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Showing posts with label Innovate-A-thon. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Innovate-A-thon. Show all posts

Potential Business Models

1. Design physical products/merchandise
2. Manufacture physical products/merchandise
3. Sell physical products/merchandise
4. Create information/content/data
5. Aggregate or distribute information/content/data
6. Provide personal or business service
7. Provide expert advice/consultation
8. Provide money/financing
9. Provide labor or human resources
10. Transport products/services
11. Provide infrastructure/telecommunications
12. Provide in-person or online marketplace for others to sell goods or services

How to Solve a Problem

  1. Define the problem
  2. Define a set of criteria for a good solution
  3. Explore potential causes of the problem
  4. Explore existing solutions
  5. Identify alternative approaches for resolving the problem
  6. Select the best approach for resolving the problem based on the criteria for a good solution (number 2 above)
  7. Plan the implementation of this approach
  8. Implement the plan
  9. Monitor the results
  10. Verify the problem has been resolved
[1.05]

Our Purpose in Life

Ahhh, that classic question: What's the meaning of life?  Hmmm ... suppose it really is "42"?! (You'll have to see Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy for those details.)  In the meantime, here's a chart that may help you with your answer ...


The SCORE SLATE Mentoring Guideline

The US Small Business Administration SCORE program has a well-refined guideline for business mentoring, using the acronym SLATE ...

S] Stop & Suspend Judgment
L] Listen & Learn
A] Assess & Analyze
T] Test Ideas & Teach with Tools
E] Expectations Setting & Encouraging the Dream

As important as what mentors do is what they don't do: they don't make decisions for the venture team.

[1.03]

Marketing Brochure Prototype

A prototype marketing brochure is a good tool for "testing the waters" with prospective customers.
  1. Easy way to test a new product, service, solution idea
  2. Easy to iterate a concept
  3. Easy to put in front of prospective customers for feedback: test, measure, learn
  4. Customer can become part of the design process ... pencil and paper and eraser
  5. Inexpensive ... time, money, resources
  6. Works for most any idea concept
  7. Flexible "size" (number of pages) although the fewer the better 
  8. Can incorporate in the venture business plan, summary
  9. Can use to design and develop a product and/or service based on prospective customer reactions to the product and/or service describe in the prototype brochure
Here's a "pencil sketch" of a marketing brochure template:


The C's of Communications

  1. Clear: Make the goal of your message clear to your recipient. Ask yourself what the purpose of your communication is.
  2. Concise: Your message should also be brief and to the point. Why communicate your message in six sentences when you can do it in three?
  3. Concrete: Ensure your message has important details and facts, but that nothing deters the focus of your message.
  4. Correct: Make sure what you're writing or saying is accurate. Bad information doesn't help anybody. Also make sure that your message is typo free.
  5. Coherent: Does your message make sense? Check to see that all of your points are relevant and that everything is consistent with the tone and flow or your text.
  6. Complete: Your message is complete when all relevant information is included in an understandable manner and there is a clear "call to action". Does your audience know what you want them to do?
  7. Courteous: Ensure that your communication is friendly, open, and honest, regardless of what the message is about. Be empathetic and avoid passive-aggressive tones.
  8. Clutching: Make sure your message has AIDA: grabss Attention, develosp Interest, builds Desire, triggers Action. Be sure there is a clear "path to action" for the reader to take ... call, email, website, et alia.

What's in a Name?

What's in a name? When deciding what to call your venture, the answer is plenty. A venture name can be too broad--or too confining. It can be too quirky--or not memorable enough. The challenge is to pick a name that's catchy, but also fits well with your particular type of venture. Here are 10 questions to ask as you ponder various names, keeping in mind that the choice could make all the difference in establishing your venture in the marketplace.

What do I want a name to accomplish for my venture?
A name can help separate you from competitors and reinforce your venture's image, says Steve Manning, founder of Sausalito, Calif.-based Igor, a naming agency. He suggests clearly defining your brand positioning before choosing a name, as Apple did to differentiate itself from corporate sounding names like IBM and NEC. "They were looking for a name that supported a brand positioning strategy that was to be perceived as simple, warm, human, approachable and different," Manning says.

Will the name be too limiting?
Don't box yourself in, says Phoenix-based Martin Zwilling, CEO and founder of Startup Professionals Inc., an advisor to early-stage startups. Avoid picking names that could limit your venture from enlarging its product line or expanding to new locations, he says, citing the example of Angelsoft.com, a venture formed in 2004 to help connect startup companies with angel investors. A few years ago, the venture realized it needed to appeal equally to venture capital and other types of investors. So, it did a costly rebranding to Gust.com, which is less specific and evokes a nice "wind in the sails" image.

Does the name make sense for my venture?
For most companies, it's best to adopt a name that provides some information about their products and services. That doesn't mean it can't also have a catchy ring. Lawn and Order, for example, is a good name for a landscaping venture because it gets people's attention and also clearly relates to the venture's services, Zwilling says. While unusual words like Yahoo and Fogdog sometimes work, quirky names are always a crapshoot.

