Month: November 2013

“Make yourself unnecessary to the running of your company.” – Derek Sivers

You will never grow your business until you figure out how to let other people take the reigns.

  • Your time is limited and you have to sleep
  • Your brain can only process so much information
  • Your skills and expertise only go so far

Mind the fact that you have to pick the right people; but instead of pulling your hair out while trying to determine how to do more, spend that time finding great people.  That’s the only way to multiply your efforts.

Get the right people on the bus!

Blogging Gazelle is published daily by Shawn Carson

“The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.” – Alvin Toffler

I’m reading an interesting book by Chris Guillebeau called “The $100 Startup”.  Chris is encouraging all of us to consider starting a business around a hobby or passion that could help other people.  Among the points he makes are that it doesn’t have to cost a ton of money to get started, nor does it require any highly specific skills.  Just the willingness to try and learn.

Our culture has less patience for people who do not adapt than ever in history.  This is no doubt fueled by technology’s rapid advancement and the globalization of our society.

The good news is that there is more information at hand… just a few milliseconds away…that can provide guidance and access to education through online training and mentoring through social networks; in many cases for absolutely free.  This will have profound consequences for our traditional forms of education.  The resume will be judged by how many startups you’ve done rather than the letters behind your name.

Meanwhile, there’s no reason for any of us to be hindered from pursuing a startup opportunity merely because of a lack of knowledge.  Your customers will tell what they want and that will lead you down the right path.  All the rest is a search engine or a phone call away.

 

 

Blogging Gazelle is published daily by Shawn Carson

“If you have more than three priorities, you have no priorities.” – Maggie Fox

I find that thing I am most likely to get done in any given day is the thing that is on my mind when I first wake up and think, “What have I got to get done today?”  That thing may or may not be the right thing but this is for sure: I can’t focus on more than two or three important tasks in any given time.  Everything else becomes noise.

When the entrepreneurs I work with become overwhelmed, it’s usually because there is the sinking feeling they can’t do it all.

NEWSFLASH:  You can’t!!!!!!

First start, and keep, a “STOP doing” list.  Not everything you do is as important is you might think.

Then delegate.  You are not the only person in the world that can do everything.  If it’s repetitive, hire someone or outsource it.

The E-Myth reminded us to stop working “IN” the business so we can work “ON” the business.

 

Blogging Gazelle is published daily by Shawn Carson

“The fundamental thing that I wish I’d known, is I underestimated the importance of simplicity and design. ” – Evernote CEO Phil Libin

I’m an Apple snob.  I know it.

For me it happened with the iPod somewhere in 2003.  I got my iPad in 2006 and the iPhone and MacBook came in 2010.

There is a very consistent theme in all these products that has led me to become the snob that I am.  I really like the products!  I like the way they look.  I like the way they feel.  I like the experience of opening the package.  I like the in-store experience.  …and I like they way they work.

The one word that describes this experience is – simplicity.

The hard thing about simplicity is the fact that it’s not about cramming the product full of features.  It’s determining which features to employ and more importantly which features NOT to employ.  The other important thing is the design and use of the product so it’s not only easy but the experience of using the product is…, well…,  delightful.

Perfection is not about how much to add.  It’s about having nothing left to take away.

 

 

BloggingGazell is published daily by Shawn Carson

“The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” – Mark Twain

I wonder how many actually find out why…

Regardless the motivation; be it philanthropy or greed, religious inspiration or just plain good ‘ole capitalism, it’s the entrepreneurial spirt that turns ideas into the reality of availability to others.  It’s about solving problems for other people.

When you find out why you were born, then go find a way to make it happen.  Go make meaning!

 

 

BloggingGazell is published daily by Shawn Carson

“Doing nothing is very hard to do … you never know when you’re finished.” – Leslie Nielsen

Get a good, cheap project management app or a killer To Do list app.  I like Basecamp.  At the very least, use a spreadsheet to map out your major milestone categories and tasks.

I did some customer discovery work a while back to find out what tools our clients used to keep up with all the stuff they had to do.  I was interested in finding an app that combines strategic management with a task list.

After about 30 interviews, I determined that the most popular app to manage milestones… email!  Some had simple spreadsheets but only referred to them every couple weeks; not daily.

You can’t keep it all in your head and email keeps you focused on what’s happening right now, not what needs to be done by next week or next month.

What are the top three business goals?  Every morning should start with a priority of tasks aimed at those goals.

Reading email is not even close to #1.

 

 

Blogging Gazelle is published daily by Shawn Carson

“You can make employees be satisfactory but you can’t make them be excellent. That is their choice.” – Adrian Gostick

This is the problem I have always had with incentives and performance evaluation systems.  As soon as you write down a performance objective, you set a standard and you tend to get exactly that; no more no less.  And no matter how high you set the standards, they become the focus rather than the organization’s mission. This is the essence of bureaucracy.

When the incentives involve pay, there is rarely upside.  Usually it’s a disincentive when people don’t get what they expect.

People have to choose to be excellent.

It comes down to Jim Collin’s Hedgehog Concept and a culture that communicates it like a constant drum beat.  You have to measure what fuels the organization’s economic engine and center everyone’s attention on achieving it.

Those that don’t believe need to leave.

 

Blogging Gazelle is published daily by Shawn Carson

“Leadership is a choice. It’s the choice not to do nothing.” – