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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
Robert Jordan image via HowTheyDidIt.com
Entrepreneurs are a notoriously stubborn (some say confident) group of people, so I see many of them making the same mistakes that predecessors have made. Thus I’m convinced that it’s useful for all of you to step back from time to time, and listen to some sage advice from people who have been there and enjoyed success.
Recently, as I was perusing a book by Robert Jordan, titled “How They Did It: Billion Dollar Insights” I saw some wisdom and inspiration that made sense. All the quotes come from entrepreneurs who have built and sold at least one $100 million company. Of course, you can always argue that each was just in the right place at the right time, or was lucky, or had a rich uncle to get them started, but it would be smarter to listen to the messages: Read more
Howard Gardner photo via TheDish.org
Being a good entrepreneur means being able to effectively convince an investor that you have a great idea, persuade partners that your approach is right, and convince potential customers that the solution is right for them. If all your ideas are intuitively obvious to everyone, you probably aren’t thinking outside the box, or don’t really have the next big thing.
The process and tactics involved in winning over others with your views have has been studied extensively by Howard Gardner, a Harvard developmental psychologist, in “Changing Minds: The Art and Science of Changing Our Own and Other People’s Minds.” It turns out that the same principles apply to changing your own mind (learning new things), as well as others. Read more
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Since the days of Henry Ford, mass production has been the Holy Grail of business, rather than build-to-order. Too many businesses haven’t noticed that we have come full-circle, where mass customization is required now to win. Customers have come to expect immediate and tailor-made responses to their needs, and the businesses that fail to deliver quickly fall behind.
Changing the culture and mindset in an existing businesses is difficult and slow, so this becomes another “opportunity” for smart entrepreneurs and startups to excel. John M. Bernard does a great job outlining seven key steps to success today in his recent book, “Business at the Speed of Now.” They apply to any business, but every startup better lead with these: Read more
Mark Zuckerberg at Harvard via ShinyShiny.tv
Many believe that entrepreneurs are born, not made. While I agree that successful company builders usually have a natural inclination to be entrepreneurs, a good education helps polish that apple. There are people who are natural musicians, but that doesn’t mean we don’t try to teach them music.
Of course, there’s no law saying you have to go to college to start a business. We can all point to examples of successful entrepreneurs who dropped out of college, but still went on to make a big impact. Current young adults have grown up hearing about Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook), who dropped out of Harvard, as the paragon of success. Why not try to follow in his footsteps? Read more
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We all know that every startup is risky. No risk means no reward. Yet every investor has his own “rules of thumb” on what makes a specific startup too high a risk for his investment taste. You need to know these guidelines to set your expectations on funding.
Of course, if you intend to fund the business yourself, or have a rich uncle, external investment funding concerns are not a problem. Yet, it’s still worthwhile to understand the issues so you can minimize your own risk of failure. Here is a summary of the “big picture” high risk considerations: Read more
Richard Branson image via Wikipedia
The buzz from startup executives, especially high-tech ones, has long been that startups are no place for Baby-Boomers (1946-1964) – you must have the high energy and crazy determination to work 20-hour days to succeed. Only the under-35 age group need apply.
I will argue that times have changed, and you better take another look. First of all, the Boomer demographic is currently the single largest, mainstream pool of experienced talent in the market today (76 million people strong). They have worked with high technology and computers for at least 20 years, are highly educated, and highly motivated. Last year, nearly 40% of the total workforce was Boomers. Read more