The Unrepentant Recalcitrant

Lessons for an accidental entrepreneur

Archive for the tag “Long Term Business Strategy”

Economic Principles are Slaves to Psychology, not Math

Pity the poor entrepreneur who embarks on a path of business education!

Whether its by way of starting a company, studying for a MBA, or even a million other paths, business education holds some surprises for us unwashed (read: unsophisticated) masses.

Two whole fields exist to dazzle you! Microeconomics and Macroeconomics. Its all exceedingly complicated and not for the faint of brain, you are told.

Some of the smartest people I have met have been economists by profession. Very bright, very quantitative and eager to explain the world of money.
There is however a 800 pound gorilla in the room.

And that is, that economists are almost without exception unable to describe economic reality.

Under most real world conditions, their models don’t work and their math fails them.

Why?

Let an ignorant doctor tell you the one thing he understands better than anything else.

Mathematical formulas are inadequate as models of human behavior.

Economics is at its heart, human behavior applied to a special situation.

Math cannot help you brother.

Don’t tie yourself up in contortions trying to force that economic model to give you testable hypotheses!

Instead, just watch how we behave as social animals and you will get a much better sense of what is happening and what will happen in the future.

Want to master economics and the nature of markets?

Watch “Animal Planet” and throw away your models!

Go to the zoo and say hello to those 800 pound gorillas! You will learn more about how markets behave watching them, than you will watching CNBC.

Trust me, I’m a biologist.

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Dear Dumb VC — What I Learned Building… — Medium

Andy Dunn, the author of the post I have linked below, is the founder of Bonobos. He writes endearingly scathing posts about his experience as a founder looking for capital.

Dear Dumb VC (Venture Capitalist)  has created waves all over the venture community and has been hotly debated from both the sides of the investor, and the bruised and battered entrepreneur.

It’s a love letter (NOT!) from a successful entrepreneur to his erstwhile VC. There are lessons here for all of us that start companies or projects and weigh capital raise options.

It’s a departure from the rubbish they teach you in business school (Yes even in the best schools, they teach you rubbish about the real world!)

Let’s be clear on a couple of points first.

I dont’t believe VC’s are unintelligent per se.

They are more often than not highly educated and very well spoken.

I also don’t believe that all VC’s don’t understand business.

We should draw the distinction between VC’s who have built or worked in business before (Operating VC’s) and those that have not (Financial VC’s).

But most VC’s I have met have not been been operating VC’s. So called Financial VC’s, most certainly are less experienced about actual business concerns and in many cases are only looking to turn a quick profit regardless of the overall outcome for the business.

All VC’s prefer the moniker “Operating VC”. Of course they do. Wouldn’t you?

However, having worked in business development role  in another persons company or having a career exclusively in consulting is NOT operating experience. Sister Please!

Flipping a business in a year or two is also not an “operating experience”. I don’t care what you say about it…I believe it takes time to build operating experience in a business. You may be successful as an entrepreneur if you sold your business quickly, but you don’t know operating from a hole in the ground.

A true Operating VC is worth her weight in Gold. If they are real OVC’s, you really shouldn’t care whether they want to invest in your company. Put them on your board, befriend them, do whatever it takes, but don’t ever let them go. They could be the difference between success and failure and more importantly knowledge and ignorance.

Enough of my opinion. Read and decide for yourself. It’s a very well written piece!

 

Dear Dumb VC — What I Learned Building… — Medium.

The Story of Abhimanyu: Why You Must Have an Exit Strategy

Let me tell you the story of Abhimanyu.

Long long ago in a kingdom far far away, an epic battle was fought.

The battle and its larger story were immortalized in an epic Sanskrit poem called “The Mahabharata”.

The war was between two families of cousins battling for control of their kingdom.

Abhimanyu, a warrior prince learnt the strategies of war while in his mothers womb. His overheard his father Arjuna telling his mother Subhadra how to enter, exit and destroy various battle formations.

The most complex of these  battle formations was the “Chakravyuh”, a formation resembling a rotating spiral that moved forward and expanded at the same time.

Here is where the story gets interesting (and relevant, so pay attention!).

Subhadra, listening to her husband teach, fell asleep before he finished. Abhimanyu, learnt the method of entry into the Chakravyuh, the way to fight once inside, but did not hear how he should exit.

Fast forward to the battle, many years later. The bad guys (sic) are winning. Things look grim. The Chakravyuh is advancing on Abhimnayu and his forces. It seems unstoppable.

Abhimanyu, hero that he is, rushes forward and uses his knowledge to penetrate the spiral. He breaks his way in and fights the enemy from the inside.

Alas, he does not know how to get out of the spiral, once he is in. He lacks an exit strategy.

He is surrounded and killed by the enemy forces, and dies a bloody death on the battlefield.

 

I think I’ve made my point to all of you here (and It isn’t that you shouldn’t fall asleep in class!).

Whatever you do, entrepreneurship or investing or anything else with meaning to you, consider your exit strategy.

Not an exit strategy, not even a couple. You should be devising a decision tree of exits based on your view of multiple different outcomes for your task.

While your life may not depend on it as it did for our hero, you should behave as if it does.

Your outcome(s) will thank you.

 

As a coda for readers interested in the Mahabharata, it is the longest Indian poem (the title means Great Indian Story), is available in English translation and is one of the most gripping tales ever told. The Bhagavad Gita, a discourse by Lord Krishna is a story within this story and probably better known. In the Gita, Krishna speaks to Arjuna (Abhimanyu’s father) and explains right living and the concept of “Karma”. Try it. You will love it.

 

 

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