Start Up Blog

People Watching

If you’re an entrepreneur and you’ve never been ‘people watching’, then start up blog strongly recommends a session. For a lot of reasons it’s a cool thing all entrepreneurs should do. For one, all our revered entrepreneurs are champion trend spotters. And they spot these trends a long time before they are reported in the Sunday newspaper lift outs.

What’s next?

Go some where busy, go somewhere where there are zillions of transactions, go somewhere sans commerce, go where families hang out, go somewhere singles hangout, look for the subgroups, watch people looking at shelves in stores – guess their decision process, see if this process is the same for all or different for all, see what they wear, see how they move, how did they get there, where are they from, bring a notepad with you and write down ideas, go places you’ve never been before…. Watch people, guess their motivations, view their life in action and then we’ll be the ones gaining life experience…. Just go and watch.


The funny thing about our world is that we are all in it every day, but very few of us are actually paying any attention to it. Step off the stage and become the director. Make it a habit to pay attention to what is going on in our world.

As entrepreneurs and marketers we are lucky. We can do our homework everywhere we go, and our start ups are the key beneficiaries.


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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The Best Social Networking tools

We often wonder which are the best social networking tools to promote our business. In many ways it’s all and none.

There’s no shortage from which we can shoose from a business perspective: My space, Facebook, Bebo, Youtube, Blogging, Twitter, Live streaming TV, Ranking sites like Technorati, delicious and Stumbleupon, Virtual world spaces like second life.

The list is endless. In fact wikipedia lists the most notable (well over 100) here.

The best ones to engage and use aren’t those necessarily with the most people, the most features or the most anything. The best ones to use are those which you use properly. The way in which they were intended. There’s no point having your brand or startup on any of them – unless you engage the crowd in the conversation ‘they want to have”.

What does this mean?

It means be there often – turn up, and talk.

It means listen to them – it’s their place not ours.

It means share the information people want to have shared in ‘that’ forum.

It means, give first to them, and expect nothing back.

It means learn from their wisdom.

It means show your personaility and have an opinion.

It means create value to them, whatever value means in that forum.

It means be part of a dialogue, not a monologue.

In real terms all these tools are, is a personification of yourself, startup or brand. Don’t engage in behavior you wouldn’t engage in while in the real world. We mustn’t act like an Amway Sales Agents on line. If it’s bad form in the real world, it’s bad form in the on-line world.

If we just put our brand on all of these spaces and don’t get involved – it’s a waste of time for all parties involved. We are much better off embracing one or two forums and using them often and consistently. Going there, isn’t the same as being there. They are not shortcuts to brand fame. In fact, they take longer, but can be of greater value.

Given that the web is a conversation – we must embrace it and have manners. If we’re patient it’s worth the effort.

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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.

Mass customization

Here’s a few categories or Industries which have been revolutionized by Mass Customization:


T-shirts (Threadless & Neighborhoodies)

TV (Youtube & Joost)

Handbags (Elemental Threads)

Journalism (Blogs & podcasting)

Newspapers (RSS)

Job Seeking (Aggregation & feeds)

Book publishing (Lulu)

Tourism (the web in general)

Luxury goods (fractional ownership)

Music (itunes)

Networking (facebook & social apps)


In fact there’s just too many to mention.


But the real question is this: If it hasn’t hit your industry yet, why not and what are you doing about it?

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Ahead of their time

Here’s a meme from the Cluetrain Manifesto guys.  It was written some 9 years ago and still rings true. The predictions herein are still evolving today, and yet some corporations still haven’t got it.

Start ups out there; invest 5 minutes with the ideas below, embrace them and you’ll be well ahead of the game.

As seen on (TV) Google

As seen on TV Google… 

Back in the halcyon days of the TV industrial complex, an oft used selling point was the fact that something was actually on TV.

The thinking went something like this: 

  1. TV advertising is expensive
  2. They (brand X) are advertising on TV
  3. They have the money to make this investment
  4. So people must be buying this product
  5. This product must be good
  6. I will buy this product


It built a sense of trust. Trust that evolved from assumed scale.  

Guess what? It’s back! Only this time it’s ‘as seen on front page of Google’. 

The new thinking isn’t too different:

  1. Google knows everything on the web
  2. It’s on the front page of Google
  3. Google has done the sorting for me
  4. Lots of people must be using this site
  5. Lots of sites must be linked to it
  6. I can buy from (trust) this website

The cool thing about this for start ups, is that it really only takes an investment in time and thinking to get there. Not a big media buy.

Slow is the new fast

WAS (fast) IS (slow)

Fast food, take out

Slow food, cooking, dinner parties

‘Super’ market, processed food, discounts, shelf life, conveniencve

Growing vegetables, farmers market, gourmet food, butchers, real ingredients, less packaging, joyful inconvenience and hence quality

Get rich quick, money making schemes, flipping –shares & property assets, asset accumulation

Passion jobs, wealth in doing, not keeping score, grand designs, experience accumulation

Instant coffee – isolated ergogenic aid

Café latte, macchiato, espresso cappuccino – discussion and social facilitation.

Cheap, more, value

Premium, less, gourmet,

Doing more, expectations

Taking time, internalizing

Ladder climbing, competition, job hoping

Ladder building, collaboration, sabbaticals

Long hours, skipping meals, avoiding exercise, financial objectives, excuse making

Work (no such thing) ‘life’ balance, not skipping anything worth doing. Late on purpose.

Spending less on more

Spending more on less

Pay rates, fringe benefits, promotional opportunities

Mind growth, real flexibility, independence


This is some, not all…. but all follow the path. Feel free to add ‘some’

What path is your start up on? The slow path or the fast path?

*reader warning. (none of the above refers to doing reacting slowly in your startup. Just the ’real’ trend of getting our lives back)


Dear Webpreneurs,

Click this. Study this. Understand this. Change this.


Thanks to Chris at rawstylus for the heads up!

‘Game changing’ – Nintendo Wii

If anyone ever needs proof that the market leader can be given lesson, Nintendo provides this.


From a brand which dominated the 1980’s with handheld games and fell into relative console obscurity during the 1990’s it’s comeback has been astounding as has the performance of the Wii.

And it’s all based on simple consumer insight:

“Games everyone can play”


A direct quote from their current advertising. Enough said. 




They are clear console market leader now in Australia. Overtaking the previously thought ‘unbeatable’ Sony Playstation franchise. No incumbent is ever safe. This maxim will only increase in relevance over time.

Often we build complexity into things because the technology allows it. We are better off focusing on what makes sense for the end user, not what’s possible.

Chris Anderson of Long Tail fame has been espousing for a long time that the future of gaming is not in the console, but the controls. He’s obviously ahead of his time.

Start up lesson: The offer with the best user experience, always beats the offer with the best technology.


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