Saturday, October 1, 2011

5 Keys to Becoming a Successful Serial Entrepreneur

I just finished leading a 3-day workshop in Toulouse, France for 15 entrepreneurs from the incubators and technology centres of the European Space Agency. Today I have been asking myself questions about what the key skills are that these entrepreneurs will need to develop in order to succeed.

Success can be measured in many ways, but my goal has been to teach them to become serial entrepreneurs – persons who are capable of creating not just one startup business, but capable of starting many healthy businesses throughout their careers.
Becoming a good serial entrepreneur involves learning the ability to do the following:
  1. Serial Entrepreneurs see opportunity. Opportunities arise where there are problems or where there are inefficiencies. While corporate employees tend to focus on resources, good entrepreneurs tend to focus on opportunities. When an employee encounters a problem within an organization, they most often try to figure out how to navigate around it. An entrepreneur, however, sees this as an opportunity to solve the problem and thereby to create a sellable product or service. Every problem is good news and an opportunity to a serial entrepreneur.
  2. Serial Entrepreneurs create and communicate a clear vision. A clear vision is key. Without it an entrepreneur ends up being vague and uncertain about how to go forward to create a solution or to organize the team that is necessary for success. A simple and magical thing happens when an entrepreneur creates a clear vision, commits to making it happen and then communicates it to the world.
  3. Serial Entrepreneurs are able to attract great people to work with them. Many entrepreneurs never get past this point. They work hard, but they mostly work alone. Their ventures seldom grow large and are limited by the fact that they are neither team players nor good leaders. Hire people who are smarter than you. Hire people that almost scare you because they are so capable. Only then will you raise the level of your company to new levels and ensure long-term success. Earn their trust, give them full responsibility and then get out of their way so they can make your company into a success.
  4. Serial Entrepreneurs are able to raise capital or to obtain whatever resources are necessary. Almost all good business ideas will need capital at some point. Without capital, growth takes longer. With capital, a company can often move quicker and take advantage of windows of opportunity that appear. Capital is like fertilizer for plants. Organic growth is always an option, but sometimes there are faster and better ways to stimulate rapid growth.
  5. Serial Entrepreneurs remain flexible, adapting to changes without abandoning their vision. As we all know so well, shit happens. One of the only constants in life is change. Being a successful serial entrepreneur involves developing the ability to stay flexible in the face of the winds of change, without losing sight of their vision.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

A Three Minute Course in LEADERSHIP

Leadership Lessons - Dancing Guy
Whether you are creating a business or creating an amazing life, you can benefit from thinking like an entrepreneur and by taking leadership.

Unfortunately, some of the most fundamental assumptions that we make about leadership may be wrong or over-glorified.  A leader is just a lonely nutcase without followers. The first followers, not the leader, are the ones who take the greatest risk yet get the least praise and recognition. The first followers are the ones that teach other followers how to follow. How often do discussions about leading fail to discuss how to follow?

One of my brilliant entrepreneur-coaching clients sent me a link to the following 3-minute video by Derek Sivers about How to Start a Movement. Watch this video and ask yourself:  What are the areas of my career or life where I am truly taking leadership? How can I nurture my followers and treat them like equals?

Want to learn more about entrepreneurial thinking and leadership? Then sign-up for one of my workshops or courses. Even better, join me for the Oslo Leadership Event (May 27-29, 2011 in Oslo).  There I will hold a talk entitled: Dare to Dream – the Entrepreneurial Mindset. If you attend and are one of my blog readers, please come and introduce yourself to me!

Leadership lessons from the Dancing Guy

Thanks to Erlend Bakke. Check out his amazing360 photography tools at:

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

DARING TO DREAM - The Entrepreneur Mindset

"The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short; but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark." — Michelangelo Buonarroti

I will never forget the night that it really hit me. I didn’t sleep once during the 6 hours that I tossed and turned in bed. I could barely keep my eyes closed. My brain was racing at breakneck speed with plans and ideas and visions of a future that was so bright and vibrant that I couldn’t contain my enthusiasm. I had just figured out that I really could succeed as an entrepreneur.

Earlier that day I had a dialogue with fellow BlueSky Software founder Jørgen Lien. He insisted that we had a shot… a real shot at busting open a segment of a large and growing software market, and in doing so a shot at creating a wildly-successful software company. This was my first technology startup. Although I had seen the possibility, I never really believed in it.  Before then. During that night it finally hit me.

