Advice for 2013: Deliver On Your Promises

There has been a lot of discussion out there about the Series A crunch, the consumer sector falling out of favor, VCs getting more conservative, the need to focus on revenues instead of users, and so on and so forth.

All of this is going on and the environment is certainly getting tougher for entrepreneurs. As I have said before, we have had the wind mostly at our back for the past seven years and I feel the winds changing on us. They are headwinds not tailwinds right now.

At times like this I think it is critical to focus hard on the most important things for your business. That could be revenues but may not be. That could be user traction but may not be.

I would like to tell a story. The company in this story will go nameless. It is not material to the story. We met the team a year ago as they were just launching. They had huge ambitions for 2012 and we thought they were delusional. We passed on the investment even though we really liked the team and the market. They came back in a month or two ago. And not only had they accomplished everything they said they would do, they got done a few things that were not even in their plans at year end 2011. We committed to lead their next round at a full valuation. There will always be money for teams and stories like this.

But as I look around the broader startup market (and certainly in our portfolio too), I don’t see a ton of those stories in 2012. I see delays in getting important new product initiatives out. I see revenues coming in well below plan. I see new ankle biter competitors emerging and taking share causing a loss of focus and missed numbers. I see “black swan” events that could not have been predicted causing short term disruptions.

None of these are fatal to a startup but in the environment we are in they will not help you. Investors are not giving the benefit of doubt in markets like this. And your employees aren’t going to be patient forever either.

So if I can give entrepreneurs a single piece of advice for 2013 it would be to deliver on your promises. Not just to your investors but also to your team and ultimately to yourself. This is no time to be in denial. That is a lethal attribute in times like these.

> composed in chrome on my nexus 4. excuse the typos and lack of links.