Is the name easy to remember?
The shorter the name, the better, Zwilling says, suggesting that venture owners limit it to two syllables and avoid using hyphens or other special characters. He also recommends skipping acronyms, which mean nothing to most people, and picking a name whose first letter is closer to A than Z because certain algorithms and directory listings work alphabetically. "When choosing an identity for a venture or a product, simple and straightforward are back in style and cost less to brand," he says.

Is the name easy for people to spell?
That may seem to be a given, but some companies purposely select names that consumers can't easily spell. It's a risky strategy to try to make a venture stand out, and some naming consultants recommend against it. "If your name looks like a typo, scratch it off the list," says Alexandra Watkins, founder and chief innovation officer of Eat My Words, a naming service based in San Francisco. She also believes that it's important that your name be spelled exactly as it sounds. Otherwise, you will forever have to spell it out for people when saying the name or your venture's email or website address aloud. "Think of how often you have to spell your own first or last name for people," she says. "Why would you want a brand name with the same problem?"

How will potential customers first encounter your name?
Some naming experts believe there are exceptions to the easy-to-spell rule, especially if most people will see your name for the first time in a print or online ad. For example, consider Zulily, the online venture offering daily deals for moms, babies and kids. "If you just heard that name, you might not guess how to spell it, but the venture's aggressive online ad campaign has meant that most people first see it spelled out," says Chris Johnson, a naming consultant in Seattle and author of The Name Inspector blog, who came up with the name Zulily. "The payoff is that the unusual sound and spelling of the name have helped them create a very distinctive brand."

Does the name sound good and is it easy to pronounce?
Manning says the sound of the name is important in conveying a feeling of energy and excitement. You also must be sure potential customers can easily pronounce your venture's name. "It is a hard fact that people are able to spell, pronounce and remember names that they are familiar with," he says, pointing to Apple, Stingray, Oracle and Virgin as strong names. But he doesn't like such venture names as Chordiant, Livent and Naviant. "These names are impossible to spell or remember without a huge advertising budget, and the look, rhythm and sound of them cast a cold, impersonal persona," he says.

Is your name meaningful only to yourself?
A name with hidden or personal meanings evokes nothing about your brand, and you won't be there to explain it when most people encounter it. "Refrain from Swahili, words spelled backwards, and naming things after your dog," Watkins says. She gives the example of Lynette Hoy, who was using her first and last name for her PR firm in Bainbridge Island, Wash. The name didn't work because it failed to evoke Hoy's fiery personality and passion, Watkins says. So, the company was rebranded Firetalker PR, and Hoy took the title of Fire Chief. She called her office The Firehouse, and began offering PR packages such as Inferno, Controlled Burn and The Matchbox. "Her entire brand is built around that name and lends itself to endless ways to extend the name," Watkins says. "Her prior name didn't lend itself to any theme or wordplay."

Is the name visually appealing?
You also want to consider how the name looks in a logo, ad or a billboard, Manning says. He points to Gogo, the inflight Internet service provider, as a good name for design purposes. "It's the balance of the letters, all rounded and friendly, versus a word with hard, angular letters like Ks and Ts and Rs," Manning says. Other visually appealing names include Volvo because it has no low-hanging letters and Xerox for the symmetry of beginning and ending with the same letter.

Have I conducted a proper trademark search?
A great name is worthless if someone else already has laid claim to it. Start with some free resources like Trademarkia.com or USPTO.gov to do a cursory search to see if the name is already in use. Then, hire a trademark attorney to do a more thorough screening, and if the name isn't taken, to register it with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. "Get it right the first time," Watkins says. "A third of our business comes from companies who are being threatened with trademark infringement."

[1.09]

An 18-slide Venture Plan Presentation

Slide 1: "Billboard"
Slide 2: Core Team ... who, what
Slide 3: Problem / Customer / Opportunity ... scale and scope of problem, SOM/SAM/TAM
Slide 4: Solution ... brochure
Slide 5: Value Proposition ... Customer NWD Profile, Benefits, FFFF
Slide 6: "Underlying Magic"... differentiation, competitive advantages, core competencies
Slide 7: Industry and Environment ... Who, What, SWOT
Slide 8: Competitive Analysis ... Who, What, SWOT
Slide 9: Business Model ... BM canvas
Slide 10: Go-to-Market Plan ... Strategies
Slide 11: Sales Plan ... Objectives
Slide 12: Operations ... Production, distribution, delivery, margin objectives
Slide 13: Growth Strategies ... Scale and Scope
Slide 14: Timeline ... What, when, where
Slide 15: Financial Objectives and Key Metrics ...
Slide 16: Use of Funds ...
Slide 17: Funding Proposal ... Equity, debt, grants, gifts
Slide 18: "Billboard"


Slides 19 to 100+ will have all the gory details!! Lists of 100: customers, prospective customers, target markets, competitors, prospective collaborators, suppliers, prospective investors, ...

