Raising Capital – Weekend Reflections for Leaders: September 24, 2022

Raising Capital:

Over the last several weeks, we have been sharing some concepts for leaders considering making a transition from a large company to building the next chapter of their career in a smaller, early-stage venture.

Leaders who have built an effective set of skills while working for a large company are needed in the early-stage to help bring innovations forward in the market. The risk of all of us being “Amazoned” in the not-too-distant future is real. Being on the forward edge of innovation in the early-stage is one way to stay ahead of the threat of becoming extinct as marketplaces become more efficient in serving customers.

The focus for today’s topic is on the need to raise capital to support innovation in the early-stage marketplace.

The need to raise capital for early stage, innovative ventures is one of the practical realities of driving innovation and change in many industries. Most, if not all, game changing breakthroughs come because of people and firms risking real money on a venture that may not work, and the statistics say most don’t work. Although it seems like a daunting task for many leaders transitioning from a large company to an early-stage venture, raising capital is part of the routine business plan of companies on the forward edge of innovation.

Raising capital is never easy, but it is a manageable, well-worn process in building the business. It becomes part of the essential elements of the plan like building the operating plan, setting clear milestones tied to capital needs, and the practical aspects of making the pitch and building the funnel of potential targets.

Upon company formation around an innovative idea, especially in capital intensive fields like life science discovery, hardware technology, etc., there is the most likely the need to raise capital to move the innovation forward. These very early-stage businesses are typically funded by friends and family that are likely more interested in supporting the individual’s dream than in the potential of the business, and angel investors who are doing early due diligence on the potential of the business.

I think Jeff Bezos characterized this stage of funding best when he testified before the US Congress in 2020: “The initial start-up capital for Amazon.com came primarily from my parents, who invested a large fraction of their life savings in something they didn’t understand. They weren’t making a bet on Amazon or the concept of a bookstore on the internet. They were making a bet on their son. I told them that I thought there was a 70% chance they would lose their investment, and they did it anyway. It took more than 50 meetings for me to raise $1 million from investors, and over the course of all those meetings, the most common question was, “What’s the internet?”

Subsequent rounds of financing, whether they be Series A, B, and C rounds of venture capital funding, private equity funding to scale the commercial growth of the business or cross-over/IPO funding to get to the public markets all add a degree of complexity and variables that need to be considered. Suffice to say, business books and business school courses are written about these aspects of financing and major finance firms make a living working through process of financing innovative companies at this stage.

Capital raising is just another piece of the business plan, but it is typically one aspect of most concern for leaders transitioning from a large company to one in the early stage.  However, the path is well-worn and like most difficult tasks in building a business, it requires some smarts, but mostly grit and determination to make it all come together.

Strong leadership is needed in the early-stage marketplace and leaders from large companies have the skills and experience to create great value at the forward edge of innovation. As we look to build and strengthen our leadership over a long-term career journey, the early-stage market provides a wonderful environment for leaders to learn, grow, and bring world-leading innovation to the market.

How can I help you today? My mobile is 269-370-9275 and my email is david@harvesttimepartners.com

Please download some FREE resources at www.harvesttimepartners.com I hope you find them helpful in your journey.

Also, for those leaders in healthcare, the opportunity to be at the forefront of creating and scaling life-changing innovation resides in the early stage. This sector needs strong leaders like yourself to drive innovation in the years to come. I wanted to share a link to a program specifically for leaders in healthcare who are looking for insights into building the next chapter of their career in the early-stage. I was asked to contribute to this program based on my experience of leaving a large healthcare company and building my career in the early-stage. Please take a look at the link below.

Capital Deployment – Weekend Reflections for Leaders: September 17, 2022

Capital Deployment:

Over the last several weeks, we have been sharing some concepts for leaders considering making a transition from a large company to building the next chapter of their career in a smaller, early-stage venture.

Leaders who have built an effective set of skills while working for a large company are needed in the early-stage to help bring innovations forward in the market. The risk of all of us being “Amazoned” in the not-too-distant future is real. Being on the forward edge of innovation in the early-stage is one way to stay ahead of the threat of becoming extinct as marketplaces become more efficient in serving customers.

The focus for today’s topic is on the effective deployment of capital for a company in the early-stage marketplace.

The effective deployment of capital is a critical need in the early-stage. Many times, these companies are pre-revenue so the importance of thinking about capital deployment to drive activities must always focus on value creation that will support the next capital raise (to keep the company afloat). Like many of the skills and experiences we discussed in the past, large company leaders have good foundational discipline on many aspects of running a business in the early-stage, but most do not have experience in the full extent of deploying capital.

