply your talents to keeping channels open so your voice and the voices of your colleagues can continue to be heard? What forums and platforms can you commit to communicating on on a regular basis, so we know you are still with us?
You're already nearly home if you know what you like. For process, I'd recommend running your posting wherever you want (Craigslist, freelancewriting.com, indeed.com) and soliciting test copy *in a contest.* I've done this quite successfully with designers. You will feel better about offering something in exchange for the work and you'll get a greater range of talent, since seasoned oldsters and brand newbies both like contests. I have used Submittable.com for contest submissions. Call me if you want me to lay out further or if you would like help with submissions.
I'm with Janice on this one -- what is your idea of failure? And most importantly, why do you ask? I bet you've got an interesting reason. Call me if you want to discuss.
What has been most helpful to me in both my personal and business life is to surrender to the idea that none of us is an individual acting in an individual manner but instead we are all engaged in a dynamic and we each have a role. If that is a way of thinking you are open to, I would suggest you look at what your role is in the current dynamic. My recommendation is not about blaming yourself; in fact, it's almost the opposite of blaming, because it gives you something you can make significant progress on--your personal development, your behavior change--rather than trying to change others (which is impossible) or changing the situation, which almost always leads us to having the situation arise again because we have not changed ourselves. Examining and changing ourselves is the hardest work we do, and it is the most rewarding because we have so much power in this area. If you are interested in looking at your role in this situation and discussing the slow and powerful route of changing so that your future relationships are better, please get in touch.
So what did you three decide?? Shoot me a note and let me know. I've been curious.
Fascinating question! And how exciting to be thinking of how you'd like to grow. My first question back to you is, rather than being "more than just a middleman," would you be willing to consider deeply refining and profiting from your role as a middleman? Not "more than," but "more of." As you already know, running a brokerage is a marvelous perspective from which to learn both sides of a marketplace. My experience of broker-modeled businesses comes from watching my father and grandfather grow their brokerage and also from my experience of supporting chambers of commerce by managing their member publications. I saw those businesses flourish from doubling down on their brokerage model, rather than seeing it as a less-than position that somehow needs to be grown beyond. For example, in my family business, we got to know both the supplier and the customer by vending hardwood lumber from sawmills to builders. We deepened those relationships by listening to the builders' needs and helping them refine what they ideally wanted from a sawmill. Then we worked with the sawmills to customize their basic products to increase sales (through us!) to the builders. My mentor in the publishing business used to say, "If you want to make money, be there when the money changes hands." In that business, we got to know our customers by selling advertising in their publications; as we listened to both the chambers on one side and the ad-buyers/members on the other, we learned what they would ideally like to get from each other. The chambers wanted stronger member relations, including publication distribution from their members, and the members wanted a wider variety of publications to advertise in, which we were only too happy to create. So the questions for you then become as much about customer relationships as about changing your business model. And the daily actions toward ideal growth have to do what how you're addressing customer relationships. What are you doing to listen to customers? What are your mechanisms for increasing dialogue, gathering customer feedback, and challenging your team to brainstorm new offerings? Above all, what are your core individual and company values and what daily actions are you taking to model and disseminate those values with your team members and customers? It would be an honor to talk with you if you'd like to discuss further.