Start Up Blog

The truth about goal setting

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on January 4, 2012

I’ve been setting visual and written goals for a few years now. However last year was one of the more limited goal setting years I’ve had in some time. In truth, I achieved less than in previous years.

I’ve also come to the conclusion that some times the goals we set for a year, take a few years to yield, for our brain to work out the subconscious algorithm needed to make them happen. I’ve never had a year when I have achieved all the goals that I have set, but it is also true that I achieve more in the years when I have made more of an effort in creating, reviewing and refining my goals.

On occasions I have made a personal postcard and sent it to myself with my goals as the visuals. I’ve shared one of these below, and while some of it is personal, it’s more important to share the goodness than worry about what people might think. You will notice that some things on it are not specific, and can’t be ticked or crossed, while others are specific. I really believe that very specific goal setting can actually work. I don’t know why, it just does.

Some of the Ticks included:

- Getting rentoid.com to feature on A Current Affair (if you click this link, you’ll see how close the reality was to my mashup up preemptive visual goal – quite extraordinary)

- Traveling with my, now wife, to elope

-  Starting a family (see baby pic – my daughter even looks like this picture I found on-line!)

- Going to New York & Rome

- Getting published articles in the AFR, the Age and Sydney Morning Herald

- Surfing Weekly

- Graduating from being a University Tutor, to becoming a University Lecturer

- Turning my Startup Blog into a Startup School

- Helping my father sell his farm

- Getting rentoid in the news multiple times (Just google rentoid)

- Travel overseas in Business Class

- Collaborate with rental Industry to become leading portal

Some of the Crosses included:

- Flying in a private jet somewhere

- Having 10 million+ in net assets

- Upgrading my home (Including pool & eco friendly house features, and grand design renovation)

- Running a marathon

- Opening a new office for rentoid

- Getting on the cover of a business related magazine

- Becoming known as a respected business thought leader.

Some of these goals that I am yet to achieve, but am still seeking, in fact some I am very close to…. if they eventuate I will let you know. For 2012 I want my goals to be more specific and I intend on sharing them here to be honest in public and make myself more accountable.

The one thing I know for sure, is that we don’t achieve any of the goals we don’t set.

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A Collaboration Conversation

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on November 16, 2010

Rachel Botsman is in town this week as part of Melbourne Knowledge Week but more importantly to spread the good word on her book on the new world order of Collaborative ConsumptionWhat’s mine is yours. Rachel contends that the 20th century was all about Hyper Consumption, while the 21st century will be all about collaborative consumption – and I couldn’t agree more!

In order to bring the uninitiated up to speed we are having a Collaborative Conversation with founders of collaborative businesses. This will include Daniel Noble of Drive my Car, Julliette Anich of the Clothing Exchange and myself – rentoid.com

I really think it will be a great evening with lots of fresh ideas, because to be quite honest the collaborative economy is only really starting. At the end of the forum there will be a Pop Up Swap where anyone can bring up to 6 items to swap with anyone else – so we’ll be crossing the virtual sharing chasm into the physical one.

Click here to get a ticket - and come up and say hello.

Steve.

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Helping your community

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on October 11, 2010

Blogger, thinker and all round nice guy Ben Rowe recently wrote a blog entry just for me. There was nothing in it for him, he just thought it would be nice to share his intellectual prowess for my benefit.

How it came about was pretty simple really. Ben wrote a great blog post on the importance of gaming and how it is starting to transcend currency. Within my comments on his post I spoke of how great it would be to think of a good gaming mechanic for rentoidA few days later Ben wrote this blog post with some ideas on how to do exactly that. It’s the kind of commercial world I want to live in. An ethic where people do cool stuff for others without asking, and not expecting anything in return. The corollary is that a a return does invariably happen.

Firstly, an emotional return from doing good. Secondly, a collective return from building community. And sometimes a financial one from those who return the favour.

The question for startup entrepreneurs is this:

What are you doing to build your industry community help and promote others?

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Be part of something

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on September 5, 2010

When I started rentoid.com a 5 years ago I had no idea it would grow into something much bigger. In fact, the entire industry has been written about by Rachel Botsman in her upcoming book “What’s mine is yours“. She coined the phrase Collaborative Consumption to describe what is happening in our hyper connected world. Rentoid is featured in the book and this little video below, which makes me a bit proud.

It’s cool to launch a startup to make money. It’s cooler to be part of something bigger than your startup.

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The non-web side of web businesses

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on April 19, 2010

If you’re not doing much tomorrow night, and happen to be in Melbourne, I’m giving a little talk at the Hive.

I’ll be focusing on the non-web side of web businesses. It’s free to come and should be fun.

More details here.

ABC 7.30 report – Virtual Offices

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on February 5, 2010

I was fortunate enough to feature in a story on the ABC 7.30 report this week. The topic was on virtual offices and digital offshoring. My business rentoid got a nice little plug which is a bonus on a non-commercial channel. The opportunity arose from this newspaper article I was in on the topic in the Sydney Morning Herald. Which goes to show media exposure also has a compounding effect for your startup as well.

Although the story and offshoring in general has it’s detractors (unions love the status quo, unless it involves profit increases they want a share in). I’m very proud of the fact that I’ve worked with talented people in developing markets.

  • My team get paid more than they’d get locally.
  • I’ve helped team members get more work, and mentored them in building their own businesses.
  • I like investing in developing markets because improves living standards.

