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Interesting interview with Larry Cheng, a partner at Fidelity Ventures


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  #1  
Old 12-10-2009, 06:30 PM
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Default Interesting interview with Larry Cheng, a partner at Fidelity Ventures

Here is the link: http://blogs.harvardbusiness.org/tja...t-makes-a.html

Here is a quote that I found very interesting:
Quote:
What makes for a great entrepreneur?

It's probably a number of things, and a passion for what you're trying to do is certainly one of them. Oftentimes these folks have experienced a problem firsthand and they're consumed with solving it. And they refuse to quit.

A lot of the great founders and entrepreneurs I've worked with are micromanaging, detail-oriented, paranoid people. They want to know everything, and they care about everything. Interestingly, most of my companies have a key executive who never graduated from college, and probably two of my six CEOs never went to college. And the CTO at another company, the star at that company, did not go to college.
I would really recommend reading the entire article/watch the video. What got my attention is the link to the article said:

Quote:
Learning to discard good ideas in order to make the most of great ideas can be the difference between success and failure for new entrepreneurs, Cheng adds. "The biggest priority is to create priorities," he says. "It can kill a young company if you try and pursue too many ideas."
I think this could be a VERY good thought for some of us members here. I know it made me think about some things about trying too many ventures. I think this could be my new favorite quote, or rather, my 2 new favorite quotes.... Actually, this article is just filled with great quotes....

Any thoughts?
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Old 12-10-2009, 07:44 PM
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That's a great topic you brought up.

Quote:
Learning to discard good ideas in order to make the most of great ideas can be the difference between success and failure for new entrepreneurs
Here is my view. No one knows what will work. PERIOD.

We can plan plan plan plan plan all day long every day and then as soon as we get out there to put the plan into action, the plan goes out the window.

Seriously, if someone were to come up to you and say, 'the secret of success is learning to discard good ideas in order to make the most of great ideas,' wouldn't you just look at them and say huuuuuuuuuuh?

I mean how does one know what a good idea is vs a great idea? When was the last time any of us were able to look at two ideas and say 'ok this is the great idea, I'm going with that one.' Has anyone on here ever been able to say or do that?

I think it's more of small course corrections along the way. You try two things and one gets better results so you go with that one. Then you experiment again and try some more options and one is better again and you go with that one.

In the article he says

Quote:
I think it was Jeff Bezos I heard yesterday saying that his success was half luck, half timing, and the rest was smarts. I tend to agree with that. There's no way around luck. ..... it's always good to be lucky. And between heart and guts, the courage you need to go out there and fly by the seat of your pants is huge.
This is why the most important step anyone can take it to get into the game. Get into the entrepreneurial world. Start your business. Experiment. See what works and what doesn't. You can't catch fish if you don't go out fishing.

You brought up another quote he said
Quote:
It can kill a young company if you try and pursue too many ideas.
I have a few thoughts on this. First off, when you just get started, you better be prepared to try a whole bunch of stuff because there is a very good chance your initial idea is going to be worthless. You thought it was going to be huge and you spent a lot of money to promote it, only to find little interest, however the second or third idea that is close by and similar just might be the idea that takes off.

Part of being a successful entrepreneur is having the ability to adjust to how the market reacts to what you are offering. You need to throw a whole bunch of things up against the wall and see what sticks. Then once you see what works, expand on it.
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Old 12-10-2009, 08:50 PM
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That's a great topic you brought up.



Here is my view. No one knows what will work. PERIOD.

We can plan plan plan plan plan all day long every day and then as soon as we get out there to put the plan into action, the plan goes out the window.

Seriously, if someone were to come up to you and say, 'the secret of success is learning to discard good ideas in order to make the most of great ideas,' wouldn't you just look at them and say huuuuuuuuuuh?

I mean how does one know what a good idea is vs a great idea? When was the last time any of us were able to look at two ideas and say 'ok this is the great idea, I'm going with that one.' Has anyone on here ever been able to say or do that?

I think it's more of small course corrections along the way. You try two things and one gets better results so you go with that one. Then you experiment again and try some more options and one is better again and you go with that one.

In the article he says



This is why the most important step anyone can take it to get into the game. Get into the entrepreneurial world. Start your business. Experiment. See what works and what doesn't. You can't catch fish if you don't go out fishing.

