NFQ Entrepreneur’s Playbook

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We hold these truths to be self-evident” — well maybe in the case of the US Declaration of Independence, but not necessarily in the case of what it takes to start, build and scale-up companies to reach critical mass. Why is it that in most cases, entrepreneurs who start companies rarely make the transformation into being the CEOs that grow the enterprises to critical mass? Or that so many start-ups fail, after tremendous initial growth and promise? After going through several tours of duty as an entrepreneur and business founder, before morphing into CEO and Chairman roles in growing, complex venture-backed enterprises, and then finally joining the “dark side” by becoming a venture investor myself , it has become clear to me that it takes very different competencies and guiding principles to succeed at each stage. What is “common sense and self-evident” at each stage, could be “poison” to the next (and vice versa). These transition points represent significant risk for shareholders (including the original founder) of the company, unless there is a strong commitment from leadership to make the necessary adjustments and changes, so that the organization is enabled and empowered to realize on its potential at all times. As a little New Year’s gift to my fellow business innovators and entrepreneurs, I have summarized some of the observations and guiding principles that I have found useful in my own personal journey. While it is impossible to capture all of these experiences in one big blog post, I thought that I would start by posting a one page outline of the major topics in the NFQ Entrepeneurial Fieldbook, and invite comment and discussion. Depending on the level of interest, and time permitting, I would be happy to elaborate with experiences and more detailed thoughts on any of the topics that are outlined here, in future blog posts. Enjoy, have a great 2011 and rest of this new decade, and use these in good health !!!

  • This information appears to be just as important to innovative not-for-profit organizations like mine. We deal with a lot of the same challenges, especially when it comes to financing the everyday administrative running of the program. Non-profit leadership is under increasingly more pressure to find innovative ways to fund the basic day to day admin costs. This has been recently happening through corporate partnerships, sponsorships and specific organizational projects designed to attract the local and regional public into supporting a cause they feel affects them personally.

    Still, all of this preparation takes capital. Non-profits also have the daunting task of proving why a major corporation should donate to their 501(c)3 and ‘what’s in it for them’. Sounds cold, however, that’s been my experience as the current CEO and founder of my own non-profit. Corporations want to know how we, the non-profit, can add to their bottom line. Fortunately, I’ve been able to outline this with my own organization, since, we mainly assist a specific segment of the population (roughly 1.5 million in the States alone) in helping them secure a stable financial future for themselves and their disabled children. The problem is getting in front of the right people to explain this dynamic. It remains very tough.

    Finding people who are passionate and informed about a specific cause is rare. My hope is that my program, which has already succeeded in assisting a family, will get the funding it needs to remain successful. It’s innovative and designed to empower verses spoon-feed. Our mantra is on the side of not just teaching people to fish, but, to ensure they have the fishing gear along with instructions. We want their success to be duplicated. Not only will we be educating them, but, they will become teachers themselves, passing on vital financial knowledge to their children, other family members and friends. I’m, now, a huge fan of your advice and experience!

    Michael Buckholtz | Founder/CEO
    Aid for Autistic Children Foundation, Inc.

  • These #LessonsLearned always produce a flood of memories on how hard fought success is to achieve 🙂 What have your experiences taught you? #Entrepreneurs #Playbook