Saturday, April 12, 2008

Lessons from Start-ups: Vision, Focus and Burn-rate

"If everything keeps going like it is right now, we have enough money to last through the end of the year." This came from the CEO during a company-wide lunch meeting in my early days with one start-up. For some people, the uncertainty of this kind of situation would have them scrambling to update their resume, but for everyone in the room on that day (early spring), it was good news. People who are comfortable in the start-up environment are different.

In some of the more established organizations that I have been involved with, people sometimes question how start-up companies are able to do some of the things that they do -- how they can move quickly, get so much efficiency out of their workers, and inspire such loyalty and commitment. Using this story as an example, consider; in presenting the financial situation openly, everyone in the company was made equally aware of the challenges ahead and the importance of success. Everyone was left with an equal sense of desperation. Everyone was provided with the overriding framework to be used to guide their decisions going forward. There is no standing still -- unless we are going up, we're sinking, and if it wasn't going to provide lift before December, it wasn't going to help. 

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