These 18 slides also form the foundation for a formal written business plan and an executive summary.

How to Start a New Venture

Go on a DXpedition ...

The Desire Phase ...
Determine why you (and your teammates) want to start a new venture

The Discover Phase ...
Form initial core entrepreneurial team
Identify problems or opportunities

The Define Phase ...
Screen problems or opportunities
Define the value proposition

The Design Phase ...
Generate potential solutions
Create a business venture hypothesis
Design a business venture plan

The Deploy Phase ...
Acquire needed resources
Launch the venture

The Develop Phase ...
Test, validate, and refine the venture hypothesis
Develop and iterate the venture based on real customer experiences

Highlights of an Effective Venture Plan

  1. Start with a clear, concise executive summary of your venture. Think of it like an elevator pitch. In no more than two pages, billboard all the important stuff. At the top, communicate your value proposition: what your venture does, how it will make money, and why customers will want to pay for your product or service. If you are sending your plan to investors, include the amount of money you need and how you plan to use it. You have to know the whole picture before you can boil things down, so tackle the summary after finishing the rest of your plan.
  2. Next, establish the market opportunity. Answer questions like: How large is your target market? How fast is it growing? Where are the opportunities and threats, and how will you deal with them? Again, highlight your value proposition. Most of this market information can be found through industry associations, chambers of commerce, census data or even from other business owners. (Be sure to source all of your information in case you are asked to back up your claims or need to update your business plan.)
  3. While you may have convinced yourself that your product or service is unique, don't fall into that trap. Instead, get real and size up the competition: Who are they? What do they sell? How much market share do they have? Why will customers choose your product or service instead of theirs? What are the barriers to entry? Remember to include indirect competitors--those with similar capabilities that currently cater to a different market but could choose to challenge you down the road.
  4. Now that you've established your idea, start addressing the execution ... specifically, your team. Include profiles of each of your business's founders, partners or officers and what kinds of skills, qualifications and accomplishments they bring to the table. (Include resumes in an appendix.)
  5. If potential investors have read this far, it's time to give them the nuts and bolts of your business model. This includes a detailed description of all revenue streams (product sales, advertising, services, licensing) and the company's cost structure (salaries, rent, inventory, maintenance). Be sure to list all assumptions and provide a justification for them. Also, include names of key suppliers or distribution partners.
  6. After all of that, one big question still remains: Exactly how much money will your venture earn? More important, when will the cash come in the door? That's why you need a section containing past financial performance (if your company is a going concern) and financial projections.
  7. Three-year forward-looking profit-and-loss, balance sheet and cash-flow statements are a must ... as is a break-even analysis that shows how much revenue you need to cover your initial investment.
  8. For early stage companies with only so much in the bank, the cash-flow statement comparing quarterly receivables to payables is most critical. "Everyone misunderstands cash flow," says Tim Berry, president of business-plan software company Palo Alto Software. "People think that if they plan for [accounting] profits, they'll have cash flow. But many companies that go under are profitable when they die, because profits aren't cash."
  9. After you've buffed your plan to a shine, don't file it away to gather dust. "A business plan is the beginning of a process," says Berry. "Planning is like steering, and steering means constantly correcting errors. The plan itself holds just a piece of the value; it's the going back and seeing where you were wrong and why that matters."
[Thank you, Mary Crane]

[2.17]

How to Write an Executive Summary

The purpose of the executive summary of the business plan is to provide your readers with an overview of the business plan. Think of it as an introduction to your business. Therefore, your business plan's executive summary will include summaries of ...
  1. a description of your company, including your product and/or service solutions
  2. your management
  3. the market and your customers including basic quantitative information
  4. marketing and sales strategies
  5. your primary competition
  6. your competitive advantage
  7. your operational strategies
  8. financial projections and plans
  9. contact information
The executive summary will end with a summary statement, a "last kick at the can" sentence or two designed to persuade the readers of your business plan that your business is a winner.

To write the executive summary of the business plan, start by following the list above and writing one to three sentences about each topic. (No more!)

If you have trouble crafting these summary sentences from scratch, review your business plan to get you going. In fact, one approach to writing the executive summary of the business plan is to take a summary sentence or two from each of the business plan sections you've already written. (If you compare the list above to the sections outlined in the Business Plan Outline, you'll see that this could work very well.)

Then finish your business plan's executive summary with a clinching closing sentence or two that answers the reader's question "Why is this a winning business?"

