Start Up Blog

Belief – from ‘Tribes’

I took this quote from Seth Godins latest micro book Tribes:

“Do you beleive in what you do? Every day? It turns out that belief happens to be a brilliant strategy”

This resonates with me because it will motivate us to find solutions that ‘non believers’ will be too inept, apathetic or bored to uncover.

Entrepreneurs ought launch something they beleive in conceptually, not just financially.

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Love & brands

In order to be in love we need to feel loved. Often we mistake love for other intense emotions such as lust, obsession and even fear.

So if we were to translate this to business parlance it might read like this:

If we want people to love our brand or company, we simply have to make our audience ‘feel loved’.

So then the next questions we should be asking are:

-          Will they love this product?

-          Will they love our value equation?

-          Will they love our guarantee?

-          Will they love our designs?

-          Will love our ‘contact us’ policy or phone staff?

In fact, let’s just start every audience related question with the words ‘Will they love….”

If we do this and focus on being more than good, more than liked and only accept moving towards stuff people will love. Then one day, they may just love our brand.

No comment required

Ok – so this is slightly off topic, but I’ll try and tie it in. Check out the photo I took below at a family shopping mall in Australia.

You’ll notice a couple of things:

Firstly ‘no licence is required’. Good news right?

Secondly it’s branded as the “John Rambo” knife. I’m sure there’s no licensing there either!

The thing that had me flumoxed is that people choose to make money by selling anything just to make a dollar. It still seems people will do whatever it takes to sell stuff, as opposed to selling or creating something which just might have a positive impact on our environment and the people around us.

Sure we need knives for some stuff – I just wonder if we really need knives designed for gutting wild bores advertised in a shop window of a family mall, 200 miles away from the nearest wild animal?

Start ups out there – Sell something cool.

Business relationships & startups

Entrepreneurs must build all types of relationships.

  • Relationships with our suppliers and the value chain
  • Relationships with our buyers & resellers
  • Relationships with our staff and business partners / investors
  • Relationships with our audience & evangelists

In fact, when we are small have little or no revenue, the only thing we can do is have conversations and build relationships. These will lead to action and revenue. While having dinner with a colleague the other night, John Colbert of Corporate Edge training he gave me his view on relationships.

He said:

There are two important factors in relationships – frequency & proximity.

How frequently are we engaging the other person? Where frequency, is any type of conversation, communication or interaction.

And what is our proximity to this person? Where proximity pertains to the physical closeness and real world interactions we have together. Do we meet in person? Are we getting to know each other without the use of technology? Simply meeting in the same location?

The more of the above two things we have the stronger our relationships come. If we for a moment think of who we have strong relationships with, we’ll see we have both Frequency and Proximity.


The reality is humans want to deal with people they like, trust and know. This is what relationships build.

So if one of our important business relationships (those listed above) is flagging, maybe we should have more frequent interactions, get closer or do both.

Frequency vs Depth

In advertising parlance we talk about depth and frequency. Depth being how many people we reach on each occasion. Frequency being how often we reach them.

It’s great to let zillions of people know about our start up as quickly as we can. We may even be lucky enough to get some kind of viral campaign working for our startup, we may be featured in the newspaper, on techcrunch or we might even be lucky enough get a TV spot.

After the event here’s what happens: People cook dinner, pick up the kids from school, pay the bills, kick the dog and get on with life. They have a life to live and they get on with it. Our start up doesn’t really matter to them… straight away.

Consumer awareness goes something like this:

Exposure 1: “That’s a cool idea / product / concept”

Exposure 2: “Oh, yeh, I must remember to check that out”

Exposure 3: “There it is again, might be worth having a look”

Exposure 4: “hmm, Ok – I’ll look when I’m shopping next / on line next”

Exposure 5: ….They finally act, and go look at, investigate, touch, feel, try….”

After many exposures we have “a chance’ of selling to them.

Sure some people check it out first time, some buy straight away, but the large majority need reminded, over and over again. It doesn’t mean – go out and spam them or do terrible interruption marketing. It means this; “have frequent and relevant marketing communications to the people who might care”.

It’s a lot like never noticing a car advertisement until we are in the market to buy one. They’re always there, we just have selective perception.

This is why Advertising frequency is king. No point having a big launch campaign if our prospective new customers aren’t looking on that occasion. For entrepreneurs, the big launch concept is a hoax – It’s unsustainable.  Like an exercise regime- it’s far better to do an hour workout everyday, than to do a 5 hour gym session on a Saturday.

