People Watching

If you’re an entrepreneur and you’ve never been ‘people watching’, then start up blog strongly recommends a session. For a lot of reasons it’s a cool thing all entrepreneurs should do. For one, all our revered entrepreneurs are champion trend spotters. And they spot these trends a long time before they are reported in the Sunday newspaper lift outs.

What’s next?

Go some where busy, go somewhere where there are zillions of transactions, go somewhere sans commerce, go where families hang out, go somewhere singles hangout, look for the subgroups, watch people looking at shelves in stores – guess their decision process, see if this process is the same for all or different for all, see what they wear, see how they move, how did they get there, where are they from, bring a notepad with you and write down ideas, go places you’ve never been before…. Watch people, guess their motivations, view their life in action and then we’ll be the ones gaining life experience…. Just go and watch.

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The funny thing about our world is that we are all in it every day, but very few of us are actually paying any attention to it. Step off the stage and become the director. Make it a habit to pay attention to what is going on in our world.

As entrepreneurs and marketers we are lucky. We can do our homework everywhere we go, and our start ups are the key beneficiaries.

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Needle in a haystack & websites

While thinking about web front page design, yesterday Cyber Guru Ross Hill had this to say:

“To find a needle in a haystack, one doesn’t have to burn the haystack, just make sure the needle lies on top of it.

If our people can’t find it. Then quite simply it isn’t there. It doesn’t exist, and they may not return. After all that hard work to get them here, that’d be a real shame.

This is why our homepage designs must rock

Simple Innovation

When we think about innovation, our minds get lost in big ideas and large investment. The Space shuttle, Electric cars, desalination plants, the Airbus A380. We’ve been influenced by mainstream business media, and the military industrial complex. As entrepreneurs we’d be much better placed to think as micro as possible when considering how to innovate. Because unless we are ‘inventers’ or ‘engineers’, the only innovations we need to care about are those which get to market.

Take this simple innovation from the publishing industry.

magazine-subscription

Magazine subscriptions which have been repacked to be sold in a new / yet existing distribution channel.

Before this shift in mindset, magazine subscriptions were only sold as in magazine leaflets, through call centers and via door knocking. Enter new packaging format, and all of sudden a magazine subscription is being retailed in newsagents and bookstores (This photo was taken in Borders). It becomes a simple ‘gift’ which provides us something we can hand ‘hand over’ to the recipient to touch and hold – we can even gift wrap it. It opens new revenue possibilities.

It’s clear that there is little capital expenditure with this innovation,  which is simply a widening of distribution. In fact – new forms of distribution are often the most profitable innovations.

Start ups – When innovating, think micro.

Steve – founder rentoid.com

Tough times

In tough times, operating in a non revenue generating business gets difficult. All your business may even dry up.

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It doesn’t mean these activites aren’t important, it’s more a reflection of human behaviour. Unless the link of the activity to the transaction is clear – it will get pulled. This is true for consulting, marketing budgets or even your job.  So the question we then must ask is this – how close are we to where money changes hands? Are we close to the transaction or in the backroom somewhere?

The further say we are from the money – the greater redundency exposure we have, in business and employment. Closeness to money is why many real estate agents who are often intellectual dodo’s still make big dollars. I’m sure you can think other examples too.

If you want to be an indispensable business partner in tough times, make sure you are close to the money.

Steve – founder rentoid.com

Your worst nightmare

From a competitive viewpoint, imagine for a moment that our worst business nightmare came true.

Maybe Google decides to enter our market space. Or the Coca Cola Company launched a beverage with the same consumer benefit we’ve been bootstrapping. Or large company X decided to compete against “us” head on.

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Well – you’d be surprised how that feels. How it makes us react, and how it very quickly changes our perspective on what is the most important element in ‘winning’. In competing effectively for our share of wallet.

All of a sudden many of the projects we are investing our time on seem far less important than they were yesterday. Maybe that front page redesign can wait, maybe the shiny new web 2.0 buttons are a little less important. Maybe our packaging will do for now and quite possibly every project we have on the agenda, excluding customer ‘centric projects’ can be put on hold.

Here’s an exercise worth doing with your team. Act as if. Act as if it has just happened. Have an ‘emergency session’ with your team on how you’d react if a more well resourced, financed and well known competitor came to play. Build your battle plan. Once your battle plan is drawn up – throw out your current business plan and work on that instead. Because they are coming, especially if your startup is in a fertile consumer territory.

After the intital fear, most entrepreneurs just get inspired, get angry and get on with it. A good scare never hurt anyone.

Steve – founder rentoid.com

Quote for Entrepreneurs

“It has to start somewhere, it has to start sometime. What better place than here? What better time than now?”

Zach de la Rocha

Hard Stuff or Easy Stuff?

Check out the following chart:

We can either,

1. do the easy stuff now.

or

2. do the hard stuff now.

Either choice ultimately leads to the opposite end of the spectrum over time. It’s the same for sport, business, scholarly pursuits, wealth creattion and entrepreneurs. Sure it’s easy to know, but ‘it’s equally easy to forget. When things aren’t going so well, or we are not getting the wins we want – maybe we should consider the chart above, and decide what we were doing a little while ago, and more importantly which tangent we want to be on in the future.

It’s our choice.