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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
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New product startups rightfully begin with a heads-down focus on creating the ultimate product – whether it’s a new technology, a new look and ease of use, or a new low-cost delivery approach. Most then add customer service at the rollout, but very few really understand what it means to be truly customer centric, and even fewer really achieve it.
Customer centricity is far more than providing excellent customer service, although that’s a step in the right direction. Customer centricity is a strategy to fundamentally align a company’s products and services with the wants and needs of its most valuable customers, with the aim of more profits for the long term. Read more
ABC Shark Tank Angels via Elite Daily
Every new startup I know dreams of being funded early by one of the 318,000 active Angel investors in the USA alone. But many entrepreneurs don’t realize that Angels are also extremely discerning in the projects that they will invest in, rejecting approximately 97% of the proposals submitted to them, according to the California Investment Network.
Most of these investors are members of Angel groups that have a rigorous filtering and screening process, to select the top 3% and most fundable proposals. What is this daunting process, and what can you do to optimize your chances of surviving it? Over the past 10 years, I have had the opportunity to see how the process works, several times from the startup side, and more recently from the Angel perspective (as a member of an Angel group screening committee). Read more
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It would be no fun if starting a business was simply plotting a straight line between your idea and success, with no challenges along the way. Zigging and zagging amongst the obstacles is the fun part of being an entrepreneur, and it’s what sets you apart from the average worker who knows exactly what he or she has to do every day to get paid. Relish it, or if it scares you, don’t try it.
That doesn’t mean that starting a business should be a random walk into the unknown. There are certain foundational elements that every entrepreneur must build on to succeed, as well as some critical tools we all need. I found these tried-and-true principles summarized very well in a recent book “The Zigzag Principle” by serial entrepreneur Rich Christiansen: Read more