Today I was lucky enough to record a Beers Blokes & Business podcast with Wil Anderson – about funny business. Turns out the business side of comedy has a lot of similarity with entrepreneurship. Comedians are, certainly in their early days – solopreneurs. Wil was amazingly honest and generous with his insights and story, but there was one thing in particular which stood out to me. While I can’t remember the quote verbatim – it went something like this.
Some people are not lucky enough to hate their job. Their job is not quite bad enough for them to pack it in and leave. So they get stuck there doing something they don’t like for years. They miss their chance.
My interpretation – this is one time when hating is good. If you’re in a job you hate – remember sometimes it’s the pure pain and divine discontentment which is really required to take the leap. You can listen to the entire podcast here: Funny Business with Wil Anderson
Another interview I did with Fiona Boyd the uber successful on-line entrepreneur who built and sold www.artshub.com.au about ‘Unlearning’. A concept which we need to embrace when leaving the corporate world to start up land. Enjoy.
Fiona has a great site with interviews and ideas on niche content. www.nichecontentmillionaire.com The title says it all – and she’s done it. Check it out.
There are 3 major economic models we see with web businesses.
Option 3. Take more value (either from VC’s or customers) than the value they create.
Option 2 ends up selling advertising, or to another internet company with deep pockets – Facebook comes to mind. We are not Facebook, we will never be Facebook. We don’t have the page impressions, loyalty or any of the stuff needed to sell enough advertising, or sell the entire ship.
Startup blog advice is simple. If you want to have a web business, have a price for your service. Call me old fashioned, but it’s the simplest way to make a living on the web. Sure, we may have to provide more than what we sell – have an augmented product, but the economics of ‘free’ aren’t enough for ‘us’. Free might work for them…. But if we’ want to survive, we’ve got to sell something. If people wont buy what we sell, then we have 2 options.
(A) Improve what we offer
(B) Sell something different
But be sure of this, we need a price and giving stuff away is a quick way to go out of business.
The other day I was involved in pitching my business rentoid.com – I wanted to stay true to my beliefs and present a largely visual presentation to what I expected was an ‘info hungry’ crowd. The type who don’t mind a page full of words and numbers. My rule was no more than 6 words per slide. Some had only 2.
I think the format is pretty useful, so I thought I’d share it. Basically in each chart just change the word ‘rentoid’ and insert ‘your business’ and I think it would be just fine. It was for a pitching competition (I know they seem to be the trend of the day) and we made it to the final after a few stages so I guess it’s a method which has worked. It’s only 5 slides. I think talking to pictures works because it makes people listen, not read, and it shows you know your business.
I was thinking about my business rentoid.com and why I believe we, the rentoid team can succeed making this business something incredibly valuable for all our people. (I’ll do my next blog entry on those two important words, valuable & people).
These are the 4 reasons:
- Our concept has been validated in market.
- We know what to do.
- We know how to do it.
- We are are actually doing it – right now.
If you have these 4 factors working in your favour, then success is inevitable. Of course all of these elements need some explaining.
1. Our concept has been validated in market.
Firstly let’s look at the last two words in this sentence – in market. This means we have launched, we are live, we have customers, and revenue. We have gone beyond the idea (the easy part), and launched something which makes the original business launch plan a historical & irrelevant document. Concept validation – this has occurred when people are buying what we sell as well as any positive coverage we have. Coverage includes people and media talking about what we are doing for other people, the people who buy from us, not us. Basically – the business has potential and isn’t a stupid whim.
2. We know what to do.
We’ve been doing what we do, selling what we sell long enough to know the crappy parts of our business. We know what we must improve to make our semi-broken, yet still alive startup get better. We’ve been around long enough to have feedback from the market which gives us a good indication of how to improve our ‘thing’. Until this point innovation, location, good people and lots of saying sorry has kept us alive. But time has nearly run out, and we’ve learned what must be done to grow and eventually thrive.
3. We know how to do it.
Not only do we understand the above conceptually, but we actually know how to make this stuff happen. We’ve gone beyond ideas for improvement like – make the website more usable, reduce the price of the widget, create national brand awareness or increase distribution, and actually have an executable plan in place. A plan which isn’t a pipe dream, but an achievable reality. A reality in which we have the team, the skills, the financial resources and the time needed to bring our improved offer to market.
