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Hi, I’m Brad Feld, a managing director at the Foundry Group who lives in Boulder, Colorado. I invest in software and Internet companies around the US, run marathons and read a lot.

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Let’s Get Practical

Comments (13)

Ok, by now you’ve read 3,127 blog posts either talking about the coming current downturn credit crisis recession coming reconfiguration of all things as we’ve known them.  You’ve studied Sequoia’s Get Real or Go Home presentation.  You’ve read Alan Patricof’s Chill Out memo, Ron Conway’s Get Ready For It To Suck email, Benchmark’s Adapt and Live Lean memo and John Borthwick’s Don’t Panic – Profit memo.  For some balance, you’ve read Dave McClure’s brilliant rant Fear is the Mind Killer of the Silicon Valley Entrepreneur (we must be Muad’Dib, not Clark Kent) and Ted Rheingold’s VC Gloom Means Entrepreneur and Angel Boon.  And you are carefully monitoring Fred Wilson’s blog to get a good synthesis of what he and others are thinking.

It’s Monday morning of another week.  Central banks all over the world are coordinating their activities to try to make things "get better."  Morgan Stanley got their deal done with Mitsubishi so it doesn’t look like they are going to go bankrupt, at least not this month.  The Dow is up almost 500 points so far today.  Paul Krugman won the Nobel Prize for Economics.  And you realized that slide 53 is by far the most valuable one in the Sequoia deck.

But what the fuck should you do now?

Having lived through an aggressive downturn when the Internet bubble burst, I’m going to spend the next "chunk of blog posts" trying to give you – the entrepreneur, CEO, or executive of a startup – some practical suggestions about how to implement some of the advice (much of it conflicting) that you are getting from all of the experts out there. 

If you’ve been a long time reader of this blog, you know that I don’t care much about the macro stuff, nor do I believe anyone can accurately predict anything.  All I think you can do is (a) deal with your current reality while (b) envisioning what you think you want your future reality to be while (c) recognizing that your view of future reality will change on a regular basis. 

Hopefully I’ll be able to give you some useful tools and suggestions that have worked for me in the past that you can actually implement.  My first suggestion – take a deep breath and don’t panic.  More later.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/sigmawaite sigmawaite
  • http://intensedebate.com/people/sigmawaite sigmawaite
  • http://ryanagraves.com Ryan Graves

    Brad thanks for bringing folks back down to earth with your calm and collected rational thoughts. Much! appreciated.

  • http://www.defragcon.com eric norlin
  • http://www.wisestartupblog.com AndrewWise

    Honestly, everyday startups should be in a panic. They have competitors all around them, and at any point, one of their competitors can easily crush them. A startup entrepreneur's life should be gloom and doom until 1) acquisition or 2) ipo.

    Economic crisis or not, startups should always be planning for the worst

    • http://www.feld.com Brad Feld

      Andrew – I respectfully disagree. I don't think “panic” is ever helpful. There's a huge difference between “panic” and “enormous sense of urgency and focus.” I think every startup should have an enormous sense of urgency and focus. I don't think they should continually panic.

      It might just be semantics, but to me panic means “reactions – many of them irrational – based on immediate stimuli.”

      • Phil Sugar

        I agree completely. Panic is usually accompanied by paralysis or worse decisions not based on rational thought.

        The reasons why startups are successful is that they can make three bad decisions and learn from each before a big company can even make one.

        That was the lesson of Rock Band. Good idea, bad decision, bad decision, bad decision, but at least based on a vision…..then…..”overnight success”

      • http://www.wisestartupblog.com AndrewWise

        Brad,

        My apologies, i didn't mean to use the word “panic”. Definitely the wrong choice of words. I totally agree, “sense of urgency,” is a better choice– Startups should always feel the pressure, which aids in making them such great companies.

        Knowing you have that pressure everyday, and knowing you can actually do something about it is what separates working at a startup from working at a enterprise-level organization.

  • FreedomSpeaks

    I'd agree 100% with the “don't panic” sentiment. Panic is NEVER a good thing, and always leads to poor decisions and eventually regret. Keep your wits about you. We're all going to need them.