One of the clear learnings around capital deployment in the early-stage is that any deployment of capital must be clearly defined around value creation for the technology, product or service, or some aspect of risk mitigation. These capital deployments are tied to timelines, and are focused on delivering key value inflection points for the company to use in support of the next round of capital.

Effectively managing capital deployment to meet value inflections brings about some healthy tension.  For example, careful consideration is needed when spending on items like a new office or improvements to the work environment, team building trips or retreats that cost real money, and booking decent but not extravagant hotel rooms when traveling, etc. Leaders from large companies typically have budgets to do some of the important team building aspects of growing a company, but sometimes in the early-stage it becomes a more intense discussion given time and money are always in limited supply. Plus, investors want short term value inflection points as a result of their investment and are not necessarily impressed with your desire to build an office environment that will help the team feel great for years to come.

There are also the practical aspects of negotiating contracts, consultant expenditures, etc., that also play into the role of capital deployment in the early-stage marketplace. Leaders from large companies typically have procurement teams hammering out most agreements that will set tight guardrails around any leadership decisions. In leading an early-stage company, leaders have a great deal of responsibility to ensure contracts are negotiated as aggressively and as fairly as possible to ensure dollars are allocated effectively. In addition, oversight of consultant expenditures in relation to the value they are delivering is another important and often unfamiliar area for leaders making the transition from a large company to one in the early-stage.

The effective deployment of capital is a critical need in the early-stage. This is an area that has been generally underappreciated by leaders coming out of large companies and it is one that can have swift and painful consequences (like running out of money) if it is not attended to in a very thoughtful and intentional way.

Strong leadership is needed in the early-stage marketplace and leaders from large companies have the skills and experience to create great value at the forward edge of innovation. As we look to build and strengthen our leadership over a long-term career journey, the early-stage market provides a wonderful environment for leaders to learn, grow, and bring world-leading innovation to the market.

How can I help you today? My mobile is 269-370-9275 and my email is david@harvesttimepartners.com

Please download some FREE resources at www.harvesttimepartners.com I hope you find them helpful in your journey.

Also, for those leaders in healthcare, the opportunity to be at the forefront of creating and scaling life-changing innovation resides in the early stage. This sector needs strong leaders like yourself to drive innovation in the years to come. I wanted to share a link to a program specifically for leaders in healthcare who are looking for insights into building the next chapter of their career in the early-stage. I was asked to contribute to this program based on my experience of leaving a large healthcare company and building my career in the early-stage. Please take a look at the link below.https://www.wearecomvia.com/next-chapter/

Risk Management in the Early-Stage – Weekend Reflections for Leaders: September 10, 2022

Risk Management:

Over the last several weeks, we have been sharing some concepts for leaders considering making a transition from a large company to building the next chapter of their career in a smaller, early-stage venture.

Leaders who have built an effective set of skills while working for a large company are needed in the early-stage to help bring innovations forward in the market. The risk of all of us being “Amazoned” in the not-too-distant future is real. Being on the forward edge of innovation in the early-stage is one way to stay ahead of the threat of becoming extinct as marketplaces become more efficient in serving customers.

The focus for today’s topic is on managing risk when leading a business in the early-stage marketplace.

One of the areas of significant change for senior leaders from large companies moving into the early-stage is how to manage risk across a number of parameters. The area of risk management is one of the more critical areas to assess, but it is also one of the least understood and appreciated in planning a career shift into the early-stage.

Defined below are a few broad categories of risk that are important to consider:

Product validation

Senior leaders, especially in commercial roles, in large organizations have little to no experience determining the validation of a product (quality, efficacy, safety, repeatability, etc.) or its market readiness to enter a trial or be sold in the marketplace. These decisions are typically made in silos in R&D teams. In some extreme cases, a decision to withdrawal a product is made by the executive committee of a large company.

In early-stage companies, many times it is a small senior leadership team that is tasked with ultimately making the decision if the product is ready to go to the next stage. Yes, there are regulatory consultants, key opinion leaders, and others that express opinions, but in the end, it is the senior team/C-Suite that is tasked with making the final decision. This is an exciting but also gut-wrenching experience for leaders transitioning into the early-stage world. Even the most seasoned early-stage veterans will often describe this as always being a difficult decision.

Quite often early-stage companies are bringing products to market that meet a clear unmet need. The studies to validate these products are often not as robust as one would typically see coming out of the R&D teams at a large company. There are always trade-offs of time and money in the early development of a product that force early-stage companies to make some difficult trade off decisions to get to market. This is not to say that these are reckless decisions, but the reality is that there is often a bit of gray area where the answers are not crystal clear, and senior leaders are in the position to make a decision and not rely on some other “department” to make the tough call for them.

