Managing your time as a busy exec or a founder is one of the biggest challenges. Creating a system that works for you is very important. Here’s some methods that work.
The Urgent-Important system for To-Do’s
Make an excel sheet with your to-do list. Split it into four sections:
- Urgent & Important
- Urgent but Not Important
- Important but not Urgent,
- Not Important & Not urgent
Put all to-dos into one of these and respond accordingly:
- Action immediately
- Answer fast but very briefly
- Prioritize and make sure not to delay
- Don’t do
I used this for two years and it works. I stopped because it doesn’t work with my desktop/iPhone todo app (I use Wunderlist and Things) which only has list view.
Strict day allocation: Split your days into areas.
This is used by some of the most successful execs, like Jack Dorsey (Twitter/ Square). Rather than spreading himself thinly across all aspects of both businesses, he zones in on one key area of corporate development, pushing everything else out of sight.
Jack Dorsey’s week:
- Monday: Management meetings and “running the company” work
- Tuesday: Product development
- Wednesday: Marketing, communications and growth
- Thursday: Developers and partnerships
- Friday: The company and its culture
Personally I use this too. Mondays is ‘Running the Company day’. These are non-travel days for everyone, so we’re all at the office. I have planning meetings with the different teams, and then an all-hands meetings which ensure everyone knows whats going on, also across “departments”.
Wednesday is Sales and Partnership days where I often work from home (in order not to be side-tracked). I schedule most of my Skype calls for this day and am super concentrated all day.
I’ve just decided that Friday is “Admin and Details” day and have set up a folder for all the emails that are not to be replied till then. This is because I’ve get so many emails that Mondays were started to get bogged down by this.
Time of day approach
I know a lot of people who focus on their ‘best performing’ hours.
Most are most productive before lunch so they schedule their “thinking” and difficult work early and have strict no-email-reply before noon. This also works for meetings. If you know you’re energy is down after lunch then schedule not-that-important meetings you can’t get out of for that time.
Oursource Email Management. Email is one of the biggest time stealer and you need to have a disciplined approach to this as a CEO as you’ll get tons of emails. Many really big CEO’s have one or several assistants to filter their emails. Tony Hsiesh of Zappos is said to have 5 people working full time on this.
Here’s a great overview from a PA/ Email ninja:
“I used to have this job for someone many of you have heard of. On an average day there were 800+ pieces of mail. On days when there was news of some sort, it could hit 2000.
- Personal mail (almost) always goes through
- Media stuff goes to the communications agency
- Job requests go to the hiring manager
- Some goes to what in this business would be akin to customer service
- Charity requests go to the family foundation
- Solicitations from scantily clad women looking for a ‘mentor’ go to trash
- Some stuff goes to the lawyers”
Read the rest of it here
Good luck organizing your time! I am passionately interested in this topic so if you have any tips or systems I’d love to hear them.
This shows some of the real reason’s behind why some countries do so much better than others in producing startups. Well done Sweden!
Here’s a link to EVCA’s full report on Status on venture funding in Europe. It’s from 2011 (the latest I could find) but still relevant for the broad overview: http:/ ItsIni/ow.ly/fS3b4 It’s interesting and gives real numbers in an area that’s often speculated about.
In the recent years we’ve seen an exiting explosion on alternative early stage financing. One of the most promising, crowd funding, takes a big step towards becoming an accepted and normal method, as angellist recently introduced it on their site. Should you consider it then?
Many markets are notoriously under served with seed funding, leaving startups that require external capital to grow starved for cash (or in worst case dead) in a crucial early stage of their lives.
In recent years we’ve seen several promising solutions that could be the alternative to seed funding from traditional venture capitalists; such as micro VCs, super angel networks and most notably, crowd funding platforms where people with a little bit of money can pool together to invest in a startups. They do this instead of investing their savings in shares or bonds because they hope for a bigger return, and because they find the journey exciting.
Coming of age
In the early days crown funding got a very bad rep. Both for being messy, unprofessional, and a little desperate (fund raising is like dating so desperate is *not* good)
It this is slowly changing. So far the most well known platform has been Seedr in the UK, with many (too) small local alternatives, but recently the famous Angellist introduced crowd funding on their platform. The important thing here is that Angellist is already respected and vetted. Its a Silicon Valley site where entrepreneurs post info about their startups so vetted investors can easily follow their progress and invest if interesting. It’s been hugely successful.
