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Monday, November 22, 2021

[VIDEO] George Deeb Discusses the 4 M's of Evaluating Startups

Posted By: George Deeb - 11/22/2021

I was recently interviewed by the  Atlanta Small Business Network  (ASBN), an online "television network" serving the small busine...


I was recently interviewed by the Atlanta Small Business Network (ASBN), an online "television network" serving the small business community, about the 4 M's that investors use to evaluate startups:  market, management, model and momentum.  I thought this video turned out great, and I wanted to share it with all of you, to see if it can be helpful to you to in learning what key points to emphasize when pitching investors.  I hope you like!!



The embedded video player didn't give me the option to change the size of this video.  But, if you want to see a bigger version, simply click the expand size button in the player above, or feel free to watch it on the ASBN website.

Thanks again to Jim Fitzpatrick and the ASBN team for having me on the show.  I look forward to our next interview together.


For future posts, please follow me on Twitter at: @georgedeeb.

Friday, October 22, 2021

Lesson #340: The Top 4 Things to Study When Hiring New Employees

Posted By: George Deeb - 10/22/2021

I have been doing a lot of recruiting lately.  And, it is harder, more competitive, and more time consuming as ever.  It is clearly a job se...


I have been doing a lot of recruiting lately.  And, it is harder, more competitive, and more time consuming as ever.  It is clearly a job seekers market right now, which affords them the opportunity to take the best of competing offers, even if they have already accepted a previous offer, and "ghost" their new employer by never showing up on their first day, which is happening in record numbers and is not a cool move, at all  So, to save you all the tedious effort of having to go back and restart your recruiting efforts after making bad offers or hires, it is important you get it right in the first place.  I found these four key recruiting criteria have served me well over the years, and I wanted to share them with you.

1.  LinkedIn Skills and Endorsements

Duh, a candidate has to have the right skills for the job.  But, what they say about themselves, is materially less important than what third parties have to say about them.  Yes, a candidate can give you professional references from past employers, but you know they are going to cherry pick people that are going to say nice things about them, or don't want to risk the legal repercussions of saying anything negative about a candidate.  To address this issue, my favorite place to recruit is on LinkedIn.  Not only because they have a large B2B audience of users to tap into, but because as candidates apply, I can immediately see how third-parties have assessed that individual in the candidate's skills and endorsements section on their profile page.

There are two things to study here: (i) do the skills third parties think this person is skilled at, match up with how they are positioning their own skills during the interview; and (ii) how many people think they are qualified in those skills.  So, let's say your are looking for a candidate deep in search engine optimization skills.  Is SEO one of their top skills highlighted on their LinkedIn profile, and do a lot of people agree with that by giving that individual their professional endorsement for that skill.  The actual number of endorsements desired is subjective, based on how many LinkedIn connections a person actually has.  But, a person with 50-99+ endorsements for a skill, is a lot more vetted as credible for that skill, than a person with 0-10 endorsements, as an example.

2.  Longevity at Prior Companies

Nothing scares me more than a lot of job hops in a short period of time.  If you see a candidate with five jobs in five years, buyer beware!  Yes, sometimes a candidate is in the wrong place at the wrong time, and a one year stint is explainable, like the company had layoffs or the business was sold.  But, the odds of that happening over and over again is very unlikely.  So, if you see a resume where the candidate has stayed at least 3 years at every job they have had, that is a really good sign that former employers were happy with their performance and wanted to keep them on staff.  And, it is an equally good sign that those candidates were loyal employees to those employers, which you are hoping to hire for your business, to help lower the odds of their future flight risk.

3.  Will They Be Happy and Stay in the Role

Too often, you are studying a candidate from your own perspective--are they a good fit for the role and will they do a good job.  But, it is equally important that you study the candidate from their vantage point--what are they looking to accomplish with their career and will they be happy working at your company.  This category has a bunch of sub-considerations:

The Job Itself.  Will the candidate actually enjoy the job, is it in line with their desires and career aspirations.  Be wary of a candidate that is potentially going back down the corporate ladder (e.g., a former sales team manager, becoming a contributing salesperson again), as they may be using you as a stepping stone, until another management position becomes available.  