Tips for Writing the Business Plan's Executive Summary
  1. Focus on providing a summary. The business plan itself will provide the details and whether bank managers or investors, the readers of your business plan don't want to have their time wasted.
  2. Keep your language strong and positive. Don't weaken the executive summary of your business plan with weak language. Instead of writing, "Dogstar Industries might be in an excellent position to win government contracts", write "Dogstar Industries will be in an excellent position..."
  3. The executive summary should be no more than two pages long ... one page is probably better. Resist the tempation to pad your business plan's executive summary with details (or pleas). The job of the executive summary is to present the facts and entice your reader to read the rest of the business plan, not tell him everything.
  4. Polish your executive summary. Read it aloud. Does it flow or does it sound choppy? Is it clear and succinct? Once it sounds good to you, have someone else who knows nothing about your business read it and make suggestions for improvement.
  5. Tailor the executive summary of your business plan to your audience. If the purpose of your business plan is to entice investors, for instance, your executive summary should focus on the opportunity your business provides investors and why the opportunity is special.
  6. Put yourself in your readers' place... and read your executive summary again. Does this executive summary generate interest or excitement in the reader? If not, why?
Remember, the executive summary of the business plan will be the first thing the readers of the business plan read. If your executive summary is poorly written, it will also be the last, as they will set the rest of your business plan aside unread!

[Thank you, Susan Ward]

Google Design Principles

  1. Focus on people - their lives, their work, their dreams.
  2. Every millisecond counts.
  3. Simplicity is powerful.
  4. Engage beginners and attract experts.
  5. Dare to innovate.
  6. Design for the world.
  7. Plan for today's and tomorrow's business.
  8. Delight the eye without distracting the mind.
  9. Be worthy of people's trust.
  10. Add a human touch.
[Attribution: Sue Factor, User Experience Group, Google]

Waterfall Veture Planning

  1. Vision ... "We will change the way someone does something!" [Be specific, 100 words or less: Who is someone? What is the something? Why are you going to change the way it is being done now? How?]
  2. Mission ... "We will earn a profit solving customer problems better than the competition!" [Be specific, 100 words or less: Who are the target customers? What are their problems? How will you solve them? What is the competition? How are you better? What will you do to earn the business? How will you make a profit? How much?]
  3. Goals ... "In five years, we will ..." [What are your three most important goals?]
  4. Objectives ... "To reach our goals, we must accomplish these objectives ..." [What are the three most important objectives for each goal that must be accomplished in the next six months?]
  5. Strategies ... "To accomplish our objectives, we will do this better than our competition ..." [What methods will you use to reach your objectives?]
  6. Tactics ... "To implement our strategies, we will do these things ..." [What three procedures will you use to carry out your strategies?]
  7. Tasks ... "To execute our tactics, we will ... " [What three things must be done to realize your tactics?]
  8. Assignments ... "Here's who is going to do what and when ... " [Who are the best people for each task?]
[6.17]

Catergories of Innovation

Innovation has a revolutionary reputation, but an evolutionary reality!  

An innovation is (simply) Something New and Better ...
  • Something: a product, service, process, methodology, or market positioning. 
  • New: didn't exist before in this market space.
  • Better: desirable benefits, a lower price, or both ... compared to the available alternatives.
That's not to imply that the innovation process is simple, by no means!  It can be quite complex, even if the final result doesn't necessarily reflect such.

Some types of innovation are pretty simple, pretty straight-forward. A new hot dog stand on a corner can be an example of "positioning" innovation ... simple, yet it does provide something new and better.

Other innovations are indeed quite complex and required high levels of intellect, resources, skills, education, and expertise.

Here are some general categories of innovation:

1. Incremental … basic design concepts are reinforced, linkages between modules are unchanged
2. Component or modular … basic design concepts are overturned, linkages between modules are unchanged
3. Architectural … linkages between modules are changed, basic design concepts are reinforced
4. Radical … basic design concepts are overturned, linkages between modules are changed
5. Disruptive ... technological discontinuity
6. Application ... technology application creates new market ... killer application
7. Product ... improved performance, dominant design
8. Process ... more efficient and/or effective processes
9. Positioning ... establishing a venture in a new space
10. Experiential ... improved customer experience
11. Marketing ... improved marketing relationships
12. Business model ... reframe the value proposition or value chain
13. Structural ... responds to structural changes in the industry
14. Service … give the same products but with much better service
15. Paradigm ... good luck! If we want a paradigm shift, we'll need a solid combination of several simpler innovations!

Twelve Team Tips ...

