Ken ClarkMatching actionable tools with personal clarity.
Bio

Expert in work-life balance, the psychology of entrepreneurship and creating disruptive corporate culture by becoming a leader who embraces your own fears. Founder of 50+ person mental health clinical system, former finance exec and 7-time published author. Vistage member and winner of Mentor of the Year from The Investment News, Arkansas Business 40 Under 40, and Arkansas Business of the Year.



Recent Answers


One of the start-ups I'm involved with does a lot of work alongside entrepreneurs building companies towards an eventual exit or sale... Here's a couple of recommendations, aside from the usual "research what typical sales people in your industry get paid" advice:

1. Incentivize unexpected business. In other words, don't pay them too much to solicit or close business that would have been easy for you to get or would have fallen in your lap anyways. Consider having two pay tiers, one slightly lower tier for business you probably could have attained with any salesperson's help and one that contains the dream deals that you'd need a star salesperson to get. Pay them to go after your white whales (Moby Dick reference for anyone who is wondering). This may result in greater overall marketshare than if you just hired a couple salespeople, who will naturally go after the low hanging fruit first.

2. Create a CONTRIBUTION FORMULA for the eventual buyout. If you're looking for a good long-term kicker, give them a piece of the company, based on how much they actually contribute to the bottom line over the period from when they're hired to when the company sells (or they leave). In other words, you may say something like you'll give them up to 5% of the sales price of the company, depending on how much of the revenue they generate. If they generate 50% of the revenue, you'd give them 50% of 5% (or 2.5%) when the company eventually sells.

3. Ask them what would motivate them the most. Duh. How do we not ask our salespeople this more? If there's an answer that excites them more than what we're offering, why wouldn't we consider it, right? We want them as motivated as possible. Of course, before you say "yes" to anything they propose, run it by your mentors, the folks on Clarity.fm and your legal and accounting team.

I'm happy to have a more in-depth conversation on the psychology of motivation and pay (I'll put on my psychology hat) or preparing a company to be sold for the best price possible (my MergerMatch.com hat).

Reach out to me through Clarity.fm if I can help.

Best of luck!

Ken Clark
Coach, consultant and therapist to entrepreneurs


I'm entrepreneur whose had multiple successes and failures AND I'm a psychotherapist who works with people battling anxiety everyday.

Here's some tips (some goofy, some very practical) that have helped me HARNESS my anxiety and turn it into forward motion (instead of the paralysis you're describing).

1. Find a mentor. There are few things as reassuring as an older, wiser entrepreneur saying, "I remember that exact same thing happening to me and here's how I survived it..." A good mentor will be able to commiserate with your fears, help you break creative log jams, kick you in the pants when you need it and even make connections / introductions to help you succeed.

If you can't find a mentor, look at joining a group like Vistage in your area (I'm also in one of these and love it). They're "peer groups" for business owners and executives where we get together once a month for 3-4 hours and talk about business, life, problem-solving, etc. My Vistage group is the least lonely I feel as an entrepreneur each month.

2. Get a therapist. Really. Most entrepreneurs have backgrounds that for better or worse, have steered them towards being their own boss. Things like our families of origin, our socioeconomic status growing up, that time you got dumped at the prom, etc., all effect why and how we want to succeed and what we're afraid failure ultimately means. By talking with someone through the origins of your anxiety about failure, you'll have a better handle on what is actually driving you. Often times, we're less afraid of failing than we think. It's what comes next after we fail that we really fear.

3. Read, read, read. Constantly ingest a steady diet of magazines (everything from Fast Company to Entrepreneur to Coastal Living), newspapers (Wall Street Journal has an amazing weekend edition), to books on tape (you can get classics like "Tipping Point" for free on your phone from most local libraries). The only thing I wouldn't read are blog posts and social media of entrepreneurial experts - those often leave people feeling overwhelmed with all you're not doing or should be doing, instead of just sitting at your computer and getting the necessary aspects of your job done.

I find that holding physical books / mags in my hand and creating some space once each week to think works best for me. During my Sunday morning reading time, armed with a stack of fresh reading material I've collected throughout the week, I usually come up with an exciting idea or two that I want to apply to my businesses and that re-kindles my motivation and creativity.

4. Create a "I'm going to be successful" mixtape. Okay, I know this one is silly, but it really works for me. Music is powerful, emotive, and can affect us deeply in a short-period of time (think of how athletes listen to a song to psych themselves up before the big game).