It’s our job as entrepreneurs to create positive situations with tech innovations, and there’s no doubt in my mind having an overseas team does this, while building a business with beneficiaries locally (employees, revenue, community) as well.

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Timing vs Time in

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on October 6, 2009

The timing versus time in argument is a long standing one in investment circles. And it gos a little bit like this:

People who are for ‘timing’ the market proclaim that smart investors should time their entry and exit for their investments. And that investors should exit when markets are too hot, for example when price earnings ratios are well above the long term average. And enter at the opposite end of the spectrum. Resulting in higher profits.

People are are for ‘time in’ the market proclaim that smart investors should stay in the market at all times. That when you enter or exit the market does not matter so long as the investment has been in market long enough. Which will result in a long term result of profitability due to the period of time in the market, allowing market averages to endure.

Both parties happen to be correct.

What neither side bothers to discuss is most important factor in either strategy. Probability. The probability of success of either the two different investment strategies. It turns out that it’s a pretty simple proposition related to risk and probability.

Timing the market – Can have very high returns (losses) but a much lower probability of success.

Time in the market – Has average returns (rarely losses) and a very high probability of success.

Numerous studies have proven the above to be fact.

How does this pertain top startups? Well it reminds me a lot of the internet and entrepreneurs attitude towards it. Most entrepreneurs believe that the only way to succeed is to win big. To sell out our startup to some digital behemoth. Our business brains have been hijacked by the Techcrunch stories and the large novelty checks presented to the likes of My Space, Facebook, Digg, Flickr and friends …

These are a little bit like investments where the market has been timed. It’s a low probability event. Sure there’s a lot more to it than a passive investment vehicle, but the probability of it happening is so to us, is so low that it’s not worth considering.

What we ought do instead is focus on the high probability events. In an entrepreneurial sense success is a very long term proposition. So our goal should be to remain in the entrepreneurial game as long as possible. As we do this we inevitability move up the learning curve and increase our chance of winning at some time in the future. Winning may not mean a cheque in the millions, but it might mean earning 5 times what we could in wages, as well as having a lot more fun doing it.

So how do we stay in the game?

Keep our costs low. Know how to bootstrap. Enjoy the simple things in life. Know that the having is in the doing, not in the owning of stuff.

Startup Blog says: Use probability to your advantage

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We need each other

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on September 17, 2009

I used to think my skills base limited the areas of business I could play in. I remember thinking back to the dot com boom in the mid and late 1990’s wishing and dreaming that I could some how be involved in the excitement, the fervor, and yes, maybe even the money. But I wasn’t a programmer, a digital designer or media player or a venture capitalist. I was merely a marketing manager trapped in the industrial complex of consumer goods. The bust came and I was quietly happy that peoples paper fortunes and egos got busted too. Which in hindsight was not a nice way to think. It was built on jealously, lack of knowledge and immaturity on my behalf.

dot com boom

Since then I’ve learned this: The type of skills we have matters far less than the fact we have a skill set which is valuable.

Translation: We don’t need to be a technology gurus to be operating or starting up in the technology space.

Maybe we are good at sales, marketing, raising capital, managing and motivating a team, project management, accounting. All of these skills will be needed in whatever business we start or are involved in. What matters is that we can add value in the chain somewhere which takes us from idea to revenue. Where we sit in that chain isn’t as important as we think. What really matters is being able to create the value chain.

It’s a rare combination indeed for a person to have tech genius and business brilliance. Fact is we need each other. We couldn’t have succeeded at rentoid without the business heads or techies collaborating. I wish I’d known this 10 years ago.

Sure it can be an advantage to startup in an area where we have expertise. It can be an incredible way to keep our costs low. But it’s not necessarily a barrier to entry. If we want to success, we’ll have to build a team in any case. And building a revenue infrastructure is what we ought be focusing on as entrepreneurs.

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How to make a sales call

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on July 29, 2009

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. I follow up with whatever I promise. Information, phone calls, data whatever they need. I try to show I’ll be a valuable resource.
  7. 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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Shiny new business

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on July 22, 2009

Have you ever had a new girlfriend? You can’t stop thinking about her. You want to make it work. So you start putting in an extra effort to give this relationship the best chance of success. You start buying new clothes, ensuring you look your best, maybe even start going to the gym everyday. In this situation everything matters. You want to spend every waking moment with her, because it is so enjoyable, so much fun, the future looks so bright, the whole thing is so new. At this time we can’t imagine the joy of being involved in this thing ever diminishing.

Eventually, the emotions driven by newness wear off. It doesn’t necessarily mean we love our new girlfriend less, we might even love her more. It’s just a different set of emotions. And this new set of emotions often mean we, are less enthusiastic to prove ourselves, and or make it work – she moves from a chase, to a catch.

new GirlfriendPhoto by Sami

A new startup isn’t much different. Just re-read the above two paragraphs and think back to when you got going on your latest startup. It was a lot like the new girl friend. It was love. The emotions and behaviour have a strong analogy. What matters as entrepreneurs, is having the ability to keep up the momentum when the newness wears off. And there is nothing more certain than this. It will become less fun, less exciting and more arduous. It’s especially evident when we need to undertake administrative tasks with our start up – or keep door knocking after many rejections. It’s our ability to stay focused on ‘old projects’ that will determine our ultimate success.

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