Start Up Blog

The Sandwich Man

Maybe you’re a great web designer

Maybe you’re a great coder

Maybe you’re a financial wizard

Maybe you’ve got a flair for industrial design

Maybe you’re a craftsman with unique skills

Maybe you’re great at managing and building a supply chain.

Maybe selling isn’t something you enjoy, like or even care about. Maybe making presentations is the part of business that really isn’t your thing.

Problem is this: There’s plenty of great ideas, businesses and people who never reached their full potential because the selling bit was missing.

Step forward the ‘Sandwich man’

Startup blog definition: Sandwich Man – a gun presenter and public communicator who presents the ideas and sells the dream on behalf of the business.

A sandwich man is called such, because he holds together all the good things like the bread does on a yummy sandwich. Without him all the ingredients, nutrition, ‘reason for being’ could all fall away.

A good sandwich man would start and close any business presentation to people like venture capitalists, suppliers, key accounts, customers and the media.

sandwich

Quite often successful businesses are run by a team where one of the members is the tech genius and the other is the Sandwich Man. Who then communicates the ideas and vision to get people on board. Rarely people are lucky enough to have both skill sets. Regardless of which skill set we have, we always need a sandwich man. We can even bring one into the team on a needs basis.

But without one, we may end up with a great product or business which never gets the traction it deserves.

Nature or Nurture?

I noticed this morning that a particular area of my box hedge isn’t growing as well as other areas. See the two photos below.

hedge1 hedge2

In order to remedy the situation I thought about what the different things I could do:

  1. Ensure the poor performing area was getting enough water
  2. Make sure the soil wasn’t poisoned in that particular area of the garden
  3. Remove the weeds from the periphery
  4. Add some fertiliser to the struggling area
  5. Aerating the soil with a hoe
  6. Ensure the area is getting enough sun

In fact, I’ll try the methods above. What I wont do is ‘remove’ the box hedge. I really need it because it forms part of the garden perimeter. It provides the required symmetry. It’s an integral part of the garden. I will give it the extra attention it deserves, and talk to it. I won’t pretend it will fix itself, because I know that is just a fantasy.

So, why do we take the opposite view with our staff / employees or business partners? We rarely ask first what we can do, and most often just ‘cut them out’, get rid of them, or even chastise their performance, before we look at the reasons for it. Maybe they:

  1. Aren’t getting enough cash to do their part?
  2. Maybe their part of the organisation has structural issues?
  3. Maybe they have non functional ‘hangers on’ stealing time & resources?
  4. Maybe we need to invest in some training or programs to boost the area?
  5. Maybe we need to give them more space & freedom to perform?
  6. Maybe we are not providing enough reward & recognition?

You’ve probably noticed how many of our people problems have strong analogies to my box hedge. In fact, both nature and people, need nurturing.

Steve – founder rentoid.com

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

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.

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.

Helping others vs Social networking

Here’s a nice little insight by from Seth Godin on the truth about networking.

In short it’s about helping others. It’s about the quality and value you provide them – not the number of people you know.

Dig the glasses Seth…

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.

 

 

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.

Social Networking – let’s get physical

Ok – so we’ve all worked out that we can now find each other on line. That there’s more people than we thought with similar interests, and that connecting with them can be mutually beneficial.

Now; get off line and get out there.

Get connected physically. Nothing beats facetime and smart social networking organizations are getting back to basics. Creating old school events like business networks such as Rotary have been doing for years. Old is the new new.

If you’re in Melbourne (which I am) get along to the Hive. The Hive is a new entrepreneurs network started by some savvy entrepreneurship students in Melbourne.

the-hive-logo.png

Their premise is simple. Come along, hear some successful entrepreneurs speak, meet other entrepreneurs. Communicate, collaborate and corroborate. It’s free and valuable.

You can check it out here and here. They run a good show for some youngsters.

Business hygiene

We wake up in the morning. Stumble into the shower, have a shave (legs or face), wash our hair. We put on deodorant, brush our teeth, and head off to work.

We work all day.

We return home. We go to the gym or for a jog, return and shower again. Cook dinner, do the washing, tidy up the house, do the dishes, wipe down the sinks.

  

These are our daily tasks. Simple things which just become part of the fabric of living daily. They’re about hygiene and health.

                              

Our business also requires daily hygiene tasks. Tasks which must happen on a daily basis: Paying invoices, managing cashflow, ordering stock, doing paperwork, answering emails, returning phone calls, talking with employees and customers, planning our day,  reading industry related information……   ‘business hygiene’ tasks.

  toothbrush.jpg 

Business hygiene tasks are not game winners, but they keep us alive in a business sense. Forget these and our business can catch some terrible diseases, maybe kill it.

 

The best approach is to get them into a routine we perform on autopilot. Just like brushing our teeth. Then we can focus on the fun stuff.

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