20 years later and my dream is still alive, vibrant, bright and part of my everyday reality. BlueSky succeeded in busting open that market and went on later (without me) to be acquired by Macromedia/Adobe. Two other tech startups I did went well and are still flying high. I have worked closely with hundreds of talented entrepreneurs since then and yet I still have that moment in my mind.

For me, the biggest excitement was never about the riches and the wealth. It was not about fame and notoriety. Most of all, it was the realization that I could create.

The process of creation that an entrepreneur can experience is amazing. One minute you sit there with two empty hands and a head full of ideas. In the next moment your thoughts have been converted to real things and you have your hands full of value and new opportunity. It is like modern day alchemy – the ability to turn common objects into gold.

Three weeks from now I will be one of the keynote speakers at the Oslo Leadership Event (Fornebu Arena, May 27-29, 2011). I will use the opportunity to share some stories from my experiences as an entrepreneur. There have been a lot of crazy moments, but most of all I will use this opportunity to encourage everyone to think like an entrepreneur.

The Entrepreneur Mindset
Whether you want to create a business, or lead a sports team, or teach a classroom of students, sail alone around the world, become a master yoga instructor or just simply get the most out of today… it all starts by DARING TO DREAM. Dream big. Dream wild. Dream like you did when you were a kid. You would be amazed at what is really possible.

If you want to learn more about visualization tools or how to accelerate your business, then contact me or join one of my seminars. If you are going to attend the Oslo Leadership Event, then please come up and introduce yourself to me and share your dreams with me as well!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

iPad Changes the Game for Nerdy Guys

iPad Boys & their ToysBoys and their iPad Toys

A few months ago I was on a weekend cabin trip get-away with a bunch of guys and I noticed something different that happened. Three of the guys brought their iPads and if this had been a trip with the girls along, then there would have been instant protests and complaints about spending the weekend online. But since it was just a boy’s weekend, then playing with electronic toys was perfectly acceptable behavior. OK, so were burping, farting and authentic expressions of profanity, but there is a reason why the guys have to get away from time to time. What was different was the use of iPads in this social situation. They became a natural part of the discussions and the activities. In the middle of a conversation, someone would pick up an iPad, lookup a fact, a quote or a definition on Google or YouTube and then share it with the others. We debated European history details but Wikipedia got the final say. The format of the iPad (and the little table mount cover) made it easy for the other 5 guys to crowd around the pad to watch a funny YouTube video (extreme base jumping & surfing monster waves), watch a music video or to just look at photos from a recent trip to Mexico. With 4 iPads and 8 guys it almost ended up being like a competition. Not dualing banjos, but dualing iPads. A creative entrepreneur game programmer should design something to capitalize on this.


How much time do you spend online alone?

Like most people I am sure that you spend lots of time online, but how much of this is really a group experience? Facebook. LinkedIn and Twitter all allow you to connect with groups, but most of the time you are sitting at your computer screen alone. How often have you been sitting together with a group of people where several are online and at the same time all are participating in an interesting group discussion? My wife says that men cannot do two things at once, but here I must protest. We men can handle our gadgets and still follow a conversation. So there! Finally we have found a social justification for nerdy male behavior!


A new online use - GroupSurfing

When was the last time you surfed the internet with a group? Call it a GroupSurf. I have used devices like an AppleTV to surf the internet while watching TV, but this is different. With multiple people surfing the internet at the same time and all contributing to a live group discussion, I think this is a new kind of internet use. Do you know about any applications that are designed for this type of experience? If so, I would like to hear from you. Leave a comment below. If you are a programmer and have an application to promote that works like this, please contact me.


Understanding men by understanding their gadgets

In the book Boys and Their Toys, author Bill Adler explains that men use toys to assert their independence and freedom, relieve stress, connect to their lost childhood, and even express their nurturing side (without having to admit it). OK, “nurturing” might be taking this a bit too far, but just face it. We men are different and how we use our iPads will also be different. Next time you go to a party, take along your iPad along and don’t be ashamed to whip it out in front of everyone. You might be surprised at how much fun you have and what sort of a positive experience you create (at least with the guys).

