In this follow-up post (click here for Part 1) I explore Brad Rosser‘s ‘Survival Tactics’ from his talk. Remember both Brad’s are Australians who run business coaching companies. Brad gained heaps of experience starting-up several Virgin Group companies. These include the unsuccessful Virgin Cola and highly successful Virgin Vie At Home. He had some useful advice to share:
Brad is a sales and marketing crusader! He’s a no-nonsense straight talker who uses war like Sun Tzu strategic mantra. He’s a survivor. Brad plays heavily on his experiences working for one of the worlds best known entrepreneurs, Richard Branson . I’ve worked closely with two of Branson’s companies in the past (V2 Records and Virgin Radio) so I’m always intrigued to learn more.
Alot of Brad’s survival strategies are built around a strong sales and marketing focus. Having great sales and marketing skills is vital to any startup. The CEO must be the first to sell. As Ed Iacobucci, founder of Citrix said, “Nothing happens until you sell something.”
- Your business idea must be “bullet proof“- Brad’s right an idea MUST be commercial and well thought out. However it’s never really going to be ‘Bullet proof’. Change is too constant especially in the Tech sector.
- Don’t wait for the perfect anything – Excellent point! A idea is only a science project until its out with customers. Brad makes a good point which Rachel Elnaugh also made – get a good product/customer fit and then ramp up sales. This requires a customer testing/feedback loop. We’re very keen to get our new web infrastructure monitoring service in customers hands.
- Wasting money in a start-up is a crime – I agree bootstrappers must become lean mean fighting sales machines! Bootstapping can make fitter startups. I’ve learnt the hard way startups should not waste time. After all, time is money.
- ”Prepare for battle” - The army’s 7P’s saying ‘Prior Planning and Preparation Prevents Piss Poor Performance.’ Marketing starts with a Sales Crusader with a good plan.
- Use PR to build credibility -Everyone likes a good entrepreneurial story. Branson famously will go to any length to get free PR. Would you? There are lots of PR opportunities out there they just take time and nurturing.
- Everything is a negotiation – Sales tactics again or used in reverse if your the buyer, employer or need investment.
- Securing funding is not just about getting your hands on any cash you can – The right deal and the right VC!
- Cash is king! -Both sales and cash flow is the lifeblood of any small business. I’ve heard this so many times. Don’t forget Cash is King!
- Don’t waste time, money and effort trying to build a brand during the early days of your business. – Again get out there and start selling. What you waiting for?
- Recognise when it is time to ‘shoot the entrepreneur’ - A hard choice. Not all entrepreneurs can manage a growing business. Recognise this before the VC does and kicks you out. Don’t be afraid.
Another good talk from an Australian with lashings of Pommy jokes and some useful points. You can catch Brad’s full video talk here. Interestingly Brad Sugars uses the franchise business model for his coaching company. Whereas Brad Rosser’s business is centered around the founder (Brad) like many high profile companies including: Steve Jobs’s Apple and Branson’s Virgin. The question is can these companies survive without the founder?