Go or no go?
Many venture capitalists oppose of crowd funding, calling it messy and unprofessional. This is perhaps not surprising as this is a competing product to their own early stage funding, and their monopoly has served them well.
But with a respected name like Angellist (and the community of well respected investors behind it) this is perhaps the big step towards making crowd funding a respected, well known funding method. It certainly becomes harder to argue against it’s legitimacy.
Many of the early problems have been tackled now. On angellist individuals can invest as little at $1000, in a minimum round of $150,000 in total. So, it’s a formalized and easy way to have friends and family invest. These investors often require less influence for their money so they are great first investors. It may also be a good tool if you have several angels. On top of that, it’s getting hard to raise pre-seed and seed the traditional way.
Crowd funding should be considered for $50,000 to $200,000, and work best for consumer products, preferable hardware to smart phones and other gadgets. Early learnings show that it’s important that the investors pool together as one unit, so they have one voice/ vote/ point of contact. Otherwise you may not be able to raise further rounds elsewhere as you cap table will be too complicated, truth be told.
You may be in a situation where this discussion is academic, perhaps you tried the other ways and not succeeded. Then by all means go ahead, just make sure it’s manageable down the line. The best money is always then one you can actually get into your bank account.
Even if you can choose, I think crowd funding is starting to look like a viable alternative for the first, early money.
Of all the awards in Europe that celebrate innovation, startups or technology The Europas is the most prestigious. Therefore we’re very honored to be shortlisted.
Everplaces is shortlisted in the category ‘Social, Mobile or App’. Given the nature of digital products and consumer web, this category is perhaps both the largest and toughest - so we’re keeping our fingers crossed. The shortlist, which was announced today, is made from an initial pool of thousands of the best startups in Europe and the UK.
Shortlisted for Best Social, Mobile or Apps Startup:
While a propensity for action is the single most important characteristic for someone who’s in charge, it’s closely followed by another characteristic that’s often both forgotten and downplayed - thinking.
These days, it seems to be a race to be the busiest, the best coping and most producing. This is certainly the case in the startup world where I come from. You often hear of people competing on who been on most flights this month, spend most sleepless nights at the office or gone the longest without a day off.
I think working hard, long days is an integral part of disrupting older and staler industries but I often think we forget that unless we’re working on the right thing, it doesn’t matter how hard we’re working on it.
Today I’m having a most inspired day. I am reading reports and predictions on my industry (digital travel) and making mental notes of where the opportunities are likely to arise, the shifts we’re likely to see and work on how Everplaces can be in the best place to benefit. This is crucially vital thinking for any company. The point is, that I am doing it at home from the couch.
You see, I cant think strategically at the office, in front of my computer, with people talking to me all the time. I need to be walking, driving, thinking about something else or being inspired by someone more clever than me (luckily not hard to find:-). Neither can lots of my colleagues so at Everplaces everyone’s got the first Friday of each month off. Totally off, free of charge, no cap in your holiday allocation.
We started doing it to allow people to do long weekends away and spend quality time with their partners, whose tolerance we rely on almost every night when team member come home later than normal. And to built up some points for peak times when we require people to be presents almost around the clock. But we found out that recharging peoples batteries doesn’t only create a more energetic team and more tolerant partners, it also improves the quality of ideas and strategic thinking.
I recommend it. Try taking time off. It works.
Great new report gives practical tips to social media managers. There’s long been speculation in which days, times a day and formats yields best results. Here a practical list of stats to help you.
The big lesson is that you really need to choose if you want to hit consumers or businesses since they respond to different things.
Keep it short. Dont use all the space:
Never include question marks:
Exclamation is hot on linkedin, dead on twitter
hashtags are best for business:
Adding numbers is great for getting RTs on Twitter:
Lunchtime is a good time to share
Wednesday for twitter and Sunday for linkedin are best for sharing
Now it gets really detailed…
Originally posted by VentureBeat here. Data from compendium.
Recently I attended European Venture Summit in Berlin (as a speaker, not investor or entry). It’s an event that brings together hundreds of investors from all over Europe and I was both proud and impressed by the danish (and nordic in general) startups there.
At the summit there is a competition which is the final of all the summits held all over Europe. More than 850 startsup are evaluated in the process and I am super pleased that 4 out of the 9 best software companies are danish. Wuhu! You guys kick ass.
Top 25 of the European Venture Contest 2012 as selected by the investors taking part at the European Venture Summit 2012:
Call Trunk Holdings Ltd [GB]
Conferize [DK] Next Generation conferencing
Falcon Social [DK] Smart social media management
Graduateland A/S [DK] Interns and graduate recruitment
iTraff Technology [PL]
The Eye Tribe [DK] Control your tablet with your eyes
Other categories which make up the rest of the top 25:
4a medicom GmbH [AT]
Abacus Diagnostica Oy [FI]
Medichanical Engineering [DK]
WISE s.r.l. [IT]
Camfridge Ltd [GB]
Geothermal Anywhere [SK]
ROMO Wind [CH]
Sensile Technologies [CH]
Tidal Sails AS [NO]
XYLOWATT SA [BE]
I am a big fan of honest warts-and-all blog posts. This is because startups are often glorified, the new rockbands, and I am afraid people go into it for the wrong reasons. Its not an easy way to get rich and famous. In fact, you’re almost certainly not going to get famous and it’s pretty unlikely you’ll get rich. I am sure my friends and family think I do nothing but prance around at fancy parties, drinking cocktails with rock stars. This is sadly very far from the truth.
This blog is by a guy called by Keith Petri (blog KeithPetri.com) whose startup iGottaGuide failed. Here’s an honest account by himself on why that is, and i think its a worthwhile read for everyone in, on on their way into entrepreneurship. Enjoy!
Here it is:
“iGottaGuide was my first scalable technology startup. Prior to working with my co-founder we both had extensive experience in service-based businesses.
We saw tourism as a fragmented industry, hard to navigate with a massive amount of information and options available. While the best way to experience a new city is like a local, connecting with a local expert willing to share his insight and, more importantly his time, was not something easily accessible.
Trying to be lean, we designed, developed, and launched a beta site with limited functionality and only a handful of tour guides within two months.
Leveraging a small network of entrepreneurs in New York City (thanks to Grant Griffin’s Poor Man’s Dinner) we arranged for initial user testing and feedback on what we believed to be a minimum viable product (MVP).
Once initial feedback was gathered we improved our user experience, product positioning, and our go-to-market strategy. Unfortunately, our efforts to avoid over-developing our product distracted us from analyzing our competitors.
Without seeking funding or applying for an accelerator program (Vayable and SideTour sought funding from Dave McClure’s 500 Startups and TechStars NYC, respectfully), Michael and I were supporting our venture by splitting our time between consulting and iGottaGuide.
iGottaGuide inevitably failed due to a number of reasons. While I stopped focusing on iGottaGuide seven months ago, I have not had the time to reflect on its failure and learn from my mistakes.
However, I have recently taken the time to think about my professional experiences in hopes of better understanding my career goals and minimizing the chances of repeating past failures.
Similar to my peers, I view an entrepreneurial failure as the result of an isolated issue: in this case, bandwidth. However, after a discussion with Michael, we have outlined a number of issues that ultimately contributed to iGottaGuide’s failure.
Time is my most valuable asset. As a recent graduate, I was faced with the decision to secure gainful employment and begin paying my dues as I worked my way, over time, up the corporate ladder, or pursue my entrepreneurial itch.
All jobs are demanding. Being an entrepreneur presents unique difficulties that are typically viewed as more challenging and time consuming than employment at a larger, more established firm. Starting a business requires time to strategize, formalize processes, sell, refine, and repeat.
I made a mistake and simultaneously started a consulting firm to self-fund iGottaGuide. Splitting your time between a full-time job and a startup decreases your chances of success both as an employee and an entrepreneur.
I jeopardized the chances of iGottaGuide succeeding from day one by dividing my time. It is now 19 months later, and only one business survived.
2. Chicken versus Egg
iGottaGuide was a peer-to-peer marketplace for unique experiences. An all too prevalent challenge with technology startups, our platform was only as valuable as the number of service providers (guides) and consumers (tourists) who utilized it.
When launching we realized the importance of growing both sides of the marketplace to ensure there were equal parts supply and demand.
We leveraged our network and contacted registered guides in New York City to provide supply while creating partnerships with Eventbrite, the Roger Smith Hotel, the Sanctuary Hotel, and Gomio to increase demand. Unfortunately, our strategy of leveraging existing supply and demand within an industry created a larger issue, further contributing to our failure.
