Are you testing and tuning your ideas?

Henry Ford said, “Failure is only the opportunity to begin again more intelligently.”

Failure is important if you ever want to achieve your ultimate goal. Even though its often not supported, it’s key. You have to test and tune. You have to take trial an error seriously. Just think, everything in life is pretty much trial and error: relationships, children, startups, careers.

You have to get out there and test and tune your ideas.

We use to test and tune our motorcycles for days, weeks, months even before we got them to a point where we were comfortable with them. You have to do the same thing with your ideas. Test and tune them out, pivot them – the goal is to get your idea to a point where you feel good and strong about it.

Share your ideas and get people’s feedback as soon as possible. The longer you work on an idea, the more attached you will become. Thus, you need to get feedback right away before you’re married to an idea that sucks – you don’t want to married to bad idea. It would be like being married to a crazy wife.

Testing and tuning ideas provides great information – whether they come to fruition or not. Actually, the failed ones teach you more than the ones that go on to work – you find the things that don’t work or that you don’t want to pursue. Nobody really wants to fail, but to find those nuggets and to get your idea tuned up and in shape you need to be willing to test and fail.

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Are you testing and tuning your ideas? What is your process for this?

 

 

Entrepreneurs Need to be Mentally And Emotionally Tough

Entrepreneurs are a different breed – they sacrifice everything, eat ramen noodles, and live in a van if they have to just to pursue their ideas – I’ve done this. Sounds pretty crazy right? Not if you are purebred entrepreneur.

Entrepreneurs need to be mentally and emotionally tough

In spite of all this, being an entrepreneur and starting companies is very challenging and it requires more than just hardwork, sacrifice, and all the other stuff you read in business/self-help books – it requires serious mental and emotional toughness.

Putting in the time, working your ass off, and sacrificing everything isn’t enough. Sorry for the bad news, but this will help you.

When you’re under pressure dealing with the day-to-day challenges of starting or building a company, you have to be mentally tough. You have to train yourself mentally so that when you need to step up, you have the confidence and total mental toughness to do so.

Back in my racing days (I realize this more now), being mentally tough was far more important than my physical conditioning, my equipment, and my sheer talent – it was having the mental toughness to be able to perform under intense pressures and come out on top.

It took me thinking and processing my thoughts, lots of visualization, and performing routine self talk – talking to myself about where I wanted to be, not where I was today.

You have to see yourself winning in business before you can actually win. You have to tell yourself that you are tough as nails and you will do anything it takes to build your company. The stronger you prepare yourself mentally, the more wins you can start adding to your belt.

90% of what you do as an entrepreneur is emotional toughness. Sounds like a big number, right? No. 

Emotional toughness will be one of the best things you ever learn as an entrepreneur – yes you can learn to be emotionally tough.

It requires you to shift your thinking from, I need an MBA from Harvard, to I need to be emotionally tough. And, until you can get yourself emotionally tough, your performance will always be poor no matter what degree, experience, or work ethic you have.

Emotional toughness comes from being able to conquer any doubt, eliminate hesitation, and see things as just another day in the life of an entrepreneur. You need to be able to take big hits and bounce right back. You need to be able to take a punch right in the face out of nowhere and not react.

I’ve learned to be emotionally tough by putting myself through failure, after failure, and I just keep getting back up for more. Some people think I’m crazy, I just think I’m getting tougher and more educated. Ben Parr said it perfectly, ” Startups are like the worst breakup you ever had relived over and over again.”

This is true, if you can’t wake up everyday with the possibility of reliving the worst breakup of your life, then you need to either work on getting emotionally tougher or get out the kitchen.

No wimps allowed. Entrepreneurship isn’t for sissies. Get mentally and emotionally tough and step up poised, balanced, confident, and ready to kick some ass.

No wimps allowed. Entrepreneurship isn’t for sissies. Get mentally and emotionally tough and step up poised, balanced, confident, and ready to kick some ass.

 

Find and Connect with Influential Twitter Users in New Markets

You want to find and connect with influential twitter users in different markets or communities? Whether you are a startup or an established company, here are a few tips to get you started:

Photo Courtesy Of: Web Designer Depot

Use a tool called wefollow.com 

Wefollow.com searches twitter for specific tags, cities, etc and returns a list of users who are the most influential, and who have the most followers. It’s a great tool especially if you’re a company trying to enter new markets and you want to reach the key influencers.

