Guy Kawasaki interview via Mashable.com
Starting a business is a lot like starting a marriage. At first, all parties are in dreamland, with a vision of changing the world, having lots of fun, and raking in the profits. But all too soon, reality sets in. Product development is stuck at that 90% mark, a key person leaves, and customers are talking but not buying.
In his book Reality Check, Guy Kawasaki summarizes some of the key issues. I’ve seen them too often, and they seem to be the same for every company (and every marriage) no matter how great the team is. I challenge any startup to show me they have avoided all of these: Read more
Image via StartRankingNow on Facebook
It’s great to dream big, but your startup needs a laser focus in the beginning to get market and investor attention. Google did it with search engines, Apple did it with a personal computer, and even Wal-Mart did it through low prices. A business plan I saw a while back to combine all the good features of several popular social networks on one site does not do it.
Trying to do everything at once probably means that none of the items will be done well. Plus it’s almost impossible to craft a message that will make your offering stand out in the minds of customers. I can’t think of a company that launched to superstardom with a broad focus. Can you?
Here are the common sense reasons why a laser focus is more likely to lead to startup business success: Read more
Dean Kamen with Segway via Wikipedia
If you haven’t had a failure, you aren’t pushing the limits. If you are really an entrepreneur, you are a risk taker and less cautious by nature, so failures should be expected. Wear you startup failure as a badge of courage. Don’t go after failure, but embrace it when it does happen and grow from it.
People who are afraid of failing should not become entrepreneurs. They can’t overcome the psychological fears of making a mistake, and are afraid of losing money. They are better off keeping their day job. Successful entrepreneurs, on the other hand, tap into the positive power of failure. Here are three examples:
- Steve Jobs was fired by Apple Computers in 1985, the company he helped to create. He went on to acquire Pixar, made it a success, and then came back to reinvent Apple as a very successful consumer products business.
- Dean Kamen, the creator of the Segway Human Transporter, several successful biomedical device businesses, and holder of 440 patents, jokes that his biggest failure is “that I have too many to talk about.”
- Thomas Edison invented the electric light bulb, central power generation, and the phonograph, but failed in his effort to extract low-grade iron ore from sand. He brushed this off, and went on to many successful media and transportation businesses later in life.
Mark Zuckerberg and Sergey Brin via EliteDaily.com
Creating and building a business is not a one-man show. It requires a team effort, or at least the ability to build trust and confidence among key players, and effectively communicate with partners, team members, investors, vendors, and customers. These actions are the hallmark of an effective leader.
Behind the actions are a set of principles and characteristics that entrepreneurial leaders, like Mark Zuckerberg and Sergey Brin, seem to have in common. Look for these and nurture them in your own context to improve the odds of success for your own startup: Read more
Bob Rice as BobRice3 on Twitter
People with money to invest have choices. How do you as an entrepreneur with a new idea get to be one of those choices? Initially, you may be able to rely on friends and family to put you on the top of their list, but eventually you will probably need real professional investors (Angels and VCs). You won’t win with them without understanding their alternatives, as well as their mindset.
I like the work just published by Bob Rice in “The Alternative Answer,” which does a great job of summarizing the investment universe, starting with the “conventional” stocks, bonds, and real estate, but moving on through more esoteric alternatives, including hedge funds, private equity, real assets, managed futures, and finally venture funding. Read more
Image via FirstSeniorFinancialGroup.com
A few angel investors have slipped or fallen from their lofty perch, so entrepreneurs must take great care to validate the character and reputation of every prospective investor. The entrepreneur’s tendency to be in a huge hurry to obtain the funding can end up being disastrous, and play into the hands of these less scrupulous investors.
Many entrepreneurs believe all money is created equal. As long as somebody recognizes their million dollar idea and writes them a check, the source really doesn’t matter. In fact, most angels are pure, but there are some exceptions that may cost you more than an investment: Read more
Image via blog.JohnSpence.com
Successful startups are all about turning ideas into action quickly and efficiently. These actions must be the hard part, since entrepreneurs always seem to come to me with ideas, and ask me for help on the actions. That has always seemed strange to me, since the magic is supposed to be in the ideas, and the actions are the same for every business.
In fact, the actions required to start and run a business are well documented, the subject of many books, and taught in college courses across the land. As confirmed to me by John Spence in his book on this subject, Awesomely Simple, turning business ideas into action consists of six essential strategies: Read more