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Miami’s Kairos Acquires Emotion Analysis Firm IMRSV, Expands Product Offerings

The Miami-based facial recognition software company Kairos, founded by Endeavor Entrepreneur Brian Brackeen, announced that it has acquired the emotion analysis company IMRSV for $2.7 million. A New York-based startup, IMRSV will be folded into Kairos’ business structure […]

April 14th, 2015 — by admin

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Argentina’s Belatrix Software Partners with Silicon Valley-Based kernel; Highlights Endeavor’s Multiplier Effect

Endeavor Entrepreneur company Belatrix Software, founded by entrepreneurs Alex, Luis and Federico Robbio, was recently named a Co-Innovation Partner for kernel, a Silicon Valley-based software venture co-founded by Endeavor Mentor Avikk Ghose. This unique partnership is […]

February 26th, 2014 — by admin

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Ridiculously transparent — by Scott Weiss, general partner of Andreessen Horowitz

Reprinted from Ben’s Blog. See the original post here.

By Scott Weiss, general partner of Andreessen Horowitz

I had a real struggle preparing to be a public company CEO. And it had little to do with having scalable internal systems or making the quarterly numbers… I just couldn’t keep secrets from my employees.

As CEO of IronPort, I wanted to be completely transparent with my entire team but my board of seasoned industry veterans was sharply opposed… They raised several serious issues: do you want to leak critical weaknesses to your competitors? Do you want to panic your employees? Do you want to completely reconstruct your culture when you go public? It was just a bad idea. However, the more that I thought about it, the more I believed that sharing absolutely everything would create massive advantages and that we should live with whatever consequences resulted.

So, after board meetings, we would assemble the company and go through every board slide… How much cash in the bank? What’s our burn rate? What are the biggest problems we are facing? Did we decide to build, buy or acquire a critical component? The first couple of go rounds, there was dead silence. No questions—just head nodding and a couple of blank stares. After some probing, we realized that people needed to feel comfortable speaking up, that it didn’t just come naturally. We brainstormed a bunch of different ways to get over this hurdle and here were some experiments that ultimately worked:

– We amped up the frequency of communication to all employees. Different members of the leadership team would send out weekly emails to all about customer trips, conferences attended, schedules slips and customer issues. These were written very off-the-cuff, informal and in the voice of the different leaders. I suppose we’d be all be tweeting or blogging today…

– When an employee would reply to an email with a comment or question, we treated it like it came from a customer who deserved an immediate, detailed and thoughtful response.

– After the weekly staff meetings, we’d send out a summary of the decisions and issues to all of the directors/managers who would then share it with their teams.

– We emphasized “speaking up” as a core value at every opportunity. Our employee orientation, performance reviews and leadership training all emphasized everyone having an obligation to dissent…

– We would leave 30 minutes for questions after every all-hands meeting and then press, often uncomfortably, for no fewer than five questions from the group.

Over time, the benefits of transparency coupled with an emerging cultural norm of speaking up became more apparent:

I thought we would surface creative answers faster. When everyone had a clear understanding of the hard problems, their collective brains were on the table for parallel processing. The best information rarely sat with the senior executives but with the employees that were closest to the product and closest to the customers. And the best answers would often come from the most unlikely of places. For example, some of our most innovative features came from customer support reps identifying customers trying to use the product in ways it wasn’t intended.

Initially, it worked better than we expected. IronPort experienced zero voluntary turnover for the first three years. Because we let everyone’s head under the tent, we implicitly trusted them and it worked both ways. For instance, it wasn’t a shocker when we stopped hiring as we were raising money. Everyone knew exactly what was going on: we were running low on cash and had no idea how long the process would last.

Lastly, nobody was confused about what was important and people would point out any inconsistencies and solve them in the background. I remember standing up at a company meeting talking about how excited I was that IronPort anti-spam was working and we’d finally be able to drop our partner Brightmail. After the meeting, the accounts receivable clerk knocked on my door and said, “I thought you should know that two customers are withholding payment because IronPort anti-spam isn’t performing.” Oh crap. But much better to know about it and fix it than go on believing there wasn’t a problem.

