Friday, April 01, 2005

Bootstrapping Seminar

I help out with the Evening seminar committee for the Northwest Entrepreneur Network. Below is a write-up I put together on a great seminar on bootstrapping, along with some news about our next seminar on wireless technologies. Some good anecdotes to be had here:

“If you want something that costs a thousand dollars, wait until you have a thousand dollars and see if you still want it”…Frank Ryan

That little axiom was not part of the March 23 bootstrapping seminar, but it was stated by my grandfather on numerous occasions when my dad was growing up, and beaten in to my head as well. As an executive who’s bootstrapped a couple of companies myself, it’s always been good council to not spend money you don’t have, and it typical of the thinking of many entrepreneurs. Not surprisingly, we had a large turnout for Frank Crosetto’s evening seminar on bootstrapping – 100 people - and the crowd enjoyed hearing the anecdotes and experiences of a founder who never relied on other people’s money to build his business.

Frank is the founder of Ammex Corporation, which imports and distributes disposable gloves. While he gave a PowerPoint presentation, his informal style of speaking mixed with a lot of humor provided many memorable quotes that captured the fun and substance of the evening more than a structured recap. So here is a small list of them:

- “You learn from the bad things, not from the good things”
- “Never start a company with four people with equal say!”
- “Learn to sell. Every great CEO is a great salesperson.”
- “A vision is a dream with a plan”
- My personal favorite: “you grow your company incrementally, and every new person you bring on increases your problems exponentially”
- Always have 3 times your annual sales in cash on hand
- “2X rule: everything takes twice as long and costs twice as much as you think it will”
- Drive home the importance of “critical numbers” to align your staff. Fred’s company always has one focused number on the balance sheet and one on the P&L (e.g. “what is our gross profit per day?”)
- Have “huddles” each day – 5-10 minute standing meetings with all key executives to make sure everyone is on the same page
- “Be bold and mighty forces will come to your aid”
- “Send hand-written thank-you cards”
- Have attorneys and other consultants explain the consequences of actions, but you must make the final business decision
- Don’t allow non-essential attorneys to attend the meetings and don’t be afraid to ask “how much is this going to cost me?”
- Terminate poor performers – “the longest period in business is the time between when you lose faith in someone and the time you do something about it”

Frank also noted that reading a lot of business books is a great idea, not only for the knowledge, but for the hope they give you when others are discouraging you about your business. Some of his favorite books include “The Great Game of Business”, “Mastering Rockefeller’s Habits”, “A Stake in the Outcome”, and of course “Good to Great” (and he highlighted my favorite part of that book noting that “who is on the bus is more important than where the bus is going.”

Overall, a packed house and a terrific night. Next month we turn our attention back to new technologies that entrepreneurs might want to learn and potentially start new businesses around, this time in the world of Wireless technologies (with particular focus on non-cellular technologies, such as ZigBee, RFID, Wi-Max and other radio wireless networks. That will be on Tuesday, April 26 at the usual time and place (7:30pm at the BCC). Hope you can make it!


Post a Comment

<< Home