Building a venture team? Here are some goog guidelines ...
  1. A team needs a good leader. Usually, in a work situation, the leader is chosen by people outside the team. In more social contexts, the team may choose the leader.
  2. A team needs to be the right size. There is no precise figure here, but generally speaking one would expect a new business venture management team to be around 3 to 6 members.
  3. A team needs members with a variety of skills. The nature of these skills will depend on the organization and the task. However, typically one might want someone good with figures as well as someone good with words, someone who is effective at getting things done as well someone who is a creative thinker. It is important to avoid the temptation to chose too many like-minded members and team members need to know and respect the skills of others in the team.
  4. A team needs members with a variety of personalities. Again the nature of these personalities will depend on the organisation and the task. One might want an introvert as well as an extrovert and a maturer person as well as a younger one. Gender and ethnic differences can also make a creative contribution to an effective team.
  5. A team needs to bond. Some of this can be in done in the course of carrying out team tasks. However, it is good to create more specific opportunities for bonding that are outside the normal work schedule and situation, such as strategy sessions, training course and social events. One should take opportunities to celebrate successes - such as winning a new contract or fulfilling a particular project - and to celebrate occasions - such as birthdays of team members.
  6. A team needs to be able to resolve internal conflicts. However well a team bonds, it is likely that from time to time there will be differences in the team. This should not be unexpected or even always avoided; it is an inevitable feature of creative people having different ideas. 
  7. A team needs good communications. People need to know what is expected of them, what is happening in the organisation, and how all this effects them as individuals and as a team. In many ways, the best communication is face-to-face but this can be time-consuming and may not always be practical. These days e-mail is an efficient means of communication, provided that it is not overdone or used as a way of avoiding difficult encounters.
  8. A team needs shared values and a shared vision. All team members need to know and agree how the team is going to work and what it is trying to do. This might involve having some sort of strategy session - maybe facilitated by someone outside the team - with exercises to ensure that the values and the vision are embraced by all.
  9. A team needs clear objectives. Ideally these objectives ought to be SMART - that is, specific, measurable, achievable, resourced, timed.
  10. A team needs to be empowered. There are two elements to this. First, the team collectively needs to be given the resources and the authority to achieve the objectives set for it. Second, each individual needs to know what is expected of him or her but left to work out for himself or herself how best to achieve this on a day to day basis.
  11. A team needs trust. Members need to trust each other and most especially the team leader. This requires open and honest communication, acceptance of a 'no blame' culture, and a recognition that every mistake is an occasion for learning and not an excuse to criticise.
  12. A team needs to be flexible. There are two elements to this. First, roles in the team should not be rigid - it is the team's success that matters more than who exactly does what. Second, the composition and existence of the team needs to be flexible so, if a new skill is needed, one might add a new member to the team, but conversely, if the team's project is satisfactorily completed, there might be no continued need for the team.
[Thank you, Roger Darlington]

Glossary

A good way to learn a lot about a topic through language ... what are the key terms that define a particular topic? Here are some of the key innovation and entrepreneurship terms ...
  • Accounting: the action or process of keeping financial records relating to a particular period or purpose
  • Advertising: describe or draw attention to a product service or event in a public medium in order to promote sales or attendance
  • Benefit: an advantage or profit gained from something
  • Better: a more excellent or effective type or quality
  • Budget: an estimate of income and expenditure for a set period of time
  • Business: an organization focused on the work that has to be done to profitably solve customer problems
  • Business Model: a design for the successful operation of a business identifying revenue sources customer base products and services operational processes and details of financing
  • Business Plan: a formal statement of a set of business goals the reasons they are believed attainable the plan for reaching those goals and information about the organization or team attempting to reach those goals
  • Cash Flow: the total amount of money being transferred into and out of a business especially as affecting liquidity
  • Change: become or make different
  • Core Competency: a defining capability or advantage that distinguishes a venture from its competitors
  • Cost: an amount that has to be paid or spent to buy or obtain something
  • Critical Success Factor (CSF): an element that is necessary for a venture to achieve its mission
  • Desire: strong feeling of wanting to have something that is not absolutely needed
  • Earn: obtain money or other value in return for products or services
  • Elevator Pitch: a short summary used to quickly and simply define a venture product service organization or event and its value proposition
  • Enterprise: a project or venture typically one that is difficult or requires effort initiative and resourcefulness.
  • Entrepreneur: a person who organizes and operates a venture
  • Entrepreneurial Mindset: the ability to recognize opportunities for innovation and enterprise
  • Entrepreneurship: the process of starting a business venture or other organization
  • Environment: the setting or conditions in which a particular activity is carried on
  • EPSCPBC: an acronym for "Earn a Profit Solving Customer Problems Better than the Competition" ... something every business venture must do to survive and thrive
  • Executive Summary: a short document or section of a document that summarizes a longer report or proposal or a group of related reports in such a way that readers can rapidly become acquainted with a large body of material without having to read it all
  • Exit Plan: a means of leaving a current situation after a predetermined objective has been achieved
  • Forecast: a prediction or estimate of future events
  • Goal: a long-term aim or desired result
  • Ideation: the formation of ideas or concepts
  • Income Statement: a financial document that gives operating results for a specific period; it typically includes sales revenue cost of sales gross income operating expenses and earnings
  • Innovation: make something new and better or improvements in something by introducing new methods ideas products services processes market positions or paradigms
  • Input: a contribution of work information money or material
  • I-P-O: abbreviation for Inputs-Process-Outputs
  • IPO: abbreviation for Initial Public Offering
  • Judgment: the ability to make considered decisions or come to sensible conclusions
  • Management: the process of dealing with or controlling things or people
  • Margin: an amount of something included so as to be sure of success or safety
  • Market: a demand for a particular commodity or service and the customers that create that demand
  • Marketing: the action or business of identifying promoting and selling products or services to selected markets
  • Mission Statement: a statement of the purpose of a venture or organization and its reason for existing; the mission statement should guide the actions of the organization spell out its overall goal provide a path and guide decision-making
  • Need:  something that is a necessity
  • Operations: the harvesting of value from assets owned by a business; manufacturing production and delivery of goods and services
  • Organization: the structure of related or connected people places and things to achieve specified objectives
  • Output: the amount of something produced by a venture
  • Plan: a detailed proposal for doing or achieving something
  • Price: the amount of money expected in payment for something
  • Problem: a matter or situation regarded as unwelcome or harmful and needing to be dealt with and overcome
  • Process: a series of actions or steps taken in order to achieve a particular end
  • Profit: a financial gain especially the difference between the amount earned and the amount spent in buying operating or producing something
  • Research & Development: work directed toward the creation innovation improvement and introduction of products and processes
  • Resources: a stock or supply of money materials staff and other assets that can be drawn on by an organization in order to function effectively
  • Reward: something received as a result of achievement
  • Risk: the possibility that something unpleasant or unwelcome will happen
  • Sales: the exchange of a product or service for money; the action of selling something; the organization within a venture responsible for the selling activities
  • Social Responsibility: an obligation to act in ways that benefit society at large
  • Something: a product service process position or paradigm
  • Solution: products services or processes designed to meet particular need wants and desires
  • Strategic Position: the orientation of a venture in relation to the environment in particular the competition
  • Team: two or more people working together
  • Technology: the application of scientific knowledge for practical purposes
  • Time: the indefinite continued progress of existence and events in the past present and future regarded as a whole
  • Timing: the choice judgment or control of when something should be done
  • Transformation: a qualitative change from one set of elements into another by a predetermined process utilizing a set of resources
  • Value:  the importance worth or usefulness of something
  • Value Equation: Value equals Benefits divided by Price (V = B/P)
  • Value Proposition: a promise of value to be delivered and a belief from the customer that value will be experienced
  • Venture: a business enterprise involving risk but with a significant reward for success
  • Vision: the ability to think about or plan the future with imagination or wisdom
  • Want: a strong wish for something
  • Work: activity involving mental or physical effort done in order to achieve a purpose or result

