Category Archives: Entrepreneur

Nobody* likes to feel naked in public

The professor in the back of the room is leaning back in her chair, arms crossed. She is tilting her head, eyes narrowing. I know I am in for a challenge, I can see it. The tension in the room is palpable.

I am 26 years old, and have been in the job for a couple of months. I represent a medical device company, and my customers and doctors, highly educated, are experts in their field. Decisions are made on facts, statistics and clinical data.

The professor asks me if I think the product I am talking about has better clinical trial results that the leading product on the market. 6 months ago I had never read a clinical trial. She is the lead author for over 250 publications in major journal across the world. There is only one thing to do: openly say that I don’t know.

This is a frequent occasion in my business, and rightly so. Medical device reps is on high turnover, often young, inexperienced, polished and smart, in for the career opportunities. In the good cases, there to make a difference, in the bad cases they are there to make a quick sale and move on.

Two things are imperative to do a good job in one of my companies;

Technical skills, and a humble approach to the knowledge of our customers. There is no way we can catch up with the 8 years of medical school. But we CAN be experts on one thing: our product.

I tell my team 2 things: don’t EVER try to diagnose and treat a patient. You will be asked to, and sometimes even pushed to. Stay away, and do not be flattered and dragged in, no matter how good your relationship with the doctor is. You are NOT trained and equipped to make such judgement.

Know everything there is to know about the product. Features, benefits, technical specs, clinical data, user experience, manufacturing process, origin, improvement history. Watch it being used. Listen, learn. Ask questions  of the users. My favourite one: Ask the user why she/he is using it. They will tell you better reasons than your marketing department can, with a lot more credibility. Know how it is used, in what applications. For us, anatomy is key, and I send my team on the same anatomy trainings that doctors attend. They need ton be extremely knowledgeable, so they can add value to the customer.

After all, it boils down to this: you need to earn the trust of your customer, and they will appreciate your dedicated. Few things can replace passion and dedication, no matter what field you’re in. And trust me…you can’t fake that.

And of my professor? I asked her to mentor me. We spent a couple of years with me tagging along every chance I got. Her patience and support benefits me yet to this day, and I thank her by paying it forward.

*Well, MOST people don’t like it.

 

Beware. Frustrated Entrepreneur.

….you KNOW IT WILL GET UGLY.

We work hard. I have hired the best I could find, and I have coached and refined their skills. They are like racehorses: competitive, well trained, prepared and with a winning attitude. They are GOOD. We run circles around most competitors, thanks to the internal dedication and alignment.

So you can imagine how VERY frustrating it is to me when we have to collaborate with companies who don’t have that kind of ethos. Companies who don’t focus on their staff, which means the staff don’t focus on their employer. While my gang would go through fire for our company and our colleagues, we sometimes run into companies who….just don’t. And boy do we get pissed off. We raise hell on earth. Rarely makes a difference though.

Reasons:
–If we promised a customer something, we WILL get it to them… on time.
–We try our VERY best, always. You better do the same if you want to supply us.
–Our CUSTOMER FOCUS is relentless. Yours should be too.

Doesn’t that sound simple!?

So why isn’t that the primary objective of EVERY organisation?!

5 things you can do for your team TODAY

1) Make sure you can hire the best talent, so make sure they have FLEXIBLE WORKING HOURS and that they can WORK PART TIME.
2) If you can, pay them BEFORE CHRISTMAS.
3) Give them their BIRTHDAY OFF, as a present.
4) Take every chance to BUILD UP INTERNAL RESPECT for individuals and roles in the company.
5) Hand over ownership to areas, topics or projects. Build leaders.

Do one of these, or which ever one you can. You will be repaid in multiples.

My second application was rejected too! WTF.

So I have now submitted two rounds of the same applications for funding from Horizon 2020 to prove how surgical confidence has an impact on outcome.

Both got rejected.

And interestingly enough, the SECOND application was deemed WORSE than the first one!!

The rating was much worse specifically in the area of proving the market potential for the final product despite me adding further detail and markets. I believe (from the notes in the feedback) that they simply thought the numbers are too good, versus what I was asking for. And that, exactly that, is an entrepreneurs weakness. You see, we are consistently asking for less money than others, if my theory is true.

Entrepreneurs ask for less money because we are used to doing more with less.

When Shaking The Rabbit is The Only Rescue

“He is shaking the rabbit.” (About Mr Hammond from my live comments on Autumn Statement)

As I was Live Blogging (stressful for a Swedish native btw) for Enterprise Nation commenting on the Autumn Statement earlier this week, I pointed out that Mr Hammond was “Shaking the rabbit”.