Want to turn-around your business and get results in record time?

Contact me to discuss Executive Coaching, Group Facilitation and Management for Hire services for technology companies. You can learn more at , and at Rick Salmon is an energetic entrepreneur who lives in Norway and believes that European startup companies can succeed and grow quickly if only they get the proper help and assistance. Please join the discussion and leave your comments. Subscribe to this newsletter/blog to receive frequent updates and tips.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Hunting in the Sales Jungle

If you are running a startup business, then it is likely that you don’t have a lot of money or a lot of time to waste on unnecessary marketing and sales efforts. It’s like being deep in the jungle when you are tired, hungry and only have 1 arrow left. You must select your target very, very carefully before you take your only shot.

I still have a house phone that hangs on the wall (remember those?). No one ever calls on it except for Grandpa (on occasion) and telephone salespeople. I have never purchased anything from a phone salesman, nor consented to any free offer or survey, and yet they still keep calling in the hopes that I may change my personality someday. Most often they are trying to sell things that I never, ever would want to buy anyways. In marketing, this is the opposite of the hungry jungle hunter with only one arrow. These phone salespeople will shoot at anything that moves (or answers the phone).

A key to marketing success
A key to rapid success for any business (whether startup or established) is to carefully choose a highly targeted, well defined, easily located, narrow niche market and to focus all marketing and sales efforts there. This can be the difference between survival and failure, and yet you would be surprised how many entrepreneurs fail to do so. Too many entrepreneurs are opportunistic, not strategic and it costs them dearly. The smaller your market, the better you will understand the needs and challenges of your customers. The better you understand your customers, the easier it is to develop features and benefits that address their specific needs. This will make the sales process faster, painless, easier and a lot more fun. Selling to highly qualified customers is easy because you have selected them based on their needs and you know how to talk with them in a manner that resonates with them.

Only Qualified Leads
I sell a coaching & mentoring program to entrepreneurs who want to learn to master the art of entrepreneurship and to become successful lifelong serial entrepreneurs. While I meet hundreds of entrepreneurs each year, only a few are truly interested in this type of learning and self-development. I would be foolish to waste a lot of my time & efforts in trying to pitch my program to entrepreneurs who are not interested.  Therefore I have designed a number of tools that allow the interested ones to come forward and identify themselves. This blog is one of those tools.

A free offer
If you talk to my clients you will hear that this program really works well. If you are not sure, then join me on a free interactive webinar on April 28th at 16:00 CET. During this online meeting I will show you some of the common mistakes and some of the easy ways that you can increase your number of qualified leads. Follow even one of these tips and you will have more clients that come to you and ask for your services. After the webinar, if you tell me that you are really interested in learning more, then we will talk. But only after you have identified yourself and your interest. If I only have one arrow, then I want to take careful aim before I waste your time and mine.

Join us on this next webinar (April 27th) and you will discover:
  • How to define a razor-sharp target market plan that will accelerate your business
  • My top 5 recommendations for re-defining your business to make better use of limited time and resources
  • How to use Guerrilla Marketing tactics to differentiate you from your competitors
  • The 5 most common marketing mistakes that entrepreneurs make
  • How to become less reliant on leading-edge technology and to build long-term value for your business
  • PLUS, a fatal mindset challenge that could be sabotaging your marketing efforts without you really realizing it!
Sign-up for the free series of webinars. Here are some of the topics we will discuss in future webinars.
  • APRIL 28, 2011 – Targeted marketing and niche strategies
  • MAY 26 – Secrets to raising capital for early-stage entrepreneurs
  • JUNE 30 – Sales acceleration tools and best practices
  • JULY 28 – Power networking skills that will let you connect with anyone fast
  • AUGUST 25 – Building lists of potential customers, your biggest asset
  • SEPTEMBER 29 – Closing sales faster and overcoming objections easily
  • OCTOBER 27 – Establishing rapport with investors and customers quickly
  • NOVEMBER 24 – Becoming a recognized thought leader in your industry
  • DECEMBER 29 - Guerrilla Marketing tricks and techniques
  • JANUARY 26, 2012 – Powerful Communication skills
  • FEBRUARY 23 – Story telling examples and methods
  • MARCH 29 – Pitching to investors in a way that will get results


