I happened upon a great quote today from revered Ad Man Leo Burnett which is probably more appropriate for entrepreneurs than advertisers:
“Steep yourself in your subject, work like hell, and above all, love honor and obey your hunches.”
Hunches matter. In startup land we are not in the business of research or satisfying a majority. Rather, we are in the business of sensing a shift and inspiring a minority.
Junk mail is not named correctly. It should be called Research Mail, Zeitgeist Mail or something much more complementary.
Here’s a list of great things it does:
- It tells us what people think they can sell
- It tells us the price of things, probably our competitors
- It tells us who can afford to advertise
- It tells us the economic conditions of the day via the discounts made
- It display the advances in technology
- It tells us what’s hot
- It keeps us in touch with the business environment more than the Wall Street Journal does
It’s an entrepreneurs best friend. Startup blog says read your junk mail.
A colleague sent me this quote that I just had to share right here on startup blog. Henri Federic Albert said:
“The man who insists on seeing with perfect clearness before he decides, never decides.”
And that is what we must learn to deal with in growth businesses – uncertainty. Our ability to decide based on a intuition and our personal world view is becoming a rare asset. It’s what we must move towards in a world full of data, but very little meaning. The other benefit decisions give us is real world feedback. If we get it wrong we can cross it off the list and move onto the next idea.
I’m sick of hearing crap definitions of what a brand is. Especially when they use words like marketplace and sellers, which can often be irrelevant. So here is the Steve Sammartino version:
Brand: A cognitive shortcut from which to make informed decisions.
That’s it. No need to mention selling. Brands don’t have to be sold. No need to mention a market place. Brands don’t just exist in markets – they exist in the total human experience. No need to mention logos, designs, names or symbols – these are part of the cognitive shortcuts. (which could even be a set of directions aboriginal used to locate a reliable waterhole, for which they probably had a name, in far reaching Australia over 1000 years ago). No need to mention products or services – brands can be concepts or ideas (Climate Change). No need to mention differentiation, loyalty or competitive preference – this is part of the informed decisions.
Our job as entrepreneurs is to build something which has meaning, and ultimately become the cognitive shortcut in the space we play in.
Feel free to discuss, agree or throw stones.
In nature, with every second something lives for, it’s probability of continued life increases exponentially.
The lessons for startups is simple, do the stuff that keeps you alive longest. And the most important thing we can do for our startup is keep our costs low. Low cost operations gives us the advantage of time. And time is the most important asset when it comes to working out our business model. Not capital, not technology, not employees, not research. Just time.
Our environment shapes our behavior. Inspiring places create inspirational events, and with that in mind I’ve booked an Incredible location for Startup School Melbourne. The uber groovy Lindrum Hotel. Where the coffee and ambiance are both inspirational. Click on the image to check out the photos I took while checking it out.
At the event we’ll have Barrista style coffee (Lattes, Cappucino, espresso) all day – none of this McDonalds style pot of black muck. As well as great food from the restaurant. Even I’m looking forward to it. It’s also a nice space for a drink after and maybe a game of billiards together.
Still a seat for you. Click here to book: http://www.startupschool.com.au/ and join us in the mass corporate cubicle exodus ;)
I recently heard an interview with the Drummer from band Midnight Oil, Rob Hurst. He was asked how he felt about a particular record which made it to number 1 on the US charts. His response was this:
‘We were too busy touring, putting on shows to follow the bands progress.”
It sounded as though serving the fans they already had was more important than gaining new ones. And guess what happens when we do that? Our reputation grows and more fans arrive, they find us because we are delivering something special to those who already appreciate what we are doing.
The formula for success is to continue to focus on delivering good stuff to those who already believe in you. To improve our delivery to them. Just like Midnight Oil was continuing to perfect the live performance of it’s songs. They weren’t worrying if their songs were good enough, they weren’t focused on external feedback from sources like sales revenue or chart positions. They ignored all feedback, except that from existing fans (customers). They didn’t get caught in the feedback trap.
So what are the feedback traps of the modern entrepreneur?
- Website traffic
- Google analytics
- Facebook friends
- Twitter follows
- AC Nielsen data
- Market share statistics
- (Insert feedback mechanism here)
These tools can be useful, but they also tempt us to change tack. They tempt us into believing we are strategically wrong, because the feedback is so instant. Where as the benefits of our strategy is never so instant. Strategy takes time to work, it takes belief and patience, more over it takes ‘the real feedback’ cycle to spread before we can truly know if we have something. And the real feedback cycle is what our current customers have to say, and if they spread the word.
Startups out there – don’t fall into the feedback trap.
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.
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.