Legal Risk

This area could be broken down into several areas but principally there are contractual risks, compliance risks, investor risks and patient safety/product risks. Senior leaders in large companies are typically accustomed to having large legal teams provide very clear guardrails on how to operate in the market, sign contracts, and validate product readiness. In the early-stage, senior leaders often obtain legal advice from a small firm or individual lawyers who present risk on a scale from high to low. They ask the business leader to decide, “Where do you want to land on this risk scale?”  This accountability for the legal risk of the business is a new experience for most leaders making the transition from a large company to the early-stage.

Financial Risk

Beyond capital raising to support an early-stage business, many of the financial risks are similar across large and small companies, but the major difference in early-stage companies is that there may not be that much cash runway or financial levers to rely on when plans don’t come together. The financials risks or making trade-offs on product selection, inventory management, IT investment etc., are not new to the business world. However, it is a new experience for leaders transitioning from large companies who now find themselves in the decision-making position of determining what level of financial risk they are comfortably declaring for the entire company.

As leaders contemplate managing risks in both large and small companies, the reality is that there are risks in managing any business. Leaders in the early-stage are simply much more exposed to those risks and much more responsible for the outcome of decisions they make in managing the risks.

Strong leadership is needed in the early-stage marketplace and leaders from large companies have the skills and experience to create great value at the forward edge of innovation. As we look to build and strengthen our leadership over a long-term career journey, the early-stage market provides a wonderful environment for leaders to learn, grow, and bring world-leading innovation to the market.

How can I help you today? My mobile is 269-370-9275 and my email is david@harvesttimepartners.com

Please download some FREE resources at www.harvesttimepartners.com I hope you find them helpful in your journey.

Also, for those leaders in healthcare, the opportunity to be at the forefront of creating and scaling life-changing innovation resides in the early stage. This sector needs strong leaders like yourself to drive innovation in the years to come. I wanted to share a link to a program specifically for leaders in healthcare who are looking for insights into building the next chapter of their career in the early-stage. I was asked to contribute to this program based on my experience of leaving a large healthcare company and building my career in the early-stage. Please take a look at the link below.

The Network Impact in the Early-Stage – Weekend Reflections for Leaders: September 3, 2022

The Network:

Over the last several weeks, we have been sharing some concepts for leaders considering making a transition from a large company to building the next chapter of their career in a smaller, early-stage venture.

Leaders who have built an effective set of skills while working for a large company are needed in the early-stage to help bring innovations forward in the market. The risk of all of us being “Amazoned” in the not-too-distant future is real. Being on the forward edge of innovation in the early-stage is one way to stay ahead of the threat of becoming extinct as marketplaces become more efficient in serving customers.

The focus for today’s topic is on the importance of building a strong network of leaders and mentors who are active in the early-stage marketplace.

Successful leaders in large companies have often spent considerable time throughout their careers navigating internal power and political networks as an essential component of managing a career. We all would like to think that performance alone can support a thriving career but the reality within large companies is that there are often a few power struggles and some politics that can be a part of even the best talent management programs.

The typical large company leaders thinking about making a transition into the early-stage have been so focused on managing the internal machine of their large company that they have spent little time cultivating a broad network beyond the four walls of their current business unit.

As leaders desire to make an effective transition from large companies to early-stage companies, they need to be much more intentional and proactive about getting well networked in targeted areas of interest. They must do the homework to understand what leading venture capital firms are funding to see some early trends on the next wave of innovation. Leaders can follow the flow of money into these early-stage ventures to find the major trends. To be direct, this means spending time tracking the large venture capital companies and their investments, not the latest leadership guru’s advice on how to be a more “authentic” leader.

There are numerous ways for large company leaders to take some small, but meaning steps to expand their networks.

  1. Most of the world’s leading venture capital companies publish regularly on emerging trends and growing companies that can be a great source of learning. Firms like A16Z , RA Capital and NEA are just a few.
  2. Leveraging a platform like LinkedIn to follow and build a network of leaders in early-stage companies of interest is an efficient way to start expanding networks.
  3. Spending one’s own time and money to attend conferences geared towards early-stage innovation is another way to build a relevant network outside of a large company.

Strong leadership is needed in the early-stage marketplace and leaders from large companies have the skills and experience to create great value at the forward edge of innovation. As we look to build and strengthen our leadership over a long-term career journey, the early-stage market provides a wonderful environment for leaders to learn, grow, and bring world-leading innovation to the market.

