Start Up Blog

What business plans are for

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on December 9, 2013

A business plan is not a user manual. It’s not a map of a defined territory and it’s not a even a vision of the future. At best it is a contention of how we may be able to get things done. Because of this, we need realise it can and should be revised as soon as it is unproven. Yes, we should give it a chance, execute against the contention, but remember it is only as valuable as the results it generates. We can throw it away, draft a new one if needed.

While important, a plan must serve us. We ought not serve it.

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When we get big

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on August 1, 2010

There are many things we’ll implement when we get big enough. When our footprint is big enough to deserve the investment of the bigger, game changing idea. When we achieve X, we’ll implement Y.

Maybe we ought implement Y now and skip X altogether?

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The multi tasking hoax

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on July 31, 2010

Multi-tasking is a hoax. In fact it’s one of the worst developments associated with the personal computer revolution. It robs us of time, reduces focus, and has a negative impact on reaching deadlines adn getting stuff done. So here is my top 10 list of ways to avoid the multi-tasking hoax:

  1. Only have one computer application open at a time
  2. Only check your emails at 2 designated times of the day (say 9am and 3pm)
  3. Don’t write long to do lists (guilty). Instead write down the answer to this question: ‘The one thing I must finish today’
  4. Close your eyes while taking phone calls to ensure you listen to the other party.
  5. Learn to say ‘no’. Tell the other person why, you can’t do it, or offer for them to pick something to drop off.
  6. Meditate daily. Think about long term goals
  7. Focus on depth of activities, not number of activities completed. Do less things, better.
  8. Never tell anyone you are busy. We are all busy. It leads to pin balling around stuff instead of finishing.
  9. have defined goals for the year. Ask yourself each morning how your are moving towards them.
  10. Add your item for number 10 in the comments.

Startup Blog says: Multitasking is your enemy. Avoid it.

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How hard you worked is irrelevant

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on June 21, 2010

It’s what we create for the people who care. The truth is we never know how hard it was to deliver the right product, at the right place at the right time. We only care that it was.

What we (the entrepreneurs, producers, marketers) had to go through is not part of the consideration set. It isn’t charity, it’s about them. So if we nail it and deliver the project quickly, we needn’t feel guilty or less deserving. Likewise, if it took us 5 years of hard working weekends and nights, that’s also no reason to feel a level of entitlement. We need to feel what they feel – underwhelmed or overwhelmed with what we deliver, how we got there is far less important.

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Startups and Standups

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on March 16, 2010

Listening to an interview with Jerry Seinfeld he said something which sounded like good advice for Startup Entrepreneurs.

Here is what he said verbatim:

“Your write and you write, and you don’t know if it is any good. You have to get up in front of an audience to find out if this is any good. You always have to try things, and the audience kind of writes the act for you in a way. They say, keep this, get rid of that. And you use them as a judge. They are the judge.”

It seems success in most enterprising professions are about being guided by your audience or customers. Testing, refining and constantly iterating.

Startup blog says: Real market feedback, is the only way to test any written plan. It beats research every time.

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Strategy review

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on January 12, 2010

In the new year we have new business goals and objectives. We plan to do better than last year. We plan to do more….. we must review our strategy…. But before we do we must ask this important question:

Did we execute the current strategy to its full potential?

Or did it just get a bit too hard and boring, and we decided it wasn’t easy enough?

Usually the strategy is fine, and we just haven’t worked hard enough to get through the dip.

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Quirky Fact & Business models

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on October 25, 2009

It costs the soft drink Industry over $100 million a year for thefts committed involving vending machines.

Actual Coke vending machine robots!

*actual Coke vending robots!

Yet vending machines still exist for one simple reason. This is still a profitable business regardless of the theft.

So often in startup land we here people pointing out the gaps and potential issues in any business model we propose. The fact is no business model is perfect. Every business has gaps and potential issues which will impact profitability. There is always leakage, there is always some evaporation. What we need to focus on is the net result and understand if we can still make a profit regardless of the model imperfections.

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Don’t be this person.

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on October 19, 2009

I had this discussion yesterday. I walked past a hole in the wall cafe. (Tiny cafe which serves take away and stand up coffee in inner city area)

Friend: Wasn’t Joey going to open a business like that?

Me: Yeh, I remember him talking about it before I had even seen one of these in the city.

Friend: What happened to it?

Me: I don’t know, I guess he just didn’t get around to it in the end. Got distracted.

Friend: That’s a shame, looks like a good little business model. What’s he doing now?

Me: He’s in the same job.

Friend: Oh. Ok.

We keep walking …

hole in the wall cafe

Don’t be Joey. It at least try and fail. The old job will be waiting for you if you have to return.

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What Entrepreneurs can learn from Science

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on September 12, 2009

Think back to grade 9 school. Specifically your science classes. In science we had a specific method of learning: beaker muppets

Aim / Objective

Hypothesis

Method

Materials

Results

Conclusion

(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.

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Niche Marketing & Startups

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on September 11, 2009

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.

Anti stress drink

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.

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