We invest in our homes, in cars and boats, in shares of big
companies, in exotic holidays and vintage wines.
Do we invest in ourselves? Are we investment grade?
Summertime and the livin’ is, … well you know the song. The warm days of late July have descended on Provence, which means short runs at sunrise, light simple lunches like local tomatoes with mozzarella and pesto, shutters pulled to the afternoon sun, evening garden apéros with family and friends, and lots of diversions (especially when the kids are bored). Honoring the routines and our healthy habits can be a challenge from June through August. But there is merit to staying in fighting form through the lazy lull of summer months, even if not stepping back into the ring until September.
In the world of startup investing, team quality is paramount. Give me a great team with a good idea; spare me the great idea with mediocre team. This venture capital mantra is drilled into business students and VC interns from Silicon Valley to Tel Aviv. In the end entrepreneurial success is driven by vision, commitment, network, knowledge, adaptability, and the resilience to execute through all of the challenges, and these are personal qualities not product descriptions.
Interprize ambitions are even more reliant on the quality of execution given the personal nature of these projects. An interpreneur’s foremost motivation is not financial return but personal fulfillment: the publishing of a best-selling novel; opening of a popular café; completion of an Ironman triathlon, as examples. The deepest form of reward is acknowledgement (although that need not be exclusive to a tidy profit for a job well done).
And most all interprize endeavors require investment:
- The aspiring author may need to firm up with a few college courses in creative writing, travel for research, and pay for the services of cover artists and agents.
- A café space will need to be purchased, licenses obtained or transferred, renovations undertaken and appliances serviced or acquired.
- The Ironman within will need a race-quality bike and running shoes, workout kit for swimming, running, and biking (these people are not normal), paid memberships to local sports clubs, and travel to competitions.
A key question then is, are you worth the investment? Can you define a compelling vision, are you truly committed to its execution, who’s in your network that can help, what is your relevant knowledge and skills, can you identify risks and adapt, and the most critical element: are you sufficiently robust and resilient to negotiate the inevitable trail of challenges ahead; are you in shape for the ring? The answers to these questions will help you understand at what stage of project launch you are now – contemplation, planning, execution, correction, (summer pause) – and the level of investment, if any, that can be justified.
Is there any investment offering a greater return
than an investment in self?
These questions apply to any startup endeavor and are no less relevant to an interprize project. Before setting pen to check, set pen to pad like any good investor. Sketch out an honest assessment of your current status, your stage of launch, the quality of your effort, and your investment grade. Shouldn’t the best investment start with you? Are you a worthy bet in the ring? Might I suggest a glass of cool rosé to aid in the analysis? It is the summer after all.
Originally published 20 July, 2014.