Stimulating Our Creativity

1. Surround yourself with creative people. Hang out with writers, musicians, poets and artists. Often, just being in a creative environment will inspire you and refresh your creative mind.
2. Start somewhere. If you create a load of crap for a few pages, whether it’s creative writing in Word or sheet music, the brain loosens up and it’s easier to break through the barrier and come up with ideas.
3. Expose yourself. Not after too much vodka. Expose yourself to new art – books, music, paintings – all the time. If you’re a rocker, listen to funk. If you’re a crime writer, read fantasy. If you’re a productivity writer, read something about slacking off.
4. Develop a “morning ritual” that puts you in the zone – whether it’s stream-of-consciousness such as in tip 2, or a series of non-spectacular everyday actions in sequence that tell your brain it’s time to get in the zone. Perhaps you drink a coffee while watching the news before going for a morning walk – if you repeat the same actions before doing creative work for long enough, it eventually creates an association that tells the mind to get in a particular zone.
5. Use GTD techniques – free up your mind from the hassles of life by doing an info-dump so your head is clear enough to create instead of worry.
6. Never stop learning.
7. Imitate the real world – find beauty (or the ugly, depending on what inspires you) and try to extract the essence of it into your work. This may lead you to what you need to create, or it may just warm up the muse.
8. Drink too much coffee sometimes (one of my favorite submissions).
9. Do something new. Play chess. Read a book if you watch television and watch television if you read. Go outside. Sing in the shower.
10. Don’t be too precious about your work. Being inspired by ‘the muse’ is important, but if the doctor and the garbage man can do their jobs every day, then those in a creative line of work can too. Change your attitude towards your work.
11. Based on the theory that everything that can be created has been and creation is simply a process of combining existing ideas, consume information by the bucket load. The more you know, the more you can create from that knowledge.
12. Meet new people from different walks of life. Gain insight into their perspectives on life. Strike up a conversation on the bus.
13. Shut out the world. Instead of sucking in new information, sit quietly, go to sleep, or meditate. Stop thinking and clear your mind so that the clutter doesn’t get in the way of your thoughts.
14. Carry a camera with you and look for interesting things in your every day scenery. Hadn’t noticed that crack in the path before? Then it’ll do. Set a quota and force yourself to make it. Don’t go to new places to do this – force yourself to find new perspectives on old knowledge.
15. Creativity is a muscle. Exercise it daily – if you only need to create once a week, your muscles may have atrophied if you don’t do it just because you don’t have to.
16. Carry a notebook everywhere. Or a PDA.
17. Write down a list of ideas and draw random arrows between them. For instance, if you’re a blogger, write down everything in your Categories list and draw lines to connect unusual ideas. If you had the categories “Relationships” and “Management” and randomly connected them you’d have an interesting article idea to work with.
18. If you’re not on a tight deadline, walk away and do something completely unrelated. Don’t let yourself spend that time stressing about what you need to do.
19. Create a framework. As many writers have said, the blank page can be the biggest show-stopper. Instead of trying to rely on pure inspiration, set your topic or theme and start creating within confines. Think within the box you create for yourself.
20. Remove obstacles to creativity. That friend who calls to complain about their life can wait until you can afford to get stressed about their problems.
21. Don’t judge your ideas until you have plenty to judge. Don’t be embarrassed by yourself – just write them all down! Even if you start with “pink polka-dotted lizard.”
22. Keep a journal. It can get your mind working, and in a month, or a year, when you’ve gained some distance from what you’ve written it can give you new ideas.
23. Stop telling yourself you’re not creative. If you tell yourself not to come up with ideas, then you probably won’t – no matter how hard you try.
24. Don’t be a workaholic – take breaks. Your mind needs a chance to wind down so it doesn’t overheat and crash.
25. Experiment randomly. What does a flanger sound like on a vocal track? Like Lenny Kravitz, of course.
26. Treat creativity like an enemy in a strategy game; if one thing isn’t working, don’t keep trying until you give up. Try a new strategy. Run through the whole list, not just the first tip.
27. Choose a topic and write about it as wonderfully or badly as you possibly can. Then edit it as ruthlessly as a newspaper editor who has thousands of words to edit in the next hour and doesn’t care what gets lost in the process. At the end you might have something decent to use as a starting point.
28. Trash what you’re working on. Start again.
29. Exercise every day, before you sit down to be creative. If you exercise afterwards you’ll get the creative burst – just too late.
30. Spend time with your children. Or someone else’s.

