For those of my blog readers already locked and loaded for startup school – Good News.
For those thinking about coming long – Another great reason to join us.
The uber terrific Yvonne Adele from at Ideas Culture has just joined us for the 2 events. She will be facilitating and helping us out through the two days. But don’t think she’ll just be giving the intro’s and outro’s – she’ll be giving us her spin on creativity and ideas, as well as getting us pumped up, motivated and thinking. Which will also blow our minds!
So, if you’ve been on the edge of booking startup school. Time to get moving. The Melbourne event is about to close the door with only a couple of seats left. And Sydney is filling quickly.
Feel free to contact me if you have any queries and want to chat in more detail about it on 0438 779566. Steve.
I’ll be running a one time Startup School event in Melbourne and Sydney. During November. It’s a 2 day weekend course for a maximum of 10 people.
It wont be free like the blog – but it has a money back guarantee to blow your mind:
Details to follow soon, but it will also include on going personal mentoring for Alumni & other benefits.
I expect seats to go quick – there’s only 10, and if you register your interest as a Startup blog reader you’ll be first in line and have priority to attend.
To register send me your details directly via email (which is in the side bar to your right) – please let me know if your registering for Sydney or Melbourne.
Think back to grade 9 school. Specifically your science classes. In science we had a specific method of learning:
Aim / Objective
(back to start)
The thing that the science community do much better than the business world is that they know that the really powerful part of the system is the actual experiment. When scientists speak we hear them talking about the experiments, not aims and methods. The experiement is the focus – not the plans and paper work. This is something the business community must take heed from. It is beyond me why the business world obsess with the aim (forecasts) and the method (business plans). The truth is we’ll never know until the experiment is done.
As entrepreneurs it’s compounded again. We’ve got to experiment more than existing businesses with real revenue. We’ve got to do this because we have no results or conclusions which have formed a refined aim or hypothesis. So the more experiments we do, the more robust our hypothesis becomes. Until we experiment we wont really now what materials we need (which in the business world is referred to as resources). Constant planning refinement is as useless as constant refinement of an experiment method would be. Our focus instead must be repeated experimentation.
It’s only when we do this that our startup has a chance of graduating to become a bone fide business.
Once upon a time I used to think that entrepreneurs had to be smart enough to develop a niche strategy. A nice smart strategy which will keep them hidden from the big ugly and powerful incumbents and other startups. A strategy to extract sneaky revenue.
I learned how wrong I was the hard way. I was way to clever with my first startup 1-bil (an anti stress drink). We developed an incredibly clever niche distribution strategy aiming for 5 star hotels, business class travelers on airlines and airports. What we called a ‘sneezer strategy’ of niche distribution to grow from. The category influencers.
Turns out niche strategies limit the number of doors we can knock on. It limits the number of people we can sell to. It limits the angles of success we can have. It limits the number of rejections we can have (and we’ll get plenty) When we get a rejected from our core strategic market, we lose confidence, we count how many points of distribution we have left and start to struggle and lose faith. We invent our own failure.
The niche market is great for well resourced companeis doing innovative stuff. Not so for startups. It’s very counter intuitive. Entrepreneurs need to learn the truth about niche marketing. And the truth is this:
Gaining traction with any new product or company is inherently difficult. We ought sell to anyone who’ll buy our stuff. Get the message out to as many people as possible. Take all the revenue we can get and what will transpire is a niche strategy anyway due to natural startup dynamics. We’ll get rejected 9 out of 10 times on average. We’ll end up in a market niche, from which we’ll have to grow and expand from anyway. Starting with a niche in mind, really just limits our probability of success.
The startup lesson is this: Find your niche through market dynamics, don’t target it.
There is nothing less valuable in startup world than people telling you what to do, while they are doing very little themselves.
Traffic Directors I call them.
These days information and ideas are cheap. The thing of great value is when people start and finish projects. It’s so valuable simply because it’s so rare. In fact that’s true leadership.
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Today I was out making sales calls in my local industrial area where there are a lot of different rental companies. Idea being to get these rental / hire companies using rentoid.com to generate extra business. The timing is good, because we have a zero cost entry platform and times are tough in the B to B arena.
But the thing that really matters is how I’ve been making the sales calls. Firstly, these guys are B to B, trades focused guys. renting mainly industrial equipment. The last thing they want to some tech / web geek give them bullshit about how the internet is going to save them…. So here’s what I’ve done instead:
- I haven’t shaved for 3 days – got a good beard growing. I’m wearing jeans and boots with a fairly standard zip up jumper. When I walk in I look like a customer, in fact I look like they do. I’m less threatening and this is obvious with the positive greetings I’m receiving.
- When I drop in (remember it’s a cold call) I say, ‘You know I live around the corner, I drive past here everyday and I’ve been meaning to drop in for ages. You know I’ve got web business which is all about rental companies…..” And I do live close enough to use this line. It is genuine.
- The F Bomb – Yep, I’m dropping this one big time – for one simple reason – they are. I’ll use whatever language they use. If they like swearing, so do I. I’m matching their culture in dress and language.
- I know their business. I don’t walk in and say ‘So tell me about your business’ – I do my homework before I turn up. Granted I know enough about the rental industry now to adapt to different segments pretty quick. I know what matters to them and get the conversation into that area quickly.
- I don’t try and sell anything on the first call. We do have a free entry to rentoid – but we also sell integrated web technologies. But I don’t try to sell anything. Just get them to like me in fact, I’m selling me. People buy things from people they like. Then they find a logical or business reason to justify their decision after they’ve already made it.
- I follow up with whatever I promise. Information, phone calls, data whatever they need. I try to show I’ll be a valuable resource.
- I get rejected too. It’s a numbers game, and each rejection is a lesson for honing my skills for the next call.
I’m learning heaps and I’m loving it.
Start up blog says – get out there and start selling.
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It’s well documented that I’m not a big fan of business plans. Mainly because we live in a world of flux. But if you must use one – which I’ll call a 1 page mud map – then here’s a template. I’ve used this and I’d recommend it for ‘real entrepreneurs’ – that is non VC seeking bootstrappers.
What is it?
Describe your business or service in a single sentence. If you can’t do this, you don’t know what you’re doing.
Who is it for?
The audience who need or want this thing you’re about to create. Define them in whatever terms you please, demographically, socially, behaviourally, geographically. Just be succinct and tight in your clustering.
Why do they need it?
How is it better than the current substitute options?
How will they find us?
Where will we gain distribution? Maybe we’ll leverage a strong retail chain. A singular high traffic location. If web based strong SEO / brand awareness will be required. Maybe we already have an audience who we’ll bring a product to. This should be the most detailed part of the plan. It should include brand awareness activities and promotions. It still should only be a round 1 paragraph long.
Cost to build Version 1.0
Just estimate it – then double your estimate. Now this is the bare bones version, the absolute minimum required for launch. Outsource every element of production were possible, unless you are the major factor of production. Keep the cost low. It enhances speed, and reduces fear of failure and inertia.
There is no such thing as ‘Free’ – just a delayed revenue model. Ideas include: Sell item for price, Percentage of sales, memberships, premiums, selling advertising among others. Your plan is not finished unless you can answer this in a way your mum can understand.
These steps are related to launching the product. We stop typing and start prototyping. Here’s where we have 3-5 bullet points on how to get to version 1.0 The quickest possible route to being live in market. The steps to when you can out there and start selling & promoting.
That’s it. In fact you final plan should be as short as that we see above. Print it, put it up in your office and get to work.