It makes sense to learn from successful entrepreneurs who have proven their skills many times over.
In this series we gather advice from successful Welsh business people, bringing together their quotes and opinions, to inspire and guide you to ever-greater business growth.
Photo: Scott Mlyn | CNBC
Sir Michael Moritz, from Cardiff, worked as a journalist for Time magazine, then joined venture capital firm Sequoia Capital in 1986. He led Sequoia from the mid-1990s until 2012, investing early in companies including Google, YouTube, LinkedIn and PayPal.
He is the biggest individual investor in Sequoia-managed funds, and continues to make investments and work with current portfolio companies including Instacart, Klarna and Stripe.
Business Growth Advice
1. Follow Your Instincts
“‘Trust your instincts’ was the advice 25 years ago from Don Valentine, the founder of Sequoia Capital, about whether we should participate in the seed round Sequoia Capital of S3.
This shouldn’t be confused with “trust your gut”, “ignore reality”. The rough translation is “do your homework well, analyze things carefully, assess the options but eventually trust your judgment and have the courage of your convictions – even if they are unpopular”. This means swimming against the tide and being prepared to feel lonely.
Most people are not brave enough to just follow their instincts. Following your instincts isn’t easy when familial and social pressures suggest a conventional path or when political pressures within an organization make conformity the comfortable choice”.
Start on an endeavour where you know nothing; where you gather a lot of materials and facts, distill those facts, and then form a cogent opinion and make a decision”.
3. Look Out For The Unexpected
“The best investments are hard to pigeonhole. Watch for investment opportunities where the ideas “don’t fit in a convenient bucket,” such as Airbnb and Chinese drone company DJI.
That’s the thing to look out for — the unexpected”.
4. Play the Long Game
“These are very, very long journeys that we’re on. It takes time and patience and spectacular people and a massive market opportunity to build the real companies that matter and have an influence and great impact on society.”
“Assuming people (young, high-potential) like that flourish, you have incredible loyalty, and they’ll stay with you forever”.
5. Pitch In One Sentence
“Your audience doesn’t want to wait for the ending. Tell them the big idea up front”.
The first time Moritz met Sergey Brin and Larry Page they summarized their company in one sentence: ‘Google organizes the world’s information and makes it accessible to everyone’.
Entrepreneurs who cannot express themselves in one sentence when they pitch Sequoia will be asked to go back to the drawing board until they can.
6. Yesterday Is Irrelevant
“You can read a book about the principles of high performance, or great leadership, and it’ll all sound very straightforward and rudimentary. The difficulty is doing it every day, doing it every week, month, quarter, year, and keeping that beat up.
That was one of the great things about Steve Jobs, it’s one of the great things about Larry Page, it’s one of the great things about Jeff Bezos, or Reed Hastings. These are leaders who are capable of doing it.
They want to make sure that their product is fresh, that it changes with the times; that they never rest on their laurels, or get complacent; that they always have an element of insecurity about feeling that they can always get eaten by a competitor, and that past successes don’t mean all that much.
Because all of that is yesterday, and it’s irrelevant to the future”.
7. Maintain A Fresh Team
“Be able to field the best team at any one time, no matter how long people have been with you. To be not unfair, or ruthless, or harsh; but detached, objective and clinical about the performance of each individual.
No matter how well they’ve performed in the past, or in our case, how many successful investments they’ve made, if their heart is no longer in it, if they no longer have the burning desire to compete, it’s time for them to move on.
Bring in young people who have zest, ambition, energy. And then grow, in our case, our firm organically.
It’s not going out and hiring people who’ve had 30 years of experience in industry. We have hired people…who’ve had industry experience, but they still come to Sequoia at an age where they understand that this is a business that’s difficult, they’ve got to learn it, and they have a real drive to succeed. So it’s constantly refreshing the team”.
8. Change With The Market
” Stay alert to market opportunities. The world of the companies that you’re all starting today is massively different than it was 30 or 40 years ago, because of what’s happening principally in China, and to a lesser extent in other countries. That change is the face of global technology.
So about 12, 13 years ago, we started a business in China because we felt that, over time, it was going to be increasingly important for Sequoia, for the companies that we have investments in in Silicon Valley, to really understand the Chinese market because of what was going to happen there.
Thanks to the people at Sequoia in China and tremendous amount of hard work from a lot of people, we now have a thriving business in China”.
Quotes by Michael Moritz – Sources:
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