Grab a pen and paper and go to work

Sometimes you just have to grab a pen and paper and go to work. I think we’ve become so accustomed to using tools that we have forgotten the value and efficiency of a simple pen and paper.

Simple is always better – that’s a fact.

The best approach to building an idea starts with sitting down with a trusty pen and paper or at a Think Table (Like that plug didn’t ya) and sketching out your thoughts and ideas.

A blank canvas or lots of white space provides this place to think different and generate lots of ideas quickly without any restraints. You can also explore other options and variations without any real risks – you can just throw it all out their and start to visualize something amazing.

While complex technology programs are great for putting the finishing touches on something, they’re not the quickest way to start the ideation process.

Here’s the question: Are you making things to difficult by pulling up another program when you could just be sitting down and starting to explore?

There is a simpler way. Try it. Use it. Go.

 

I enjoy building cool shit and it’s not just because of money

A true entrepreneur who loves building stuff is not in it for the money – this is definitely a by product of building cool stuff, but money is not the primary driver. If it is, then you are not a true entrepreneur.

Every great entrepreneur I know wants several things and making money is not number one.

So, why do we as entrepreneurs do what we do; travel the world, spend time away from our families, sacrifice pretty much everything, and take the risks that others are unwilling to take?

It’s simple really. I’ll give you 8 reasons to start:  

1. We love building cool stuff and watching it turn into something – think of a house starting out as an idea and then becoming a place where a family is built.

2. We love working with other entrepreneurs who share our same passions. There is nothing like a couple of entrepreneurs coming together to brainstorm how they can disrupt an industry or take a crappy product and make it better.

3. We enjoy solving a problem that makes the world a better place.

4. We appreciate the freedom to be creative with no restraints. Everything is a go.

5. We hate when people tell us what to do. Our lives are not conventional.

6. We get fired up when we hit key milestones and make progress against an idea.

7. We want to be challenged or we lose interest and want to move onto other things.

8. We want to constantly be learning new things that stretch our minds and make us grow.

———–

How about you? 

Why do you as an entrepreneur do what you do?

 

Mobile is moving are you?

Whether you like it or not, the web is flatlining and mobile is blowing up – this gets me excited because I have a couple mobile startups that I’m involved with.

Photo Courtesy Of: epSos.de’s

What’s happening in the mobile world is that consumers are starting to use their device for everything: music, games, searching, buying, social, news, you name it, it’s being done on mobile these days and it’s only growing.

This shift from web to mobile is pretty major – one that if you aren’t paying attention to you better get on the bandwagon before you get left behind.

With this shift, it presents both opportunities and challenges. For the big dogs like Instagram, Zynga, and others it’s awesome because they have the most to gain. On the other hand, large feature rich companies like Facebook and Google have the most to lose.

Mobile is all about simplicity. People want to be able to open up an app and have it do 1,2 or maybe three things really well. If it does more than that and it starts to complicate things, people will move on.

This is the keep it simple stupid world of mobile. No reward for rich features here. Simple, small, app specific, feature light wins in the ring.

If you want an example, look at Facebook, they are already starting to break its large scale, feature rich web app into several small mobile apps – can someone say Facebook camera, messenger, etc?

The fact that people are moving to mobile is not the only challenge and shift. How about building a real business model around mobile that can monetize?

So, what works and what doesn’t?

The traditional advertising models don’t work. If you want to build media into your model make sure that it is native. Look at what twitter is doing with delivering ads within your feed/timeline.

And what does work? Commerce done right with one click purchases do work. Also, the freemium model works pretty well too. Look at models like virtual goods with Farmville, in app upgrades, and others – these are all working.

Now, if you are an entrepreneur then this is good news because it presents lots of opportunities. And if you are a big internet company, that is 5 years or older you have problems.

This is just the game we play peeps. It’s hot one day and it’s gone the next. You have to stay on top of things and keepchoppin’ wood or freeze to death out in the cold.

 

Family Is First

Over a year ago my wife and I packed up our shit and moved to California from the mitten state – this is Michigan for those of you who don’t know it as the mitten. I was over MI. I couldn’t get out of the state fast enough. I was sick of the weather, the startup ecosystem, the capital, it just wasn’t what I was looking for – I learned this the hard way. Not that there aren’t great people doing awesome things in MI, it just didn’t fit and jive with me personally.

While in California, I traveled, I networked, and got super plugged into all the startup communities there. I spent time in San Diego, LA, San Francisco, the Valley, and a few other smaller communities like Santa Barbara, Carlsbad, Orange County, and a few others.

I was looking for more high growth startup stuff and an environment that was conducive to this. I wanted to plug into a system of badass entrepreneurs with vision, character, and a passion to make shit happen. Oh, and they value failure as a key driver to their community.