How can I help you today? My mobile is 269-370-9275 and my email is david@harvesttimepartners.com

Please download some FREE resources at www.harvesttimepartners.com I hope you find them helpful in your journey.

Also, for those leaders in healthcare, the opportunity to be at the forefront of creating and scaling life-changing innovation resides in the early stage. This sector needs strong leaders like yourself to drive innovation in the years to come. I wanted to share a link to a program specifically for leaders in healthcare who are looking for insights into building the next chapter of their career in the early-stage. I was asked to contribute to this program based on my experience of leaving a large healthcare company and building my career in the early-stage. Please take a look at the link below.

Human Resource Functions in the Early-Stage – Weekend Reflections for Leaders: August 27, 2022

Human Resources:

Over the last several weeks, we have been sharing some concepts for leaders considering making a transition from a large company to building the next chapter of their career in a smaller, early-stage venture.

Leaders who have built an effective set of skills while working for a large company are needed in the early-stage to help bring innovations forward in the market. The risk of all of us being “Amazoned” in the not-too-distant future is real. Being on the forward edge of innovation in the early-stage is one way to stay ahead of the threat of becoming extinct as marketplaces become more efficient in serving customers.

The focus for today’s topic is on establishing a human resource function in the early-stage. In the typical scaling up phase of an early-stage company, a formal human resources function is usually one of the last functions to be brought in house. There are plenty of exceptions but in general, most early-stage companies rely on their leaders and the occasional consultant to help create some degree of process around what would be characterized as a human resources function.

Senior leaders transitioning from a large company to the early-stage world bring a strong foundation in effective human resources. However, the big difference is leaders now have a sense of being all alone in making the decisions and executing the plan. They certainly gain input from advisors, consultants and lawyers, but in the end, all eyes are upon them. It’s the leader who is asked, “What do you want to do?” This is a much different experience than having an internal team of HR professionals and lawyers guiding each step of the way.

There is a misconception that many leaders have when transitioning to the early-stage environment. Leaders often make comments like, “I could never move fast enough in my large company…” to hire or fire someone, or give promotion. There were always so many guardrails, paperwork, and obstacles. “…I can’t wait for a small team where I can move quickly on personnel decisions.”

The reality is that yes, leaders can move quicker on decisions. However, leaders in the early-stage have a different set of guardrails and obstacles to think about in making decisions on personnel.

Given time and money are always in short supply, leaders face the challenge of balancing getting the most out of the team you have versus making some quick firing-hiring decisions. They also face critical vacancies with not enough bodies around the table to get the work done.

Sometimes balancing some positive and negative at the individual level is a bit more complicated. For example, sometimes working as best you can with a non-A player for the near term is a wise choice over having a major gap in a critical-need position.

In addition, when leaders are faced with pending financing of the company like a Series A or B round closing, there are risks to implementing major changes within the team, especially changes in functions that potential investors consider critical to the stability of the leadership team. These are never easy decisions, but in contrasting leadership in a large company to that in an early-stage environment, they both come with their own guardrails and obstacles that may hinder a leader from moving quickly on certain people management decisions.

One additional point to note about moving fast on people management decisions in a small company. Investors do not invest in a company to pay for litigation expenses caused by an employee or former employee issue that arises. Leaders need to be very thoughtful about the discipline with which they implement their own people management processes to ensure people are treated fairly and to minimize the risk of resources being allocated to items that are not creating value for the company.

In most cases, leaders in the early-stage are building these processes from scratch and are fully accountable for them.

Strong leadership is needed in the early-stage marketplace and leaders from large companies have the skills and experience to create great value at the forward edge of innovation. As we look to build and strengthen our leadership over a long-term career journey, the early-stage market provides a wonderful environment for leaders to learn, grow, and bring world-leading innovation to the market.

How can I help you today? My mobile is 269-370-9275 and my email is david@harvesttimepartners.com

Please download some FREE resources at www.harvesttimepartners.com I hope you find them helpful in your journey.

Also, for those leaders in healthcare, the opportunity to be at the forefront of creating and scaling life-changing innovation resides in the early stage. This sector needs strong leaders like yourself to drive innovation in the years to come. I wanted to share a link to a program specifically for leaders in healthcare who are looking for insights into building the next chapter of their career in the early-stage. I was asked to contribute to this program based on my experience of leaving a large healthcare company and building my career in the early-stage. Please take a look at the link below.

Leadership in the Early-Stage – Weekend Reflections for Leaders: August 20, 2022

Leadership:

Over the last several weeks, we have been sharing some concepts for leaders considering making a transition from a large company to building the next chapter of their career in a smaller, early-stage venture.