My "I'm going to be successful mixtape" tends to be heavily geared towards rap with songs like Macklemore's "10,000 Hours" and "Make the Money," Jay-Z's "Holy Grail" and "SomewhereInAmerica" and MIA's "Paper Planes." A lot of these songs contain themes of overcoming in the face of ridiculous odds and are very comforting for me as an anxious entrepreneur. I fire this playlist up on the way into the office and I'm usually ready to conquer the world by the time I get there.

Those were just a few ideas... hope they help.

If you'd like to set up a time to chat, let me know... this is exactly the space I work in (the psychology of entrepreneurship).

Best of luck!

Ken Clark
Coach, consultant and therapist to entrepreneurs



I've loved Reddit.com from a viral / incoming traffic point of view, but you've got to be a broad contributor, ensuring that you post non-business content and interact on other's contributions. If you only self-promote, you'll quickly get banned from the "sub-reedits" you really want to post to.

It helps to make sure your customers and friends know when you post on reddit. Organic "up votes" can take your links from getting a few hundred hits to 10,000+.

Hope that helps!

Ken Clark
Coach, consultant, and therapist to entrepreneurs


I know Vistaprint has/had a design platform that you can integrate into a larger website. I think it has a monthly fee.

Hope that helps!

Ken Clark
Coach, consultant and therapist to entrepreneurs


Speaking from my experience, which includes helping companies avoid blind spots in acquisitions and integrations, you need to have a solid gap analysis performed on the operational and cultural aspects on the two products and companies. This will identify places where things will grind to a halt because the companies function completely differently.

If you would like to set up a time to talk more about doing a gap analysis or where to find the tools, contact me through Clarity.

Best of luck!

Ken Clark
Coach, consultant and therapist to entrepreneurs


There are plenty of websites out there that can tell you industry averages for different positions. Start with glassceiling.com.

If you are really wanting to get equity and you think you've got what it takes, consider offering some audacious sales goals in return for equity.

Otherwise, get in there and prove yourself and make yourself invaluable. Once they can't live without you, renegotiate your package to include equity.

Best of luck!

Ken Clark
Coach, consultant and therapist to entrepreneurs


You'll ideally want to talk to an "Intellectual Property" attorney. I'd recommend taking a screenshot over everything on the site including their Terms of Service. You may be able to find an attorney that reviews it for free and tells you if you have any chance of pursuing the case.

Check your state bar association's website… They often a searchable directory of attorneys by specialty.

Best of luck!

Ken Clark
Coach, consultant and therapist to entrepreneurs


Don't overlook professional and trade associations as sources for potential speaking gigs... there are thousands of meetings around the country every weekend and many are looking for speakers and content providers.

Visit the website for the American Society of Association Executives to network with associations in your hometown and places that are easy to travel to. Likewise, see if you can get in contact with your local convention bureau to see if they'll keep you up to date of who is holding conventions in town (then contact those associations and companies).

http://www.asaecenter.org

If I can be of any service to you in crafting your pitch or your content, let me know (one of my roles is "Chief StoryTeller" at a start-up).

Best of luck!

Ken Clark
Coach, consultant and therapist to entrepreneurs


Licensed psychotherapist here. I work heavily with entrepreneurs, start-ups and business owners... The truth is, most entrepreneurs show no more TOTAL psychopathology than folks who get a W-2 for a living.

But, I've found that moderately successful entrepreneurs often have elevated personality traits in one of two areas - narcissism or dependent personality traits (aka people pleasing). They're either strong-willed or service oriented enough to get a business to a stable point quickly.

On the flip side, people with avoidant, schizoid, schizotypal or anti-social traits usually fare poorly for a variety of reasons.

The most WILDLY successful entrepreneurs usually pursue and develop a strong internal self-awareness and are always pushing for new insights into the way they function. They embrace all criticism as valuable data to tweak towards their highest desired outcome (usually profitability).

For what's it's worth, if you truly believe you have ADHD traits (I'm most definitely not providing a diagnosis here!!), you'll do best with entrepreneurial roles that are heavily focused on constantly changing stimuli (like customer service, networking, sales, etc). I'd contemplate staying away from activities that require long periods of focusing on one task (coding, product development, etc).

If you'd ever like to bounce ideas and brainstorm on what might be the best entrepreneurial fit for you, feel free to reach out to me through Clarity to schedule some consulting.

Best of luck!

Ken Clark
Coach, consultant, and therapist to entrepreneurs


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