From Small Business Trends:
“The focus of “Startup Assembly Manual” is squarely on the product in the “startup” process. Most “startup advice” books focus on the marketing and inspiration needed to launch a product, but only a few focus on the product, which drives the whole thing. Without a good product (or service), your startup will not successfully launch. The book, in particular, embraces its own self-developed methodology, “ACE methodology” (Assess, Confirm, Execute), which focuses on analysis validation, and constant feedback to refine marketing and product design. It features one of the simplest and most straightforward formulas for pricing that a reader will ever see.”
Do you have a brilliant idea for a product or a business and you want to start your own company? SAM is a book for aspiring entrepreneurs who have a great idea and no clue how to go about bringing their dream to reality.
It is focused on the foundation of any successful business: proving you have a saleable product first.
SAM is built from Mr. Freriks’ ACE Methodology, which embodies three basic steps: Assessment, Confirmation and Execution. It is a process of Assessing yourself, your customer, your product… Continue reading
A lot of articles talk about ‘creating’ urgency in order to sell your product. However, I don’t think you can base your product’s salability on hoping marketing and sales manipulations will create a motivated customer. If your target customer does not already have some urgency in finding a solution to the problem he has, it will be hard to pump up urgency to a point where a prospect becomes a customer.
The customer who is prepared to take money out of his pocket and give it to you is a motivated customer; he is motivated to find a solution to a problem he knows he has. Motivation drives sales—an unmotivated prospect will not become a customer. The ease with which you create that actionable level of motivation is a direct function of urgency: more urgency, more motivation.
Urgency is used to judge how easy it will be to sell your product. Really easy is good; it means you don’t have to work too hard to make the sale. I’m not saying it is good to be lazy, I’m saying that you can make more profit with X number of marketing/sales dollars than you can if you have to… Continue reading
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
Few people succeed by bouncing around from cool idea to cool idea. If you’re an inventor like me, you have a couple “great” ideas a day. Cool ideas have a life span; some live longer than others. A successful business is based on a cool idea to which you dedicate your energies, committing your time and talent to develop and nurture it. It takes extended focus. That is contradictory to the nature of the guy who thinks up a dozen cool ideas a month, each having some degree of limited focus. It’s tough; many inventors love the creation more than the execution.
It’s not unlike the person who dates a lot of people looking for that “special” person. When I was single man, I dated a lot of women and evaluated each relationship carefully. Some lasted a night, some lasted a week, and some might last a month. My evaluation process was quite rigid, basically looking for all the reasons it wouldn’t work out. It was an exhausting process, and I thought it might never end.
It did. I finally met a woman who had me checking all the boxes rather quickly. I even created new boxes, trying… 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
To achieve success as an entrepreneur, it takes Ambition, Commitment, a Plan, and a Product people will pay for. If you have the first two, you can work out the others.
I was thinking about all the successful entrepreneurs I’ve known and had a couple of thoughts. They aren’t necessarily the smartest people, the most innovative or inventive people I’ve ever met. One thing is common: ambition, the drive to be successful, to push through tacklers and keep their eyes on the end zone, knowing they will get there, and the passion to keep working on the process.
The most common other characteristics I have seen are commitment and confidence. Confidence is fired by positive feedback, but also by the willingness to ask for feedback, and the strength to know what to do with negative feedback. The lack of stubbornness and closed-mindedness seems to help, too. All have a clear vision and a definitive goal. Most are eager to prove the validity of their product by listening to customers—if customers don’t see value, they don’t buy. Most successful entrepreneurs are willing to listen to other points of view and sort out which ideas fit… Continue reading
I’m re-posting this because I got a lot of feedback. The majority agreed but some people wanted to modify my premise. One said maybe you should lower your expectations and “do what you like”. Do a job that’s “sort of satisfying”? I don’t think so–not my style. I believe everybody is good at, and has a passion for, something, and that something is the heart of what you love to do. Therefore, the key to finding something that you love to do is in finding what you really do well and have a passion for. Of course, if nobody will pay you for that endeavor, maybe you’ve just discovered a good hobby.
Anyway, here’s the original post:
“Do what you love and you won’t work a day” is inane bull-crap, IMHO. I love drinking beer, I truly do. But, no one will pay me for that. I love creating graphic art, which I think is pretty good, but it seems as though no one will pay me for that, either! Could I make a living out of playing with my kids? Doubtful. I’m passionate about writing songs, but since no one has bought anything I wrote,… Continue reading
When you are testing the assumptions you generate in the Assessment stage of the ACE Methodology, you have to first define and verify them through research in the Confirmation stage. This means asking a lot of prospective customers the three critical questions: 1) do they really have the problem you think they do?, 2) do they have an urgent need to solve it?, and 3) does your product seem to offer a compelling solution? The customer investigation process is an important part of designing a successful product.
To do this, you have to ask people these questions, either in-person or virtually. Conducting face-to-face interviews is best because you can judge their reaction and ask probing questions. In Startup Assembly Manual, we discuss the Seven Steps of customer investigation; it’s a sales process structure.
Virtual interviews need a different strategy. You have to test your marketing message through a web site or social media to get the answers to the questions. The best method I’ve tried on the web is where your home page has a random redirect function to four different pages. Each page has a different message, which basically asks… Continue reading
When entrepreneurs try to raise money at any level, it involves a “pitch”. Pitching to investors can be defined within the context of a sales process where you and your idea is the product and the investor is the customer. There are some rules, but first, don’t pitch until you are ready.
Before the pitch, entrepreneurs have to understand the investor’s mindset, what they are looking for. They want a place to put money that has the potential for maximum return with as minimum of risk as possible. They don’t normally want to “take a flyer” on an unproven concept. Therefore, you have to prepared with as strong a “proof of concept” as you can. There are three flavors of proof of concept: technical (does it work; does it give the customer the value proposition it promises); economic (is the price customers will pay be more than a summation of the costs involved in producing and selling and distributing it).
The third is “social” proof of concept where you have proven that there a lots of people with a) a real problem (the one you think they have), b) an urgent need to… Continue reading
In a college art class (a long time ago) we were told to sculpt a “successful elephant” with a lump of clay. The puzzled guy next to me asked how to start making a successful elephant. Consistent with my smart-ass nature, I said, “remove everything that doesn’t look like an elephant”.
I meet a young entrepreneur last week and he asked ”how do I make a successful business”. After a quick flashback, I answered: “remove whatever will make it fail.”
But, after thinking through why I was getting a blank expression, I realized the problem was he didn’t yet know what will cause failure. Of course, he didn’t know how to succeed, either. I quickly revised my answer to “try everything that sounds smart, be willing to fail, remove that and then leave everything that works; whatever is left over will look like success.” Failure is a part of the entrepreneurial process – just don’t make it a permanent part.
I don’t know if that’s wise or not, but I thought it is pretty cool.