Tag Archives: 12 hour startup

Freelancers are here to stay

January 20th, 2010

Daily Finance does a bit of a post how the state of play has changed in the last two years: Freelance Nation: Why Permanent Jobs may not come back.

In Micro Businesses I mention that we are finally seeing the shift towards Charles Handy idea of the Doughnut Organisation.

This just reinforces it somewhat.  The shakedown has forced organisations to restructure how they run and it makes sense for them to acquire Freelancers to fill the gaps.  On the flipside Freelancers get greater control, pick their projects and keeps them on their toes.  A win/win.

It is sad that it has come about the way it has (through deep cuts during the recession) but I do think it’s for the best.

The future is in micro (even atomic) businesses…

A twist on the 12 Hour Startup: The $100 Business

January 12th, 2010

I had the opportunity to finally meet Chris Guillebeau in person last night.

(He wrote a testimonial for The Best Ideas are Free).

Nevertheless I thought it was long overdue a mention of his post on the $100 Business Case – definitely worth a read, bookmark and subscription to his blog.

As Chris points out (and the 12 Hour Startup does) it’s all about just taking that first step, giving it a shot, then following your feet.

12 Hour Startup: Creating significant change

November 12th, 2009


I was quite a curious kid, always asking questions, the ever curious question of WHY?  My first job was classic of this, it was assisting the local fire wood producer, chop up and distribute firewood.

My boss was an aging man, putting in the last few years before retirement, and it was his little one man band.  Our first job was to go out and collect the firewood, he would use the chainsaw to cut trees brought down by flooding.  Firstly he would cut the trees into rounds, my job was to then grab the rounds, put them in a pile.

We would then split the rounds in half, load them on the back of the flatbed truck and take them back to his wood yard.  Back at the yard, unload all the wood, put it in a pile.   The next step was to cut the wood with a log splitter, stack in another pile.

Finally we were ready for orders! Orders were by the cubic metre, and so a certain amount of barrow loads was a cubic metre.  We would then load the truck up an order at a time and deliver it.

It took me all of one day to speak up and go, hang on we are double, triple handling this wood.  Why don’t we split the back of the flatdeck truck in half, then into little stalls, the horizontal sides of the stall being such we could pull them out.

Then we could cut the firewood, split it on location, throw it into the stalls (which could be measured out on a cubic metre basis) then deliver straight to the customer.  We could save sooo much time.  “No Ben, this is the way I do it”.

This frustrated me to no end, but hey I got $10 for a mornings work and that bought me basketball cards.  I hung in there annoyed at partaking in such an inefficient process, as soon as the opportunity came up I quit my job and moved on.

What I rapidly learned was the concept of idea development, failing fast, modifying and moving on.  It’s no big secret, smart people understand it and embrace it.  Fail fast.  However whilst there is understanding – we fall short of having a mechanism for it.

That’s what the 12 Hour Startup (my first idea in The Best Ideas are Free) is about – formalising a mechanism that allows for remarkable ideas to be shared, tested, proven and ultimately to create significant change.

Have fun! Import products (and learn something new)

July 19th, 2009

A simple business hack if you are a bit bored this week.

1) Jump on Alibaba.com.  Find five products you are interested in importing.  Contact each of the suppliers and order a some samples of each.

2) Setup a cheap local adwords campaign for the products you have sourced.  Point them towards a quick page of info about the product (collect emails of interest).

3) Finally once the products arrive, test one of the samples, sell the other on Ebay (or your local equivalent). You should be able to easily sell it for more than the total cost of both units, often making a tidy profit.

(Note: You can stop here, the next step is if you want to build a small business out of it.)

4) Review your adwords / traffic of your test websites.  Which has gained the most interest? Use that data to sell to a local retailer or setup a niche online store selling them.

5) Begin systemising, once you have sold a few start building some systems to automate sales and distribution.  Often you can get dropshippping (manufacturer ships direct to consumer).

Give it a go, have a bit of fun, I have done this every now and again made some good dollars but at the very least you’ll learn something.

(Passionate about local products? Do the reverse help a local manufacturer get their details on Alibaba and help them sell to the world.)

Creating a space for ideas

March 18th, 2009

The biggest let down with firms trying to innovate is that they do not create the space for innovation to occur.

What happens when staff have new ideas? Who do they pitch to? Do they know who they should pitch to?

More often than not the ideas get squashed, as they threaten someone else.

To create a culture of innovation, ideas need to be open, shared, spared and rewarded.

Create a space for it to happen, have a Monday Ideas Post, a 12 hour startup day, a huge whiteboard in the middle of headquarters (like Google).

Once you have created that void, people will fill it and surprisingly fast.


November 20th, 2008

As I discussed in a prior post about the 80 / 20 Rule roughly speaking 20% of causes create 80% of consequences.

It was upon this (and other trends) the 12 Hour Startup idea came into fruition, the idea that in a condensed time frame you can stimulate these causes that in the long run will drive big consequences.

We all know the stories, those that stayed up all night to complete that essay that go them an A, doing a proposal last minute, no matter what happens we seem to always slide it in.

My thought is to encourage this more often, we are going to build this product by next week, I am going to finish that job by Monday as it’s been sitting around too long.

You should try it, put some pressure on yourself to complete more of the things that are important in condensed time frames.

