I have recently read a non-fictional book entitled “The Invested Investor”, written by the successful UK-based investor Peter Cowley. I strongly recommend the book to anyone that wishes to learn the basics of angel investing. The author covers the life cycle of an investment, from the first round of investment (seeding) until the startup closes shop (most frequent case), is turned into an operational medium-sized business (sometimes) or is acquired by a big player (rarely).
Most of concepts explained throughout the book are related to the art of investing: funding, valuation, venture capital, options, shares, CLV/CCA ratio, etc. However, some other concepts are also applied in the project management arena. In fact, the author claimed that an invested investor must have good project management skills in order to succeed. I selected and described below the top three concepts that are shared in both disciplines.
Everything starts with the Team. Without a team, there is no startup and there is no project. But not any team will do the job. The features that a project manager or an investor look in their teams are actually the same: passion, drive, knowledge, willingness to learn and listen, transparency, honesty and ability to inspire. In other words, whether is developing a new phone app in a startup that has not reached breakeven or carrying out multimillion dollar projects to transform a city landscape, goals will not be met unless there is a strong and committed team behind them.
Pivot is when a company changes direction and its fundamental offering because the original business model is not working. Pivots are expensive and difficult because they usually carry along more investments and a modified vision. It is important to note than pivoting is not a sign of failure. In fact, most businesses pivot on their way to optimizing the model. Pivoting can also occur – and actually quite often – during a project’s life cycle. At the end of the day, project management enables the translation of a company’s vision into reality. A change in environmental factors or regulations, a shift in consumers’ habits, the release of a novel competing technology… all of these are factors that could pivot the project. Pivoting is carried out by modifying project’s triple constraint – more funding, extended/modified scope, additional resources and/or time – or by killing it straight up. The same concept could be extrapolated to program and portfolio levels, where pivoting the company strategy will inevitably pivot the value stream represented by its portfolio of projects.
Writing cheques is not something that can be done lightly. Funds are transferred from the angel’s account to another account without the certainty that it will ever produce a return. Before the money is kissed goodbye, two documents are set in place; the term sheet which is a mostly non-binding document that sets out the deal to be completed between investors and founders. And the shareholders’ agreement, which is a legally binding document signed by the investors and founders defining how ownership of the company is distributed between the parties. This gated approach resembles the two gates typically found in the initiation and planning phases of a given project. In this manner, the term sheet is equivalent to the project charter – with the difference that the latter is binding – and the shareholders’ agreement is comparable to the project plan.
One third of world's population is confined. The impact of this pandemic on the economy is yet to be seen, but most economists picture a more than likely recession looming our way. On the positive side, everyone agrees that - it may take more or less time - but we will come out of this situation. As long as it is possible, most people are doing remote working which allows saving time on a daily basis (in the U.S., the average, one-way commute time is 26 minutes, according to the U.S. Census Bureau). How can this time be used to create additional value? The following list presents a few options. I look forward to hearing more from you in the comments section below.
Contact old friends and expand professional network
That cousin you were planning to call but it was never a good time, that old friend from university you promised to WhatsApp but never found a good reason to do so, that colleague from your previous employer with whom you got along so well but that you have not seen again after switching companies... Now it is a fantastic opportunity to reach out to them.
In terms of professional network, it is a good practice to build it when it is not needed, so for when it is needed is then already too late. Explore LinkedIn and reach out to individuals or companies that might play a role in your present and future.
Pick up hobbies or procrastinated activities
Reading books (educational, novels, essays, etc.), watching TV shows or series that were sitting on the on the to-watch list for months, picking up hobbies to which not much attention could be paid due to the lack of time (painting, reading, playing an instrument, etc.)... All of these, and many more depending on the personal circumstances, will favor an efficient use of time - plus something will be learned. Like essayist Ralph Waldo Emerson once said "Unless you try to do something beyond what you have already mastered, you will never grow".
Take in introspective look at yourself... and plan ahead
This is by far the most difficult exercise since it requires diving in the inner soul of each individual. Similarly to a scrum retrospective at the end of each sprint, the same principle could apply to life. At certain time intervals, it is a good practice to look back and assess whether we have managed to fulfill the goals that we have set for ourselves. Are we where we wanted to be? And more importantly, to reflect on the direction forward. Someone once said "If you do not know where you are going, any road will get you there”.
Reflecting on an apparently simple question such as "What do I want out of life?" allows the introspective process to begin. This pandemic is causing mankind to put the way we live under the magnifying glass. The positive impact on the pollution levels, for example, is making mankind reflect on whether we could live in a more sustainable manner and what we would sacrifice in our life style to accomplish this. If mankind is doing this exercise, why not also us individually?
Stay safe everyone.