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 invented NOAH, an animated character technology for online applications. It was very effective and successful for online training projects, bridging the gap between instructor-led and pure online coursework. We adapted it to work on our website, a cute little avatar flying around and pointing at things and explaining benefits and action items, popping up graphics in the middle of a speech, and so on. Several (I stress the word “several”) people mentioned how cool it was, so I, being the addicted entrepreneur I am, decided to expand the product line by developing NOAH for websites.
The new product required an easy interface where customers could build their own avatar and design what it said and did on the page. That was expensive programming. And, we couldn’t resist adding every cool feature we thought of. After 8 months and lots of dollars, we launched it.
It was a party that no one came to. We’re waiting. We’re waiting. Nothing. A competitor, SitePal, seemed to be working (we really didn’t know how well it was doing), so we figured we’d just keep marketing it a things will work out. They didn’t. No one (OK, we had two customers)… 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
Or, it is the other way around: They have great ideas and ask: “now what?” and “do I have what it takes?”
I wrote my book for the last group, but I find there are a lot of people in the first group, too. One thing is common to both, however: the word “idea”. The second group already came up with an idea and the first group needs to come up with an idea. So, what’s the process of coming up with “ideas”?
I don’t necessarily believe in the pure “light bulb going on” explanation. Great ideas come from somewhere. Like the first big bubble of a pot of water set to boil for spaghetti, getting a worthy idea doesn’t just happen; there’s a lot of planning (filling the pot, turning on the fire) and time. The water just sits there for a while, the potential for boiling just invisibly building up. There are a bunch of little bubbles, but barely noticeable, especially if… Continue reading