As we were preparing to file our S-1, we hired a CFO with public company experience that insisted that we start “practicing” as a public company. Hmm—I knew that our level of transparency would have to change but what did that mean exactly? “You can’t tell everyone how we did this quarter at midnight quarter-end” and “You can’t go through all the board slides like that—too much sensitive information.” So, we started editing, putting shrouds on issues because we were afraid that the information would leak. I remember our first all-hands during the “practice” time. I felt muzzled and cautious, trying to strike a balance between our wonderful transparent culture and an intricate set of Sarbanes-Oxley rules. As it turned out, the practice was critical in working out the kinks. Here are a few things we did:

– Our CFO and I listened to dozens of public company earnings calls to get a sense for the dynamic and what information was typically shared. The best duos had the CFO as the play-by-play man and the CEO as the color commentator.

– We then staged mock earnings calls with the employees as the analysts asking the questions. This proved to be a very useful format for reining in my over-sharing and was instructive to the employees as they saw us struggle with what we could and couldn’t reveal.

– We prepared a mock earnings press release a few weeks after the quarter closed. This helped us practice keeping the numbers quiet, which was difficult because everyone wanted to know how we did at quarter-end.

Although we eventually opted for an acquisition by Cisco versus an IPO, I came to believe that our type of total transparency was a competitive weapon that applied primarily to private companies. In the end, my board members were right—we did have to limit what we shared with employees on the way to going public. That said, I believe it was much healthier to set the default to full disclosure while we were private. When you prepare for an IPO, it’s definitely a high-class problem to have to work backwards with concrete reasons to withhold information from the employees. And when that time comes, they totally understand.

7 common traits of ineffective leaders

Reprinted from CompanyFounder.com. See original post here.

By Paul Morin

This list of seven traits is not all-inclusive, nor is it in order of importance. These are simply seven traits that I see all the time, which undermine the ability of leaders to help their organizations and themselves achieve all that they can.

I also want to point out that not all the following characteristics are intrinsically “bad”. There are certain situations that call for some or all of them.  In “everyday” leadership scenarios and organizations not in crisis though, the following seven leader traits are not likely to result in an optimal outcome.

Common Ineffective Leader Trait #1: Micro-Managing

Wait, are we talking about leadership or management? Sometimes the line becomes blurred. My favorite metaphor illustrating the difference between management and leadership is from Stephen Covey’s story of a logging crew working in the forest. The crew is working hard and someone yells from atop a nearby mountain (paraphrasing), “Hey, you down there” … “What? We’re busy making progress, don’t interrupt us” … response: “You’re in the wrong forest”!

The effective leader is not the one that goes around “getting into everyone’s business”. Rather, the effective leader makes sure the organization and everyone in it is in the “right forest,” then let’s them get their jobs done.

Common Ineffective Leader Trait #2: Unclear Objectives

Many, if not most, organizations do not have clear objectives for where they are trying to go. The leadership of the organization has not taken the time to define where the organization is trying to go or what it is trying to achieve. In other cases, the objectives have been clearly defined, but they have not been effectively communicated to the members of the organization. Following on the forest metaphor above, the organization may even actually be in the “right forest,” but due to poor communication, the team may not know whether they’re supposed to be cutting it down or planting more trees.

Common Ineffective Leader Trait #3: Frequent Direction Changes

There aren’t too many things more demoralizing to someone working hard toward an objective, than having it change, constantly. We’ve all seen, and some of us have had the displeasure to work in, organizations where the direction and objectives seem to change with the capriciousness of the wind. We all start “rowing in the same direction” only to be informed, or worst yet, find out second-hand, that the objectives have changed and we’re supposed to be rowing in an entirely different direction. If you want to be an effective leader, don’t do this to your team on a frequent basis, and if it’s absolutely necessary at some point, explain it well. Your team will hold it against you a lot less if you communicate with them as openly and honestly as possible regarding why all the work they just expended “was for nothing”.