Leaders who have built an effective set of skills while working for a large company are needed in the early-stage to help bring innovations forward in the market. The risk of all of us being “Amazoned” in the not-too-distant future is real. Being on the forward edge of innovation in the early-stage is one way to stay ahead of the threat of becoming extinct as marketplaces become more efficient in serving customers.

The focus for today’s topic is on describing effective leadership in the early-stage. There are fundamental leadership principles that are consistent across all job titles, levels, and sizes of companies. Bookshelves are full of leadership gurus pontificating on variations of a common core set of leadership principles. The intent of this writing is not to repeat these generalizations but to describe how effective leadership is delivered in an early-stage company.

One of the most exciting, and at the same time daunting, aspects of leadership in the early-stage is that as a key leader in the company, you actually own it. This is one of the major realizations of leaders coming from a large company into the early-stage. There is no set of heavy-duty consultants putting together some glossy matrix plan of actions along with some mandatory online training program to reinforce the company plan. As a leader in an early-stage company, you own the culture and you own the leadership framework the shapes it over time.

Over the years of building early-stage companies and guiding others to do the same, there are a few common patterns in the execution of effective leadership. Below are a few highlights:

Alignment

Given the limited resources of time and money in the early-stage, it is critical that there is very little wasted motion on work that is not aligned with the operating plan. A leader in the early-stage has no place to hide. Starting with the overall strategic intent of the company, where we are going, why it is an exciting pursuit, how we describe our vision, mission and values in words, images, etc. are all personally owned by leaders in the early-stage.

The alignment as to the direction of the company extends from a high level all the way to the individual objective of each team member. Everyone should be able to clearly say, “I know what I need to do every day and I know how my work supports the overall direction of the company.”

Communication:

Effective communication in the early-stage is not something that is handed off to someone else who will set the tone, draft the memos, create the cadence of meetings, etc. Effective leaders in the early-stage realize the importance of communication to ensure the alignment described above is achieved. In addition, effective leaders are intentional about prioritizing time and effort to develop and execute an overall communications plan to ensure the company, team members, and investors are all aligned around the key items.

The development and execution of a communication plan begins with clarity of words, images, and documents that become the tools to drive alignment around the key tasks of the company. These tools are consistently used in the routine cadence of weekly meetings, hallway conversations, recognition tools, performance management process, etc. to ensure there is limited wasted motion in the company on non-essential work.

Communications to investors in private companies is much different than large publicly traded companies. Effective leaders communicate consistently and clearly to investors to ensure no one is left in the dark. They communicate how their invested dollars are being utilized and to prevent the unfortunate “surprises” that emerge in the early-stage.

Transparency:

As we mentioned before, there is no place to hide in an early-stage company. News on customer mishaps, product failures, employee friction, etc. rarely go unnoticed by the full team. Effective leaders in the early-stage are very open about the issues in the company. They communicate the brutal truth with regards to the critical elements of the company like raising capital (or not raising capital), cash runway, product data readouts and implications, etc.

There is no playing the blame game for leaders in early-stage companies. They own the plan and the execution of the plan. Sure, a board of directors will have oversight and approvals on major budget items and strategic decisions, but owning the direction and owning transparency within the communication is a common thread among effective leaders in the early-stage. 

Leadership in the early-stage is truly a capstone course and an exciting opportunity for leaders from large companies to leverage all the great foundational leadership traits they have developed over the years to make a real difference in the innovative early-stages of the marketplace.

Strong leadership is needed in the early-stage marketplace and leaders from large companies have the skills and experience to create great value at the forward edge of innovation. As we look to build and strengthen our leadership over a long-term career journey, the early-stage market provides a wonderful environment for leaders to learn, grow, and bring world-leading innovation to the market.

How can I help you today? My mobile is 269-370-9275 and my email is david@harvesttimepartners.com

Please download some FREE resources at www.harvesttimepartners.com I hope you find them helpful in your journey.

Also, for those leaders in healthcare, the opportunity to be at the forefront of creating and scaling life-changing innovation resides in the early stage. This sector needs strong leaders like yourself to drive innovation in the years to come. I wanted to share a link to a program specifically for leaders in healthcare who are looking for insights into building the next chapter of their career in the early-stage. I was asked to contribute to this program based on my experience of leaving a large healthcare company and building my career in the early-stage. Please take a look at the link below.

Operating Plan Development and Execution – Weekend Reflections for Leaders: August 13, 2022

Operating Plan Development & Execution:

Over the last several weeks, we have been sharing some concepts for leaders to better understand as they consider making a career transition from a large multi-national company to building the next chapter of their career in a smaller, early-stage business.