You’ll be surprised at how often you nail it.

This is exactly how this blog came about, I spent April this year doing a road trip around the South Island of New Zealand writing blog posts, and i gave myself a 24 hour deadline to get the blog up and running with my first post.  Wham, Bam, Done. 

So what do you have in motion that you can condense and get it done?

(and then you can move onto the next mountain)

Micro Businesses

November 9th, 2008

I think we are at a tipping point.

Where all these contextual factors, tip the scales, in favour of Micro Businesses.

Kind of like Small is the New Big.

So what am I talking about? I believe the future is in micro niches, dominated by micro businesses, run by 1 or maybe 2/3 people.

It fits in with a few other trends I have noticed:

  • Desire of Gen Y to ‘do what you want
  • Bootstrapping startups
  • Lower technology costs, meaning you can start a business for nothing that can scale 
  • Handys Doughnut Organisation discussions (shift to project work)
  • Current financial crisis forcing all businesses to remain agile.
  • Slashies trend, where people hold many roles teacher by day dj at night
  • 12 Hour Startup (great way to stimulate innovation)

The idea of micro businesses;

  • Small businesses designed to be agile
  • Garner enough income to live off but big upside potential
  • People will typically have at least 1, but be involved in 3-4.
This is the trend which may become Web 3.0 but buzzwords aside, I think all the contextual factors are in place for this to really take off.   

Think about it, how many people do you know have multiple projects on the go, or have a full time job and a venture on the side growing.

The time is now.

What business ideas do you have that you know would make money and have virtually zero setup costs? What’s stopping you?

Go out, start them, learn, build and most of all have fun.

12 Hour Startup is gaining momentum

October 20th, 2008

To bring those up to speed who don’t know what the 12 Hour Startup is, i first posted it as a Monday Ideas post here, then did a follow up after presenting it to 200 or so people at a local web meetup.

Since then I have had emails or comments about some existing examples:

Very neat.

To help spread the idea I submitted a proposal to ChangeThis.

They distribute manifestos, small 10 / 20 page ebooks on ideas, based on facts, the good ones spread, the bad don’t.  

The idea is to leave change in their wake.  Excellent concept, I suggest you check them out here.

I would like to produce a manifesto on the 12 Hour Startup (to spread the idea) and it would be great to have your support.

Simply visit here to vote. 

Click the button that says ‘Yes, write this manifesto”.  It only takes 20 seconds.

Thanks ever so much.

Also check out the other proposals and existing manifesto’s there are some real gems in there like, Art of the Start, Bootstrappers Bible and The Long Tail.

Small IS the new Big

September 10th, 2008

I keep hearing it more and more.

“We launched with 50% of what we wanted, we could have launched with 10%”

“Scale down, smaller is better”

“Going to the absolute smallest market we can find, now dominate globally”

Just some of the errings.

They’re all right.

As Seth Godin discusses, Small is the new Big.  Big ideas start off small and are being run by small teams.

Go small, focus, be big.

How can we deliver with less? less features, less resources, less employees…. less everything.

Guy Kawasaki’s aim was to just have a couple of guys and make a cool $1m/year (trumeours)

Now magnify his concept by 1000, 1000 micro businesses run by a couple of guys dominating their tiny niche globally.

Small is the new big.

12 Hour Startup Follow up

August 14th, 2008

Thursday evening I threw my 12 hour startup idea at a wall to see if it would stick.

It was at the monthly Auckland, Web Meetup (great event to meet people btw)

We did a 20×20 format.  20 slides, 20 seconds each.  So I thought i’d jump up and give it a shot.

12 Hour Startup is a way of bridging the gap between aiding traditional companies to becoming more dynamic.

Building upon my last post really is how to sell key stakeholders on trying this model.

How can you sell this to your management, It’s a marketing decision:

  • to staff it says we value your input let’s give it a go
  • to customers it says we are seeking new ways to help you
  • to management it’s driving strategic direction from sales (ideas that work)


  • Validation of ideas
  • Stimulate Innovation & Creativity
  • Out of the box thinking
  • Flow on effects – employees maintaining this mindset over time

Need I continue?

Again I am seeking case studies, thanks to those that have given some feedback really appreciated

(have uploaded a copy of my presentation with basic notes, the objective was to get everyone focused on me instead of the slides, which worked)

12 Hour Startup

July 20th, 2008

What is a 12 hour startup?

From idea to prototype within 12 hours.



Relates to simple ideas that can be executed quickly.

Downside/risk virtually zero.

Potential upside > 0. Profitable.

Commit to a 3 month trial.

Close if crap.  Expand if good.

Underlying theme? give it a go, 1000 12 hour ideas are probably going to yield at least 10 (1 in 100) good ideas that will last.

I’m happy to give up 12 hours every week for something like this.  Even 12 hours/month cool.

Idea: Take this concept and apply it to your business.  Can your team come up with some new product ideas / extensions and go from idea to concept within 12 hours.

Background: the 12 hours business I have been throwing around for some time, and it’s been thrown around enough to be blog proof.  Have some case studies in the works.

Update: Follow up post on the 12 hour startup here.

What are you doing all the way down here? You could:
- View my about page
- Or for first timers the New Here? page
- Or maybe email this to a friend
- Or subscribe to get blog updates