    Jason Kiesel
    Founder & CEO
    http://www.freedomspeaks.com

  • http://w-uh.com/ Ole Eichhorn

    I thought slide 3 was the most valuable slide in the Sequoia deck :) Slide 56 was good, too.

    • http://www.feld.com Brad Feld

      Nothing quite like some dead meat to wake you up.

  • Jared Still

    Thanks Brad. Looking forward to the posts! As an aside, I'd be honored to write a guest-post about leadership in crisis times. I would draw on my experience running $350M+ in contracts in Iraq, as well as the lessons I learned (good & bad) from Colonels, Generals and Ambassadors that I supported there in 2004. Just thought about it as I've read some of these 3,127 posts :)

    • http://www.feld.com Brad Feld

      Jared – thanks. Feel free to drop me a draft of something and I’ll toss it up there if relevant.

  • http://jilliansands.com/ Jillian

    The problem with all these so-called experts and all the free advice from the talking heads is that free advice is usually worth exactly what you paid for it. Nothing. And they are not accountable for the advice if it turns out badly.
    If you need advice, seek out a professional and then follow his or her advice.
    It is so frustrating to give advice and then have it ignored. And if you are the expert and don't know the right answer, man up and admit it.
    Thanks for listening to my little soapbox.
    Jillian

  • eric norlin
  • http://intensedebate.com/people/AndrewWise AndrewWise

    Honestly, everyday startups should be in a panic. They have competitors all around them, and at any point, one of their competitors can easily crush them. A startup entrepreneur's life should be gloom and doom until 1) acquisition or 2) ipo.

    Economic crisis or not, startups should always be planning for the worst

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/bfeld bfeld

    Nothing quite like some dead meat to wake you up.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/bfeld bfeld

    Jared – thanks. Feel free to drop me a draft of something and I’ll toss it up there if relevant.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/AndrewWise AndrewWise

    Brad,

    My apologies, i didn't mean to use the word "panic". Definitely the wrong choice of words. I totally agree, "sense of urgency," is a better choice– Startups should always feel the pressure, which aids in making them such great companies.

    Knowing you have that pressure everyday, and knowing you can actually do something about it is what separates working at a startup from working at a enterprise-level organization.

  • Ryan Graves

    Brad thanks for bringing folks back down to earth with your calm and collected rational thoughts. Much! appreciated.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/bfeld bfeld

    Andrew – I respectfully disagree. I don't think "panic" is ever helpful. There's a huge difference between "panic" and "enormous sense of urgency and focus." I think every startup should have an enormous sense of urgency and focus. I don't think they should continually panic.

    It might just be semantics, but to me panic means "reactions – many of them irrational – based on immediate stimuli."

  • Phil Sugar

    I agree completely. Panic is usually accompanied by paralysis or worse decisions not based on rational thought.

    The reasons why startups are successful is that they can make three bad decisions and learn from each before a big company can even make one.

    That was the lesson of Rock Band. Good idea, bad decision, bad decision, bad decision, but at least based on a vision…..then….."overnight success"

  • Jillian

    The problem with all these so-called experts and all the free advice from the talking heads is that free advice is usually worth exactly what you paid for it. Nothing. And they are not accountable for the advice if it turns out badly.
    If you need advice, seek out a professional and then follow his or her advice.
    It is so frustrating to give advice and then have it ignored. And if you are the expert and don't know the right answer, man up and admit it.
    Thanks for listening to my little soapbox.
    Jillian

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/jared_stil28971 jared_stil28971

    Thanks Brad. Looking forward to the posts! As an aside, I'd be honored to write a guest-post about leadership in crisis times. I would draw on my experience running $350M+ in contracts in Iraq, as well as the lessons I learned (good & bad) from Colonels, Generals and Ambassadors that I supported there in 2004. Just thought about it as I've read some of these 3,127 posts :)

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/FreedomSpeaks FreedomSpeaks

    I'd agree 100% with the "don't panic" sentiment. Panic is NEVER a good thing, and always leads to poor decisions and eventually regret. Keep your wits about you. We're all going to need them.

    Jason Kiesel
    Founder & CEO
    http://www.freedomspeaks.com

  • Ole Eichhorn

    I thought slide 3 was the most valuable slide in the Sequoia deck :) Slide 56 was good, too.

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