Leaders who have built an effective set of skills while working for a large company are needed in the early-stage to help bring innovations forward in the market. The risk of all of us being “Amazoned” in the not-too-distant future is real. Being on the forward edge of innovation in the early-stage is one way to stay ahead of the threat of becoming extinct as marketplaces become more efficient in serving customers.

The focus for today’s topic is on the importance of developing and executing an operating plan. Leaders in the early-stage are accountable to a much greater degree for a fully interdependent operating plan than their peers in large companies. Leaders in large companies tend to be responsible for example the commercial growth of a product/product line, but not necessarily the ongoing development of the product for other applications or specific improvements. Even division leaders in most large companies have responsibility for a narrow swim lane compared to leaders in the early-stage.

Even though these differences exist, the fundamental skills and discipline of building a solid operating plan is where leaders from the large companies can clearly add value in early-stage companies. There may be a few more swim lanes added to the plan, but the principles of setting clearly defined goals, establishing timelines, risk assessments, etc. are all well within the skills and experience of most senior leaders from large companies.

From an operating plan development standpoint, most leaders coming from a large company to the early-stage are often surprised at what may seem like a little bit of chaos that seems to take place. It seems quite glamorous to outsiders envisioning 3–5 people sitting around a table making plans, super quick decisions and running a company. However, there are plenty of examples that reveal how this quick, sometimes undisciplined process, can lead to wasted resources, chasing one great idea after another, and not making methodical progress towards important milestones. Large company leaders can often instill a level of rigor and discipline in the operating plan development process that drives greater focus and achievement for early-stage companies.

When it comes to executing the operating plan, leaders transitioning from large companies often get a reality check of how much hands on in the process they actually become. Most large company leaders have teams who do much of the blocking and tackling work — determining vendor qualifications, running an RFP process, building communication tools (e.g., making the slides and writing the memo), coordinating meetings, making initial proposals, etc. Nothing gets done in the early-stage unless leaders do some, most, or maybe even all of the work. Efficient execution at this stage means time and money, both of which are in great need in early-stage companies.

Looking across both operating plan development and execution, the striking difference between the experience of large company leaders compared to early-stage leaders is in the clear measure of value creation that is built in an operating plan. Each milestone/deliverable is specifically tied to the value creation of the company. A milestone or key deliverable is not set just to meet some category on an annual performance grid or developmental goal. Milestones in the early-stage are driving value for the company, encouraging investors to commit more capital, etc.

Strong leadership is needed in the early-stage marketplace and leaders from large companies have the skills and experience to create great value at the forward edge of innovation. As we look to build and strengthen our leadership over a long-term career journey, the early-stage market provides a wonderful environment for leaders to learn, grow, and bring world-leading innovation to the market.

How can I help you today? My mobile is 269-370-9275 and my email is david@harvesttimepartners.com

Please download some FREE resources at www.harvesttimepartners.com I hope you find them helpful in your journey.

Also, for those leaders in healthcare, the opportunity to be at the forefront of creating and scaling life-changing innovation resides in the early stage. This sector needs strong leaders like yourself to drive innovation in the years to come. I wanted to share a link to a program specifically for leaders in healthcare who are looking for insights into building the next chapter of their career in the early-stage. I was asked to contribute to this program based on my experience of leaving a large healthcare company and building my career in the early-stage. Please take a look at the link below.

Solving Problems – Weekend Reflections for Leaders: August 6, 2022

Solving Problems:

Over the last several weeks, we have been sharing some concepts for leaders to better understand as they consider making a career transition from a large multi-national company to building the next chapter of their career in a smaller, early-stage business. The forward edge of innovation happens in the early-stage across all industries. Large companies have transferred massive amounts of resources from internal R&D functions to business development efforts focused on acquisitions and licensing deals as the primary means for remaining competitive in a global marketplace that continues to accelerate innovation outside of the 4 walls of large corporations.

Leaders who have built an effective set of skills while working for a large company are needed in the early-stage to help bring innovations forward in the market. We hear from leaders everyday who are energized by leveraging their skills and experiences to create their own unique path to a fulfilling professional journey in the early stage. In addition, the risk of all of us being “Amazoned” in the not-too-distant future is real. Being on the forward edge of innovation in the early-stage is one way to stay ahead of the threat of becoming extinct as marketplaces become more efficient in serving customers.

