In today’s business world, tech startups and incubators seems to be “The Hot Black.” I just came home from celebrating a Chicago incubator’s launch as I write this. But as Small Business Trends reported earlier this year, reports suggests a decline in tech startups over the past decade, despite widespread media coverage and intense interest from organization private and public, large and small.
To help your small tech startup, consider increasing access to your resources. You can start with this book, The Tech Entrepreneur’s Survival Guide: How to Bootstrap Your Startup, Lead Through Tough Times, and Cash In for Success by Bernd Schoner, PhD. (@berndschoner). I discovered the book in NetGalley, and I liked that this resource offers critical thinking of the right questions that need to be raised in developing a successful startup venture.
Survival Techniques To Make Your Startup a Survivor
A bit of background on Schoner – from the PhD at the end of his name you can surmise that the book will contain a scholarly perspective to entrepreneurship. Like an ingredient to a recipe, that perspective does enter into the text. But Schoner brings personal experience to the book material, having sold ThingMagic, a tech design and prototyping firm, after 10 years of operation.
He is now the Vice President of Business Development at Trimble Navigation – the very firm that acquired ThingMagic. Schoner writes with a casual flair, so there is an eye for unique details that keep the observations delightfully insightful but not dry.
Here’s an example of his start up experience at work, as Schoner notes how survival affected purchase and personnel decisions:
“To stay alive, we saved money in every aspect of our business. Our salaries were way below market, and the founders and management team has to live with a substantial amount of deferred compensation…My co-founders never forgave me for purchasing what they considered test equipment unworthy of their talents: used oscilloscopes and computers with the Enron property sticker on them, exchanged for a few dollars at a sketchy highway rest area.”
There are three segments, Bootstrapping, Equity Funding, and Exit. Each contains chapters with a variation in how a startup manages its resources. If I had to nail a significant similarity, it’s that all focuses on critical thinking within those stages. The result is a powerfully overview on making capital work in a startup. I have always felt that one resource will not address all of a given business’ needs, but among books The Tech Entrepreneur’s Survival Guide comes awfully close to being that one great resource.
The Tech Entrepreneur’s Survival Guide achieves that greatness in the rich detail suited for a tech startup in general. For example, there’s a section that describes patent types – kitchen sink, submarine, provisional, and utility. In the last patent type, Schoner explains the principle of patent continuations:
“If certain conditions exist, new patents can be filed and awarded many years after the description was drafted and filed, while claiming the original priority date…in short, the patent law allows for an arbitrary number of patents for more than the price of one.”
There are other tips, from doing your own PR work to managing vesting options. And some cool insights on valuing typical tech assets, such as trade secrets – they provide protection “only so long as they actually do stay secret.”
What I Liked About This Book
I liked that this book worked to address how to frame questions so that your startup is truly addressing a need versus address a fad. A segment on ideas is a great example. It offers questions meant to raise meaningful and deeper aspects to why a start up offering should exist. Is the product or service:
- Cool and a new fad, or is there a market?
- Will it provide happiness, pain relief, or more pain?
- How many decades will it take to get widespread adoption?
Schoner goes on further detail, again with a blend of experience and scholarly overview:
“The public indulges stories about brilliant ideas turning into great companies…Yet never has the substance of an idea alone has been the reason for the success of the company.”
Who Would Benefit Most From This Book
Founders of tech startups are the most obvious reader demographic intended for this book. The Tech Entrepreneur’s Survival Guide enhances books such as Remote, in which a start up founder offers their personal insight more than a review of typical assets.
It’s not as deeply thorough as Venture Capital Investing, but it’s not mean to be an academic study. Anyone with an entrepreneurial spirit can enjoy this book, so incubator founders and bedroom startups will both be inspired and informed.
Read this book to minimize the monkey-wrenches that will certainly appear in your startup decisions. With a blend of scholarly insight and experience, The Tech Entrepreneur’s Survival Guide will show you the way to watch your business march towards an financial future instead of a death march to join other startup failures.
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