Common Ineffective Leader Trait #4: No Culture Of Accountability

Once you have clear goals in place and have communicated them effectively to your team, it’s critical to develop a “culture of accountability”. Your team must understand that they have their part to do, in order to help the organization achieve its goals. This “part” must be well-defined, with milestones and target dates for completion. Progress toward the milestones and overall completion must be tracked and reviewed on a regular basis. Variances or deviations from plan should be explained and if necessary, course correction must be facilitated and monitored. Without a “culture of accountability,” it’s too easy for members of the team to get sidetracked “putting out fires” and to never quite complete their “part”. If this happens systemically, the organization will never reach its goals and the leadership will have failed.

Common Ineffective Leader Trait #5: Don’t Walk Their Talk

There are some leaders who are tremendous talkers. They can “wax eloquently” on most any subject and they inspire confidence with their bold pronouncements. The issue arises when all the hyperbole does not coincide with reality and specifically, when the leader displays behavior that is inconsistent with what he or she is “preaching”. Leaders, as persons who are supposed to inspire confidence, like it or not, are held to a higher standard.  If you aspire to be a “great leader,” it’s important that you “walk your talk”. Don’t make eloquent pronouncements, then contradict them with your behavior. That will be the quickest route to lose the respect and confidence of your team and other relevant constituencies.

Common Ineffective Leader Trait #6: Run People Over

Ineffective leaders, frequently unable to persuade with logic or emotional appeals that make sense to their team, often just “run people over”. That usually takes the form of “you’ll do it because I said so”. This approach can be necessary in certain situations, particularly where a team member does not want to listen to reason, or simply cannot be given enough information to fully grasp the rationale for a particular mandate. However, if this approach is used as a matter of routine, then it is likely to alienate many members of the team. This point is highly related to the point above regarding effective communication.  If you communicate effectively as a leader and you have selected good members to your team, you typically will not have the need to “run people over”. That would be ideal, because when intelligent people get run over, they typically find a way to use their formal or informal power within the organization to make you “pay the price”. They undermine you every chance they get, even if just in a passive aggressive way.

Common Ineffective Leader Trait #7: Take Credit For Everything

If something works well in your organization, give credit to your team. Why? Well first, it’s the right thing to do. If you are playing a leadership role, while you may have put everyone in the “right forest,” it’s highly likely that the remainder of your organization did the execution necessary to “make it happen”. Second, you will look and feel a lot better if you “give credit where credit is due”. Even if the reward is not monetary, pretty much everyone appreciates a pat on the back for a job well done. Remember the adage, “praise in public and criticize in private”. Don’t be shy about highlighting the tremendous performance of your team and certain individuals with your team. While some underperformers may get jealous, the achievers will appreciate the recognition and are likely to continue performing at a high level, for you and for the organization.

So there you have “7 Common Traits of Ineffective Leaders” and some ideas on how you can avoid those traits and continue on your path to becoming an effective leader.  As I said at the outset, I realize that this is not an all-inclusive list and I realize that in some situations, these “bad” traits may be necessary.

Every business must manage three things: purpose, projects, and process

Cartoon by Mark AndersonReprinted from Ducttapemarketing.com. See original post here.

By John Jantsch

While one business may be organized in departments, job titles and roles and another basically made up of only one person doing it all, every business that grows and thrives internally and externally figures out how to manage three things at all times: purpose, projects and process.

Lots of employees come into businesses hoping to rise to the ranks of management. The thing is every employee in a business is a manager of something. Lots of business owners start a business and quickly realize they must manage everything. The question is manage what?

As a customer, if you enjoyed a remarkable experience with a business there’s a very good chance that experience enjoyed the complete attention of management from three very distinct points of view – but what really made it remarkable was that it didn’t feel managed at all.