The focus for today’s topic is on helping leaders understand the pace and focus on solving problems that consumes the time and energy of teams in the early stage of innovation. Leaders in large companies are typically not problem-solving significant business issues on a routine basis. There are teams that meet at regular intervals to assess the health of the business and routinely rely on committees to bring about potential solutions to business challenges. The rate and pace of problem solving is on a quarterly and annual basis.

Leaders in early-stage companies are typically in daily problem-solving mode. The agency required to switch from C-Suite level strategy to immediate fire-drill, problem-solving mode is a critical element of leadership in early-stage companies. Typically, within large companies, leaders will use the cadence of large, routine meetings to kick around ideas on defining the problem, think about it some more, maybe bring in some consultants to discuss, and typically postpone a decision or action until gathering some additional information. In early-stage companies, there is a bias for near term action (today, tomorrow or before the end of the week). This is a major difference in the cadence when compared to large companies.

The pace of problem solving and decision making is rapid in early-stage companies. However, it should not be viewed as just “winging it” either. This is precisely why leaders from large companies are needed in these early-stage companies. They bring a foundational discipline to think through issues thoroughly, weigh the benefits and risks in a thoughtful manner, etc. Disciplined decision making is desperately needed in early-stage companies and leaders coming in from large companies need to be sensitized to the reality that we need that decision today, in this meeting, as opposed to waiting until the next meeting to make that decision.

One clear example of the different pace within large and small companies is the responsiveness of senior executives to customer challenges. It is a familiar scenario that as problems filter up the chain of command in large companies, there is often the frustration of scheduling conflicts that prevent important meetings with customers from happening for weeks, if not months.

The typical response in an early-stage company is almost immediate. My response to many customer issues went something like this, “I can be on a flight that lands in New York by 3 p.m. and can be at your office by 4:00 p.m. today. Will that work or do you prefer to discuss the issue first thing in the morning?”

The reality faced by many leaders making the transition from a large company to a small company is that the pendulum has shifted to where the company’s survival may in fact be in the hands of one or two customers. Therefore, everything else becomes second in priority to addressing any problems with those customers.

Leaders transitioning from large companies to the early-stage need to be problem solvers. Often these problems move beyond commercial problems to include product quality, investor challenges, and bordering on the potential ethical questions on how to keep the company going during difficult times.

Strong leadership is needed in the early-stage marketplace and leaders from large companies have the skills and experience to create great value at the forward edge of innovation. As we look to build and strengthen our leadership over a long-term career journey, the early-stage market is fertile ground to learn, grow, and bring world-leading innovation to the market.

How can I help you today? My mobile is 269-370-9275 and my email is david@harvesttimepartners.com

Please download some FREE resources at www.harvesttimepartners.com I hope you find them helpful in your journey.

Also, for those leaders in healthcare, the opportunity to be at the forefront of creating and scaling life-changing innovation resides in the early stage. This sector needs strong leaders like yourself to drive innovation in the years to come. I wanted to share a link to a program specifically for leaders in healthcare who are looking for insights into building the next chapter of their career in the early-stage. I was asked to contribute to this program based on my experience of leaving a large healthcare company and building my career in the early-stage. Please take a look at the link below.

Trial and Error – Weekend Reflections for Leaders: July 30, 2022

Trial and Error:

Over the last several weeks, we have been sharing some concepts for leaders to better understand as they consider making a career transition from a large multi-national company to building the next chapter of their career in a smaller, early-stage business. The forward edge of innovation happens in the early-stage across all industries. Large companies have transferred massive amounts of resources from internal R&D functions to business development efforts focused on acquisitions and licensing deals as the primary means for remaining competitive in a global marketplace that continues to accelerate innovation outside of the 4 walls of large corporations.

Leaders who have built an effective set of skills while working for a large company are needed in the early-stage to help bring innovations forward in the market. We hear from leaders everyday who are energized by leveraging their skills and experiences to create their own unique path to a fulfilling professional journey in the early stage. In addition, the risk of all of us being “Amazoned” in the not-too-distant future is real. Being on the forward edge of innovation in the early-stage is one way to stay ahead of the threat of becoming extinct as marketplaces become more efficient in serving customers.

The focus for today’s topic is on helping leaders appreciate the willingness to take risks, embrace failure and the “learn as you go” mentality of today’s early-stage companies. This trial-and-error mindset is dramatically different than a large company leadership mindset that has little tolerance for new methods.

In large companies, the risk to the current model (e.g., near term cash flow and fixed investments) are too high for big mistakes. In addition, most leaders from large companies have seen over time that mistakes are viewed as career ending and painful as opposed to opportunities to learn and grow. The “play the game, play it safe” mindset helps everyone sleep well for another performance period regardless of how urgently marketplace changes are emerging.

