February 18th, 2008 08:34 EST
Be Responsible for Your Outcome
Every week I see many struggling entrepreneurial ventures that are seeking to take their products to market, seeking capital or otherwise seeking to grow and expand so they can become stable and healthy enterprises.
I got a call from one of my financial buddies a few days ago. He`d run into a company that needed some assistance with their growth plan. They`d invented a new concept, and my friend thought the venture was something that I`d be interested in. I told my friend that I would be glad to speak to the owners, so the CFO of the company called me. He explained that the company was small, doing about $1M per year, and they were looking for growth capital. I said to the CFO that I needed to understand a little bit about them. He gave me a brief pitch. The pitch was enough to get me interested for a few minutes. In other words, the first 10 seconds was intriguing enough so that I was willing to invest 10 minutes listening to him talk about his business.
As I listened to the next 10 minutes, I realized there wasn`t as much substance there as he`d managed to pack into the first 10 seconds, which had been carefully honed. The irony is that that first 10 seconds is usually very difficult to construct, so they`d obviously done a good job of putting that little piece together. But as we talked further and he described the company`s cash requirements and business goals, which were narrowly and poorly defined, it became clear that they needed several different kinds of help.
The CFO said they`d been disappointed in the past with the performance of several people who had tried to help them find money. As a result, they were unwilling to pay for the services of someone who would try to help them find capital. At the same time, he asked me what made me different from the guys who had disappointed them in the past.
First and foremost, I told him that I don`t ever promise anybody money. I didn`t know anything about the people he`d dealt with previously, or what promises they`d made, but I never promise to provide capital to anyone. I don`t know what kinds of funds they might require, and I don`t know what kinds of investment people might be willing to make the deal. But I did ask how many times they`d been disappointed, and the number was significant.
I then turned the tables on the discussion.
I told the CFO that he was probably looking at the situation backwards. Rather than wondering why all of the brokers and investment bankers with whom they`d worked had failed to find them funds, I asked the CFO to look inward at the company and consider why the management team has been unsuccessful in delivering a company that could be funded or invested in.This question was so disturbing to the CFO " it was so revealing and eye-opening " that he immediately asked me for a meeting. This is the way I approach all of my activities. I tend to approach them backwards. Backwards " that is " from how other people look at things. Rather than promising an outcome, I force the people with whom I work to take responsibility for their own actions and outcomes.
Why would I be any more successful at finding funding for this company than all of the other guys if the company was the same? My promising to find money wouldn`t make it happen. If everyone who had tried to find funding for the company had failed, then perhaps the failure wasn`t on the part of the brokers or the investment bankers. Perhaps the failure had to do with the company`s products or marketplace or any number of other factors.
So, as you are working hard every day to build your company, or as you`re building your career, I urge you to look inside and take responsibility for yourself. Are you doing everything that you possibly can to structure a fundable and investable business? Are you creating a business that people will want to become involved in? Is it a business that employees want to work for? If you`re not doing everything that you can do, and you`re having failures in certain areas, don`t blame the people around you. Take responsibility for your success and you`ll see that this will make all the difference in the world.
About Joel G. Block, President of Growth-Logic, Inc.
Often dubbed a "Growth Architect" by his clients, Joel Block advises companies on explosive growth strategies by driving revenue and sales. Well known in the capital markets, Joel is a successful entrepreneur, speaker and advisor. To bring Joel into your company, please visit www.joelblock.com or www.growth-logic.com.