Start Up Blog

Your worst nightmare

From a competitive viewpoint, imagine for a moment that our worst business nightmare came true.

Maybe Google decides to enter our market space. Or the Coca Cola Company launched a beverage with the same consumer benefit we’ve been bootstrapping. Or large company X decided to compete against “us” head on.

nuclear-explosion

Well – you’d be surprised how that feels. How it makes us react, and how it very quickly changes our perspective on what is the most important element in ‘winning’. In competing effectively for our share of wallet.

All of a sudden many of the projects we are investing our time on seem far less important than they were yesterday. Maybe that front page redesign can wait, maybe the shiny new web 2.0 buttons are a little less important. Maybe our packaging will do for now and quite possibly every project we have on the agenda, excluding customer ‘centric projects’ can be put on hold.

Here’s an exercise worth doing with your team. Act as if. Act as if it has just happened. Have an ‘emergency session’ with your team on how you’d react if a more well resourced, financed and well known competitor came to play. Build your battle plan. Once your battle plan is drawn up – throw out your current business plan and work on that instead. Because they are coming, especially if your startup is in a fertile consumer territory.

After the intital fear, most entrepreneurs just get inspired, get angry and get on with it. A good scare never hurt anyone.

Steve – founder rentoid.com

Invoices

Today’s task is boring, even hateful. Doing invoices. As with all great ironies, this ought be a task we revere look forward to and basically enjoy. ‘Payment’.

Given we often forget the important stuff we all know. I sometimes write a reminder and stick it to my office wall.

Here’s my pic: (Art’s never been a strong point)

invoices

Yep, I’m reminding myeslf that this somewhat laborious task is actually a cause for celebration, the celebration of hard work as we collect our earnings.

Startups struggling with boring stuff – remind yourself why it’s important!

Steve – founder rentoid.com

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.

Media diet – startup style

As promoted in the 4 hour work week a media diet is a nice way save time. For entrepreneurs a different type of media diet is required.

A business trends diet

Here’s how – avoid all business related articles as they pertain to new strategies & trends.

Here’s why – We already know enough to be successful. Our problem is doing the stuff.

Unless we are just starting in the business world – we’ve heard every strategy and the fact is that most ‘new’ business ideas are simple derivatives of business theories which have been around since the birth of commerce. Cables channels and tech stuff is the worst. Who’s got the time to read 86 posts from techcrunch every day? – not me.

We ought just trust our judgment and make the call that we know enough to get moving…and the rest we’ll learn on the job…. So in the spirit of this blog entry, ignore the articles you were about to read and get back to your stuff.

Inventing the future

Check out this vision from 1969 I found on youtube.

Sure the usability is different, but conceptually it’s pretty accurate – even with the touch screen. It probably seemed fanciful at the time, even ridiculous or pointless. But people with vision created the infrastructure that we rely on today.

Maybe your startup has it’s detractors, it might just be too much for people to comprehend. What you can be sure of is that plenty of the ideas which seem ridiculous now, will eventuate and become part of our everday lives. Our job as entrpreneurs is to ingore the opinions and invent the futre.

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Entrepreneurs are like footballers

Footballers (or any sports person) have good form and bad form. Some are heroes and always play well…. others have fleeting moments and some are inconsistent but sometimes brilliant.

 

As entrepreneurs we ought aim to be like ‘the’ footballer… not just a footballer in the league… But the MVP.

 

It’s hard to understand why some footballers have got the raw talent, the opportunity in the big league, but never seem to reach their potential.

 

Chances are – we too are that person – but in business.

 

We’ve been told by our friends and colleagues that we’ve got the talent to make it happen. They believe in us, but we’re not there – yet. That said, we should refer to ‘that football player’ we all have in our mind already. The guy who could be an absolute hero if he just pulled it all together… The training, the preparation, the diet, the mental application, the team effort, the professionalism. (free feel to name / discuss him in the comments) It’s the same with our start up. The idea, and our potential is only part of the equation. In fact, it’s really just like getting drafted. We’ve got along way to go.

 

 

If we’re going to play, we may as well behave like the MVP. Do it all. Aim for perfection and strive to extract every ounce of the gifts we’ve been given. As we know the MVP is never the guy with the most raw talent. It’s usually the guy who maximizes their potential.

 

Let’s do all the stuff we know we should in order to be the best. Otherwise, what’s the point?

Don’t be like Georgie

English football savant George Best was once asked what happened to all the money he earned as the worlds greatest player. In classic Georgie style he responded:

 

“I spent a lot of my money on booze, birds and fast cars, the rest I just squandered.”

 

         

 

 

If we’re in an early phase start up or we’ve just made bank, the principles don’t change. If you can control your spending, you can control your business and your life. It’s easy to justify expenditure at either end of the business spectrum. A start up can convince themselves they’re investing for growth. Likewise, a booming business with big profits can fly first class and hire private yachts to impress clients themselves.

 

Quite often over spending is due to a real lack of creativity and an inflated ego.

 

Startup blog advice is this: Cash flow is vital and by being creative we can ultimately conserve cash flow, yet generate similar results.

What if email came first?

What if email was invented before the telephone? It would have been viewed as a ‘reasonably’ innovative business tool. Better than traditional mail certainly. Also better than a telegraph message.  We would have become quite reliant on it given the advantages it has over other forms of written communication.

 

Imagine if the phone came next, after email. Imagine the conversations we would have had as we spread this idea and new product virally…. just stop and imagine for a second what the conversation might have been like the first you were told about ‘the telephone':

 

“There’s this amazing new service called a telephone! It’s a killer app. So cool. Each phone can be directly connected to another phone just by dialing numbers. Then, you can have a discussion with the person at the other end – in real time. A live conversation. No back and forth required. No confusion in what the written words mean. You can hear peoples emotion… It’s really great. You’ve got to get one. It’s so much better than email!”

 

So why are we emailing people when we can call them? Is it but covering, fear of direct conversation, laziness?

 

Startup blog says. Call first, communicate directly. Pretend the phone is the new technology.

 

 

Great Quote

“Being busy is a form of laziness – lazy thinking and indiscriminate action.”

 

Timothy Ferriss

 

Startup blog agrees, and adds – if we blame our employers for the above, there’s no locks on the door…. and we’re still being lazy.

Pop quiz

Two people went to work on their startup business.

 

Joseph got up early started at 8am and worked until midnight, he finished all the tasks on his to do list.

 

Mary slept in, was tired, got up mid morning flicked through the newspaper, had a few good solid hours in the afternoon and goofed off after 5.30pm. She did not complete all the tasks on her to do list.

 

Question: Which entrepreneur achieved the most in said day?

 

A)    Joseph

B)    Mary

C)    Cannot tell.

 

Answer: C

 

As entrepreneurs the most crucial mistake we can make is confusing activity with progress. The entrepreneur who achieved most is the one who made the most progress towards their end goal.

 

We should not confuse time spent with value created.

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