Image: Thinkers Of The Jungle, by Gerd Schuster, Willie Smits and Jay Ullal, published by Ullmann Publishing,

Monday, March 28, 2011

VCs are from Mars, Entrepreneurs are from Venus

John Gray’s book Men are from Mars has the subtitle ”The Classic Guide to Understanding the Opposite Sex”.  To some entrepreneurs, Venture Capitalists might as well be the opposite sex. Many entrepreneurs don’t really understand them very well. In a good blog post by ex-VC and VentureBeat writer Tom Tzach, he offers 4 good tips to entrepreneurs. Here are my comments to his tips:

1. It’s a numbers game. Expect casualties.
Tzach reminds us that VCs get a huge number of requests for their time and money. If you are an entrepreneur seeking capital (especially if this is your first time), then you will have to play the numbers. You might need to pitch to 50 in order to find 3 who are truly interested. You might need 9 who are truly interested before you find one who will give you the funds.  Just like sales, it is a pure numbers game and the odds are not great, especially in today’s market where many investors are (un-admitably) scared.

I was at a venture meeting in Lisbon a few weeks ago and talked to one of the really classy European VCs (Diana Saraceni from 360 Capital Partners in Milan). She said that even though they have only 4 partners at her firm, they received 1202 business plans last year. They held 354 meetings with entrepreneurs and closed 6 new deals. If you are one of the 1202 then be prepared for a rejection. It is not personal. It only means that there are other (better?) deals out there ahead of you in the queue.

Tzach writes that in the US less than 2% of entrepreneurs pitching get funding, and that the average time for the process takes from 9 to 12 months. Don’t be discouraged, just plan to work hard.

2. Develop a VC pitching strategy
You will certainly need a strategy or else you will just end up shooting at any animal in the jungle that moves. Tzach recommends that you develop key parameters (like history, relevance of their portfolio, location, etc.) and then divide the prospective VCs into ranked groups. Start with those that are least likely to invest so that you get some practice before you tackle the big boys. Plus, if you screw it up in the first meetings, it won’t kill you. I think you will experience that pitching is a huge (and fun) learning experience.

3. You need to play your cards right
I have always been a lousy card player because I tend to play out my cards without a longer-term game plan (OK, I have other redeeming skills). Tzach reminds entrepreneurs that the VC community is small and that VCs like to talk together a lot. Expect this, but be selective in how you handle and manage your communication. Negotiating with 2 different VCs at the same time is not an ideal situation. Try to work out your deal with one and then shop the same deal to others if you need to fill the offering. Remember that while term sheets are confidential, they will be around long after you are gone. Treat them with extreme professionalism and care. I have a consultant (who I pay with options or shares) who always helps me with term sheets. He has saved me huge amounts of money and some rather embarrassing mistakes.

4. Don’t seek funding under pressure
The best time to visit a banker is when you are not in need of a loan. The best time to start your fundraising work is long before you actually need the capital. Fundraising will take a long time. It is like selecting a wife – you should use a lot of time to get to know each other before you tie the knot. VCs are smart and they will sense it if you are under pressure, plus when you show them your cash-flow budgets and financial statements, they will quickly figure out your predicament. Plan ahead.

Just as 50% of all marriages end on the rocks, only about 10% of all VC investments actually pay respectable returns. Realize that this is the reality and plan your strategy accordingly. Good VCs can be fantastic partners who can help you (not only with capital, but also with lots of assistance) to grow your business much faster than on your own… But you have to play by their rules in order to get them on your team.

Want to turn-around your business and achieve results in record time?
Contact me to discuss Executive Coaching, Group Facilitation and Management for Hire services for technology companies. You can learn more at and at Rick Salmon is an energetic entrepreneur who lives in Norway and believes that European startup companies can succeed and grow quickly if only they get the proper help and assistance. Please join the discussion and leave your comments. Subscribe to this newsletter/blog to receive frequent updates and tips.
Click for more info about this free offer from Xelerator

Friday, March 11, 2011

Why are you an Entrepreneur... really?

What motives you as an entrepreneur? What is the real reason that you are willing to work long hours 7 days a week with low pay, few colleagues, no flashy benefits, no fancy office, no job security, and the constant risk of failure staring you right in the eyes? Are you crazy, reckless or just stupid?

