Startup accelerator/incubator programs are fueled by passionate mentors who share their expertise, insights and experience with the founding teams in the program. Access to these networks of mentor relationships – and the opportunity to learn from their experiences – is, frankly, a huge startup advantage. As only a select number of startups are admitted into accelerator programs and enjoy the benefits of this unique access, here’s your opportunity to grab some mentor insights from Pam Fields.
What’s the worst mistake a founder can make?
Founders have to be crystal clear in evaluating the state of their business and make decisions to impact the bottom line quickly. Too often, founders see what they want to see instead of the reality evident to non-biased outsiders. This cloudy vision applies not just to under performance, but not realizing opportunities for more profitable long-term growth that are potentially adaptations of an original vision.
What’s the most common Startup error?
Founders need to be able to succinctly communicate the vision for their business and the strategic plan they will follow in pursuit of their vision. Only then can founders accurately project the resources required at key stages in the company’s development or they will underestimate the true capital requirements. Trying to be fiscally responsible, many founders think they can scrimp by without doing x,y,z when in fact the lack of a full throttle effort in these areas is holding back growth due to an inability to execute against the plan.
What does “fail fast” mean to you?
See question number 1! Don’t fall in love with your idea; assess the performance reality and cut your losses, or pivot as soon as you see that there is no runway to success.
If you could fix one thing in the startup eco-system right now, what would it be?
We need facilitated access to angel stage investment coupled with early access to knowledge on balance sheet and P&L management.
What should startups be focusing on in 2013?
It is not enough to have a great idea; founders need to be able to execute. Sometimes that involves acknowledging that the skills that make someone an inspired founder do not translate to running a complex business enterprise. Founders should focus on evaluating their own operational and managerial skills and understand when their company is best transitioned to an operating professional to ensure long-term success.
When’s the right time to seek funding?
Upon completion of a detailed business plan in support of a great idea, founders should seek funding. The larger question is what amount of funding at what stage; a question that can’t be answered globally but is tailored to each specific initiative.
Thoughts on crowd-funding?
My biggest concern with crowd funding for businesses that will require ongoing capital infusions, is that potential investors may be wary of investing in an enterprise that already has multiple investors.
Best advice you’ve ever gotten?
Fewer. Bigger. Better. Don’t get distracted by the nice to-do’s; focus on the essential tasks to move the enterprise forward. Easy to say; hard to do. One of the key jobs of a founder is to focus and stay on plan.
Guess who’s coming for dinner…who would be your dream dinner guest(s) and why?
I want to have dinner with Hilary Clinton. Just a quiet conversation with one of the most dynamic, impressive women on the planet. Do you even have to ask WHY???
Anything else you’d like to add?
Yes…foster a truth telling environment. If the culture you create is one of fear and secrecy, you’ll never really know what is going on in your business, nor will you get the best out of your staff.
About Women Innovate Mobile Mentor Pam Fields:
Pam has an extensive and successful track record delivering results online and offline in consumer goods manufacturing, distribution, marketing and product development for start-ups, turnarounds and ongoing businesses. From her start in the cosmetics business at Avon, L’Oreal and as part of the founding team of Bath & Body Works at The Limited, Inc., Pam moved to the accessories industry where she was President of Tag-Heuer’s US subsidiary.
In 1993, Pam launched Fieldwork, a general management consultancy working with an elite roster of clients including The Gap, Timex, Swiss Army Brands, Playboy, Bulova, Del Labs, Instinet, Warnaco and Li & Fung. Prior to joining Stetson, she was responsible for the development of digital, direct and promotional strategy and programming for Unilever’s Dove brand at Ryan Partnership and Ryan iDirect. Under her direction, Ryan won three Echo awards for their work. During her tenure as CEO of Stetson Worldwide, Pam oversaw a global fashion brand.
Currently on the Board of Directors for Driver Digital and Gracious Eloise, Pam is advising emerging companies in the digital space with her operating and management expertise.