STOP WAITING FOR A RAISE: 10 TIPS TO GET YOU STARTED ON YOUR OWN

Sitting at home on the couch complaining about your worthless job? Is it time to step out on your own? I took the time to put together 10 tips to get you started.

1. Create a business model canvas: Research, design, and build one if you want your idea to work. Having a business model is one of the fundamental building blocks of any start-up and necessary to protect your idea, invention and proprietary information.

2. Know Your Market like the back of your hand: Who does your product appeal to and are they willing to buy? Do you appeal to several different customer segments in the market? Are you solving any major problems?

3. You need an idea – What is the idea?:  Have a well designed plan that is executable. It is okay to think big (I prefer you think big), but how are you going to get there, one step at a time?

4. Research and list all Competitors and competitive advantages (Be honest with yourself too): Taking the time to do a competitive assessment can take time, however the time spent here will be well worth it – this is vital to your success. Also, while looking at your competitors define where you sit and how you are going to be different.

5. Financing and budgeting is critical: You need to know what you personally have to spend (Without hurting you and your family), how much you need, where are you going to locate the capital, and how is your idea going to scale – this means revenue streams and a smart business model.

6. Have an exit strategy in mind: Are you planning to sell your company and move onto the next thing? Are you going to pass it on to your kids? Or are you going to try and position your company for an IPO? Think about it.

7. Pick a course and run with it:  Picking a course is always better than swimming around in a circle like an idiot.

8. Protect Yourself before you wreck yourself: How are you going to protect your idea, invention and your proprietary information. Can your idea or product benefit from a patent? If you have the right projection, it can give you an edge in the marketplace.

9. Process makes perfection:  A company without the systems in place to fulfill what it’s selling or producing is preparing itself for a fall – believe me I’ve been there.

10. How is your company structured?:  Think about whether you want to be a shared corporation or a limited liability company. Also, think about where your company is going to operate and where you want to incorporate. What are your future plans for the company?  How do you intend to raise capital?  What is the exit strategy?

Now have fun and get after it. What are you waiting for….a raise? You could be waiting forever.

 

BUSINESS EXERCISE: THE SILLY COW

Are you in need of getting your team’s juices flowing about a new idea, business model, or startup? If you are, you should try out an ideation session with a silly, fun warm-up such as the Silly Cow exercise from the book Business Model Generation. It’s a great exercise to get you thinking beyond the typical constraints of old, outdated ideas that honestly..suck.

Here’s how it works:

Instruct participants to sketch out three different business models using a cow. Ask them to first define some characteristics of a cow (produces milk, eats all day, makes a mooing sound, etc.). Tell them to use those characteristics to come up with an innovative business model based on a cow. Give them three minutes.

Keep in mind that this exercise can backfire, as it is indeed quite silly. But it has been tested with senior executives, accountants, risk managers, and entrepreneurs, and usually is a great success. The goal is to take people out of their day-to-day business routines and show them how readily they can generate ideas by disconnecting from orthodoxies and letting their creative juices flow.

I have found the silly cow exercise to be a huge hit and it’s always a good time too. If I were to guess why it works so great, I would say that it challenges you to look at things in a different light. The other cool thing, it even works with serious business people like accountants and attorneys!

Try it out with your teams and let me know how it works.

 

WHAT WILL YOU DO IF SOMETHING HAPPENS TO YOUR STAR?

Is your company operating on a lone star model? Do you understand the consequences of building a company around this model?

This happens more often than you think – companies that are built around one person and when he or she leaves everything tends to slowly fall apart. Think Apple years ago – there are several others too. You do not want this. Take the time to discover and nurture talent in every area of your organization.

It doesn’t matter how good a strategy or value prop you have, at the end of the day, you will need a well crafted organization filled with talent if you want to execute and build a successful organization.

In today’s knowledge economy, team building is one of the most important risks you need to manage – building a strong team can be difficult too, but possible when made a priority. Are you making it a priority?