3. Compete instead of disrupt
While initially setting out to bypass existing sales channels and inspire individuals to create unofficial tours based off of their personal hobbies and expertise, our tactic of aggregating existing supply within the industry made us a competitor to everyone who could originally help.
While we did have limited success with amateur tour guides, it was hard to extract value from them without sufficient scale.
iGottaGuide was one of the first open marketplaces for unique experiences. However, as (one of the) first movers in the industry we were unable to capitalize on the opportunity to differentiate and gain market share.
Within months the landscape was flooded with similar business models ranging from social networks for travellers to unique activity listing sites and many, many more (constantly updated, thanks Tnooz). Increasing competition meant that it was harder to get market participants’ attention.
We found that a slight shift in positioning proved to be an underlying reason for success between numerous, localized competitors. For example, iGottaGuide directly competed with SideTour during the summer of 2011 in New York City.
With similar listings (many guides co-listed between the sites), we could exclude supply as a contributing factor.
While SideTour advertised its platform as a way residents could explore their own city by taking advantage of local experts, iGottaGuide positioned its service for tourists exploring a destination like a local.
As a result, SideTour could centralize its marketing efforts, for both sides of its marketplace, in one geographic location.
Whereas, iGottaGuide needed to, once again, split its efforts between increasing the number of local tour guides, and garnering the attention of the most highly sought after consumer group: travellers. And, the 50 million yearly visitors to the Big Apple, do not all originate from the same hometown.
5. Vanity milestones valued too highly
From an extravagant launch party to press mentions, iGottaGuide valued entrepreneurial milestones that did not result in an increase in the number of transactions.
While having the New York Times cover your startup may make a great speaking point at the next NYTM, its message doesn’t necessarily reach your target audience.
Although efficient, our operations and development procedures did not allow for real informative user testing. Both Michael and I regret not being more thorough in gathering initial feedback on mock up designs, interactive mockups, and even simple surveys.
At no point in our creation process did we have a clear understanding of the conversion funnel. While shipping-it may be important, thinking through a process to minimize the likelihood of a negative response is even more so.
Overall, I have no regrets that I started iGottaGuide. I am certainly embarrassed by creating or contributing to so many of the issues that caused its failure, but the knowledge and lessons learned from experiencing it first hand will allow for me to take on my next challenge and further explore my passion for technology and business.
By taking the time to write this reflection I am hoping to better understand my past actions. Furthermore, I am hoping that by sharing them publicly I will be able to make others more aware of potential pitfalls.
When I was starting out I’d read about similar difficulties that I was sure I would evade, but I went on to repeat them anyway. Reading about the mistakes of others doesn’t always resonate directly with the reader, but experiencing mistakes first hand will allow him to more easily avoid repeating them in the future.
I am looking forward to making a few more mistakes, avoiding repeating similar blunders, and having continued success with CNSLT.us.”
We get some really interesting business partnership offers, some more relevant than others. This one today probably takes the cake for ‘least relevant feature to implement in a travel guide app”
Email: “Imagine a personal lightning detector that tells you in real-time, minute by minute, mile by mile, how close lightning is to you, right now, via the location based service on your smartphone. Now imagine this capability, which we call Zap, available directly within your app, at no cost to you, so your consumers can stay safe”Uh, thanks for the kind offer
Today is the deadline for entering into the light version of Venture Cup’s startup competitions - the idea competition where you send in 2-3 pages.
I’m a huge advocate for entering this. And in case you sitting and wondering whether to enter, here’s my thoughts:
- It’s entered mostly by people who’re trying their hand at ideas and entrepreneurship the first time. Everyone here is trained to think creatively and constructively, but so few people dare to put their skills to the test. If Denmark is to sustain its great living standards many more need to try.
- You can’t loose. The least you can get is feedback from knowledgable people. You don’t even have to tell anyone you’ve entered..
- You can win money (there are a lot of competitions out there, so personally I only invest the time if you can win money or great prestige)
- Use it to test ideas. If you have several, send them all in and see what comes back. Many entrepreneurs are stuck in the selection process, since they’re ideas people.
You can enter on venturecup.dk. Go on.
Good on you for take charge of your own learning and doing stuff that makes you better. That’s the spirit.