A big day yesterday at Auckland Business School for IceIdeas. The theme was growing another 3000 companies before 2020. Xero investor Peter Thiel was the drawcard for the event and really impressed the audience.
Highlight of the week for me was dinner with Peter and his team which is always incredibly motivating and resets perspective.
In my 6 minute slot later in the day I surveyed the audience to see what parts of entrepreneurship they’d experienced. Finishing with who was signing up to be one of the 3000 companies. Later I thought there are a set of experiences that all us entrepreneurs have in common and should strive for.
Only a very few will do all of these things and you might be lucky enough to skip a few steps out but here is my checklist of experiences for being an entrepreneur …
The Entrepreneurs Checklist
- Borrowed money from family to start a business (thanks mum)
- Funded a business on your mortgage
- Presented a business plan to Angel investors
- Received angel funding
- Spent 3 weeks at a time on the road (the ‘drive by shooting’ as we call it)
- Sold your product over a webinar without a physical visit
- Lost sleep over making payroll
- Presented to a Sandhill Road VC firm (squirrel!)
- Received VC investment
- Hired an overseas employee
- Fired a friend
- Appeared on National television (terrifying!)
- Spoken in a room in front of 500 people
- Sold a business (Payday! The moment when you look in your online bank account and see a big number there – woohoo)
- Do an Angel investment (I know I’m going to lose this but …)
- Take a company public
- Have people question your character in the media
- Become a Director
- Ring the bell
As a business person I think this is the ultimate experience to you can aspire to:
When I grew up reading all of the Silicon Valley business books the ultimate experience was the IPO.
I saw a couple of typical twitter comments from the usual armchair critics following my session which which are useful to address.
he’s a director of the NZX – surely a bit of a conflict of sorts?
I guess when you’re a director of the NZX you have a pretty significant vested interest
Either way I don’t think IPO is a good direction for most biz
It might be more charitable to think that I became a Director of the NZX because I believe Public Companies are good. But anyway the point of Private versus Public is a good one.
Sure private companies are great. Nothing wrong with them. Bootstrapping is also good and necessary for most early stage entrepreneurs. But for a business person the experience of doing a public company is a much greater challenge. It’s scary and exhilarating. It can be rewarding. You’re looking after other peoples money and they are betting on you.
When you do go public there is a set of experience you will go through that includes:
- Building a senior team
- Selecting advisors
- Selecting a Investment Bank
- Negotiating fees
- Completing your IM
- A big legal review
- Doing the roadshow
- Building the book
- IPO Day – ringing the bell
- Share price going down (and sometimes up)
- Public reporting
- Market announcements
- Board paper prepration and board meetings
- Annual meeting with shareholders
- Investor updates
These are fantastic experiences that only people running a public company share. Peter Thiel had these experiences at PayPal. The LinkedIn guys have just been through it. Steve Jobs has been running AAPL for a while. Zuckerburg is about to got through it.
Many business owners will be completely happy running a private company. But if we really want to grow we need a proportion of them to step up, attract a lot more capital, invest in R&D, hire more people, go global and give investors a chance to growth their wealth.
If our young entrepreneurs want to be like our business heroes, they should aspire to have all of these experiences. Some experiences are good, some will bad. But this is the full journey in entrepreneurship.
Your comments are most welcome.