Company Profile.  Some people are better suited working for big companies, and the structure, formal processes and clear career paths that come with that.  Other people thrive in more nimble, entrepreneurial environments.  Make sure your candidate is best suited for the stage and structure of your business, and be sure they know all the good, bad and ugly about your business ahead of time, so they are 100% clear on what they are signing up for (so no unexpected surprises for them down the road).  Don't try to bury your "warts" during the recruitment process, make sure they still like you, warts and all.

Compensation.  How much did they make at prior jobs?  How much do they need to get paid to cover their costs and desired lifestyle?  How much is your salary offered in comparison?  Be wary of a candidate willing to take a material pay cut to join your company, as they may simply be using you to tide themselves over until they can find a higher paying job.  Worth adding, in tight job markets like this, don't be cheap--you may need to pay a little more than you normally would to stand out and land the hire.

Career Goals.  People earlier in their career have different goals than someone later in their career.  A younger worker may think that jumping from job to job, to help get higher titles and bigger compensation with each move, is the way to progress themselves.  Which means they may be a flight risk after a couple years.  On the flipside, someone later in their career has already built their career, and may simply be looking for their "last gig" before they retire, and will stick with you until that time, with them knowing how hard it will be for them to find a new job a their age.  So, make sure you do your investigation on where they see themselves in a couple years, to assess if you will need to replace them down the road.

4.  Do They Fit Your Culture

I like to think that new employees are joining an established "family".  They need to get along with all their "siblings" and know the cultural rules that have been put in place by the "parents".  If you don't think the person you are considering will "play nice" with their fellow co-workers, or will bring something that disrupts the "good vibe" in the office, the hire will never work, for you, your other employees or the candidate.  Be sure not to upset the apple cart with any hires, otherwise you risk all your other employees looking for the door, and you will end up with an even bigger recruiting problem on your hands.


So, hopefully, you have a better understanding of where to focus your recruiting investigation efforts, to not only make smart hires, but ones that will stay with your company and won't have you wasting your time recruiting over and over again with a "revolving door" of workers.  Good luck with your hiring!


For future posts, please follow me on Twitter at: @georgedeeb.



Wednesday, September 29, 2021

[VIDEO] George Deeb Discusses the 13 Unlucky Reasons Startups Fail (on ASBN)

Posted By: George Deeb - 9/29/2021

I was recently interviewed by the  Atlanta Small Business Network  (ASBN), an online "television network" serving the small busine...



I was recently interviewed by the Atlanta Small Business Network (ASBN), an online "television network" serving the small business community, about the unlucky 13 reasons startups fail, and how to prevent them in your business.  I thought this video turned out great, and I wanted to share it with all of you, to see if it can be helpful to you in avoid the mistakes made by many other companies before you.  I hope you like!!



The embedded video player didn't give me the option to change the size of this video.  But, if you want to see a bigger version, simply click the expand size button in the player above, or feel free to watch it on the ASBN website.

Thanks again to Jim Fitzpatrick and the ASBN team for having me on the show.  I look forward to our next interview together.


For future posts, please follow me on Twitter at: @georgedeeb.

Wednesday, September 1, 2021

Don't Be the Smartest Guy in the Room

Posted By: George Deeb - 9/01/2021

  I have been exposed to many interesting business leaders over the years. The difference between the average ones, and the great ones, was ...

 


I have been exposed to many interesting business leaders over the years. The difference between the average ones, and the great ones, was how they viewed themselves, and the role they thought they needed to play within their company. My conclusion: the persons that saw themselves as the smartest guy (or gal) in the room, who needed to control all the decision-making in the company, are the ones who achieved the least success, and ended up alienating their peers the most. Allow me to explain further, so you don’t repeat these same mistakes.