You brought up another quote he said


I have a few thoughts on this. First off, when you just get started, you better be prepared to try a whole bunch of stuff because there is a very good chance your initial idea is going to be worthless. You thought it was going to be huge and you spent a lot of money to promote it, only to find little interest, however the second or third idea that is close by and similar just might be the idea that takes off.

Part of being a successful entrepreneur is having the ability to adjust to how the market reacts to what you are offering. You need to throw a whole bunch of things up against the wall and see what sticks. Then once you see what works, expand on it
.
I see your point, but I feel like I need to disagree with you.

I have seen this happen to many times and I feel that when you try to do too many things you will find that your time and energy is split between too many objects/ventures/ideas. I feel myself at that point right now. I can not place all my energy behind any one of my ventures/interests/ideas because I am trying to juggle too many of them. Matter of fact, I feel like I can not even place enough energy behind any one of them to make them operate as well as they may. I can not do justice to any of them. If you don't place all your energy behind it, you will never know how well it could have worked.

I always said that my dad was "jack of all trades, master of none". And I feel like I am falling in the same tracks.

I am not against having other ideas near by, but don't hold them to close. If you do, I think you will find that you will never completely commit to the idea/venture/interest that you have chosen to "try" first. I think you need to do background research and not just "jump in". Remember the old quote or proverb "you better look before you leap"? I think this is a good application of that. You need to have a good idea about the cost to start up, what your overhead is going to be, and what your ROI is going to be.

I think this is precisely where this quote comes in:

Quote:
Learning to discard good ideas in order to make the most of great ideas can be the difference between success and failure for new entrepreneurs.
After you have done some research, and considered out the following, you can get a good idea whether or not to hold the idea, or to discard it:
  • Is there a market for this service/product in my field of influence?
  • What are my start up and continuing expenses going to be?
  • What will my product/service sell for?
  • Is the ROI worth my effort?
  • How stiff is the competition?
  • Do I have the mentality to make this "work"?
  • Will I have the "interest" to continue when the newness wears off?
  • How committed am I or can I be?
  • Do I have the knowledge to "make" this work?

I think failing to consider all or most of these topics is what causes people to fail too many times. One example is this: Not everyone is mechanically inclined. Some people are not necessarily green thumbs. I am not being mean, I am simply stating a well known fact. Some people can just look at a plant and it grows. Their neighbor gets within 50' of that same plant and it shrivels up and dies promptly! I tend to be able to repair things pretty easily. Not everyone can.

So, how does this apply to the topic at hand? If, for example, I am considering starting a lawn care business and have no interest in learning the in and outs of the business, learning how to mow, trim, and blow a yard properly, do you think I will be successful? I highly doubt it. It is almost like it was when mom would tell me to perform some chore. I did not want to do it so I was not successful. If I had an interest in performing this chore, I could have been successful. I am often reminded of the little train engine that kept saying "I think I can. I think I can. I think I can".....

I am by no means suggesting placing all of your eggs in one basket, but merely suggesting you make sure you have eggs to place in the baskets. And perhaps we need to be committed to filling the first basket before we even reach for the second basket. The second and third baskets are there, but I am so intent on filling the first one that I have forgotten that the 2nd and 3rd baskets are there until I see that I will

a) either need it because basket #1 is no good or is full or
b) because there are 2 different types of eggs that I can gather and I want to keep them separate (this is when you add a service or another source of income).

If you notice, under "b", I have not lost my commitment to basket #1, but rather have decided I can now "expand". I still have full commitment to basket #1 and have proven that I am committed to it.

Under "a", the basket can go bad (the venture was a bad venture) but at least I was committed to it enough to try it before I grabbed the second one. I believe there is a great danger in thinking "of this doesn't work, then I will do this". Does that make sense?

Commitment, my friend I say commitment!!

There is a quote I am trying to remember. It goes something like this "In the valley of indecision lie the bleached bones of many brave souls". There is more to it but that is the basic jest of it (I think). The idea is that these people died because they were indecisive and while trying to decide whether to go right, left, forward, backward, or simply stay put and fight, the enemy killed them. Does anyone know the entirety of this quote and who said it?

Sorry for my rambling............
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Old 12-10-2009, 10:07 PM
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Eli,

I have to tell you first off, I think you are a mechanical genius. If anyone has a problem with anything mechanical, you are always able to hit the nail on the head and help them find a solution.

In my mind, there is no reason why you shouldn't be sitting on the largest mower dealership and service center in your area. You have that much talent and more.

