I have been consolidating and prioritizing my messages for early-stage entrepreneurs. I think that success starts with one simple task: coming up with a product that people will buy. I often talk about bringing ambition and commitment to the table, and that is critical as well, but no amount of ambition or commitment is going to overcome the lack of a product that people, people other than yourself, will see VALUE.
You probably have a product or service idea you want to build into a business; otherwise you might not be reading this. Whether you’re starting a physical-product business, a consulting business, or a retail store, the most important question you have to answer is this: will people give you money for it? Remember: without revenue from paying customers, you won’t have a product to build a business around. So, before you invest a lot of time in building a business plan or developing the final product, the challenge is to make sure your product will provide a substantial value to a lot of people, value sufficient to induce them to part with their money in exchange for it.
How do you create sufficient value? Value is a function of… Continue reading
I’ve been, and I’ve known a lot of, successful entrepreneurs. When thinking through why some made it and some didn’t, seven personal characteristics appeared to be consistent with success.
- Invest in Yourself. I’m not talking so much about money, but rather about time and energy and passion and commitment. If you invest in yourself, it means you believe in yourself, your mission, and your ability to plan and achieve your mission goals.
- Always Be Curious. Successful inventors think up cool stuff because they are constantly curious about how things work, why things work, and how they might find a way to do things better. Successful entrepreneurs are always looking for better ways to execute the mission.
- Run with Smart People. Whether you use people strategically—to get things done— or for inspiration—to stimulate your creative juices—it doesn’t advance your mission to surround yourself with unimaginative or non-stimulating people.
- Always Network for New Contacts. Insurance agents don’t get new clients by having lunch with other insurance agents. The same group of people, although they might be comfortable, will probably discuss the same positions and perspectives. You will generally learn something valuable from new people—smart people.
- Learn… Continue reading
By popular demand (OK, a couple people asked) I’m writing a follow-up to my post a couple weeks ago about pitching your idea. I’ve been working with corporate clients for 15 years, developing interactive training programs built with my SoundLearningX© system. Because of the nature of the program, I got involved in a lot of sales-related projects, everything from financial and insurance sales to nuts and bolts and pharma sales, even military recruiting and tax preparation (seriously).
Startup Assembly Manual is mostly about getting a founder “investor-ready”, building a package that will resonate with potential investors. That, obviously, leads to the process of “pitching the idea”. When I got to the chapter on presenting to investors, I put two and two together and realized that it is a sales process. Having pitched a few deals, watched a lot of pitches and investor reactions, and caught a few deals as an angel, I came up with a structure for pitching.
First, you have to understand the expectations and motivations of an investor. Why are they there? What are they looking for? What do they want to hear? What is the fundamental, crucial point you have to prove to… Continue reading
The concept behind the ACE Methodology for Startups applies itself well to most endeavors intended to create success. The Startup Assembly Manual uses it to lay out a road map for entrepreneurs and people with an idea but no clue what to do with it.
ACE is Assessment, Confirmation, and Execution. The Assessment stage leads you through the process of assessing yourself, your customer, your product, and your business idea. From that comes a set of assumptions which are refined, defined, then tested in the Confirmation stage – first with research and customer investigation then with sales. When you have a proven set of assumptions, you build a business plan and Execute it.
In this article, we’ll discuss one of the most important assessments you will make, personal assessment. In future articles, we’ll discuss more personal qualities that make up a foundation of success. But, let’s start with this:
After forty years of being an entrepreneur and knowing a lot of them, certain personal characteristics seem to determine success or failure. Someone asked me what is the most important trait of a successful entrepreneur. I answered: objectivity. This is the ability to see things… Continue reading
I think the average Joe (or Jane) like us goes farther trying to hit singles and doubles than always swinging for home runs. I have been the guy with the “next great idea” and not had a clue what to do with it. Don’t read me wrong. I have been mostly successful during my years of being an entrepreneur, but it sure wasn’t easy or clear. There was no road map or trip planner. Nobody was there to help me, explain what I write in this book, and open my eyes to very basic things. I just plodded ahead, one step after another. Eyes open. What has to be done and how to do it can become very muddy. I have suffered and overcome my share of “founder flounder,” where there is a goal but no clear path. This book is about adding clarity to the process. It is about helping entrepreneurs find the starting line, then giving them a road map to follow.
As I evolved as a businessperson, I realized that there was more structure to starting and running a business than I realized. When I just winged it, it didn’t always end well, but when I sat… Continue reading