No matter how simple or complex a business may seem if it is to come to life it does so essentially orchestrating these three things – communicating purpose as strategy, delivering innovation, growth and positioning through the implementation of project after project and creating a remarkable culture and consistent customer experience through the operation of process after process.

No matter how many people actually go to work in a business, every business needs to fill the role of Purpose Manager, Project Manager and Process Manager even if all three of these roles are played by the same person.

The role of the Purpose Manager is to create and tell the story of why the business does what it does, create and keep the picture of where the business is headed and act as the filter for business decisions made in the name of the brand’s positioning.

The role of the Project Manager is to continually look to break every business innovation, question, challenge, initiative or campaign into logical projects complete with required action steps and resources.

The role of the Process Manager is to receive and implement the tasks and action steps that fall from each project plan and operate established processes that ensure trust is maintained through consistency.

No matter how complicated we want to make our businesses, this is what success comes down to.

But, this is what makes owning a business such a challenge, this is what makes managing people such a challenge, this is what makes doing a job such a challenge. Finding the places where these three roles divide and where they come back together again is the art of the business and it’s not always obvious or even natural.

If you’re the sole employee you must spend some part of each day playing these distinct roles no matter that your innate talents may reside squarely in one or the other.

As you hire staff you must focus on first hiring for your weaknesses in performing or managing one or more of the three roles not on job titles or departments.

As you grow your business you must build purpose, project and process thinking into every new department, innovation and initiative.

You must also guide your entire team to approach their work in this manner and give them the tools that will allow them to embrace purpose, think in terms of projects and know when and how process that delivers purpose is the right path.

Spotlight on AirTies

AirTies CEO and Endeavor Entrepreneur Bülent Çelebi already has many reasons to celebrate this year, and still much to look forward to.

The Turkish tech firm recently won two awards at the International Broadcasters Conference (IBC) for its home networking solutions. IBC is the largest tradeshow focused on the TV & broadcast market. And while the company has won many awards in Turkey, these awards are significant as they recognize AirTies to be an industry leader at the international level.

Additionally, making big news in the set-top box business, AirTies will make two set top boxes with Quantenna’s Wi-Fi chipsets for streaming HD videos. The press release states that the partnership will enable solutions that are capable of “flawlessly delivering multiple simultaneous HD video streams in the home through as many as three concrete floors.”

Started in 2004, AirTies is an innovative wireless networking and set-top box company. It is unique because it manages the entire chain from supply to customer service. The feedback received from direct technical support is used by the large R&D team to continually improve and customize products which translates to customer driven innovation.

Endeavor Entrepreneur Daniel Daccarett receives crime prevention award

On September 28, Chile’s government awarded Endeavor Entrepreneur Daniel Daccarett a major honor. As CEO of Producto Protegido, Daniel received the “Public-Private Partnership: Committed to Safety 2011” award for the company’s work in theft protection. The award is given annually by Chile’s Secretary of Crime Prevention to businesses that have “made notable efforts in matters of security and have become an integral component for a more efficient public safety, for the benefit of our entire community.”

Producto Protegido provides product protection services by laser printing a unique code on the property, and then storing the code in the National Register of Protected Product Goods. Besides deterring criminals from stealing the marked item in the first place, the code also contains information such as brand, manufacturer, photographs of the product, and owner contact information. If a marked good is stolen, the registered code facilitates the recovery of the stolen product. Producto Protegido’s online database works directly with authorities to minimize the market for stolen goods and to maximize the possibility of returning stolen goods to owners.

After building a website where everyone can register their marked products, Producto Protegido saw people’s great interest in marking their property and built special products for people’s most valuable goods. Producto Protegido now offers a Home Development Kit that allows people to mark goods inside of their home, an Electronic Development Kit for portable electronics, and an Auto Kit for vehicles and bikes. All these products have assisted the government’s goal of reducing criminal activity and the resale of stolen goods, and have made Producto Protegido well deserving of this major recognition.