Moving away from MI was one of the best decisions I ever made. It brought me closer to my wife and my family, I became the one of the leaders of Startup California, which is a region of Startup America, It lead me to all the startups I’m involved with, I met some incredible people, and we found out that we were having Danny Beckett the third. What more could I ask for? Honestly, nothing. I am very, very thankful.

However, after we found out that we were having little guy there was something missing. Something just didn’t feel right. Something was keeping us up all night. What was it? It was family. Family has always been and always will be first in my life – if it’s not I hope someone steps up and slaps me. I say it in my bio, family is first, and after that, I’m all startups and business.

Because family is first, my wife moved back to MI about 3-4 months ago to be with our families during and after the pregnancy. I remained in Mountain View for just a little while longer until I couldn’t handle it any longer and I wanted to be with Sarah and my family too.

Today I spend 2-3 weeks in MI with my family and 2-3 weeks traveling back and forth to Mountain View, LA, SD, CA, New York, CO, and wherever else I need to be. It’s a little crazy at times, but it works for us and we are happier than we’ve ever been.

Here is what I’ve learned. Home is the place where your family is. You will journey out, you will try new things, and you will meet kickass people from around the world, but what will never change is that place you call home.

I leave you with this; move away, try new things, take risks, meet new people, discover the undiscovered, and don’t settle for anything less than awesome. But, while you’re out and about, just remember where home and family is.

——–

How about you? 

What’s your story?

 

Happy Monday: 5 things for you and your startup to consider

It’s Monday, you had a killer weekend, and now your ready jump into your week building cool shit. But, before you do, I have 5 things for you to consider:

Illustration courtesy of: Mile Square Studio

1. Can you summarize your startup on the back of a business card? People are busy. They don’t have much time. You need to be able to sell them quick. I don’t care if it’s a customer, a partner, a co-founder, or an employee, you need to sell them quick. Don’t complicate things. KISS.

2. Don’t waste time chasing after small markets. Why? Life is to damn short to work your ass off for something small. Disrupt. Be a game changer. Go after large existing markets poised for rapid growth.

3. Spend time understanding who your customers are. Build personas, ask questions, interview people. You ultimately want to figure out what customers will move fast and pay top dollar for a unique offering.

4. What is your focus? Figure it out. Don’t waste time trying to be everything to everyone – you will lose. Build a simple product with a singular value proposition and sell the shit out of it.

5. Delight. Delight. Delight. If your customers aren’t delighted with your product, you need to either pivot or start over. It sucks to lose all this time, energy, and money, but it will pay off in the end.

That’s what I have for today. Get after it and keep doing what you love.

 

Danny Beckett The III

As some of you probably already know I’m about to be a Dad real soon. September 4th my wife and I will bring Danny Beckett the III into the world to carry on the legacy. I’m so pumped I can’t even sleep at night. I lay there thinking about all the things I want to teach him, show him, and experience with him.

This past January, my wife wrapped up a pregnancy test in a box and gave it to me for my birthday. What? Yup, a pretty little pregnancy test in a box for my birthday. What a surprise that was after coming back from traveling for two weeks. It was a good surprise though!

I quickly opened up the pink box ( I was a bit curious why it was pink) thinking it was a new watch or something cool….and there it was laying all nice in the tissue paper. My first thought was holly shit, am I ready to be a dad? What about? How am I going to? And then I looked up at my wife, smiled/cried, and realized that I was born for this. What could be more exciting than having my own child that I can love, mentor, and watch grow up to do amazing things in the world!

In my mind there is no greater blessing than becoming a father. It’s the best thing that has ever happened to me – besides meeting my wife, she is a rock star. No startup, no company, no exit, no trip, it doesn’t even come close to being a Dad – you Dads out there know exactly what I’m talking about.

This experience has changed my life more ways than one and I can’t wait to meet the little dude.

 

What Entrepreneurs Learn From Failure: “F-UP, Get UP, Keep GOING”

Hey everyone. I’m fired up to share this new project with you. I recruited a stellar team and were about to kick things off.

What do you think the project is all about? You guessed it. Failure – something that I’ve done a lot of as an entrepreneur and I’m sure you have too. And let me tell you, you learn a hell of a lot more from your failures than you do your successes.

It started back when I raced motocross and I would get all busted up from crashing – if you weren’t crashing you weren’t going fast. And after you crashed, you got right back up and kept going. My dad always said, “Son, you can’t stay down long or people are going to rip past you.” The key is getting right back up and jumping back in to the race.

Sometimes it got to the point of breaking bones – about 15 for me. Then I had to stand on the sidelines, but It gave me a chance to think about what I did wrong and how far and fast I could really go. The point is I never would have learned if I didn’t push things to the point of crashing and breaking bones.

