Tag Archives: startups

Building a company to make money

March 14th, 2010

There are three main models (when looking at the founders point of view):

  1. Build it as big as possible, expand the infrastructure/distribution/value factory, aim to make a little bit on each part in the factory.  Whole aim is around making it bigger than the founders.
  2. Keep it as lean as possible, focus on the small, deliver maximum value.  Aim here deliver tremendous value to make excessive profits.
  3. Build it fast to exit.  Little worries on profitability, reinvest to make profit (for founders) via exit.

Bonus Option
You are so remarkable you create a monopoly.  This adds extra profit in any option (probably mostly in the first option).

Just a few different thoughts/models on how to frame it in your mind.

Using Adwords for Market Research (a startup use case)

February 28th, 2010

I have dozens of Adwords hacks but here’s one that’s hugely valuable for startups that helps you identify very quickly which markets you should be targeting.

  • Set up a Google Adwords campaign using keywords that describe your customers pain points
  • Break it up into regions, measure which get the highest impressions & click throughs, also note the level of competition (important in a crowded market)
  • Run it for a month

You can then narrow it down by region after collecting some data to find the market with the most potential.

I’ve done this numerous times but most recently for a client in an ultra niche market.  Their product is very innovative and only some segments of the market are worth talking to in the early days (the rest require education).  Thus we ran the campaign for a month, found very quickly (for under $200) where the main interest was – a specific country.

We also found out, that there was no competition in the market but also the level of interest which was approximately four times the next highest in the world.

Great – now our client can target an area where there is the absolute most interest.  Thus making growth a bit easier.

The delicate balance between thinking and doing

September 15th, 2009

Between working on your business versus working in your business.

It’s the same with your career, idea or goal.  There are always elements of getting the job done versus the oversight view figuring out new ways of doing things.

Now this is the delicate balance between the two, how much do you do of each? Some people resign to do all the doing and others to do all the thinking… either or isn’t that hard (nor inferior).  Whatever keeps you happy.

But for those that need to do both (case in point small business owner) how do you strike the balance? I haven’t found a solid rule but my personal guideline (as it is for all goals) is today better than yesterday? Am I little bit closer to my goal? Each day I want to inch closer.

For all those small changes really add up.

At the least I need to do a little bit each and every day working on my business versus in it.  Some days I hit the sweet spot others I miss it.  As long as it is a bit better and I am increasing momentum I’m happy.

To be honest even that’s not easy to get that little bit each and every day what I can share is that over time it gets easier.  Hang in there, focus on the vision, keep chipping away at it.

Zoom in on what you're good at

September 7th, 2009

It’s easy for someone to say you should be doing blogging, or tweeting or vlogging…

You can’t.

You see you ought to zoom in on what you’re good at.

If you’re not good at writing – don’t write.

If you’re not good in front of the camera – don’t do it.

No time for tweeting – don’t do it.

There is ZERO value in using a tool if you don’t do it well.  Let me repeat that – zero value.  If you’re in the space you need to own it.

It’s the same old business principle, 80/20 analysis of what you’re good at, then push that button and keep pressing it.  That’s the smartest form of leverage.

Get it started!

July 26th, 2009

Like fridays post – it has been said before…. but if you have an idea sitting in the back of your mind, irritating you – get it started!

What are the next steps? Write them down and TAKE THEM

Why am I bringing this up today? Well this week marks another huge week for me:

  • Shipping my pre-orders of the The Best Ideas are Free.
  • Wrapping up videos for the book (huge undertaking).
  • Speaking on marketing (Topic: Why marketing just got small….real small) this friday (should have a video to share from it).
  • Getting someone onboard part time to assist with some of my marketing activities.

If I hadn’t chased ideas and put them into action none of this would be happening, now, today.

Why Entrepreneurs should go to University

July 13th, 2009

There is some huge stat that 7/10 successful entrepreneurs are university drop outs.

But the key is they WENT to university.

Some of the handy stuff I learned from university that kept me in good stead…

1) Actually Listening

As an entrepreneur I realised the real value of university, so unlike my colleagues I actually paid attention in class, which has stood me in good stead since university.  Case studies, lessons learned, models all very helpful.  The application of these has helped me learn / grow my business / avoid pitfalls my peers make in an outstanding manner.

2) Forcing you to do stuff that’s painful

In business often you want to shy away from anything that is painful (*cough tax returns).  However Uni teaches you to persevere through this by forcing you to do papers and assignments you don’t like.  (Note: this is hugely valuable).

3) The people you meet

The absolute biggest value is the people I met and the relationships I forged.  University has introduced me to my best friends and extensive networks of interesting people.

4) Time to goof around

Sure starting a business at 18 is cool, but it is nice to goof around for a bit, realise the world isn’t on your shoulders, gives you time to experiment.  At university I started and sold three small businesses without a *need* for them to be massive successes.  A sandbox persay. (Case in point Facebook started whilst the founder was at uni.)