The good news is we don’t need the superbowl budget of a large conglomerate to have the frequency we need. We just need to start a conversation which continues indefinitely.

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More visual feasts – retail

Here’s some more retail ‘theatre at transaction ‘ – The first is of the Grocery Bar Cafe in Richmond, the second of Haus Frau Cafe in Yarraville. I simply want to eat my food and drink my coffee there. So I do.

Actually – I don’t need to say anything – the pitcures do that for me.

The questions for startup entrepreneurs is this: What visual feasts are we providing our prospective new customers? Are we giving them a visual they just ‘have to’ talk about?

Quote for Entrepreneurs

“It has to start somewhere, it has to start sometime. What better place than here? What better time than now?”

Zach de la Rocha

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Brand Manners

Brands are the personification of things and services. In fact they are the amalgamation of a group of people, which creates an organizational culture and eventually, a set of brand values. Values which in real terms are like those of a person.

In the spirit of the reasoning above here’s an interesting question:

Does your brand have good manners?

That’s actually what we’ve been getting at during this Business 2.0 Post Industrial Complex Devolution. We’ve been getting back to basics. The basics of acceptable behaviour. Moving away from the school yard bully – (read here – large inconsiderate conglomerate) – to something which deserves our attention.

In case we happened to forget – here’s a ready reckoner of ‘Good Manners’

-          Listen to others
–          Have patience
–          Wait your turn to talk
–          Never interrupt
–          Ask for permission
–          Always say ‘please’ and ‘thankyou’
–          Be honest, truthful and pure
–          Be punctual
–          Be tidy
–          Never be rude to anyone – older, younger, richer, poorer
–          Keep out of bad company
–          Be kind to those around you
–          Don’t be selfish, but share your good things
–          Don’t cheat
–          Be polite at all times

Here’s the ironic thing…. some of these sentiments and ideals came directly from the Children’s National Guild of Courtesy - a Good Manners chart which was distributed to elementary / primary schools in UK and Australia from 1898 until approx 1950.

You can download the PDF here: goodmanners

And yet it’s akin to the language we are now hearing from business re-inventionists. In real terms, we’ve just realized that often with success comes bad manners and attitude. Then after the bad manners and attitude comes the inevitable decline. This is why the new world brands are winning – they simply have good manners.

Startups – if we personify our brands, then let’s ensure they have ‘Brand Manners’.

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Pre-empt reality – success requires it

Entrepreneurship and startups are a lot like starting out in your career. People want you to have experience before they will hire you. It’s that ironic circular reference in which it is impossible to get the job, to get the experience required until we’ve got the experience – right? hmmm.

Often startup businesses need a lot of people before the idea, concept or thing simply works. Kind of like email or fax machines. They only become useful when everyone has one…. or at least some form of critical mass in which we can exchange things of value. Aside from the fact this proves that the most powerful element in any business mix is distribution, it also indicates we all have a chasm to cross before success can become a reality.

So how do we cross the chasm? How do we make success a reality?

We must preempt it.

We must preempt our future reality. As though it already exists. We must talk and act as if it has already happened. Not just internally, not just convincing ourselves, but to all of those whose paths we cross day to day in startup land. We have to sell the future, before it arrives, as if it’s already happened.

Sometimes we might have to use ‘creative language’ which somewhat stretches the truth (our current reality). We ought not feel bad – every successful entrepreneur in history has done this. Every successful entrepreneur in the future will do this. It’s just a necessary element in creating the future. It’s not lying, it’s part of the creation process. Screw it – sell the sizzle and make it real. By the time the people catch up to the today’s reality – you’ve already created the future version.

Bill Gates sold MS DOS before he even built it. He said to IBM – “we have what you need.” Despite the fact it was metaphysical at that stage.

Generating media and interest in your start up is one of the areas where this must happen. Whether it’s in traditional media, the blogosphere, or other means, people don’t want to cover us until we’ve had success. What they fail to realise is that their coverage is the thing which often starts the success. Then people who read about our brand, website or widget say, “Wow, I better check that out”. They believe in ‘the people’. If other people are embracing it, it justifies them checking it out. it’s the wisdom of crowds, as far as people are concerned, we only count when other people care.

When people ask about your startup and want the obligitory progress report – paint the most positive picture possible. Use creative language that makes it sound bigger, better and closer. No – use language that says it has already arrived. Make the future your present reality.

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