Image via Forbes.com
Lack of confidence in your self, your product, and your startup is a surefire recipe for disaster. At the other extreme, too much confidence or arrogance can kill you just as fast. It’s always painful when a startup fails, but as a mentor to founders, I would hope that you can learn from these failings and not stumble on the same issues. I’ve written about these before, but since I see them so often, I thought it might be worth reiterating:
- “Business plans are for dummies.” Some startups think business plans are only for investors. In reality, you should do a business plan primarily for yourself, as it forces you to think through all the elements. If it’s not written down, you can’t measure it, and thus you can’t manage it. Also written plans are much more effective communication to your employees, lawyers, accountants, and other key players in your rollout. Read more
Google CEO Larry Page via YouTube
Every engineer who has invented some new technology, or is adept at creating solutions, believes that is the hard part, and it should be a short step to take that solution to market as an entrepreneur. In reality, that short business step embodies far more risk, and a poor technology solution is not near the top of most lists of common reasons for business failures.
In fact, a Duke and Harvard survey of over 500 technology companies showed that only 37% of their leaders even have engineering or computer science backgrounds. Clearly, engineers should think twice before assuming they have an advantage over the rest of us toward being an entrepreneur. Read more
Young Steve Jobs in Scientific American via Spaceageboy/Flickr
One of the toughest things about running a startup is the feeling of loneliness and isolation. You are on your own and nobody supports you because it’s hard for them to see what you see and feel the excitement that you feel at the critical stages. This is especially true if you run your startup from your garage.
The leadership position alone can cause loneliness and disconnectedness, and that sometimes results in self-defeating behaviors. If your personality already leans toward narcissism, being the boss will likely bring out the worst in you, leading to intimidation, deception, and the use of coercive power. Of course, that leads to further isolation. Read more
Gang of Four CEOs image via FastCompany.com
Every startup, as well as mature business, needs to learn as much as possible from Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google, who have set the standards for fast growth and success in today’s business world. These companies, designated the “gang of four” by Eric Schmidt a couple of years ago, are clearly driving a consumer and business revolution on the Internet today.
According to many technology pundits, including Phil Simon, in his book “The Age of the Platform,” these four exemplify the rise of platforms with applications as a business model, rather than a single product or service. Whether you believe his conclusion or not, you can learn a lot from the lessons he offers on how to build a competitive business model today: Read more
Warren Buffett photo via Wikipedia
Great entrepreneurs have long been the epitome of people with a great work ethic. But many complain to me that it is becoming harder and harder to find team members and employees who demonstrate and live the same culture. Somewhere along the way, work ethic seems to have been replaced by a pervasive sense of entitlement, especially in the younger generations.
Now is the time to assess your own situation, set out clearly what you expect from each and every team member, and unleash the entrepreneur inside every employee. As a guide, I enjoyed the analysis of Eric Chester, in his book “Reviving Work Ethic,” which provides a leader’s guide to ending entitlement and restoring pride in the emerging workforce. Read more
Image via Facebook
Go-to people get things done. As an entrepreneur, you need these people, and you need to be one, if you expect your startup to be successful. That may be easier said than done, since resumes do not tell the story, and without real nurturing, the best people won’t stay around long.
To highlight how rare this breed is, Jeffrey Gandz of the Richard Ivey School of Business relates a quote from a new CEO in a large company, “I have more than 1000 people in my head office organization, 900 can tell me something’s gone wrong, 90 can tell me what’s gone wrong, 9 can tell me why it went wrong, and one can actually fix it!” Read more
Image via Stock.xcng
For most new high-tech products, the first customers are always “early adopters.” The conventional wisdom is that early adopters are the ideal target for new products, to get business rolling. I see two pitfalls with any concerted focus on early adopters; first, the size of this group may not be as large as you think, and secondly, their feedback may lead you directly away from your real target market of mainstream customers.
The term “early adopters” relates to the people who are eager to try almost any new technology products, and originates from Everett M. Rogers’ Diffusion of Innovations book. Early adopters are usually no more than 10%-15% of the ultimate market potential, and marketing to them may be necessary, but not sufficient in marketing to the mainstream. Witness the market struggle for 3DTV acceptance over the past couple of years. Read more