Read the rest of this post in Entrepreneur, which I guest authored this month.

For future posts, please follow me on Twitter at: @georgedeeb.



Monday, August 16, 2021

[VIDEO] George Deeb Discusses Pitching Venture Capitalists (on ASBN)

Posted By: George Deeb - 8/16/2021

  I was recently interviewed by the  Atlanta Small Business Network  (ASBN), an online "television network" serving the small busi...

 


I was recently interviewed by the Atlanta Small Business Network (ASBN), an online "television network" serving the small business community, about how best to pitch a venture capitalist.  I thought this "Tip of the Day" short video turned out great, and I wanted to share it with all of you, to see if it can be helpful with your own fund raising efforts.  I hope you like!!



The embedded video player didn't give me the option to change the size of this video.  But, if you want to see a bigger version, simply click the expand size button in the player above, or feel free to watch it on the ASBN website.

Thanks again to Jim Fitzpatrick and the ASBN team for having me on the show.  I look forward to our next interview together.


For future posts, please follow me on Twitter at: @georgedeeb.


Tuesday, August 3, 2021

Lesson #339: OKRs Unite Companies to Achieve Goals

Posted By: George Deeb - 8/03/2021

  Goals setting is one of those business processes that is really an art. When it is done really well, it can unlock huge performance increa...

 

Goals setting is one of those business processes that is really an art. When it is done really well, it can unlock huge performance increases and propel your business to new heights. I was recently introduced to Matt Roberts, the founder of London UK based ZOKRI, whose software helps fast growth companies use Objectives & Key Results (OKRs) driven goals and agile working practices to provide clarity on how growth will be delivered. He is an expert in this space and was gracious enough to allow me to pick his brain to assist me in writing this post.

Why Do Goals Matter? 

The research is clear. Goals serve to direct our efforts towards relevant activities and away from irrelevant ones. Put another way, goals are there to make sure we are doing the right things everyday. The activities that will make a difference.

There are other insights in the research, as well, though. The most important recurring theme is the need for goals to be a challenge to achieve, to push the business forward to new heights. This is why these "harder to hit" goals matter:

  • Harder goals are proven to increase our focus and prolong our effort
  • Harder goals encourage learning, collaboration and innovation - when goals are easy we don’t need to try as hard

If goals really matter to performance management then it is worth exploring what good looks like to start a process of inquiry and improvement. This post has been written to:

  • Introduce the basics of OKRs as a way of setting goals - it’s a leading goal setting framework
  • Share common OKR failure points so you can avoid them
  • Share examples of OKRs that align and would unite a company and teams
  • Emphasize the importance of committing to a update and discussion cadence
  • Encourage you to go all-in if you feel that more aligned and ambitious goals and agile execution are for you

An Introduction to OKRs

OKRs are the go-to goal setting framework for start-ups and scale-ups, and they have been around for a long-time. In fact, they can be traced back to a framework called Management By Objectives (MBO), which was used in the 1970’s. Since then, they’ve become a mainstream way of setting goals and managing growth with Google being the most famous of the companies that use the framework.

There is a simplicity to OKRs that is really attractive. Starting with the fact that they have just two entities:

  • An Objective - describes the Mission you want people to sign-up to and why
  • Key Results - measure the outcomes you are trying to get to. 

Other attributes OKRs have that make them different to other methods like SMART goals are:

  • Frequency of discussions - OKRs are designed to be discussed frequently and widely
  • Aligned - OKRs are set at the top in the form of Company Objectives and aligned with by teams, both departmental and cross-functional.
  • Transparent - OKRs are designed to be shared across teams and not hidden away in silos.

However there are nuances to OKRs that if not understood can cause confusion and even make their introduction a failure that it’s worth understanding.

