I’m about to talk about stuff. [Just so you know – I sat at my computer for almost an hour trying to come up with something witty to start this out with. You got “stuff”. sorry]
So let me set the stage:
I’m meeting with a client (well, potential client at the time). They are interested in having me look at all of their material they need for going out and raising a little bit of venture capital for their new business. The basics – Business Plan, Financials, Pitch Deck, etc…
Ultimately, they become clients, and they send me the material.
Here is what happens.
I open the business plan and read the executive summary. Then I open up the pitch deck and finally the financials. Total time spent up to this point was less than 30 minutes. My immediate reaction mentally after briefly looking through these things was to have one of those *he slowly closed the book & finger-tented his hands* moments. And steepling my hands in the context of deep thought – not in the context of Mr. Burns.
I was in deep thought because the clients were people that I know. They are friends of mine – and I was not looking forward to giving them the feedback that I knew I was going to have to give. I actually wouldn’t have looked forward to it for the client – regardless. I have been on the other end of it, and so I empathize.
Long story short – none of their material was where it needed to be. The business plan was way too long and lacked any depth where it mattered. It didn’t tell the story on why this business existed and why someone should invest.
So a couple days later, and many hours making notes and putting some material together for them, we got back together and I went through what were the glaring issues, and touched on all of the various things that needed to be fixed and modified, edited and cut. This was a pretty long meeting.
The result of the meeting was that the clients, regardless of getting some “harsh reality” feedback, were extremely thankful for the work that I had done. And are now on the right track of having the proper tools they need to raise the venture capital they need and to execute their business plan.
And so I learned a couple things from this experience. Nothing that everyone (including myself) hasn’t heard a thousand times before. So let’s say that I had some things reiterated to me that reinforced a previous understanding that I had on a particular subject.
#1 – Perception is reality.
I perceived that since I knew these guys, and that they had a great idea, and I know that they are business savvy, that I would be presented with material that was close to ready to go. I also perceived that the harsh reality that I was going to give them, was going to perhaps put them on the defensive or just less likely to absorb what I was trying to give them which was just constructive criticism. That perception turned out to be wrong. But until I saw it for my own eyes – my reality was what I perceived it to be. So be careful.
#2 – Everyone needs help sometimes.
Everyone needs help sometimes. At that very moment when I stopped previewing the material, I realized that regardless of who you are, where you are or where you have been, what you have done or are doing, how much money you have (or don’t have) for your business, that everyone needs help sometimes. Just because you are the idea creator, or founder, or hold a C-level position doesn’t mean that you can’t or shouldn’t ask for some outside help from time to time (or even all the time). This doesn’t make you “less” in anyway, it makes you “more”. Because it showcases that ego isn’t involved in your decision making process – that results and execution are.
#3 – The Entrepreneurial Spirit is Strong with this one.
I love management consulting work – regardless of what stage of life cycle the business is in – but especially early stage. It allows me to meet a vast array of people, over various industries, and I get to learn almost as much as I consult/teach. And this client taught me that more often than not, the entrepreneur that is truly vested with their project on a level that is beyond their “vision”, is an entrepreneur that purely just wants to succeed. And no matter how tough it may be, or how many times they get knocked down, they keep popping back up.
So for all my business leaders and entrepreneurs out there. Keep your head up – and keep fighting the good fight.
Everyone needs a little help from time to time. You may have to pay for it. But the return on that investment will almost always be paid back in your favor – as long as you go into it with both your eyes and your ears wide open.
Everyone needs help sometimes! When it’s time – Call me.
Until next time…