The same thing happened when I jumped into startups and entrepreneurship – I got my ass kicked, fell down, and learned the hard way.

One failure in particular happened a few years ago when I one day woke up drowning in debt and stupid decisions. I had built a company and positioned myself inside the company managing the day to day – what a mistake. I quickly learned that entrepreneurs make sucky managers.

What was supposed to be one thing quickly morphed into a battle that ended up pretty badly. I wanted to build tech products, but instead ended building a damn agency that grew too big, too fast and then the economy fell apart; that ended the battle.

What I should have done early on was hire a manager or CEO and I could have moved onto my next startups. I didn’t. Instead, I tried managing it and the thing blew up in my face.

This failure (It was kind of a big one) destroyed relationships; destroyed my finances and left me pretty beat up for awhile. It also forced me to file for personal and business bankruptcy, costing me some three-quarters of a million dollars. A hard lesson, but a good lesson that has made me stronger and defined me as an entrepreneur.

I learned several pretty hard lessons. I learned what I was good at, I learned what I was bad at, and I learned who and what I needed to win the game.  Most of all, I learned that you better be one tough bastard if you want to play this game.

Right now I have five start-ups that I am a part of – you can read more about all them by going here.

And this project, “F-Up, Get Up, Keep Going.” We don’t know exactly what this project will become, but we do know that if we start by sharing great stories it will turn into something pretty awesome. But we can’t do anything without your help. We need you to share your stories of failure. What you learned from the path of fucking up, getting up, and continuing to push forward – we know you have great stories. Send those to us in video, audio or text at danny at dannybeckettjr dot com.

Together we’ll share stories and teach other entrepreneurs how to build and run great start-ups.

Let’s do this thing.

 

Find a mentor that kicks your ass

Finding a mentor is hard, but finding a mentor that tells you what the fu** is up is even harder. You want someone who is going to tell you when an idea sucks, a team member needs to be kicked to the curb, or you’re just making stupid decisions based on emotion. A sissy mentor doesn’t do you any good, right? No. You need a mentor that scares you.

I think the notion of having a caring and supportive mentor who is always there to hold your hand blows. There is no better time then when you are a rookie to get punched in the face by a good mentor – these times will define you.

Honestly, I wished I had a good mentor that would have said, “Danny, what the fu** are you doing? Who is this worthless person you hired? What are you thinking? Pull it together you idiot.” Even though these things sound harsh, most of the time we need to hear them.

It’s better to face things now, than later when the stakes are a lot higher.

Here’s what you do, you go out and find the most qualified and talented mentor, coach, or manager you can, and ask them to not go easy on you. You tell them to be tougher than they have ever been. And, you don’t run away crying like a little bitch when things get tough – you run straight towards it.

———-

How about you? 

Do you have mentor that kicks your ass into shape?

 

Question for you today?

Here’s my question for you today. Are you taking actions each day to push your ideas forward? Or, are “you” holding back your ideas?

Ideas don’t hold back ideas – well, I guess then can, but not in this case. What holds back ideas are the people who push these ideas forward – believe me, several of my ideas have been held back because of me.

If you ever want to see your ideas move forward, you better get a grip on yourself. The worst thing you can do is not take the time necessary to develop self-awareness, discipline, and confidence – the things you need to push your ideas forward.

Please, do yourself a favor and not hold back your ideas.

————-

What else causes people to hold back their ideas and not push them forward? Add your comments below.

Kicking off the Startup America Summit in Boulder, CO

Happy Monday! The Startup America Partnership Summit kicks off today here in Boulder, CO and I’m ready to meetup with some rock star entrepreneurs.

Boulder is a beautiful place, and it’s one of the leading startup communities with Techstars, the Foundry Group, and others.

Over a hundred or so entrepreneurial leaders from 27 regions (I represent the CA region as one of the leaders) in the US will gather for two days to talk startups and startup communities.

How awesome is that, right? Two days filled with startup talk and what we can do to build and support more high growth startups/communities. Where do I sign?

If you’re wondering what Startup America is, Startup America is a growing national movement of entrepreneurs and resources providing startups access to the things they need to grow and produce jobs.

The movement launched at the White House in early 2011. The AOL co-founder Steve Case chairs the Partnership and the kauffman and Case Foundations are its founding partners.  American Airlines, American Express OPEN, Dell Inc., Intuit Inc., Microsoft and NYSE Euronext are just some of the corporate sponsors that have already jumped on board as well.

Yeah, it’s pretty awesome! And, you should for sure sign up. Does it cost money? Nope. It’s free. It’s a no cost program with a ton of benefits. And, if anything, being a part of this organization will help you connect with some pretty cool people who can help you grow your company.

I will share my thoughts and what I learned later in the week.

Have a great week!