Do You Have Skin In Your Game?
By Babette Ten Haken
How comfortable are you at the helm of your entrepreneurial start-up? Is this what you expected when you decided to become the CEO of your new venture? Entrepreneurial fantasy gets a huge wake-up call with reality once mentors, advisors, and funders become involved in the collaborative process.
Your comfort level is directly correlated with how much skin you have in your own game.
Your comfort level stems from how well you understand all of the facets of your company that contribute to line items on your financials.
Your comfort level is fueled by how familiar you are with your industry trending and buyer personae.
Your comfort level is a fashion statement based on your ability to wear all of the hats in your organization, simultaneously at times.
Your comfort level is based on your ability to articulate your knowledge to your mentors, advisors, and funders and receive, in turn, their insights about perceived gaps in your business model, market opportunities, and financials.
While we all dream of the silver bullet, bulls-eye, instant success of entrepreneurship, the reality of start-ups is that failure is more frequent than success.
It all depends, however, on how you as the CEO respond to the small failures which, when scrutinized, can contribute to the enduring viability of your venture. Because nobody gets it “right” from the start, continuing throughout the entire entrepreneurial process, 100% of the time.
That is simply wishful thinking.
If you have skin in your own game, you understand the interrelationship between your value proposition, your marketplace, your business model, and your financials.
If you have skin in your own game, you can articulate your value proposition to investors and customers alike – because you “wear” your value proposition like a second skin. And so do all of your employees. You all are on the same page, with the same vision, the same message. You have all “bought in” to the same idea.
If you have skin in your own game, your fingers are constantly on the pulse of your marketplace and the decision makers inhabiting your marketplace. You take responsibility for engaging your customers directly, instead of leaving it up to hired-gun sales and marketing folks. These professionals may have had established track records in some other industry but have no skin in your particular game other than generating their own compensation.
If you have skin in your own game, you revisit your business model continuously, as you attempt to remain nimble within and responsive to the marketplace. Your network of mentors, advisors, funders, and employees (even if you are the sole employee) generate the information which you collectively synthesize and re-apply to your dynamic business model. Unlike established companies, the hallmark of entrepreneurship and start-ups is the dynamic aspect of value proposition-market knowledge-business modeling-financials.
If you have skin in your own game, you understand that you are at the helm of a living, breathing ecosystem that is your business model canvas. Entrepreneurship is organic, responsive, evolving.
If you have skin in your own game, you are overwhelmed at times. There is no limit to the constant knowledge and greater depth of understanding you can glean about the position of your venture within the marketplace.
Babette Ten Haken provides technical and sales people and other sellers, like C-level entrepreneurs, a solid strategy for how to explain a product, its benefits, and its value in ways that buyers and investors can easily understand and sellers can comfortably present. Find her at Sales Aerobics for Engineers Blog