Follow Their Blog

You can’t just spam people on twitter or they will pretty much tell you to F-off. You have to follow their blog, read their stuff, and do more than just expect that they are going to open up their network to you. Remember, it’s about building relationships…and it takes time.

Many people on twitter are also bloggers. Follow their blog, comment, and interact with them. It’s also good to retweet their posts – the ones you think add value to your following and be sure to include their twitter handle in the tweet so they see you’re interested in their content.

Connect With Them On Other Networks

Not only are these users on twitter, but they’re also on networks like Linkedin, twitter, Facebook and others. Don’t think that these users just sit around tweeting all day, they are typically successful entrepreneurs, executives, or leaders in their field. Don’t be too aggressive, but nicely reach out and see if you can’t help one another out.

Answer Their Questions

Twitter and social media are about engagement. People are there to engage, start conversations and build relationships. Take some time to monitor the influential users you are targeting and see what they have to say. Try to jump in and see if you can’t make some conversation. And, be real. If you’re fake, people will call you out.

Show Appreciation

Thank people for the work that they do. Appreciate them. You would be surprised at how hard some of these people work to build and sustain their networks. If you want to connect with them, I would first research the user and learn their story: see where they came from, what they working on today, and what they’re goals and passions are. The time you take to do this will show.

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What are your thoughts on Finding Influential Twitter users? 

What other tips would you suggest?

 

The Do’s and Don’ts to Making Stuff and Things Happen

1. Don’t make it so difficult to brainstorm a good idea. It’s not that hard. Simply.

2. Stop forming boards and committees that wreck ideas and projects. If your board or committee is not adding value and challenging you to draw outside the lines and take risks, then get rid of it.

3. Make your team lean and mean so that you can actually get shit done. The more people, the more time, the less stuff and things you will be able to get done.

4. Don’t make products that suck. Make products that knock people’s socks off. Make stuff people really want. Make stuff that changes people lives.

5. Get stuff done…..on time. If you have to work around the clock to get it done, then that is just what you have to do. It is what it is. Deal with it.

6. Put time pressure on yourself and your team. Put in place deadlines. Sometimes make it urgent. All of these things will drive you to get more done.

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What would you add? What is on your list of do’s and don’ts? 

 

Things to Ponder Before Starting a Company

Startups are my life. Literally, family is first and after that I’m all startups and business. After racing I found my new thrill in starting and building companies. It’s a blast, I almost hate to say it, but I get more out of it than I did racing. I know, I know, I shouldn’t have said that, but it’s just that awesome!

Photo Courtesy of: Striatic

Anyways, when I moved from racing to startups it was an eye-opener. I made a ton of mistakes (I’m still making them) I fell on my face, and I just keep getting right back up, learning and asking for more.

If you are thinking about staring a company, here are a few things you need to ponder before you launch out of the gate.

1) What are my goals, and how hard do I really want to work. There’s a huge difference between a startup that allows you to make a good living versus one that has a $100M payout. You need to decide and commit either way.

2) What am I truly passionate about? What is something I would be willing to work my ass off day in and day out?  If it isn’t something that gets you super horny from the start, then it’s probably not worth pursuing. Startups are a rough and long road – you need to be sure you are in love with whatever you are starting.

3) Build a short and long-term plan. Think about the future. Find a nice place (Alone or with your founders) and sit down with some financial spreadsheets, a business model canvas, and build a model for your startup. Take into account revenue, expenses, financing rounds, location, space, customer segments, value propositions, etc. If you haven’t done this before, get some help from a mentor or read Business Model Generation!

4) Do you have customers lined up or do you know people who would buy your product? If you can line people up from the beginning, it’s gonna add value to your startup. And If you can’t convince at least a handful of people to agree to try and ultimately pay for your product once it’s ready, then you should think about whether you have the right product and model. Too many companies have failed because the founders put their sweat, blood and tears into a business model that was flawed from the start.

5) The best one of all. You have to start damn it. Sitting around isn’t going to build your company. Prioritize, and get going. If you’re doing it right, there will always be more to do then you can carry out. The hardest part is deciding what NOT to do while making progress and creating momentum.

