This week’s What we’ve been reading has been brought to you by several members of our small business publishing team. That’s in part because we like to bring additional voices into the publication. It’s also because I’m absolutely stacked right now.
I recently attended an internal training course where we've been reflecting on our sales processes. A key part of many B2B sales is the proposal deck, this rings true in the context of winning investor buy-in as much as it applies to winning new clients.
The deck is not a end in itself and you need to have clarity on what the purpose of the deck actually is - to win more time, escalation of the sale, to get another meeting etc. But, this link (whilst old) is always worth a revisit. Firstly, Zurora was set up by Salesforce’s eleventh Tien Tzuo (read more about him here), so it's a pretty dynamic case led by a thoroughbred industry disruptor. Secondly, they've blazed a trail in the holy grail of scalable (and investable) business - recurring subscriptions.
This piece centres around how the Zuora sales person sets the narrative around moving the client away from the status quo, creates FOMO by demonstrating and name checking winners and losers, and then aligns the success story to the benefits of the Zuora platform. It's a lovely demonstration of how you can use a structure to take clients or investors on a journey to get them to the destination of your choice.
Yiuwin Tsang (@yiuie)
This is my favourite new podcast. And I listen to a lot. Reid Hoffman founded LinkedIn and, for my money, is one of the best entrepreneurs at breaking down some of the issues businesses face as they scale.
In the first episode, he talks to Airbnb’s founder, who went through an incredible struggle to get the marketplace to a place where it was valuable. To convince people both that it’s not crazy to stay with a stranger and that it’s not crazy to let a stranger stay in your house.
Chris Goodfellow (@CGoodfellowBZ)
Welcome to our startup where everyone is 23 years old because we believe old people are visually displeasing and out of ideas
After Dan Lyons' account of startup culture – read Francois' review of Disrupted here – became a New York Times Bestseller last year, the trend for startup satire shows no sign of slowing.
McSweeney's is the latest publication to embark on a biting lampoon of the millennial startup. Sure, there's easy humour in Bob Vulfov's depiction of vaporized coconut water and Series B, the office labradoodle. But, as Facebook adds virtual reality games and in-house pastry chefs to their offices, what stands out here is that Vulfov's piece feels less ludicrous than it should.
As Vulfov writes:
"When our employees have some downtime or want a morale boost, they are encouraged to pop into our rec room for some fun and relaxation. We have ping-pong tables, massage chairs, pinball machines, work tasks disguised as video games, big screen televisions, a printer that can print actual living safari animals, board games, talking robots that ask you when you’re going to get back to work, poker tables, cotton candy machines, cameras that watch you at all times..."
Kat Haylock (@kat_haylock)
“Sexism is alive and well in the global investment community, and we must have a frank conversation about it here in the UK,” says Love Home Swap and AllBright founder Debbie Wosskow.
In this CityA.M. column, Wosskow recounts hearing “horror stories” around female founders’ discussions with investors about pregnancy, but what the column’s really trying to deal with is the more subtle, unconscious bias: sometimes male VCs, which dominate the market in terms of numbers, don’t have the etiquette or experience with female founders.
“Working out how to bridge this gap and overcome these challenges is not only a moral duty as we strive for equality in business and society; it’s also in the interest of the economy.
“The statistics on this point speak for themselves. Female founders deliver better returns on investment than their male counterparts,” she says.
Chris Goodfellow (@CGoodfellowBZ)
Journalist and editor with nine years' experience covering small businesses and entrepreneurship (ChrisGoodfellow.net). Follow his personal twitter account @CPGoodfellow and his events business @Box2Media. He has written for a wide range of publications in the UK, Ireland and Canada, including The Financial Times, The Guardian, The Independent and Vice magazine.