By Brad Feld (Managing Director, Foundry Group)
I spent the day yesterday in Kansas City at the Kauffman Foundation with about 20 women entrepreneurs who were the E&Y Winning Women from 2008, 2009, and 2010. As part of their program, Paul Kedrosky and I spent the morning talking to them about accelerating their growth, dynamics around financings, and boards – mostly about how to build a board and use it effectively.
It was a great day – awesome energy with stimulating discussions. In addition to teaching, I learned a lot in my continuous quest to better understand dynamics around gender in entrepreneurship. I also met some amazing women.
On Monday, I had a meeting with a CEO of a company I’m an investor in who was frustrated with his role in the business.
“I remember this feeling very clearly from my days running my first business. At about 20 people / $2m in revenue I got very bored. I was very busy, so it wasn’t lack of things to do, I just found the things I was doing to be excruciating dull since I’d been doing them for a while (at least five years).
At the time, I struggled with how to address this; we ultimately ended up being acquired before I really felt like I figured it out.”
He had grown bored and restless with a lot of the work he was responsible for and felt like much of what he was doing was a grind that wasn’t inspiring to him. At the event yesterday, I heard from several of the entrepreneurs that they were stuck at a certain size (one at $22m, one at $5m) where day to day activities in the business consumed all of their time. As with the CEO I spoke with on Monday, I heard frustration about the daily grind and a lack of enjoyment and stimulation from the business.
During our discussion yesterday, one of the entrepreneurs brought up the notion of “Working on your business, instead of just in your business.” I heard this line many years ago but had forgotten it. It hit me right between the eyes as something that captured the conversation that I’d had with the entrepreneur on Monday and was exactly the correct notion to summarize the way to address the boredom of the endless business grind.
About thte guest blogger: Brad Feld has been an early stage investor and entrepreneur for over twenty years. Prior to co-founding Foundry Group, he co-founded Mobius Venture Capital and, prior to that, founded Intensity Ventures. Brad is also a co-founder of TechStars. In addition to his investing efforts, Brad has been active with several non-profit organizations and currently is chairman of the National Center for Women & Information Technology. H blogs at www.feld.com and www.askthevc.com.