“Hunters will tell you that a moose is a wily and ferocious forest creature. Nonsense. A moose is a cow drawn by a three-year-old.” ― Bill Bryson

Never believe your hype or your critics.  A three-year-old knows the truth.  Stick with that.

Read “Walk In The Woods” by Bill Bryson

 

BloggingGazelle is published daily by Shawn Carson


“When wealth is lost, nothing is lost; when health is lost, something is lost; when character is lost, all is lost.” – Billy Graham

Power and influence come with success.   But a lack of character cannot stay hidden forever, nor will it preserve power and influence.  When failure comes and it will, character is the difference between a quick comeback and a lonely exile in mediocrity.

Keep an eye on your moral compass.

 

BloggingGazelle is published daily by Shawn Carson


“Customers buy products, not technology, science, or research findings.” – Guy Kawasaki

I work a lot with scientists and researchers.  They are very smart and work really hard following their passions.  They spend years proving their theories.  The end game is publishing the results which releases their discovery to the world. A brave few dare to ask the question, “Can we make this a business?”

I don’t have a job if these researchers don’t ask this question.  But as soon as they do, we have to have a deep discussion about value.  To the inventor, value is derived by their personal investment of time and treasure.  They have proven something new is possible and they invested in patents to protect it.  They have every right to believe that.  But the brutal reality is the value they created is validated only by them and their peers.  In order to have a business, you have to have a customer.  Once you file the paperwork with the state to open the business, it’s the customer who determines value.

It’s a harsh reality when investors pass on an investment in a technology that took years to develop.  It’s because they can’t see a pathway from the research to a profitable business.  In other words, it has no value.  It’s even worse to release a great product no one wants to buy because it’s too expensive or too complicated.  It has no value.

Value comes from solving a problem at a price a customer is willing to pay.

 

BloggingGazelle is published daily by Shawn Carson


“But times change and so must I” – Dr. Who

Every now and then, Dr. Who regenerates.  That is, he completely changes into a new person with a new body.  It’s happened eleven times now.  Sometimes he’s older, sometimes he’s younger.  Each new Who get’s a new personality but his core being remains the same.  Sometimes he knows it’s coming and sometimes it catches him by surprise.  Each time he has to reinvent himself, and each time it’s a struggle at first.

Your markets don’t stay the same forever.  Sometimes the problem you solve goes away.  The market for buggy whips and saddles changed the day Henry Ford decided we all need cars in our driveway.  How many telegraph operators do you know?  My favorite product of all time, the iPod Classic, went away last week.  I bought the last one in town.  Listening to music is becoming something new.  Apparently we want to rent our music on the web.

When you are at the top of the S-curve, it’s time to look around and find another challenge.  Competition finds you and you become a commodity.

It’s better if you know it’s coming but come it will.

 

BloggingGazelle is published daily by Shawn Carson


The greatest rewards don’t come from winning the game – they come from playing the game – Archie Manning

A great win becomes history in the first second after the championship game.  You can take the memory with you but the win doesn’t make you who you are.  It’s all the practice in the mud and the rain.  It’s the bruises and aches you have to get over.  It’s struggling with defeat and it’s how you learn to rely on your teammates.  These are the things that make you who you are.  These are the lessons that shape your life.

All champions eventually lose and true character is revealed in the losses.  And there comes a time for all athletes to leave the game.  The question is, what are you going to do next?

 

BloggingGazelle is published daily by Shawn Carson


“Getting to your goal is not so much about what’s in front of you as it is letting go what’s behind you” – Alex Lavidge

A good friend advised me this week to think about how things would be different if all my existing encumbrances suddenly just vanished.  What opportunities would open up?  What new possibilities would fall before me?  How would my path change direction?

We hang on to stuff. A lot of it is good.  But much of it is for reasons that don’t exist anymore.  What’s left is what we hold on to because of fear.  We know what we have, good or bad but we don’t know what lies ahead.  So we carry the baggage.

Crisis provides the opportunity to erase the whiteboard.  Some leadership gurus advise manufacturing a crisis now and then for this purpose.  But it doesn’t have to come to that.  Letting things go by deliberate thought process and habit is a better way.  The place to start is with your “Stop Doing List”.

 

BloggingGazelle is published daily by Shawn Carson


“Focus on cash flow, not profitability” – Guy Kawasaki

Profitability is one of those spreadsheet things that we can sit down and calculate.  The inputs are price and cost and we can play with the numbers until they look good enough for investors….

Of course it’s not that simple but cash flow kills the startup quicker than un-profitability.  Cash flow adds the time dimension to the financials.  Not all customers pay on time and some don’t pay at all.  And yet, your suppliers expect you to pay them on time and your employes, for some reason, want a paycheck every two weeks or so and your significant other would like you to contribute to the rent.  This is why Freemium business models can be risky.  You get traction with endusers but you can’t control when they decide to pay you.

Maintaining cash-flow can be a significant challenge and one that most CEO’s are not prepared to deal with.  It’s not fun to bug people about money.  But you need a process to do so and that means you need to measure it… every day!  Who is paying and who is not?  Those that aren’t, how long have they been deadbeats?

Another important measure is how many days it takes to close a sale.  A sales process gets more expensive the longer it takes for the customer to decide to buy.  You need to keep an eye on this.  Some sales channels close more effectively than others.  Excuses don’t matter…only cash.

Sometimes you have to write letters and make phone calls.  Here the thing:  you’re managing your cash flow and all of the businesses in your value chain, including customers, are managing theirs as well.  That means they are deciding who gets paid first and who get’s put off.  It’s the law of the squeaky wheel.

If you are blest enough to receive venture capital, you can also run out of cash.  Going back for more gets REALLY expensive.

Read Reality Check by Guy Kawasaki.

Blogging Gazelle is published daily by Shawn Carson


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