I’m back in Cambridge (UK) for a few days, delivering a lecture and catching up with the students in the Medical Devices and Diagnostics course that I’m co-administering. It’s nice to be back to the University again, enjoying the conversations with people and the ambience of the institution.
As I’ve gone through the process of starting my business, I’ve often commented “Wow, that was harder than I thought” or “Who’d have thought” when confronted with some vagary of the banking or regulatory system. I finally proposed to distill the ‘life’s lessons learned’ into an informal fireside chat for interested students, and it’s been fun organizing the past couple of years into some reflections and recommendations.
I was fortunate to have made just about every mistake possible in getting the first, UK-based company going, making me much more sensitive to doing things right when I started the Dutch BV. Getting the right professionals engaged from the start, getting the structure right before I started driving the business forward, being adequately capitalized, focusing on cash-flow, keeping the plan flexible, have all been important factors in the (preliminary) success of the venture.
We talked about the challenges of running a single-person corporation with footprints in three countries, of contracting and charging for services, and of the tradeoffs between building the core business and generating cash through consulting and contracting.
It was a good discussion, and the questions and experiences of others helped to put my own comments into good perspective. This is where I think that there is so much value in teaching: if forces me to go back over the basics, to distill my experiences, and to find different ways of solving familiar problems.
And I do love preparing and presenting slides Saachi-style: fewer slides with bolder lettering and high-contrast black-backgrounds)