[Thank you, Joel Falconer]

Skills for Success

Although every business requires a specific skill set and related domain knowledge, there are some general qualities which you must develop if you want to get going in any business. I say 'develop' and not 'have' because I don't think these skills are rocket science and if you've got the willingness, you can easily develop them and carry on your business in a better manner.
  1. Be A Visionary ... Yeah, I know what you are thinking. Here comes the first cliche; I'll agree. But when I say be a visionary, I don't mean you should have grand visions right from the start. There should be a definite goal in your mind and you should work towards achieving that goal. You could always start with small goals initially and every time you achieve them, set yourself new challenges. And soon you'll find that you've got a vision, a vision which you never thought you could achieve and now, it suddenly seems possible.
  2. Be Adaptable ... Now here's the thing - you develop a strategy and start working towards your goal. But the world's changing everyday and soon you realize that the strategy isn't working. In this case, you should immediately adapt to the changes and adopt new methods of working while keeping your vision intact.
  3. Mix Passion With Planning ... If you aren't passionate enough, chances of your succeeding in your business are slim. But if you get carried away by passion, that's equally harmful for your work. Hence the idea is to mix passion and enthusiasm with planning and execution.
  4. Communicate Like A Pro ... It's not only about talking to the other person or to your client. It's about every form of communication, be it on phone, through email, through a letter or any other way of sending your thoughts across. Effective communication is one of the must have leadership skills and if you think you aren't very good at this, prepare to learn how to communicate in the most effective manner, convince others and get more business.
  5. Network Like A Pro ... Another essential ingredient for success in business. Identify the right people and establish relationships which are long lasting. Apart from helping you in your business, these relationships can also help in your personal life.
  6. Be Aggressive ... Being aggressive doesn't mean you are always pumped up and blindly grab every opportunity that comes in your way. It means you are ready to take risks, sometimes calculated and sometimes out of your gut-feeling. It means you aren't satisfied with an achievement and are hungry for more. It means you are available 24X7 for your work. And yes, it also means you are ready to make sacrifices when required.
  7. Be Persistent ... Without a doubt, persistence is a must-have trait for anyone who hopes to make it big in his business. So what exactly is persistence? Here's how Seth Godin defines it: "Persistence isn't using the same tactics over and over. That's just annoying. Persistence is having the same goal over and over."
  8. Do Things Differently ... That's what winners do, isn't it ? Apply new techniques and tricks to an already existing business model instead of trying to search for that new idea. You'll save time.
  9. Learn Everyday ... Really, the learning never stops when you are self employed. And you should never let it stop either. No matter how big your business grows, you should keep learning everyday and apply new techniques to make your business better.
  10. Never Be Complacent ... If organizations like Enron and WorldCom can bite the dust then anything can happen. No business, absolutely no business can be considered fool-proof. One mistake and the empire could crumble. Complacency is usually the first step towards this destruction. So better not be complacent.
[Thank you, Abhijeet Mukherjee]