In the early-stage world, the view is fundamentally different. A critical component of success is that you take risks and often fail. The learnings gained are applied quickly and effectively to achieve the next level of growth. The team dusts themselves off, does an autopsy without blame, and climbs back into the ring.

Even though the learnings gained with this mindset are helpful to leaders in moving things forward, the reality is that sometimes mistakes in the early-stage can result in painful outcomes like a complete loss of investor capital, bankruptcy, litigation, etc. These are not the nice and clean “learnings” that we often hear from leadership gurus pontificating on the benefits of learning and growing from mistakes and failures. In the early-stage, we are talking about a real adult dose of learning that can cause real pain.

However, even with these painful lessons, the truth remains that failure and mistakes bring about great learnings.

Strong leadership is needed in the early-stage marketplace and leaders from large companies have the skills and experience to create great value at the forward edge of innovation. As we look to build and strengthen our leadership over a long-term career journey, the early-stage market is fertile ground to learn, grow, and bring world-leading innovation to the market.

How can I help you today? My mobile is 269-370-9275 and my email is david@harvesttimepartners.com

Please download some FREE resources at www.harvesttimepartners.com I hope you find them helpful in your journey.

Also, for those leaders in healthcare, the opportunity to be at the forefront of creating and scaling life-changing innovation resides in the early stage. This sector needs strong leaders like yourself to drive innovation in the years to come. I wanted to share a link to a program specifically for leaders in healthcare who are looking for insights into building the next chapter of their career in the early-stage. I was asked to contribute to this program based on my experience of leaving a large healthcare company and building my career in the early-stage. Please take a look at the link below.

Job Titles – Weekend Reflections for Leaders: July 23, 2022

Job Titles:

This week we will continue the series on sharing key concepts for leaders to consider when thinking about making a career transition from a large multi-national company to building the next chapter of their career in a smaller, early-stage business. The trend continues to be observed with today’s Great Resignation and the reality for many that the concept of working for and retiring from one company over the course of a career is no longer the dream it once was and today’s leaders are yearning to create their own unique path to a fulfilling professional journey.

The focus for today’s topic is on helping leaders understand how job structure and job titles are viewed in an early-stage venture compared to those in a large company. Leaders who are emerging from a career in a large company and considering a move into an early-stage opportunity are often concerned with job titling (C-Suite, SVP, etc.) and role specificity (what are the objectives and responsibilities of my specific job).

One of the more striking realities observed by leaders transitioning out of a large company is that few, if anyone, cares about titles and role specificity, especially in the early stage. People (including investors in the business) are more concerned with establishing clear objectives for the business and how senior leaders effectively work as a team to accomplish the company’s critical milestones. Investors are not too concerned about someone’s sensitivities around their title or their need to build their own specific sandbox to play in. Delivering on the company’s milestones is paramount.   

This is not to say that order and organizational design are absent in the early-stage world, they are not. However, the emphasis shifts much more to the accomplishment of key milestones for the business and the team’s efforts, regardless of titles or departments.

A very common experience, especially in the early stage, is for the day (or evening) to start with a major problem that needs to be solved (i.e. a major customer is not happy, a test result can’t be delivered, a product falls out of specification with no back up plan, etc., etc., etc.).  Regardless of title and department, key leaders quickly gather around the table (or a Zoom call) and begin problem solving.  There is zero tolerance for anyone to even think about “hey, that is not my department” or “it is not within my job specifications”. The team has a problem, and everyone is needed to help solve it. 

Everyone is trained and expected to run to the sound of the guns to join the fight, which is different from what commonly happens in large companies due to the many department silos that are created.

Leaders who are focused on growing and learning, and not building more silos in an organization, get an amazing energy boost when they join a company in the early-stage that is focused on working together as a team with little to no concern about titles and departments. As we look to build and strengthen our leadership over a long-term career journey, leaving our titles at the door and running in to help solve problems as a team is a foundational element to our leadership effectiveness.

How can I help you today? My mobile is 269-370-9275 and my email is david@harvesttimepartners.com

Please download some FREE resources at www.harvesttimepartners.com I hope you find them helpful in your journey.

Also, for those leaders in healthcare, the opportunity to be at the forefront of creating and scaling life-changing innovation in healthcare resides in the early stage. This sector needs strong leaders like yourself to drive innovation in the years to come. I wanted to share a link to a program specifically for leaders in healthcare who are looking for insights into building the next chapter of their career in the early-stage. I was asked to contribute to this program based on my experience of leaving a large healthcare company and building my career in the early-stage. Please take a look at the link below.