Quote:
I see your point, but I feel like I need to disagree with you.

I have seen this happen to many times and I feel that when you try to do too many things you will find that your time and energy is split between too many objects/ventures/ideas. I feel myself at that point right now. I can not place all my energy behind any one of my ventures/interests/ideas because I am trying to juggle too many of them. Matter of fact, I feel like I can not even place enough energy behind any one of them to make them operate as well as they may. I can not do justice to any of them. If you don't place all your energy behind it, you will never know how well it could have worked.

I always said that my dad was "jack of all trades, master of none". And I feel like I am falling in the same tracks.
Ok, you disagree with me, that's fine. But why are you feeling you are falling into the same tracks?

At what point does all of it become paralysis by analysis? At what point do we think too much and seize up? Where we just can't make a choice? We can't pick a path?

"A Good Plan today is better than perfect plan tomorrow"
— George S Patton

When you look back on WWII, which General would you want on your side? A guy like George Patton who was going to just roll with it and make the best of what he could at the moment or another General who was going to ponder, ponder, ponder and then ponder some more?

But beyond all that, what is stopping you now from doing what you want? How can tomorrow be a new day where a new positive step is taken?
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Old 12-11-2009, 05:35 AM
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Eli,

I have to tell you first off, I think you are a mechanical genius. If anyone has a problem with anything mechanical, you are always able to hit the nail on the head and help them find a solution.

In my mind, there is no reason why you shouldn't be sitting on the largest mower dealership and service center in your area. You have that much talent and more.



Ok, you disagree with me, that's fine. But why are you feeling you are falling into the same tracks?

At what point does all of it become paralysis by analysis? At what point do we think too much and seize up? Where we just can't make a choice? We can't pick a path?

"A Good Plan today is better than perfect plan tomorrow"
— George S Patton

When you look back on WWII, which General would you want on your side? A guy like George Patton who was going to just roll with it and make the best of what he could at the moment or another General who was going to ponder, ponder, ponder and then ponder some more?

But beyond all that, what is stopping you now from doing what you want? How can tomorrow be a new day where a new positive step is taken?
Steve,

Thanks for the compliment.

What I meant by the fact that I am falling in his tracks is that I am simply trying to be the best at everything. Working in LE, being a mechanic, etc. I feel like I can not focus as much on LE as I should if I want to continue in LE. LE is far more than a job. There is a need to constantly research, read, and understand the new laws that are passed, reading case law (how these new laws are interpreted by the courts), then going to court, staying physically fit, making sure that I get enough sleep, etc. This can and probably should completely occupy my off time. It is a full time thing. It requires commitment and dedication.

But then on the other hand, being a small engine mechanic, I should occupy my time reading and studying about products, services, practices, problems, etc in the power equipment servicing industry. Among other things that I need to understand is lawn care, lawn maintenance, fertilizer, etc. I feel like I need to learn this because if I want to help my customers, homeowner or commercial, I need to understand the problems they are having so I can provide solutions for them.

So basically, there I have two things that require my time full time. If I am unable to give my full attention to either of these, they will both suffer. I have heard say that our mind is like a table or shelf. If we stack too many things on that table or shelf then something will fall off. I believe this is true. We can only focus on a certain number of things. Over time I believe we can slowly increase our capacity, be it by building the size of the table or by learning how to stack the items. But despite this, I don't feel like we can double the size of the table. In order to stack the items more efficiently the items need to be of the same type and shape. Hypothetically speaking of course.

There are times to be quick with decisions, and then there are times to step back and ponder the options. I tend to be a very strategic person. I tend to ask a LOT of questions. I want to understand everything before I step forward. I will literally sit and go through options and see if I do this, then this will happen. If I do that, that will happen. Kind of like playing chess or checkers. Recently I started playing some computer games again, all of which require strategy or at least concentration and the ability to "figure" them out. Amongst these games are: Freecell and minesweeper. Both of these are games that require forethought. That is me.

I tend to have lots of patience when deciding my next step. But when I am ready to take that next step, I tend to be sure of that step. I tend to be sure that when I set my foot down, the ground will be solid.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve View Post
But beyond all that, what is stopping you now from doing what you want? How can tomorrow be a new day where a new positive step is taken?
Yesterday 08:50 PM
At the moment, I feel like I need to determine where my feet need to land. Like I said, I tend to be strategic. I need to have a strategy before I go. Once I take off, I know that things will not go exactly as I planned, but I will have enough information about what is going to happen and can happen that I can be more affective by flying by the seat of my pants. Sort of more like taking a calculated risk.

