I love my friends. Especially when they share stuff that hits home with me. My dear friend Kelly Hoey has a knack for posting exactly what I’m thinking, and saying things I’d say if she didn’t beat me to it. Today is no different. Both Kelly and I are mentors and avid supporters of the tech and startup communities. So often times we see things the same when it comes to startups and entrepreneurship. We both give advice with a caring yet firm hand, and we never sugar coat things or coddle mentees. After all, if we did, how would they learn how to really operate in the business world when so many people can be fake.
This morning as I did a quick troll (yes I said troll) through Facebook (who am I kidding, I usually click twice maybe three times to scroll before I shut it down) I came across a post Kelly shared from a newsletter about an investor who was asked who his “losers” were in his portfolio companies. The gist of it was a company founder told an investor he was writing a book on “How startups can do X better”. As soon as I read it, I said YES to this a thousand times!!!!!
Everyone wants to be a “star” or believe in their own “celebrity hype” when starting up the next hot thing because they’re taught that on TV, social media and the media. And it’s exciting too. Shoot, there have been times I was a media or social media darling and it was cool. So imagine when you have a cool new startup that everyone’s falling all over themselves to report on or be a part of. Who can be the next unicorn? Who can be the next Mark Z? And so on and so on. But true entrepreneurship is about building a revenue generating, profit earning COMPANY. Not how you think you can do whatever better so it’s up to you to teach the masses how to be just like you. And if you CAN do whatever better, focus on DOING it better, not writing about it.
You haven’t put enough years in the game to warrant such a self promotional book. You don’t have enough battle scars yet. You haven’t experienced enough successes AND failures yet. Media, the startup community, and sorry to say it shows like Shark Tank (which I LOVE to pieces) has made startups a thing of celebrity and glamour, and not the actual hard as fuck work it really is.
I’m not taking away from anyone who launches a startup. It’s not easy and I’ve done it (and failed) several times. But when you’re going for investor dollars, they don’t give a damn about your “brand”. They want to know is the company viable, does it have a shot at longevity, can it be profitable & scalable, and will I make a good return on my investment. They could care less if you’re writing a NY Times best seller. Books don’t equate to automatic profits. Solving consumer or business problems do.
I’m all for branding yourself. I think everyone should. But get some notches under your belt before you do that. Stop listening to these so called social media gurus. Remember, it’s customers FIRST, then revenue, then company brand, then profits, THEN you. Slow your roll until you have some traction under you. Without a track record, you have no real reason to write a book. I’m not talking about having failures. Failures are part of your story, your journey. There’s plenty of time to write a book. Spend your time building your empire, expanding your reach, and gaining momentum. Earn your battle scars. Then think about writing a book.
But hey, I’m not your momma. You can do what you want. I’m just offering some advice. I have been there and done that. I even got the t-shirt and coffee mug!
Til next time,
Stop with the vanity branding efforts already, jeeze!
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Adrienne Graham is the Founder & CEO of Empower Me! Corporation (www.empowerme.org), a Growth Strategies consultancy for high growth companies. She provides Strategic Business Growth consulting services to companies with high growth potential to assist clients in creating processes and strategies to effectively scale, run, grow and position their business for success. Check out her radio show Views From the Top on Blog Talk Radio & iTunes. Adrienne is also an avid techie dedicated to promoting diversity in the tech community. She is steadily building her empire one company at a time. And her company CurvyGirlCloset.com helps turn closets into commerce for the plus-sized fashionista. She is also a Mentor for the Straight Shot Accelerator in Omaha, NE, which helps guide startups into successfully launched ventures.