Month: May 2012

“Charisma does not equal leadership.” – Jim Collins

Passion is important.  Charisma can help but it’s results that count.  The best business ideas don’t always win the pitch contest.

Charisma can get you to the first meeting but sooner or later, your business model must stand in its own.

Leaders promote the cause and have a plan.  Therefore the cause must be worthy and the plan must be well thought out.  Then add the charisma.


“A man with a watch knows what time it is. A man with two watches is never sure.” – Segal’s Law

You can overanalyze.  And you can get too much advice.

Mentors are essential but pick them carefully. You need to think about covering your weaknesses but relationship is important too.

Look for a mentor who has the experience you need and will tell you straight.  Experience meaning success AND failure.

When you get conflicting advice, it’s tough but the decision is still yours to make.

“There’s no bad weather. Only bad clothing.” – Shawn Carson

The message is for backpackers.  It’s built on the Boy Scout motto, “Be Prepared”.

You can’t anticipate, nor can you control, everything.  You can identify risk and execute to mitigate it.  You can’t eliminate it.

When things change unexpectedly, you adjust, or you stay put and wait it out.  SOmetimes you pull out.

Benchmarks and milestones can help.

So can being extremely frugal with your resources.

“Strive not to be a success, but rather to be of value.” – Albert Einstein

Einstein: Entrepreneur?

Success follows value better than itself.  There are plenty of people who believe ______________ owes them something.  (Fill in the blank: society, government, big business, school, etc).  These are the value depleators; those who consume without returning the favor.  But we’ll leave that debate to the protestors of social inequality.

Fortunately, in entrepreneurship, this cannot exist.  You have to convince people to give you their money.  They won’t do that if they don’t receive a benefit.  They get to decide, not you, not your product idea, not the fact you received grant money to develop your technology, and not the fact that you have a patent.

The priority should be to solve a big problem in a big market at a price customers are willing to pay.  Success will come.



Witkowski’s Law #4 – “People are what deliver.” – Chuck Witkowski

Jim Collins says, “get good people on the bus, even before you know where it’s going.”  It’s true.  You have to balance the right skills with the right fit in your culture.

The opposite is true as well: Get bad people off the bus – QUICKLY!

Not every key hire works out and small companies don’t have the luxury of burying their hiring mistakes on “special projects”.  One unmotivated, unfocused and bitter person can paralyze a company and poison the culture.

You have to be willing to share credit…and upside… with the people that are key to your success.

Witkowski’s Laws were given a speech at Bridging The Gap 2012 at the Oak Ridge National Lab.

Witkowski’s Laws #3 – “Great products are great but distribution is the key” – Chuck Witkowski

Great movies and great music go unappreciated because the artist can’t get the art in the hands of the customer.

The time and cost of building a sales channel can exceed the development itself.  Spend ample time and resources finding the right distribution channel with the relationships to your market.

Get started early.  If it takes two years to get the product ready, it could take two years to build the sales channel…

Witkowski’s Law #1. “Bigger is better…” – Chuck Witkowski

…at least when it comes to market size.  Smaller markets will limit the ultimate growth opportunity your company will have.  You’ll do well to capture 5% by the time you have an exit opportunity.  5% of a billion dollar market is better than 5% of a 10 million dollar market.

Witkowski’s Laws are from a speech given at Bridging The Gap 2012  at the Oak Ridge National Lab

“Indeed the safest road to Hell is the gradual one—the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts.” – C.S.Lewis

Moral and spiritual wisdom often apply.  Do you have strategic milestones that indicate how well the business is doing?  It’s tough when you are a pre-revenue company.  Consider the use of Validations – those things that others do in response to your efforts.

  • Early Customers – get them them as soon as possible.  That is the only way you can really find out what they are willing to buy.
  • Funding Partners – Angel investors choose their activities carefully.  If you are chosen for an early investment, it’s a sign you convinced someone else of your value proposition
  • Partnerships and Alliances – You can’t get there alone.  Good partners are other businesses who share your risk by giving you a capability you do not have.
  • Staff – Attracting others to join your vision is a powerful validation.  Get the best.
  • Advisors – Successful, experienced people are looking for someone to mentor.  Put together an advisory board of people that dress up your skill set and gaps in experience.

Your efforts should include acquiring validations.  They reduce risk and provide a roadmap of progress.