Endeavor Entrepreneur Zafer Younis (Modern Media; Jordan) featured in UAE newspaper

UAE newspaper The National has featured Endeavor Entrepreneur Zafer Younis in an article, “A silicon oasis blooms in Jordan”.

The article sheds lights on Zafer’s entrepreneurial career, including the struggles that came with beginning his efforts at such a young age:

Mr Younis, 31, is a co-founder and the chief executive of Play 99.6 FM, the country’s first independent English-language radio station, which was launched in 2004. He is also a self-proclaimed ambassador of social media, technology and all things online. Since the launch of the station – he applied for a licence when he was just 16 – he has gone on to launch Modern Media, a marketing and events company and The Online Project (TOP), which applies social media tools to business.

Times have changed since he struggled to get noticed, Mr Younis says, and the current ease of securing the support and funding required for a new technology business has led to a stream of internet-based companies in Jordan.

“Seven years ago when we wanted to start our own business, we were laughed at [because we were so young]…Everyone said you need at least 10 years of experience. Access to funding was nearly impossible back then. There is a huge difference in appetite between when we launched Play FM and when we launched TOP two years ago. Today, you can see well-established businessmen sitting with young entrepreneurs helping them develop their ideas.”

The article, which also quotes other young Jordanian “idea entrepreneurs”, can be found here.

Ernst & Young Corporate Responsibility Fellows hit the ground running in Brazil

(L to R) Jamie Schafer, Tyler Schleich, Katie Duggan

By Tyler D. Schleich, Tax Manager, Ernst & Young LLP

Time Irado (pronounced Tee-May E-Raw-do) was born on August 30, 2011, in Secaucus, New Jersey. That’s when I joined 10 of my colleagues from across Ernst & Young for orientation for the Americas Corporate Responsibility (CR) Fellows Program. The loose translation of the Portuguese is “Team Awesome,” which includes three of us who are serving as CR Fellows in Brazil: Katie Duggan, Fraud Investigation and Dispute Services manager (New York, New York), Jamie Shafer, Advisory manager (Detroit, Michigan) and me (Columbus, Ohio). Other teams are deployed to Mexico City, Buenos Aires and Santiago, Chile.

The CR Fellows Program is a skills-based volunteer initiative where “top performers” (I use the term loosely because I’m included) travel to emerging markets and are paired with some of Latin America’s top Entrepreneurs. [Note: Entrepreneur is spelled with a capital ‘E’ as these folks are the real deal.] Every businessman has a story, but not everyone has the guts, glory and appetite to lay it all out on the line like these transcendent personalities who grow businesses with nothing more than a dream.

The CR Fellows Program is a collaboration between Ernst & Young LLP and Endeavor to help foster growth, create jobs and build communities. As a Fellow, I am paired with an Entrepreneur who is changing the way construction and building materials are produced, delivered and installed, which — given Brazil’s construction boom — is a very good thing. However, as most business professionals know, growing too fast can create challenges. Technical resources are needed along the way including Information Technology, Accounting, Tax and the list goes on. It can also be helpful to have someone assist in thinking a longer range strategic plan. That’s where a program like the CR Fellows comes into play, by helping to provide some of that technical help that may be missing, and by bringing in a different perspective on growth.

So, Team Brazil heads to Sao Paulo for just under two months to donate about a thousand skills-based volunteer hours to three Brazilian Entrepreneurs.

Three traits that set apart the best entrepreneurs

Reprinted from www.wamda.com. See the original post here.

By Omar Aysha

Saad Khan, venture capitalist and thought leader in the fields of technology, design and media, spoke recently at Startup Weekend Alexandria about why he believes entrepreneurs are “the new asset class.” He invests in people, not companies, he said, because, “the ideas can change- it’s the people that matter.” Khan also explained that the best entrepreneurs all possess three distinctive traits:

1. They rewrite the rules. Imagine that someone is beating you in chess, but you reframe the rules of the game so that you’re now playing checkers- this is the kind of flexible thinking that entrepreneurs use in innovation and competition. As an example, Saad mentioned Rich Skrenta, who created Blekko, a search engine that uses slash tags to facilitate topic-based search (Saad is an investor). Rich is credited with writing and releasing the first computer virus, which he did because he wanted to create the maximum amount of impact using the least effort.