Common Issues with OKR Implementations to Avoid

Like with the introduction of any new system or way of working, some of what you do and is being asked feels alien or even counterintuitive at first. The most common issues are:

  • 100% is not the only definition of success, in fact, the level of ambition and how you work towards the goal often matters more than the final outcome.
  • Tasks not outcomes are used for Key Results - usually because teams are not good or comfortable talking about measurement.
  • OKRs implemented well are talked about all the time and weekly priorities are constantly aligned and re-aligning execution around them. If agile ways of working are new, OKRs can still become a set-and-forget goal.
  • OKRs are expressions of the most important objectives being targeted. They are what teams are being asked to align with and focus on outside their business-as-usual activities. The issue can be that teams describe their roles and everything they are doing as OKRs, so everything and nothing is most important.

How you avoid these issues is with education, coaching and reinforcement of what good looks like, and leadership. 

OKRs that Can Unite a Whole Company

OKRs, when used well, have the ability to not just be a way of setting goals in traditional teams like Sales and Marketing, they have the ability to unite teams around Company goals and encourage the creation of cross-functional teams. Here is an example of a Company Level OKR that could unite and focus a start-up:

Achieve product market fit and be easy to invest in

As measured by:

MRR increases from X to Y

Churn has reduced from X to Y

LTV : CAC Ratio is over 4

NPS is 80+

Teams would be asked to align Objectives with this OKR. Which is what will be discussed next.

It’s easy to see how Marketing and Sales could work together on top, middle and bottom of the funnel OKRs and target the MRR and CAC metrics. What is often not done as well is Product, Data Science and Engineering OKRs.

If these teams go it alone they are highly likely to create OKRs that target improvements in processes and systems that improve their team performance. For example, it’s common for Product Managers to create OKRs around talking to more customers, or Engineering to reduce the bug count or increase story-point velocity.

If you got these teams together and asked them a different question such as ‘how can your team be improved’ and asked everyone, ‘how could the product be improved to help customers?’

To be clear, you can also have a team OKR, but having an OKR that is targeting the customer and the value they need you to provide is more important.

For example, what if your product was hard to learn and it’s stopping you from getting scale. The value you need to provide is:

Make learning our product really easy

As measured by:

80% of new sign-ups complete all 5 engagement tasks

50% of new users invite 5 colleagues to the app

To achieve this you’re going to need Product Management, Engineering, and the UX / Design team to work together, not working in separate silos.

Tracking & Reporting OKR Progress

What then follows on from this is a planning session where Initiatives are proposed, a backlog is created, some are moved to ‘in progress’ and execution begins.

Every Monday the teams propose priorities for the week, share problems, and review related metrics that would support the OKR like Sign-ups Volume, Weekly Average Users.  On a Friday, wins are shared.

This focused agenda and cadence is what keeps the teams connected to the OKR and helps its achievement, and is what OKR software like ZOKRI supports.

Software matters because spreadsheets not only suffer from ‘set and forget’, they are not good at managing the constituent parts of goal and executional conversations, both when teams are together, and when people are working asynchronously.

The reality is you want and need the reminders, alerts, input structure, workflows, integrations, data views and reports. Not having them reduces goal and execution focus, or increases the time and management overhead.

The other part of the argument is that you want to be breaking down the silos not supporting them. Having a friendly easy to navigate common system that shows anyone what teams are trying to accomplish, their progress and priorities has huge advantages. For example, it helps decisions in teams make sense, especially if what is being done conflicts with what you need, as goals provide context for the work being prioritized and committed to.

Mastery is Not Hard But Needs Commitment 

Mastering OKRs is not hard but does take commitment from the top and an understanding that changes in how you plan and collaborate takes time as you are acquiring new skills and embedding new behaviors. The destination and journey can be a rewarding one as it can unite your whole company around a common vision and set of goals. If you want a deeper dive on this, Matt shared this free guide on OKRs which may be helpful.  If any of you need help with setting business goals, call us at Red Rocket.  If any of you need help with measuring and achieving those goals, call Matt's team at ZOKRI.  Matt, thanks again for your help and inspiration here.  


For future posts, please follow me on Twitter at: @georgedeeb.


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