Be a leader, not a founder

The truest goal for starting a company is to grow it to a stronger place of stability.

To battle a generational low point in business incorporation, we’ve built a solid drumbeat celebrating entrepreneurship. To complement this charge, we need a serious dialogue about transitioning founders into leaders, from the one who started a company to the one who is growing it.

As a cofounder of 25-person publishing company Technically Media who has interviewed hundreds of founders and CEOs along the way, I am experiencing this transition myself. To give yourself the best shot at success in business, you must know what your goals are. One of them should be looking for opportunities to make this transition from founder to leader.

That was the focus of a lecture and workshop I led at the second annual Fearless Conference, held by the precocious Melissa Alam, who has developed a wonderful community of (mostly) young women aspiring to build businesses of their own. Below I share my slides, some notes and reaction to my talk.

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What I learned from publishing a local news newsletter for 18 months

Since I’ve launched a new personal curated newsletter project and an old related URL shortener project was finally archived, I’ve been thinking about my first experiment with email audience.

In April 2012, we at Technically Media announced Ph.ly, a URL shortener that had a companion content strategy — a curated weekly newsletter sharing the three biggest pieces of local journalism or civic information. Over the next 18 months, I published the weekly newsletter as a side project and experiment. Here are a few things I learned before sidelining the project by 2014.

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Listen to this small business podcast interview with me

PR shop 2820 Press founder Joe Taylor Jr. hosts a podcast with small business owners called the Build.He invited me on.

I talked about the beginning of Technically Media and about my perspective on journalism and its role in our work. It’s an hour-long conversation you can find here.

Below are some highlights I shared:

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What made me proud about our sixth annual Philly Tech Week

You determine success by what goals you set. The mission of Philly Tech Week from the very start six years ago was to create an entry point for others to discover the community of technologists and entrepreneurs bubbling up in Philadelphia.

So this annual, community-supported calendar of events celebrating technology, entrepreneurship and innovation in Philadelphia will have a role for as long as those subjects warrant local on-boarding. Led by us at local tech news network Technical.ly, some 50 partners put together 150 events during a 10-day period ending this past weekend. And though we’re still collecting survey results and feedback from attendees, organizers and supporters, the early feedback I remains consistent with past years: (a) the collective calendar brings more people out to all our events and (b) the attendees include community-regulars and, just as important, people trying to better understand how to join in.

When that stops, that’s likely when PTW (and events like it) cease to matter. What does change each year is what stands out to me as particularly telling or representative from the calendar. That’s where I’m often most proud.

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We beat $1M in revenue in 2015; small, growing and proud

Let’s start with the obvious: I help run a (very) very small, young business. By very nearly any measure, $1 million in annual revenue shows no great scale.

But for this first-time entrepreneur, slowly bootstrapping a niche news company like Technically Media, it means a lot to me to hit that nice round number in 2015. We have a full-time team of 15 with another half-dozen independent contractors who support the daily production of a news and events product with a strong reputation. We continue to find purpose with Technical.ly and expect our second brand Generocity.org to signal a coming explosion of local social impact conversations like local tech is here now.

I want to share what this means to us.

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My proudest professional outcomes of 2015

I want to keep developing as a small business owner and leader.

That’s why I keep track of my professional goals each year — in addition to personal resolutions. This past year was no different. Most of those goals involve my company Technically Media but not all.

Below see what I’m most proud of having accomplished in 2015.

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Surprises from our inaugural Delaware Innovation Week

We at Technical.ly hosted our inaugural Delaware Innovation Week. It was our smallest community yet to do something like that, so we anxious to see what would happen.

The early signs show the model worked — new people came to take part in the week and join the community. So we’ll be back in November 2016.

Since it was the first year, I thought I’d share some surprises that came across.

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Technically Media will be establishing new headquarters

We’re staying in Philadelphia of course. But after three years as a tenant of noted University City-based venture capital firm First Round Capital, we’ve outgrown the space.

By the end of the year, we’ll be moving our more than dozen-person team to the top floor of the Curtis Center, a historic building in Old City Philadelphia that once held the celebrated Curits Publishing Company (the ones behind the Saturday Evening Post, the Ladies Home Journal and the Public Ledger, among other brands).

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