The clock is back

The good people at Native pointed me to Made in the now which is an interesting web t-shirt company. They make and sell one limited edition t-shirt every 24 hours inspired by the news of the day. One thing they do is have a count down timer in the top right hand corner of their home page. A lot like we are seeing on group buying sites.

It’s an interesting way to add urgency to a store that is always open. A way to get people to act now, when they know they can usually come back whenever they choose. It’s not a new idea, the whole concept of a real estate auction isn’t to get the highest price, but to force a sale date. As the real estate agents only make their commission when the property sells. So bringing a sale forward is in the commercial interest of any business.

One could argue that forcing someone to buy is slightly unethical. But the flip side is that it gives us a way of finding out if we have our marketing mix right sooner than we normally would without have an expiration date.

The question for startups is what will our clock be?

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2 horse race

If you haven’t already read the 22 Laws of marketing – then you should. It’s a short book which really should be called the 22 laws on entrepreneurship. It seems that most of the laws are true on a category scale – the type of scale that startups with big dreams should pay attention two. recently I’ve been reminded of the law 8: The law of duality.

The Law of¬†Duality says that “in the long run, every market becomes a two-horse race.”

The most recent example of this is Twitter and Facebook. it seems as though they’ve won the social web race. Every brand or advertisement is now tagged with ‘find us on Twitter & Facebook’. We have to look pretty hard to find any of the other 400+ social networking sites. It seems the Law of duality is still true almost 2 years after it was written. It seems that certain power laws of dominance still exist, even though we all like to believe the market has fragmented and opened up for everyone….

The truth is there is only so much space in the mind. We can’t carry the baggage of too many ideas with us. So we simplify by limiting what we participate in. There’s lots new world industry examples of the law of duality.

Social: Facebook  & Twitter

Search: Google & Bing

Mobile: iPhone & Android

Computers: PC & Mac

The question for internet entrepreneurs, is which new categories are still to get their number 2 player. That is where the opportunity lies.

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How to build a community

We all want to build a web and or brand community. But we forget the most important fact. We need individuals first.

Only we please one individual can we please two. Only when we please two, can we please three….

There will never be a community unless we love our orginal individuals unconditionally. It’s the love we give someone that makes what we do worth talking about. There is never a community unless love is shared at the most personal level. One to one. It’s something we should remember in startup land.

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Why scoreboards matter

Humans are compelled to count. We count everything. Days, weeks, months, years, birthdays, money in the bank, salary levels, years of experience. It’s part of the human condition, maybe it helped us evolve to a civilised existence .

As startup entrepreneurs we need to let our people count something. Whether it’s the savings they made or they friends they have, there needs to be a way for them to keep track. So our people know they have made progress. Commerce is an anthropological game of football. So we must keep score. But it must go beyond the corporate scoreboard of profit, share price, turnover, number of employees… it has to be an audience focused score. Like followers on twitter. It has to be about them, not us, it’s how humans roll.

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Feature Creep

The art of adding features to any product or service is this:

Those who need or want the new features can find them easy.

Meanwhile those who don’t need or want the features don’t even notice them. They are invisible.

Sounds impossible to do, but I think the team at twitter are doing a pretty good job of it. The way I’d try and achieve this would be by making sure the visual structure doesn’t change, and the sequence of events to use it is not interrupted.

shhh – here comes the controversy.

International team & Time zone issue

I’ve always been an evangelist for international outsourcing. Especially as it pertains to digital work. I was asked recently if it has added complexity because of time zone differences. I had never consider the issue before, so I stopped to think about it for a while.

And this is my answer:

Having staff work on the other side of the world is usually an advantage. It feels like we have double the amount of business hours in a day. For example, when it is 5pm and something important comes up, I don’t have to wait for the next day for it to get started on. I can brief it out, and have it on my desktop by the next morning. For small startups getting things done quickly is what matters, and this process is a bit like inventing time.

Startup blog says: having a team in different time zones is rad.