These are questions that I ask myself often, and yet I have no intention of quitting being an entrepreneur. It is what I am. It is what I do. It is the skillset that I have learned, developed and have made into a lifelong career.

Watch the fantastic video below from Daniel Pink’s book entitled DRIVE. Ask yourself why you are an entrepreneur and what it is that really will motivate you and your colleagues to succeed.

Whether you are working alone in a startup or building a dynamic team, finding the right factors for motivation is critical. Aligning values and creating empowering assignments will unlock peak performance in yourself and in your colleagues.

Want to turn-around your business and achieve results in record time? Contact me to discuss Executive Coaching, Group Facilitation and Management for Hire services for technology companies. You can learn more at and at

Rick Salmon is an energetic entrepreneur who lives in Norway and believes that European startup companies can succeed and grow quickly if only they get the proper help and assistance. Please join the discussion and leave your comments. Subscribe to this newsletter/blog to receive frequent updates and tips.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Fall in Love with your Market, not with your Technology

Why do so many early-stage technology companies struggle? One reason is that they fall in love with their technology. Many entrepreneurs are great engineers or scientists. They create all sorts of inventions and smart new technologies. They write algorithms, file patents and then they march out to search for markets, calling ”Is there anyone out there who could use my new technology?”

Pushing technology is like pushing on a rope.

When I graduated from University I had two buddies. The first one loved IT technology. He always had the latest PC/phone/PDA/gadgets. He chose a career in the IT industry and was constantly searching for that next razor-edge, earth-shaking, game-changing technology wave.  The second buddy chose to sell coffee machines. We smirked at this. He said that in most large office buildings (at that time - early 1990s) they drank really bad coffee. He was right and he decided to change this. He focused on the problems of a specific market. He licensed and sold whatever technology was best. He made a fortune selling these coffee machines. We others are still searching for new technology, much like Don Quixote out looking for dragons to fight.

I do corporate turnarounds for early-stage companies that are struggling. I have lots of tricks, but the one that works most often is to get them to let go of the technology obsession and to tune their ears and eyes on the needs of a unique market.

It is really simple and easy.

Don’t fall in love with your technology. Fall in love with your market. Your market will last for many years. Technologies just come and go.

Want to turn-around your business and achieve results in record time? Contact me to discuss Executive Coaching, Group Facilitation and Management for Hire services for technology companies. You can learn more at and at

Rick Salmon is an energetic entrepreneur who lives in Norway and believes that European startup companies can succeed and grow quickly if only they get the proper help and assistance. Please join the discussion and leave your comments. Subscribe to this newsletter/blog to receive frequent updates and tips.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Being an Entrepreneur - Curse or Blessing?

Image from
I have been away from my writing for quite some time. I have struggled to find the time. I have struggled to find the words. I have struggled to find the inspiration because I am in the middle of starting a new business and it is tough. Really tough.

There are a thousand things that I need to be doing at all times for this startup business. There are people I should be calling. There are plans I should be writing. There is social media buzz that I should be creating. There are investors that I should be cultivating. There is a huge uncertainty hanging over me and also there is a real shortage of cash. This lack of cash is the curse and the constant companion of all early-stage entrepreneurs.

Because I am an entrepreneur, I have my freedom. Freedom to choose and freedom to act. Because I am an entrepreneur I have the ability to create and to manifest from my efforts. I can take full responsibility for my situation without anyone else to blame. This provides a fantastic platform for personal development and constant growth and improvement. There is even the potential for big economic rewards if I am successful in creating value.

Tempting are the thoughts of getting a real job, having a steady income and a regular paycheck. Tempting is the false illusion that this would give me safety and satisfaction. After all, I am an entrepreneur. I would feel tethered and bound if I were stuck in someone else’s corporate vision. I have to create and live my own vision. Being an entrepreneur is sometimes a curse, but mostly it is a great blessing.

Want to turn-around your business and achieve results in record time? Contact me to discuss Executive Coaching, Group Facilitation and Management for Hire services for technology companies. You can learn more at and at

Rick Salmon is an energetic entrepreneur who lives in Norway and believes that European startup companies can succeed and grow quickly if only they get the proper help and assistance. Please join the discussion and leave your comments. Subscribe to this newsletter/blog to receive frequent updates and tips.