5) A train ticket

Gaining a degree allowed me to take on much higher paying jobs in order to finance some of my ventures.  It also provides a fallback should you ever need it.

6) Freebies!

Being a student allows you many freebies, business advice, legal advice, entrance to events, business speakers, networks, alumni.  Hey I even leveraged my role as a student to get into a conference (for free by helping out with registrations) where I met Sir Bob Geldof amongst others.

If you attend university with the right attitude it will accelerate your learning and avoidance of mistakes others have already made.  Thus (I believe) cancelling out the time you have invested in uni.

(Update: By the above statement ‘but the key is they WENT to university’ I wanted to more quash the common defence I hear ‘but yeah the good entrepreneurs drop out’, unfortunately it has been understood by a few as causation, moreso hey they went to uni maybe they got the same stuff I did out of it, thanks guys -Ben).

Undercut by Passion

June 1st, 2009

I help organise a local tech entrepreneurs drinks once a month, it was at the last one I was discussing Chris Andersons article Free… with Nic of Litmos a few night backs, we both agreed that yes you can get undercut by free.


If you look at the long run, who is still about, who keeps turning up? It’s those that persevere.

(Especially when you look at bootstrapped startups.)

In order to do so you must be making money somewhere.

You must also have a passion for what you do.

Sure someone can undercut your service by making it free but do they have the passion to keep at it? Through the hard times, the ups and the downs.

You see you can be undercut by free and still thrive but being undercut by passion? That’s a hard hard battle.

You should stick to what you’re passionate about.

Where the Platform play falls down

January 20th, 2009

The platform play is a common one in niche industries.

It can be very successful.

However a recurring problem (and downfall) is a lack of focus.

Imagine your platform is like a big slab of concrete on a vacant lot.  This is your platform.

It can be anything; a carpark, a basketball court, a place to throw your rubbish.

Without direction it is open to interpretation.  It may even remain abandoned.

There may be easy road access so people park there; maybe the sun is really bright so people sunbath, maybe there are fences so people play sports inside.

As the owner of the platform, you need to pick a path, direct the audience towards that, open up to other opportunities later.

If you be everything to everyone you become nothing.  

(For more info best read my prior posts on Platforms here and here)

Are you made of Rubber?

December 10th, 2008

You need to be.

Especially if you’re operating on the edge, in a startup, paving a new path, or pushing to achieve your own goals.

There are no rules at the edge, you make them, and often there are many speed bumps or friction.

There are times when things go sour and it all falls apart, you’ve hit rock bottom.

No you haven’t.

This is just a part of the process of getting to where you need to go, you’re made of rubber, so you need to bounce back, harder, faster and higher than before.

Then keep at it.

One step back to think two steps ahead

October 15th, 2008

Are you planning ahead? or trying to build / create something new?

Quite often during this process.  I will say stop.

Take a step back.

Take an overview.

What happens next? What are the next steps?

Are we doing the best thing to make that happen? yes / no?

How can we make sure Step 1, sets up Step 2 and 3 (all in light of the bigger picture).

For example, I am doing a joint venture to do a series of workshops.

We wanted our selling point, so I took a step back and said, What is the conversation that’s going on in our target’s mind?

What are they going to say to their boss that makes them say yes I will pay for that.

Stop. Take a step back.  Think two steps forward.

Blogging is a Marathon

October 13th, 2008

Blogging is a marathon.

There are hills, dips, long stretches.

The context weather changes…

Keep your eyes on the end goal and keep

Taking step after step.

Momentum is valuable, maintain it, if you lose it, it’s like starting running after you’ve stopped (painful).

Just keep taking those steps, even if they’re baby steps, do it!

Work in a startup? Different context.  Same application.

(and for those that haven’t yet read, look at my Blogging Strategy, takes 30 seconds to read)

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.

Ten Barriers to Marketing Success

May 20th, 2008

Having worked with a number of Internet Start Ups over the years I have experienced these barriers first hand.

  • Marketing viewed as an expense. Start / Stop.
  • Wanting full control of content. Users MUST subscribe to access content.
  • Every Search Engine Ad needs my Brand in it.
  • Marketing is advertising. We don’t do that.
  • Voice overs are a great way to engage [scare off] users.
  • Instant results are best.
  • All communications must include a sales pitch.
  • Marketing is a mechanism to boost the entrepreneurs ego.
  • Conversations starting with “If only….”.
  • Entrepreneurs afraid of success.

On the flipside to break down these barriers:

  • Marketing is an investment. Treat it as such. Continual investment yields the best results. (Ever heard of compounding?).
  • Marketing is in every interaction in your business. Some companies marketing is that they focus all their energy into making a great product, think Google.
  • If your holding the business back maybe its time to step aside.
  • Trust the Marketing firm you’ve hired. If you can’t get someone you can!
  • The cost of lessons learnt from mistakes is often less than the cost of indecision.
  • Barriers restrict engagement.

Note: these are a minority, the majority of start ups get it.

What are you doing all the way down here? You could:
- View my about page
- Or for first timers the New Here? page
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