“Is a business plan always necessary? Actually, it may be detrimental, especially at the beginning of company creation.” – Tjan, Harrington, Hsieh

In their fine book, Heart, Smarts, Guts, and Luck, these three collaborators open up the discussion by saying that entrepreneurs too often overthink their business at the beginning.  True to B-School form, they create a detailed business plan that is “precisely incorrect.”

There is a time at the beginning when you have to see if your wonderful idea for changing the world has legs.  That is, does anyone else want their world changed?  Spending too much time in analysis before you actually try your idea out with customers can not only waste time, but lead you down the wrong path.

Put your concept for a product or service down in tangible form and share it.  Get feedback.  A business plan can’t do that for you.

Read “Heart, Smarts, Guts and Luck” by Tjan, Harrington and Hsieh

 

BloggingGazelle is published daily by Shawn Carson


“Giving people what they want isn’t always what they want.” – Seth Godin

I want the “Save” button to work in my version of MS Word for Mac.  It’s irritating.  But getting the fix won’t change my opinion of the product one way or the other.  It just eliminates an aggravation.  What I really want is a new word processor experience but I don’t know what that is.  So I am left with comparing what I think I want to my existing experience with features and functions familiar to me.  I have limited my thinking to making the status quo incrementally better.

Napster changed the way people listen to music.  They were truly disruptive.  For good or bad things changed forever.  Yesterday, I asked a group of college students “who pays for music?”  One hand raised.  People want free music but do they really want the kind of music you can get for free?  We will find out soon enough.

Alex Osterwalder has a new book out called, “Value Proposition Design: How to Create Products and Services Customers Want “.  In it, he talks about observing how your customers interact with your product, not just giving it to them and taking credit for a new customer.  A product that gets put on the shelf is one nobody tells their friends about.

Free songs that sound like every other song and get listened to once on a streaming service will very likely not be what we call music in the future.  Is that what we want?  Really?

 

BloggingGazelle is published daily by Shawn Carson

 


“Courage is contagious. When a brave man takes a stand, the spines of others are often stiffened.” Billy Graham

Leaders have to be brave.  But it’s hard when it seems like you are alone.  But be brave still.  You’ll find you have more support than you think.

And if the leader you follow is facing a tough time, encourage her.  It helps to know your followers are there with you.

 

BloggingGazelle is published daily by Shawn Carson


“If you’re too afraid to mess up, you’re too afraid to do better.” – Coach K

A few good things happen when we try and fail.

  1. We learn what doesn’t work
  2. We learn where our boundaries are (so we can break them)
  3. We get stronger
  4. We have better stories.  (no one talks about the vacations where everything was perfect.)
  5. We go farther than we thought we could
  6. We try new things
  7. We realize there are few things in life that result in being killed and eaten (tip to Bill Bryson)

Being comfortable is good for a while but you get soft if you don’t try for more.

 

BloggingGazelle is published daily by Shawn Carson

 

 


“Prediction requires the identification of a pattern that repeats, because a pattern is what allows you to use what has happened to infer what will happen next.” – Michael Raynor

And this is precisely the problem with startups.  By definition, a startup is new.  It’s never been done before.  There are no patterns.  There is no history. You can;t predict what comes next.

This translates to risk which scares people.  It’s why bankers won’t let you borrow money against your own house to start a new venture.  You don’t yet fit nicely in a spreadsheet.

This is why it’s so important to get to first customers and quickly as possible.  It is the single best thing you can do to mitigate risk.  Sell what you have a soon as possible, even if it is not perfect.  Once you have customers, they will lead to in the direction of perfection.

 

BloggingGazelle is published daily by Shawn Carson

 


“Of all the paths you take in life, make sure some of them are dirt.” – John Muir

Today I am backpacking in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park.  Hiking in the woods is where I think; or not.  It’s where problems get solved in my subconscious.  It’s where the Creator reminds me that there is something more.

Our lives are so full of noise.  It’s getting worse and worse.  It’s good to get away.  From people.  From technology.

Take the time to be alone and to be quiet.

 

BloggingGazelle is published daily by Shawn Carson


“It is a curious feature of our existence that we come from a planet that is very good at promoting life but even better at extinguishing it.” ― Bill Bryson

As soon as you achieve any element of success in your business, people will notice.  You’ll have fans.  And you will have competitors.

They will cut prices.  They will say bad things about you and your products.  They will copy your ideas. They may try to defeat you with legal loopholes .  Everyone loves a winner but not for long.

Stay focused on your customers by easing their pain and delighting them in the use of your products.

 

Read “A Short History of Nearly Everything” by Bill Bryson

 

BloggingGazelle is written daily by Shawn Carson


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