Business can happen, but needs to be planned. Business can happen and be successful, but a person still needs to be there to drive it with commitment. Flowers need the gardener's attention. Business needs the owner's attention. Without it, they both perish.

So in short, I feel like at the moment I am not quite to the place to be able to give full attention to the business. Not that I don't care to, but simply because I can not place myself there yet. I am still studying the ground where I intend to land.
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Old 12-11-2009, 09:35 PM
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I saw an article in a magazine today and thought of this conversation. The article was on Don Fisher who started The Gap at the age of 40 in 1968. He just recently died.



Up to this point in his life he knew nothing about the fashion industry. The spark came from his inability to find a pair of jeans that would fit him. So he drew up a business plan, him and his wife both put in $21,000 each and they raided their kids college fund.

The initial plan was to sell jeans and records to the local youth and early 20 age range. The store was going to be called 'Pants & Discs.'

His wife put her foot down and said that was a terrible name. She suggested The Gap, from the term generation gap.

The store started and had more jean sizes than other stores in the area. Their jean sales increased and the records decreased. So the records were removed from the store at the end of the first six months.

The Gap went on to become the United States largest clothing manufacturer. It all started on a whim with an idea.

Does everything happen like this? No. But my point of it all is when their is a need, if you fill it, it will succeed.

Don, didn't have a clue about any of this. He started selling jeans and records. He figured he would throw a bunch of things up against the wall and see what worked. The jeans worked, so he went further with that.

It's fascinating to see how these businesses initially get started. This isn't the only one that was started because a person was frustrated and could find something in their local store, or find a service local.

Can you imagine at the age of 40 with three kids, turning to your wife and saying 'hey honey, I want to start a jean store, let's use our life savings to try it.' It only gets harder as you get older to start a business. No one wants their life to change. No one wants the disruption. People want what they have and more. They don't want to raid their bank accounts to experiment with a business. The kids don't want their college fund raided.

It gets tougher and tougher to experiment as you get older unless you set yourself on a path of life long experimentation. Where you let all that know you, know that this is the way you are, you are now and will continue to be an entrepreneur an you will experiment.

No one knows with any certainty what will work. What we do know is, we won't be here for long. If we want to experiment, the question we have to ask ourselves is, if not now, when???
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Old 12-11-2009, 10:44 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve View Post

The Gap went on to become the United States largest clothing manufacturer. It all started on a whim with an idea.

Does everything happen like this? No. But my point of it all is when their is a need, if you fill it, it will succeed.

No one knows with any certainty what will work. What we do know is, we won't be here for long. If we want to experiment, the question we have to ask ourselves is, if not now, when???
Here are some others who "filled a need"!

Richard Sears
Alvah Roebuck
Aaron Montgomery Ward
Levi Strauss

All made lots of gold during the California Gold Rush. By supplying the miners!

Steve
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Old 12-12-2009, 12:44 PM
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Steve,

I am not against having multiple products, but what I was getting at is that we have a certain limit. We reach that limit, we need to handle that.

Back to the idea of a good idea versus a great idea. Think about it this way, an "great idea" for me is completely different than it is for you. I think the biggest thing is know what your goal is and at that point, you will recognize that "idea # 1" is a better idea for me than "idea # 2" is. But, for you, "idea # 2" may be a better idea than "idea # 1". Or perhaps for you, ideas # 2, # 3, and # 4, are an acceptable idea, but for me, only idea # 1 is an acceptable idea.

I think this really caught my attention since I felt like I could relate to what he said. And here is why: I am involved in Law Enforcement, power equipment sales and service, and may possibly be in the organic spraying industry soon. I can not focus properly on all of these. I think I may be able to do ok with the power equipment industry and the organic spraying field since they are more closely related. But Law Enforcement has NOTHING in common with these other 2. To top it all off, I am also active in my church.

Just my thoughts,
Eli
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Old 12-12-2009, 09:04 PM
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I understand. Just trying to share with you some inspirational success stories. I do look forwards to seeing what you decide to do in the future with all of this!
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Old 12-12-2009, 10:23 PM
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I understand. Just trying to share with you some inspirational success stories. I do look forwards to seeing what you decide to do in the future with all of this!
Yea, me too! lol
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