Top Nine Lessons Learned From Entrepreneur Dave Thomas
Top Lessons Learned from Dave Thomas talk at Lead to Win
Dave Thomas is an entrepreneur and former professor who started Object Technology International. To understand what kind of person Dave is, Dave and his wife owned 50% of the company each. When the company was bought by IBM [I couldn’t find financial details, but my understanding from friends of friends that this was on the order of tens of millions to low hundreds of millions], Dave gave his share to the OTI employees. Dave brings an incredible amount of integrity to everything he does, and the talk he gave at LTW was the best I heard (I took five pages of notes compared to one page of notes for the next best topic). This is my list of the best nine ideas that Dave presented.
1. If, as an entrepreneur, you’re not selling: yourself, your brand, your company, your products, and your team, then you’re not an entrepreneur, you’re just playing company.
2. Three key principles in his companies:
a. Principle#1: Sell
b. Principle#2: Build
c. Principle#3: Get along
3. Plan for an eight year exit – the half life of a software company is 5 years – not likely it will go ten… so plan on eight. Changes your perspective when planning.
4. If you want be unique, if someone gives you five minutes to make a presentation, only take two.
5. People’s behaviour is consistent over time, regardless of technology and tools. A 20 year study at BNR/Nortel saw that developers that were late to deliver, were always late, regardless of tools, technology, or team.
6. When people do you favours / act as advisors keep a list of IOUs – and when you’re successful, follow up with them.
7. Buy the best (in terms of tools, etc), build the rest.
8. As a startup entrepreneur, buy plane tickets and get in front of people, customers, thought leaders, etc.
9. For Canadian startups, leverage trade offices in major cities (DFAIT) in the US and around the world.