23 Oct 2003|Christoper Ireland

Occassionally (very occassionally), I take an assignment that requires only me. I suppose I do this to make sure I still have marketable skills, but I also enjoy a tough challenge and I love to learn. I had that experience today. I spent 8+ hours with some very passionate & intellegent engineers, VCs, entrepreneurs and at least one math genius. We were defining their company in terms that others could understand and embrace.

We spent the first part of the day talking about who they are as a company and who they want to become over the next 5 years. We talked about the different types of customers they have and the different types of competitors they have. We talked about their values and their sense of worth. After about 3 hours of these discussions, we dealt with the hardest issue: how they were going to communicate in a world that would not give them hours to explain their value.

This is difficult for every company, but I think particularly difficult for entrepreneurs. It’s like asking a proud parent to summarize their child in one word. So much needs to be left out. To their credit, this particular client was able to see the power in letting go of all the rich details of their history, their deep thinking, and their strong commitment–replacing it with a concept that a potential customer could immediately grasp, find valuable and hold in their minds.

It doesn’t always end this way. Some entrepreneurs can’t or won’t make that trade. I know exactly how they feel, and I sympathisize. It’s much easier when it’s not your baby.

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