Archive | February 2011

[The Startup Daily] #41: Why You Should Love The Word “No”

This is something I’m still working on, but it’s absolutely a great piece of advice.  If you walked away every time you heard a no, you’d never get anywhere.  Embrace the no, and utilize the no, love the no…

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The Startup Daily
Volume 41
02/25/2011

Why You Should Love The Word “No”

The sales process begins with the word “no.”

People Don’t Like to Say No, And When They Do They Are at Their Weakest—Take This Opportunity to Start Selling

If someone says “no” then at least they are engaged, ask them what you need to do to turn that “no” into a “yes.”

Break yourself of the habit to shut down when you hear the word “no.” Instead treat it as a cue to start fighting.

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Lucky Or Smart?: Fifty Pages for the First-Time Entrepreneur by Bo Peabody is a clever little book that offers insight into what kind of person makes a great entrepreneur, how to improve your shot at being lucky, keeping your ego in check, and more. Bo Peabody is a humble and unconventional entrepreneur best known for founding Tripod, one of the great dot com successes.

 

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Kareem Mayan’s Weblog » The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago, the…

The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago, the next best time is right now.

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Plant a tree, start a business, quit smoking, start exercising, change your life…

Love this quote…start seeding your future now.

The Shortcut We Took to Build Yipit in Three Days | Vinicius Vacanti

How to Find Out if Your Idea is Good or Bad

My main pieces of advice are:

  • Build a very simple prototype for your idea and get it in front of potential users. You’ll learn more the day you talk to your first user than the months you’ve spent pontificating
  • Don’t be afraid to do things manually at first like we did
  • Build a landing page with screenshots that describe your future product and see if people will sign-up for your invite list. Dropbox did that before they had a product and signed-up 100K people.  Clearly, they were solving a problem people had!
  • Cut every feature except for the core feature.  Seriously, you don’t need any of those extra features.
  • 95% of startups are able to have a prototype built in less than two weeks.
  • Don’t write a business plan.

It’s very likely your idea is bad. Find that out as soon as possible so you can evolve it to a better idea.

I believe almost any idea can be tested the way described below. I’ve often thought there is an opportunity to build a service that combines a CMS (content management system), multivariate testing (like a virtualwebsiteoptimizer.com), and quick, effective google adwords campaign management to quickly test an idea. I digress – I think Vinicius advice below is great for anyone who has that idea they think might be worth pursuing…

How Obama Raised $60 Million by Running a Simple Experiment – The Optimizely Blog

Lessons Learned

  1. Every visitor to your website is an opportunity. Take advantage of that opportunity through website optimization and A/B testing.
  2. Question assumptions. Everyone on the campaign loved the videos. All the videos ended up doing worse than all the images. We would have never known had we not questioned our assumptions.
  3. Experiment early and often. We ran this experiment in December of 2007 and reaped the benefits for the rest of the campaign. Because this first experiment proved to be so effective we continued to run dozens of experiments across the entire website throughout the campaign. 

 

Lots of great lessons in this post on how the Obama campaign used multivariate testing to optimize. I’ve learned in my own testing that you can spend all the time in the world trying to get inside the mind of your users, and doing what you think makes sense only to find the exact opposite is what ultimately works.

4 types of scale – Venture Hacks

In detail:

  1. People. Hire people to help you. This will be your first instinct but it should really be your last resort.
  2. Product. Build product to do the work for you. Every single product in the world is a type of scale. Facebook has taken this to the extreme through automation.
  3. Capital. This is what VCs do. They raise billions of dollars, invest it, let their CEOs manage it, and hopefully profit.
  4. Community. This isn’t a recent innovation but it might seem that way. Communities have been banding together for a long time to form countries, topple dictators, knit, save the environment and so on. But now they’re forming quicker than ever and building products like Wikipedia.

I enjoyed this post on Venture Hacks today. It actually reminded me a lot of a post I did a few years ago on the inputs of entrepreneurship.

[The Startup Daily] #32: The Best Way to Predict The Future Is To Create It

It’s a quote I’ve heard many times, but it never gets old (by the way, I highly recommend signing up for The Startup Daily):


The Startup Daily
Volume 32
February 14, 2011

The Best Way to Predict The Future Is To Create It

Innovation is about letting go of today’s assumptions to make room for tomorrow’s breakthroughs.

Seek Out and Embrace Unexpected Changes—These Are Your Opportunities

Shifts in the market, culture, and technology rarely happen the way they are predicted. Always keep and ear to the ground for early signs of change.

Don’t be excessively loyal to the old ways of doing things. Set your best people to work on identifying tomorrow’s opportunities, not fixing yesterday’s problems with yesterday’s products.

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The Definitive Drucker: Challenges For Tomorrow’s Executives — Final Advice From the Father of Modern Management by Elizabeth Haas Edersheim summarizes the most popular ideas presented by Peter Drucker. Peter Drucker wrote 39 books and is regarded as the founding father of modern business management.

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Commit

I had breakfast with my good friend Jason this morning, who I’ve mentioned before.  When we get together we often reminisce about the two of us many years ago, fresh out of OSU planning on taking the world by storm as entrepreneurs. Like many wannabe entrepreneurs (in my experience) we initially had a multi venture attack.  I remember when I first met Jason he was working on a sports marketing business, a cell phone ad concept, and exploring a partnership with a restaurant.  I, at that time, was working on my computer export business, my sell your car on ebay concept, and click to call concept. We both seemed to think this was not only normal, but the right way to get started on our entrepreneurial journey.  Actually looking back now, I can say that it was.  I’m not sure why it didn’t occur to us then, but clearly the path to creating real value does not involve splitting your efforts 3,4,5 ways.  It requires focus.  It requires a commitment.

So as we sat down this morning and talked about the individual roads we’ve come down, Jason knew exactly where his wild, exciting, profitable journey began.  It started way back then, 6-7 years ago, when one day he became disgusted with his efforts.  He realized that although exciting, the 3 ideas he was working on weren’t really going anywhere.  He was spinning his wheels.  So one day he wiped off his plate, and told himself “I’m going to find something I can believe in, pour myself into it, and never stop pursuing it.  I’ll jump through hoops, through walls, through obstacles to make it happen, and I’ll only work on this one thing.”  I remember hearing a change in him around that time, a new sense of focus.  He  stuck to his word (to himself) and truly great things happened, and continue to happen. 

I have loved my journey since then too, but I’d be lying if things have gone exactly as that guy who left OSU ready to take the world by storm would have hoped.  I realized something (again) this morning.  I’m still, for the most part, juggling 3 concepts.  I’ve certainly had plenty of times in the past 7 years where I was focused on one thing.  I’ve also been able to do more than 1 thing at once with good results, but ultimately I’ve never really made a commitment to myself on the same level as Jason.   In some ways that’s been great for me.  It means I’ve been more open, which has exposed me to lots of fantastic people, ideas, experiences, and lessons.  But I can’t help but wonder, why haven’t I been able to make that commitment?  Sometimes I say it’s because I haven’t found the right idea, but deep down I don’t believe that.  Sometimes I say it’s because I haven’t been ready, and I would say that’s probably true on some level.  But really I have to say it’s because commitment is very scary.  Fully committing to something means you are giving it your all, and when you give it your all there’s a very real chance you may find out your all isn’t good enough.  But when I think about it, it’s even more scary to see myself in 20,30, 50 years looking back and saying “why didn’t you just try?”  “Why didn’t you commit?”