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Showing posts with label Success. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Success. Show all posts

Red Flags ...

I have worked (in varying degrees, from light to heavy) with literally hundreds of new venture planning and startup teams, through my 20+ years at the University of Arizona, as a private consultant, and as a startup team member. 

I have a personal mental checklist that I use to evaluate the success probability of a new venture: can it move from the planning stage to a financially stable self-supporting business.  Some science here, some "gut feel", some "told you so" experience coming through ... but here are some of my "red flags": things startup team members say and what I really "hear".

They say: "We don't have any competition!"  ... I hear: "We haven't done our homework to see what else is really out there."

They say: "We the first to ever do this!" ... I hear: "So who cares?  If it's never been done before, maybe that's because there's really no need to do it."

They say: "Everyone is going to want one of our new gizmogadgets!" ... I hear: "Our family and close friends think our gizmogadget is really neat!"

They say: "We're going to build a much, much better gizmogadget and sell it for half as much as the competition!" ... I hear: "We have no idea how much it will really cost to make our gizmogadget or how much it will really cost to market it."

... and there are more!  Check back every now and then, and I'll update this post.

The Entrepreneur's Creed

  1. Do what gives you energy ... have fun!
  2. Figure out what can go right and make it happen.
  3. Say "can do" rather than "cannot" or "maybe."
  4. Illegitimi non carforundum: tenacity and creativity will triumph.
  5. Anything is possible if you believe you can do it.
  6. If you don't know it can't be done, then you'll go ahead and do it.
  7. The cup is half-full, not half-empty.
  8. Be dissatisfied with the way things are, and look for improvement.
  9. Do things differently.
  10. Don't take a risk if you don't have to ... but take a calculated risk if it's the right opportunity for you.
[Thank you, Jeffry A. Timmons and Stephan Spinelli]

[1.10]

Why Ventures Fail

Addressed stagnant or decaying markets ... bad idea ... bad location ... bad luck ... bad management ... devaluation of assets ... disaster ... dishonesty ... dishonesty with self or partners ... excessive bad-debt losses ... excessive overhead expenses ... excessive use of credit ... excessive waste ... fraud ...
high interest payments ... improper balance between major company functions ... improper control systems ... improper market segmentation ... improper market testing ... improper price setting ... inability of spouse to accept the entrepreneur's drives and values ... inadequate financial analysis ... inadequate marketing analysis ... incompetence ... incomplete homework of the venture capital avenues ... incorrect sales forecasting ... ineffective control procedures ... ineffective customer interface ... ineffective direction ... ineffective planning ... lack of experience in the business area ... lack of fiscal responsibilities ... lack of leadership ... lack of managerial experience ... lack of organization ... lack of realization of the necessity to turn cash immediately ... lack of understanding of venture capitalist's goals ... management weaknesses and gaps ... neglect ... operational over-complexity ... over-inflated organizational structures ... over-staffing ... personal and domestic problems ... personal specifications in conflict with start-up's goals and objectives ... poor communications ... poor financial projections ... poor market gap analysis ... poor psychological work environment ... poor retail locations ... poor self-discipline ... poor venture capital appetite-whetting techniques ... premature approach of venture capital avenues ... premature incorporation ... premature patents ... premature product releases ... security indiscretions ... speculative losses ... superior competition ... technical problems ... the lack of zest for life which sustains a start-up ... too many details ... too rapid expansion ... trading area changes ... unable to solve customer's problems ... unbalanced experience ... under-capitalization ... under-staffing ... unfavorable economic conditions ... weak business plans ... weak incentive systems ... weak key employees ... weak marketing tactics ... weak money-leveraging methods ... weak motivation ...

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]

Elements of Successful Innovations

  1. Relative advantage ... the perceived superiority of an innovation over the current product or solution it would replace. This advantage can take the form of economic benefits to the adopter or better performance.
  2. Compatibility ... the perceived fit of an innovation with a potential adopter’s exiting value, know-how, experiences, and practices.
  3. Complexity ... the extent to which an innovation is perceived to be difficult to understand or use The higher the degree of perceived complexity, the slower the rate of adoption.
  4. Trialability ... the extent to which a potential adopter can experience or experiment with the innovation before adopting it The greater the trialability, the higher the rate of adoption
  5. Observability ... the extent to which the adoption and benefits of an innovation are visible to others within the population adopters. The greater the visibility, the higher the rate of adoption by those who follow.
  6. Functional performance ... an evaluation of the performance of the basic function
  7. Acquisition cost ... initial total cost
  8. Ease of use ... use factors
  9. Operating cost ... cost per unit of service provided
  10. Reliability ... service needs and useful lifetime
  11. Serviceability ... time and cost to restore a failed device to service
  12. Compatibility ... fit with other devices within the system

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Tips for Innovators and Entrepreneurs

  1. Be passionate about everything you do.
  2. Proactively seek new opportunities.
  3. Stay alert.