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How about you? 

Are you starting a company? Thinking about it? What are you pondering?

 

Startup Community Ecosystem Roles

I think everyone passionate about their community and startups asks the question. What are the roles needed within a startup community ecosystem to be successful?

Building startups for the last 8 years (within different communities) and working with Startup America Partnership the last few months has given me some great perspective to take a stab at this question.

Members of strong startup community ecosystems stay involved and add value by playing a wide variety of roles. In designing a startup ecosystem or strengthening an existing one, companies should incorporate an assortment of roles into the community structure and help members take on new roles as their needs change.

Below are 17 roles that I’ve put together as being critical to a any ecosystems function, preservation, and evolution. Please add your comments below. I’m not saying I’m an expert, just throwing out some ideas.

  1. Mentor: Teaches others and shares expertise.
  2. Investors: Invests in all stages of startups: seed, early, and growth.
  3. Learner: Enjoys learning and seeks self-improvement
  4. Back-Up/Supporter: Acts as a safety net for others when they try new things, take risks, fail. And they participate passively as an audience for others.
  5. Partner: Encourages, shares, and motivates others to build high growth companies.
  6. Storyteller: Spreads the community’s success stories throughout the community, state, and nation.
  7. Historian: Preserves community memory; codifies rituals and rites
  8. Hero: Acts as a role model within the community. Someone to look up too. Someone who has been there done that.
  9. Decision Maker: Makes choices affecting the community’s structure and function
  10. Provider: Hosts and takes care of the other members
  11. Greeter: Welcomes new members into the community
  12. Guide: Helps new members navigate the culture
  13. Catalyst: Introduces members to new people and ideas
  14. Performer: Takes the spotlight and serves as a figurehead or icon of what the startup community represents
  15. Ambassador: Promotes the community to outsiders
  16. Accountant: Keeps track of people’s participation
  17. Talent Scout: Recruits new members

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What other roles are necessary within a startup ecosystem? 

 

Instagram Printing Device

If you’re anything like me ( Lets not forget Facebook of course too) and you love Instagram then you’re going to be pumped about this one. The people over at Breakfast – a physical-digital interactive agency (As they refer to themselves) are working on a new Instagram printing device that they hope to bring to market by late summer. It looks pretty rad!

What is the device? It is a small box that they call Instaprint that prints out Instagram photos at events while they are posted. It has embedded technology that can find photos using the event’s hashtag, includes likes and comments when it prints, and uploads the collection to a website for browsing later.

I am sure it’s in the works, but it would be cool if the website allowed you search for photos of you, purchase, and have them sent to you in the mail – everyone loves physical photos of themselves.

Is this something you would like to have at your next event? I do. Then lets help them out. Breakfast is raising funds and gauging interest — on Kickstarter. They hope that, with everyone’s help they can get the price down to $399 – something that more people could afford.

If the funding goes through and they start shipping late summer, each device will be powered by a mini Linux computer, easy to set up through wireless internet and be inkless – the ink comes from the actual paper.

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What do you think of this new printer? Do you want one?

 

Quote: Brad Feld

It’s not about having a Silicon Valley attitude—it’s about having an entrepreneurial attitude.  It’s about partnering with other organizations in and around your area.  It’s about thinking big with entrepreneurs that sit next to you in your coworking space.  It’s about collaborating with tech gurus, social media wizards and community leaders at cool business events.  It’s the people that make a community an entrepreneurial one—not the location—and it’s up to you to contribute.

Dollar Shave Club: Viral Video Done Right

I say we give the Dollar Shave Club promo video a huge round of applause. This is brilliant in my mind. Great work guys! Super funny. If you haven’t watched this yet, you need too.

Dollar Shave Club is a startup company that provides monthly delivery service for razors that has raised a good amount of VC money because of this video. I don’t know the exact numbers. Anyways, they got the attention of large VC’s like Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Forerunner Ventures and Andreessen Horowitz – all great companies to have behind your startup.

We’ve all seen startup videos, right? But, not ones like this. If you want to seriously see cleverness at it’s best, then take a look at this video.

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What about you? 

What are your thoughts on the video?