5 mistakes when starting a business

June 28th, 2006 by Rolf Erikson

Jessica Seid at CNN-Money has written an interesting article, 5 deadly mistakes when starting a business.

One-third of small businesses fail in the first two years, according to the Small Business Administration, and a little more than half fail within the first five years.

But that doesn’t mean you have to give up your dream. Here are five common mistakes to avoid, so you can build a successful business.

1. Too little cash… The biggest issue..

2. Thinking small… You may be competing for customers against larger companies with more resources. But you don’t have to show it.

3. Skimping on tech… Ironically, it’s often easier for a small company to adopt and deploy new technologies…

4. Underestimating the importance of sales… For small-business owners starting out, most of the attention should go to sales and revenues..

5. Losing focus… And the more focused the vision, the greater the chances that the business will realize its goal…

Jessica gives us a summary of very good advice. Read the whole article! There is also a link to 5 ways to start a company.

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Wisdom for entrepreneurs

June 26th, 2006 by Rolf Erikson

O’Reilly Radar post started this year’s talk with a set of “proverbs” he collected or thought up over the years. These are basically little nuggets of wisdom for bite-sized nutrition. Enjoy. The post takes the form of explanations of the following “proverbs” They are really worth reading!

Starting

  • It’s good to be king — being an entrepreneur is the best job I’ve had.
  • Losing sucks — shutting down a company is unbelievably difficult.
  • Building to flip is building to flop — this is taken from Jason Fried, and he’s right.
  • Prudence becomes procrastination — it’s great to research your market and talk to potential buyers about your ideas.
  • Momentum builds on itself — just start.
  • Jump when you are more excited than afraid — lack of fear is irrational, and too much fear is debilitating.

The Idea

  • Pay attention to the idea that won’t leave you alone — this is taken from Paul Hawken’s Growing a Business. .
  • If you keep your secrets from the market, the market will keep its secrets from you — entrepreneurs too often worry about keeping their brilliant secrets locked away;
  • Immediate yes is immediate no — does everyone immediately tell you your idea is great? Run away from it.
  • Build what you know — this is the most basic advice of idea generation: scratch an itch you have yourself.
  • Give people what they need, not what they say they need — interviews are tricky.
  • Your ideas will get better the more you know about business — engineers hate to hear this, but you can generalize up quite far from here: the more you know about everything, the better all of your ideas will get!

People

  • Three is fine; two, divine — having too many co-founders makes decisions hard to reach; if you’re on your own, you have to bear all of the stress and worry about the success of the company.
  • Work only with people you like and believe in — I once heard Eric Schmidt say something along the lines of, “The older I get, the more I think all that matters is working with people you like.”
  • Work with people who like and believe in you, just naturally — maybe you are very persuasive, and can talk people into working with you against their better instincts.
  • Great things are made by people who share a passion, not by those who have been talked into one — a corollary of the last; you can spark a passion in someone, but you can’t do it without some fuel to catch.

Product

  • Cool ideas are useless without great needs — this is the classic engineers’ entrepreneurial mistake (or at least I’d like to think so, since I’ve made it). Build the simplest thing possible — engineers have the hardest time with this, with not overdesigning for the need they’re addressing.
  • Solve problems, not potential problems — you can waste a lot of money implementing solutions for problems you don’t have yet, and may never have. Test everything with real people — it’s unbelievable how helpful this is.

Money

  • Start with nothing, and have nothing for as long as possible — small budgets give big focus (probably another line I’m stealing from Jason Fried: it sounds like something he’d say…)
  • The best investor pitches are plainspoken and entertaining (not in that order) — think about what this implies.
  • Never let on that you’re keeping a secret — telling an investor “I don’t want to talk about that” is terrible.
  • No means maybe and yes means maybe — you should never take a “no” from someone you want to work with.
  • For investors, the product is nothing
  • The best way to get investment is not to need it — if you have a running business with real customers and you’re paying all your bills, you are much more likely to get a funding round than if you need the round in order to survive or succeed.

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Small business trends

June 26th, 2006 by Rolf Erikson

Anita Campbell brings us updates on trends affecting the small business market in SMALL BUSINESS TRENDS . In her small business trends radio we can listen to some interesting talks.

The calendar is:

Grow Your Business Faster With Smart Partnerships How to Start a Business With No Money

Tune in live to this Internet Radio broadcast, by visiting http://business.voiceamerica.com

Jun 27 1pm-2pm Jul 4 1pm-2pm

The art of listening

June 16th, 2006 by Rolf Erikson

Dave Pollard says about listening,

Listening is a skill, like talking or walking. We learn it by practice; we lose that skill by not practicing it. Its mastery is necessary to competent conversation, even to empathy: If we cannot really hear others, how can we understand them, and if we cannot understand them, how can we care about them?

With reference to Pohangina Pete he also says,

Whisper to an animal, instead of talking (or shouting!) and watch its surprised and attentive response. Listen attentively, carefully, without interjecting or thinking about how to respond, in a conversation with another human talking about something they care about, and you will get that same astonished, rapt response. It even works on the telephone — people can hear you listening.