4. We are actually doing it – right now.
The plans have been put down as discussed in parts 2 and 3. In fact we won’t even look at them again. They are now ‘historical documents’. Instead we are fully engaged in implementing what we have agreed is the correct strategy. They are live projects the team is actively engaged in on a daily basis which will fundamentally change the marketing mix of our business. The projects have budgets and deadlines and we will not rest until they have been completed. Only then will we go back to part 2, 3 and 4 again.
When we do this – we are on the path to success.
(Which by the way we should define as follows: Success = the progressive realization of a worthwhile ideal. )
In start up land the most important thing we can do is do things fast. It’s the opposite of the perfectionism we learn in graduate school and large corporations especially as it pertains to marketing.
So the startup blog explanation of my above chart goes something like this:
No project, task or strategy is ever perfect. Even if we spend a large amount of time developing it. At best it will be around 90% of what we need or imagine. If we cut the available amount of time in half (which is this example is 6 weeks) we may be able to achieve 70% of the desired outcome. But what option 2 presents for us is the ability to learn and revise quickly. In fact we can launch another version (version 2.0) of said project for another 70% progression.
The net result is pretty simple – we’ll be a progression of 140 vs 90. Pretty simple. And in startup land the reality is we often don’t know how effective something will be until it is implemented, and from here the lessons will emerge. In addition it moves us up the learning curve and in all probability the next implementation will be far more effective than the first.
The other fact we have to consider is that speed is important for our customers. They like to see progression, even if it is less than perfect. They know things are improving and that we are making stuff better for them. It’s also far less confusing to deal with incremental consistent change than it is a total re-design. We also remove the risk of better ideas and methods putting a kibosh on doing anything at all and creating inertia.
And this is why in startup land, speed wins.
Here’s some simple advice when seeking investors for your startup.
Never use the words ‘The Next’…
Regardless of the uber successful business which follows these two words it just isn’t going to happen. For two reasons. The first is our probability of being this successful is almost non existent. Secondly if we are this successful, we wont be the next, but something new.
The main point is when people use the words the next, they lose credibility. And when someone says it to me regarding their new business venture, I find it hard to believe anything they say after that.
The chat revolved around a few topics, But I thought I’d share my pearls of wisdom from the chat, as they were written. There is some Adult content – a little swear word or two… but who am I to censor reality?
Yeh, Here’s my new web marketing policy… are you ready?
hit me with it.
It comes with a warning of Adult content…. Still wanna hear it?
now you’ve got me scared but yes i’m ready
do lot’s of sh*t… do it quick as f**k
Eventually something will stick….
and be a tight arse… get that shit free
I like it. Its suits my non-planning, do what you feel like ways.
Planning is a joke – I’m serious. rentoid plan. 1 page.
Companies do it to justify wages… of people who do f**k all
Planning looks good and big companies do it longish term to mess with the small players who can make things happen over night except that they weren’t booked in 18 months earlier.
Well here’s my view on plainning….. This is serious. 1 page per million of revenue. No more than 10 pages of planning regardless of revenue.
Otherwise It simply cannot be strategic.
A friend of mine wrote a book a while ago called Things Big Businesses Do , subtitle that small businesses should do (Mark Brownley) When will you publish the reverse?
I will publish the reverse…. (personal view is I disagree with that maxim…) Companies over plan when they don’t know what to do, how to do it, or how to motivate people to get it done….. Do is key. Mistake quick and often. Find what works, the truth is no one really knows what works because we live in a state of flux.
it must be illustrated
Most of the good shit that has happened in life and business for me has been through experimentation, not planning. Even my life plan is a simple Venn diagram…. wanna see it….
Mark had some good lessons but with the pace of change now and the loss of confidence in big companies and governments there has never been a better time to learn from dynamic, nimble companies.
yes, please show it to me.
Like you – rockstar… Hoping some will rub off
When I start raking in the $ then I will feel like I’ve made it. Because then I can indulge in more of my ideas.
It’s not about the $ though.
Just look at the visual: Venn
Success = The progressive realization of a worthwhile ideal (as you say $ is not mentioned)
I’d like the $ so I can scoop up all the talented people out there and pay them good $ for them to put their talent to satisfying projects.
Scoop them up now so they can share your success and make it inevitable….
provide ‘options’ for sharing wealth… while you share your dream.
I like your diagram. I think I saw it at breakfast that morning. I should have a crack at my own but Ross keeps distracting me with places to visit on the internet.
Yes – Ross…
hmmm me too – I’ve been getting a bit hungrier lately…. gotta make it happen this year…. my opportunity cost is very high to forgo wages….
Some interesting insightsin the chat. Take from them what you will.