2. They never say die. Saad gave the example of Tim Westergren, who founded Pandora over a decade ago. In 2000, Pandora was poised to be the next big thing, but legal battles and bad timing and planning caused Tim to blow his initial $1.5m in funding in no time, leaving him facing financial ruin. At the time, however, Tim believed in his product enough to use his personal credit cards to keep Pandora going. As Pandora’s strategy and product evolved, Tim met over 300 investors over the years who all said ‘no.’ But he persevered. His staff also believed in the product enough that they worked without pay for 3 years! Finally, in 2004, he got a VC to say ‘yes.’ This year, over 10 years after its launch, Pandora reached an IPO of $3 billion.

3. They inspire. Salman Khan (no relation to Saad) was a teenager who wanted to help his friends and family, so he made a few tutorial videos about standard school subjects and shared the videos with them on YouTube. He found that it wasn’t only his friends and family that watched these videos, however- thousands of others did as well. So he began creating more videos and got others to contribute as well. What he ended up inventing was the world’s first open-source virtual school, the Khan Academy. Salman is now Bill Gates’s favourite teacher.

At the end of his speech, Saad was asked whether an entrepreneur should ever quit- surely some reach a point where the only option is to stop? Saad replied by saying that good entrepreneurs fail fast and move forward by changing strategy. In short, great entrepreneurs “don’t quit, they pivot.”

Saad Khan is a Partner at CMEA Capital. He’s a seed and early stage investor (in Blekko, Pixazza, Jobvite, Lending Club), passionate about the future of the Internet, a film fanatic (co-founder of the Film Angels), and an advocate for social entrepreneurship.

Omar Aysha is a former video-game developer, turned IT entrepreneur and tech writer, who is weeks away from launching an Egyptian entrepreneurship magazine.

Silicon Valley recognizes global startup ecosystem

Reprinted from GrowVC. See the original post here

By Markus Lampinen.

There is no denying that the mecca for startups, venture capital and angel investing, has long been Silicon Valley. The whole startup world knows this. But the smartest people in the Valley already know that a lot is happening outside the Valley and outside the US for that matter.

People like [Endeavor Global Network Member] Dave McClure, founder of 500 Startups that organizes “Geeks On A Plane“, tour different parts of the global startup ecosystem and have made it a habit to make sure there is a group of SV people traveling different parts of the world to learn how the startup ecosystems are developing. [Click here to learn about Endeavor’s recent involvement with “Geeks on a Plane.”] All the while networking with like-minded entrepreneurial people in a travel setting, outside the usual day to day. Being taken out of ones comfort zone might even create longer lasting relationships than usual.

Also SV being the Mecca that it is, makes SV people warmly welcome around the globe, to share their views and latest startup Valley tricks. Those living and working on their startups outside the valley, this is just a temporary motivational and knowledge boost they get. For traveling geeks, after the travel there is a stretched out inbox waiting to explode and a lot of stuff to do, so pretty fast, those experiences and people met on travels will start to go unnoticed by the pure amount of own local work that needs to be taken care of.

The most common solution for developing the relationship beyond this encounter is the “go to Silicon Valley” approach. While that can work for some, it does not work for everyone and most definitely does not work for those trying to build and develop their own local ecosystems.

Many cities in the US outside Silicon Valley have the same exact issue as global cities. Smart people like Paige Craig, angel investor from Sacramento evaluated his options and made a decision to not go to Silicon Valley to build his Angel investor profile, but instead decided to stay in Southern California and make that “his territory” to work on. As active as the SV community is, there is also a lot of noise, extreme competition for resources of all kinds and many people in the ecosystem that are looking to take advantage of those coming from outside the Valley. The shining beacon of success can lure one and another to the Valley ecosystem.