It is safe to say that none of the suggestions on my twitter feed following that was a correct description, hence this clarification. (This happens frequently for those who have the unfortunate of working with me on a regular basis).

I regularly use Swedish expressions to explain myself, with limited success of translating them into an English equivalent.

Shaking the Rabbit

Let’s say that you have a 3 hour presentation to Senior Management. You and your team have worked hard on your presentation, and it is as solid as it can get, with one or two exceptions where there just isn’t as robust and solid info as you would like, or an area of contention between board members.

That’s when you shake the rabbit.

Image result for bunny on in a car

By creating a focus area somewhere else that attracts everyone’s attention, you increase your chances of getting through your presentation while maintaining focus on the parts that you would want to emphasise. There are of course many clever ways to do this.

Next time you review someone else’s presentation, see if they have one. If so, chose if you want to call it out, or if you just want to use it as a landmark….what was it taking the focus OFF?

 

 

 

Me and Gollum: My Precious. My Precious.

Office manager with a slightly concerned look on her face, trying to act casual, handing me a letter and says apologetically: “This came for you today. Sorry I opened it, but it didn’t say Confidential…”

As I scan the letter, she turns and walks away to her desk. I can sense her concern when my face breaks into a broad grin. I jump off my chair and stroll into the open-space office with a cocky smile and swaggering steps, fanning myself with the letter.

“Everyone, I’ve got something I want to share with you!”

(I know. A bit evil. But funny, as I watch the concerned look on OM’s face couple with tentative curiosity.)

The room stops, and everyone’s attention is on me and my little dance as I dramatically hold up the letter and make a grand gesture towards it.

“We have received the first letter of what I suspect will be many….from someone who wants to buy JUNE MEDICAL!”

The room cheers, but I can also tell that there are those who are looking at me tentatively and really want me to reconfirm what i have said in the past when we have discussed this possibility. I drag it out slightly. With a masterful (if I may say so myself) pause, I proceed to reiterate my stance.

“OBVIOUSLY…I am not selling! “

The relief amongst the group is visible, and louder cheering happens. We celebrate with a fika and chat merrily over the fact that we are so awesome.

It must be a horrible feeling to work in a company if you don’t know if you’ll be sold at any time. If you are running that company or leading that team, take that into account. You may not be able to change that, but you do need to understand how it affects your team.

And perhaps take a slightly more mature approach than I did… (but it was very funny!).

7 considerations for aborting mission

When you’re working on a project, it is sometimes easy to get emotionally attached. From time to time, that means that decisions are taken differently during than they would have been before the start of the project.

Usually when I ask people about their exit strategy, they think I mean how they will sell their company and retire. Not at all: I am talking about how to know when to abandon the plan.

Let me give you an example.

Marianne had been working with her Dance school for years, and she had made it a second home for her three girls who had spent pretty much every day after school in the studio. As a leak in the building made her financial situation strained, the smart move would have been to cut it lose, and to relocate to a different venue.

But, because her day to day business and personal life was entangled with emotional ties, she endured 5 really difficult years in the same location, before she finally gave up, having lost most her savings. Had she been making the same decision if this was identified as a risk and had a mitigation plan before she started? Probably not.

An exit strategy should contain the following considerations (…as a start. There will be more that are specific to your business):

Ask yourself this:

  1. TIME: How long am I willing to go before I say this isn’t working? 1 year? 3 years?
  2. MONEY: What is the maximum financial figure I can commit to putting into the business, and when do I cut my losses?
  3. OWNERSHIP: What are the areas of the business that I would be willing to give up to take in financial support (if any) if I needed to? What’s the maximum shares I am willing to sell?
  4. ILLNESS: What do I do if I or someone who depends on me get really ill? What is my contingency plan?
  5. RISKS: What are the top 10 risks in my company and current set up, and how do I mitigate that?
  6. TRADE OFFS: At what point do I decide the risks are not worth the (potential) rewards?
  7. COMMITMENTS: Are there commitments that I am not prepared to sign? Long term contracts, legal obligations, other?

The above is tremendously useful things to consider and have a plan for. Discuss them with your business partner if you have one – more often than not we have very different views on things like this, and it is good to be VERY specific. And make a plan for what happens if you disagree. Write it down. It may all change, but at least you have a starting point when things get rocky.

Also discuss this with your family. Your partner may not have the same expectations as you, and after all, he or she is one of your most important stakeholders as you embark on a new venture.

Good luck. You have taken a whole list of unknowns and turned them into something tangible. Of course there can be surprises you haven’t planned for, but you have narrowed that down tremendously.

And hopefully you will never have to use any of this!