Elevator Pitch

An Elevator Pitch is succinct and persuasive sales spiel that takes about as long as riding an elevator from the ground to floor 42 (30 seconds, give or take). Some humor intended!  It's Bill and Melinda Gates in the elevator with you, by chance, and 30 seconds is all you're going to get!  Are you ready?
  1. Begin with an end in mind: What is it that you are looking to gain? Most often the pitch is used as a tool to capture enough interest to warrant a formal
  2. Sell, Sell, Sell: What are you really selling? You are selling yourself! You're selling your dream. Be confident and show your passion.
  3. Keep it simple: You should deliver a clear, compelling and simple image of your opportunity that is easy to remember and repeat. You want the audience to say, "I get it!"
  4. Image is everything: The pitch must implant a clear image of your opportunity in the mind of the audience.
  5. Adapt your presentation to the audience: The same pitch you use for an investor might not be the same as to a supplier. (For the sake of simplicity, the term audience is used in a generic sense to include an investor, supplier, employee, customer or even a judge in a competition.)
  6. Lay out the benefits: Demonstrate how your business will impact consumers and showcase the return to the investors.
  7. Differentiate yourself from the competition: Focus on outlining the special features of your product/service that gives you the edge over the competition. Time permitting, summarize the competitors and insert facts or statistics where necessary.
  8. Don't forget the numbers: Depending on the audience, you need to insert a snapshot of your financials and other critical data. For example, "In year three we expect to capture 3 percent of the market, giving us $30 million in sales revenue." Investors also want to know the amount of investment you need and the return on investment (ROI).
  9. Be memorable: Use your creativity and imagination. Put a tag on it! For example: Chevy - Like a rock. Nike - Just do it! BMW - The ultimate driving machine.
  10. Conclude with a call to action: For example, "Thank you for the opportunity to pitch my idea. I'd be glad to provide greater detail over a lunch." The best pitch is useless without any follow-up action.
  11. Practice! Practice! Practice! While there are always a few naturally-gifted speakers out there, the more you rehearse your pitch the more natural it will flow and the more confident you will appear. Remember that showing confidence and passion helps sell your idea.  Practice, yes, but don't memorize and start sounding rehearsed ... go with the flow of the listener!
  12. Don't give up: Some people may not understand your opportunity at first, so don't get discouraged or quit. Walt Disney pitched his idea for Mickey Mouse to more than 300 banks before he received funding.  (Now that's a Mickey Mouse pitch I would love to have heard!)
Formatting the Pitch ... No matter what your business opportunity might be, you need to have a format for the pitch. While there are certainly countless ways to format the pitch, I strongly urge you to consider the following example. It's brilliant! I only wish I could take credit, however it was presented by renowned business strategist Geoffrey Moore in his best selling book "Crossing the Chasm." You may have noticed that many TV commercials currently use a rendition of his format.

Pitch Structure ... For who are dissatisfied with , is a that provides . Unlike a , we have assembled . We will initially target the since they . solves this problem by . Also, these frequently influence by .

Example - Palm Pilot ... For traveling executives who are dissatisfied with Franklin Planners, the Palm Pilot is a personal digital assistant that provides rapid access to phone numbers and appointments. Unlike the Sharp Wizard, the Pilot can easily synchronize your data with your PC and fits in your shirt pocket. We will initially target the 83,000 pharmaceutical sales reps in the U.S., since they are mobile and must frequently reschedule appointments, where each missed appointment equates to $2k of lost revenue. The Palm gives them access to their business contact list and appointments at their fingertips. Also, these sales reps will introduce the Palm to doctors, our next target customer set.

Example - Broadway Pizza ... From artichokes to zucchini, Broadway Pizza offers the largest selection of pie toppings in the world along with boutique beverages in a music-filled, fun-packed bistro environment. In the next five years, we will launch 24 Broadway Pizza Parlors in Arizona, New Mexico, Southern California, Colorado, and Nevada reaching annual revenues of $30 million.


Sad Story: When I was teaching entrepreneurship classes at the University of Arizona, I had several students that were going to have an opportunity to meet Warren Buffet. As it turned out, one of them actually rode in the car with Mr Buffet from the office building to a restaurant for lunch. I asked her, "Did you give him your elevator pitch for your venture when you were in the car?"  "No," she said, quite understandably, "I was way too nervous!  But I did pitch him later that afternoon!"  I'd like to finish this little ditty by saying, "The rest is history ... Warren funded her venture and now it's worth several billion bucks!"  Unfortunately ... not.

[Thank you, Troy Byrd, edits by Jim]

Leonardo da Vinci's Seven Principles

  1. Curiosit√° ... an insatiably curious approach to life and an unrelenting quest for continuous learning.
  2. Dimostrazione ... a commitment to test knowledge through experience, persistance, and a willingness to learn from mistakes.
  3. Sensazione ... the continual refinement of the senses, especially sight, as the means to enliven experience.
  4. Sfumato ... literally "going up in smoke" ... a willingness to embrace ambiguity, paradox, and uncertainty.
  5. Arte/Scienza ... the development of the balance between science and art, logic and imagination ... "Whole-Brain" thinking.
  6. Corporalita ... the cultivation of grace, ambidexterity, fitness, and poise.
  7. Connessione ... a recognition of and appreciation for the interconnectedness of all things and phenomena ... systems thinking.
[Thank you, Michael J. Gelb]