Getting back to the topic, there is no one solution that works for building a startup or to become a successful investor that gets access to good deals. There is just hard work and smart choices to be made depending on what is the best approach in each situation. The smartest people from the Valley know this very well and beyond just visiting other places they are actively engaging, building their networks and doing actual investments in companies beyond their own neighborhoods, regardless of what that neighborhood is, Silicon Valley or some other place.

The only simple fact that remains is that the real money, that originates from customers exists outside of any single city and that’s where the focus of the business needs to be. And for everyone on the globe the distance to the global market is the same, about two feet from their nose to the closest screen with access to the Internet. That is what ”global” is. It’s not what was described as “export” business in the old world or “going international”. It’s none of those things. It’s the Internet and it’s global by nature.

Three quick entrepreneurial sales lessons

Reprinted from OnStartups.com. See the original post here.

By Daniel Tenner

Daniel is the founder of several companies including GrantTree. He blogs about startups and founders at Swombat.com. You can also find him on Twitter.

1. “Every no gets you closer to a yes.”

Permeating the human science (or art) of sales is this fundamental idea: sales fail all the time.

One of the hardest things for me to get used to, as a geek/artist/writer in business, is the constant disappointment of sales. The harsh reality, however, is that many leads will not turn into clients, no matter how exciting they might seem at first. And yet each lead must be given attention, enthusiasm, dedication, and so on, if it is to have any chance at all of turning into a sale.

Some people are very good at working on 50 new deals a week knowing that 45 will fall through. They deeply, personally understand that every no gets you closer to a yes, and yet don’t let it distract them from pursuing every answer with tenacity, ferocity even. We call them salespeople, and many people look down on them, but those people often make the difference between a business and yet another failed startup.

Competent salespeople, particularly those with an entrepreneurial attitude and the ability to work things out as they go along, are rare and precious. Treasure them.

2. “It’s not over until the fat lady sings.”

However, even if you’re not a salesperson, you will have to pursue and close deals. Deals, like sales, fail all the time. Never ever make critical decisions that depend on a deal happening (be it a grant application, an investment, a merger, or even just a new customer), until the money is in the bank. Even happily signed contracts are no guarantee that the money will actually change hands some day. The only thing you know for sure when you hold a signed contract in your hands is that the other person knows how to use a pen.

As an extreme example, one potential GrantTree customer we were talking to, at one point, asked us, “so, if you’re going to write this application for us, can I take on some loans right now on the basis of this grant?” That is almost exactly the wrong attitude when dealing with any kind of deal that’s not certain, and as we’ve already established, no deal is ever certain until the money is in your bank account.

Never base future expenses or commitments on money that’s not in the bank yet, even if it’s owed to you, even if you have an apparently ironclad contract. Any number of things can happen between now and then that can change that certitude into a painful (hopefully not fatal) disappointment.

3. “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.”

Another truism of sales, which emerges from the high failure rate of any deliberate sales endeavour, is that customers that you already have on your books are worth much more than potential leads.

This is actually something many (though not all) salespeople fail at, because of the natural focus of sales around getting more leads and converting them. However, as a business owner, you can’t afford to make that mistake. It’s very tempting, when chasing a $100k deal, to look down on the 4 or 5 $10k deals you already have as a comparative waste of your time. And maybe, when you regularly close $100k+ deals, you should start turning away customers that are just too small for you. But until then, treat every customer as well as if there were no more leads coming for the next year.

If you treat customers well and they like you and are happy with your services and products, they will provide the best kind of leads: “hot”, word-of-mouth leads. They will also provide you with testimonials, client success stories, and other sales materials that you can use to get more leads and more sales. Your customers can be your best salespeople, but only if you treat them right.

Conversely, if you treat your customers badly, word will spread about that too, and leads will mysteriously become ever harder to close. So, treat them well.

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