Note: A strong team is not one where a single person disproportionally influences the team’s results.

Everyone seems to cherish the company champ, but if you want constant business growth, you better have organizational structures in place to ensure that the other team members are ready to take the lead when something happens to the champ.

What about you?

How are you building your organization?

 

18 QUESTIONS FOR YOU AND YOUR START UP

It’s fired up Friday and I’m off to spend a beautiful weekend with my family and friends, but before I do, I wanted to share 18 questions that can help you and your start up get on track to producing loads of fruit!

Have fun and I hope these help! Peace.

  1. Can you summarize the purpose of your business on the back of a business card?
  2. What is the size of your market and is it poised for rapid growth?
  3. What is happening in your target market?
  4. What kind of margins are available in your industry?
  5. Are you targeting a market on the path to $1B potential?
  6. Are you targeting rich customers who will move fast and pay a premium for a unique offering?
  7. What is your customer focus?
  8. Are you providing your customers a simple product with a singular value proposition?
  9. Are you focusing on the one thing that is of burning importance to the customer and delighting them with a solution?
  10. Are you thinking differently and challenging conventional wisdom?
  11. Are you rejecting what is original and creating new novel like solutions?
  12. Are you outwitting your competition?
  13. Are you building a winning team?
  14. Are you attracting an “A” level team?
  15. Are you building an agile plan that allows for flexibility, stealth, and speed? (This is what will help you beat our the big players)
  16. Are you being frugal and only spending on what’s critical?
  17. Are you spending capital on priorities that drive maximum profitability?
  18. Are you seeding your company with little capital so that it forces you to stay discipline and focused?

NEVER STOP THROWING STUFF AGAINST THE WALL

Charlie is a charismatic, young, innovative, go getter, who for some reason just can’t get stuff to stick to the wall. He’s frustrated, confused, and just about ready to give up when…..

John, his old buddy stops by to have a beer and share a little wisdom with him. He says, “Charlie, take a seat here boy and let me tell you something that will change your life. Charlie, back in my day I use to feel the same way, I would constantly throw stuff against the wall and for years and years nothing would stick. And then, finally, after years of throwing stuff against the wall, there it was, plastered on the wall, that one thing that I had been working so hard for.”

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QUIT MAKING LAME EXCUSES

Are you an innovator or just a lame excuse maker? Earlier this week, Mitch Ditoff posted an awesome blog titled ” The 100 Lame Excuses for Not Innovating”. After reading through the ENTIRE list, it made me realize how often I hear these excuses from friends, family, companies, and everyone in between.

How about this? I challenge you to take a look at the list (All the way through) and see what excuses are currently holding you back from innovating and ultimately making something happen.

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PEOPLE PAY FOR GREAT NOT GOOD

I was catching up with my good friend Jimmy Petrie today (who by the way is a marketing, business development, and entrepreneurial guru) about business, opportunities, and what we both have going on. We talked for a good while which lead into a great conversation about playing within our strengths and handing off our weaknesses.

I always enjoy having this conversation (It is one of my favorites) about strengths because it is just so perfectly fitting and I wished I had learned it allot sooner in my life – at least I’m living by it now!

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MEGA VISION

Do you have a mega vision? Or is your vision very micro and nothing of any worth? Might it be time to throw out your ridiculously small-minded vision and come up with a mega vision for yourself, maybe your company, our country, and our world?

Don’t settle for a small vision. Small visions don’t change the world. Small visions don’t get us or you out of challenging times. Small visions are pathetic and pathetic is something we need less of these days.

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POSITIVE RESULTS OF FAILURE

Have you ever failed? And after the failure, were you able to look beyond the failure and see all the positive results of those failures?

For me, I’ve always been very good at this, being that I was an athlete and I always had to look at failure as a way of winning. And If I looked at it any other way I would continue losing. It’s when you look at failure as a way to win, that you actually start failing to win – and this is what you want!

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