Business Consulting

A collection of notes on startup and small business operations.

I've built a few companies. During the 1999-2001 I had my first startup experiences. I joined an early stage company (Everdev) that sold app-site development services and a content management platform.

The Happy Path

  1. Have an Idea
  2. Canvas
  3. Customer Development
  4. Team
  5. Traction

The Un-Happy Path

  1. Have Idea
  2. Skip Canvas
  3. Start building PRODUCT
  4. Forget Marketing
  6. Realise room is empty, clients are scarce, revenue is zero
  7. Start blaming each other or some bullshit "market forces" or "we were to early"

Prime Objective: Get to Cash Flow Positive

Get some revenue, some how some why. Revenue proves traction, any other metric you can imagine is a BULLSHIT metric for proof of traction. Think "beyond a reasonable doubt".

Start a Business

Start a Sole-Prop if you're just getting started. It's very easy and inexpensive to ramp-up from Sole-Prop, to LLC to S-CORP to C-CORP. It's difficult and expensive to unwind or to roll-back.

A tool called [Stripe Atlas]() can help.

Due Dilligence

-- @todo Can we get a Checklist? -- @todo What About a ENT "Canvas" for Fund Raising -- @todo Canvas All the Things! -- @todo ENT should have a Prepared One-Sheet + Link to Doc-Set Magic

Books / Links

SAC YouTube Channel, Some Recordings have Books "Angels" by Jason...something "Calacanis?"


Angels & Syndicates

Seed (eg: Priced)

Angels and Syndicates & Seed

Series A

Seed and Early Stage Venture Funds

Always Do

Table Stakes for ENT

Must haves for getting started

Risky Business

Most fail, lose all your money, lose some friends, etc.

Finding other Founders

T+MMM -- Techonology, Money, Marketing and Management

Could be skills found in 2, 3 people too; early you wear multiple hats.

Look for complementary skills; don't need three managers at the start; don't need three engineers.

Test your prospects, like dating for marrage. Can do "the thing" that's in their skill-set in "T" time? eg: I'll get the landing page built in 2 hours I'll get our legal paper work in order this week I'll get some ads running on $SITE and get 1000 clicks I'll get three meetings with investor prospects.

Startup events can be a great way to find new people outside your existing network. Eg: Startup Weekend - Real or Virtual


The Founders are all in for a long journey together, must have good alignment. Do you want to build the same size / type of busienss (eg: SMB vs VC Backed)? Do you have the same exit stratgey? Do you envision the same type of growth (steady vs hyper) Can you make the same time commitments


Use an Equity Calculator

Internet Commentary

The Pitch

Practice these, really, practice -- and time your practice. Don't want to just read off a transcript, needs to feel dynamic.

Be Ready for REMOTE PITCH -- RECORD IT; Practice TESTING the Meeting Software & your Remote Access Setup.

Make sure you're skipping the UMs and stuff. If you have a CTA make sure you land it (at the end).

NOTE: Be aware of Private vs Public Solicitation Reg D 506(x) So don't ask about specific money, or round or amount to raise if it's possible it could be considered Public.

1 Minute

No Slides, cover Team and Traction The Good Talking Points -- what's going right, where it's going.

Traction: Any Revenue? Path to Revenue?

Using this to get to the NEXT step. Don't try to get the FULL detail.

3 Minutes

More of the same

Be prepared for details about your Team

If you mention money, or money raised or contributed be prepared to talk about those details.

Should at least touch on some information about Competition

Should still stay focused on points, and give enough pause for inventors brains to absorb, riff and comeback.

Need to Be Clear about points -- don't go to far into the weeds on the technicial details.

There is room to talk about some KPIs but keep them simple.

If you're talking about finances be brief, if you're pre-revenue there isn't much to say.

Good to cover the Channels that are how folks landing at your business

Charts are not such a good idea, expecially detailed one -- three huge bars is MAYBE acceptable.

Be sure to cover GTM (Go To Market) process/strategey

The CTA for this one should be UNIQUE from the CTA in 1m

5 Minutes

More of the same but, longer still

The CTA for this one should be UNIQUE from the CTA in 1m, 3m

10 Minutes

More of the same but, longer still

The CTA for this one should be UNIQUE from the CTA in 1m, 3m, 5m

Client Segments

How to build a SEgement.

Self Filter out the Folks who are clearly NOT interested. Don't waste time with them, save them in a "CRM" and maybe come back to them.


Client says it looks great and wants the Product; but is waffling. Doesn't Commit Hard ($CASH) Maybe Routes you to Tier-2 Clients (really $TIER - 1) - This person is FAN not a CLIENT

ASK ABOUT BUDGET EARLY AND OFTEN -- What does a Purchase Look Like? What are the Metrics for Success

AARRR Metrics for Pirates

Acquisition, Activation, Retention, Referral, Revenue!

Original Here:

Phone Calls

Some folks think that 10 calls a week is good Some folks think that 100 calls a day is good (with like 5 connects)

Total Available Market, SAM, SOM

Identifiy these things, look at who they are and slice, slice slice into narrow segment.

Get into small SOM to for customer developement.

Early Survey

TIP: Don't!

Don't to early Survey while you are doing Client/Customer Discovery! You need to connect with these early adopters at a differnt level. A Survey is for quantifying theoritical values to measure: (left v right v top v bottom)

Early we are trying to measure which feeling, which direction is the strongest and also evaluate WHY. Why is not a question that gets answered with survey.

Rasing Money

504 Investment Exception


Must have a falsifiable hypothesis

That is, make a it a test like:

By doing A we will get Q things in T time.

A is a specifici activity, narrowly scoped Q is a quantifieable metric, not just "more" clients but something like "50" or "100" T is a specific time frame

Staff / Employees

Keep everone on 1099 for AS LONG AS POSSIBLE.

This allows you to easily hire/fire folks in nearly any location.

If you hire folks on W2 type wages, you'll have to deal with loads of bullshit introduced by the various state governments. In each state you hire you'll have to make sure your payroll provider can handle it. You may need to add a registered agent (eg: Oregon) You'll hve to register with the SOS and/or the DOR and/or the DOL. Many cases require waiting days for paper-mail with registration numbers, these delays cost you a) time and b) cash. Some cases (CT) you have to wait for the first letter, to then use that ID for the next department, which also waits 10 days. So, now you've added 20+ days of waiting and at least two hours of paperwork for a W2 Employee. It's just not worth it.

Each one requires more and more paperwork you just don't have time for. Each one requires learing some one-off byzantine system. Each one requires recording and tracking some bullshit registration numbers. Each one obligates you to additional monthly, quarterly and/or yearly paperwork. Each one exposes you to risk that if any of those things are not done you'll have penalties. Each one could expose you to nexus in said State which may then also require you to pay some business taxes in said State.

It's such a waste of time and cash.

Groups & Meetups

A list of different groups and meetups


Books / Links

Books and essays and presentations and other fancy things to educate and enlighten.

For Entrepreneurs


Product Development

Business Development

For Investors