That reminds me when I was a scout-leader. To get full attention from all kids you better had to talk with a low voice. Well, how to learn how to be a better listener? Dave gives us 10 advice,

  1. Close your eyes.
  2. Get away from noise.
  3. Learn to meditate.
  4. Listen with your eyes.
  5. In meetings, say less.
  6. Practice interviewing, and facilitating others’ conversations.
  7. Record or write down what you hear.
  8. Eavesdrop on others’ conversations.
  9. Find model good listeners.
  10. Teach your children how to listen.

I remember specially that one saying you should should listen to another person without thinking of what to answer.

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Mer om när allt är pyton

June 15th, 2006 by Rolf Erikson

Jag skriv i en tidigare post, När allt är pyton, att det är bra om man kan acceptera läget som det är och att därifrån i små steg röra mot det tillstånd man vill vara i.

I dagens SvD finns en bra artikel om filosofiska praktiker. Som filosofer menar de att de dels har en insikt i de diskussioner människan alltid fört om val, frihet, ansvar och vad som är det goda livet. Dels är de tränade i att tänka och reflektera på ett öppet och fördomsfritt sätt, skriver Lennart Lundquist i Svenskan.

Tekniken som har sitt ursprung i Tyskland har utvecklats Norge. Sällskapet har en egen hemsida.

Det betonas att det är samtalet som är viktigast. De liksom en coach lyssnar och har få om inga pekpinnar. Det filosofiska samtalet tror jag är bra om man inte har klart för sig vad man vill få ut av livet.

Ett annat sätt, som är bra inför alla samtal, är att fundera över vad som gör en glad. Vad får en att med glädje stiga upp på morgonen. Det känns i magtrakten. Oftast förtränger vi känslan med tanken att det är orealistiskt. Varför då? I alla fall är det en bra utgångspunkt för ett samtal ( kanske också via email).

Best Sales Advice

June 13th, 2006 by Rolf Erikson

Warren Greshes has had a career as salesman, sales manager, and now as a business owner for the last twenty years. In his blog he says that The Best Sales Advice I’ve Ever Received, he received at a young age.

Anyhow here are his best sales advice,

1. If you throw enough $#@% against the wall, something’s gotta stick. Prospecting is the most important part of the sales process. The single biggest reason salespeople don’t do enough business is because they don’t talk to enough people.

2. If you sell enough dresses, you can burn down my office. This was a direct quote from my old boss in the Garment Center in New York. It taught me a number of very valuable lessons.

3. The way you break them in is the way they’re always going to be. Establish the ground rules for a win-win relationship right off the bat and you’ll be amazed how easy it will be to get the clients to fall in line.

Warren Greshes has a lot of good advice. I quite agree that you must meet a lot of customers in order to get an order.

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Top Podcasts on Business

June 8th, 2006 by Rolf Erikson

Gary Schoeniger started a business dead broke with a borrowed ladder. Soon he had a multi-million dollar business. That can be heard on as one of the Top Monthly Podcasts according to Anita Campbell. The audio file is called How to Start a Business With No Money.

The other podcasts are.

Employee Productivity through Technology , 6 Steps to a Growth Business, Turn Your Website into a 24-Hour Cash Machine, Voice over IP (VoIP) in plain English,

I think you have a lot of interesting talk to listen to so go there!

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How to build a team

June 7th, 2006 by Rolf Erikson

I found an article by Charlie Feld, “How to Build a Great Team“, that gives a great overview of what it takes to build a great team. He found that the “secret sauce” of great leaders are:

Character: Doing the Right Thing

My definition of character is …. what you do, not what you say. Not only the right thing from a business or economic aspect, but the right thing including social and philosophical dimensions….

Leadership Development: The Most Important Task

The second competency required for great execution is developing the leadership skills of your team. Organizations are seldom led by a single person, no matter how charismatic………. Since no one is perfect, everyone needs help and coaching.

Passion: The Organizational Energy Level

Passion for the job is hard to manufacture, but when present, it is contagious.

Influence and Persuasion: Better than Power

Executives tend to think it is much easier and less time-consuming to just tell their direct reports what to do. Part of leadership, however, lies in spending time to explain a directive, in giving employees perspective and in helping them understand the “why” behind the direction.

Read the story because the leaders always has the responsibility of developing people and building teams.

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Is it right to have a goal?

June 6th, 2006 by Rolf Erikson

Lisa Haneberg has mixed feelings about the value of goals. Goals are vital to success because they provide inspiration and a place on which to focus but goals are also the enemy, she says in her blog.

The formula for peak performance is a combination of high focus and unstoppable action. How can you make sure you focus in the right direction if you don’t have goals that move and energize you? You can’t. Creating and manifesting great goals fuels achievement and makes life fulfilling.

Goals are also the enemy. You cannot predict what is going to happen in the next year, two years, or five years. Even so, some people create goals with very narrow pass/fail criteria. If they don’t achieve exactly what they thought they wanted, they have failed. Lots of people give up on goals because things don’t go as planned.

I believe that goals are important but reaching the goals must be done in small steps.

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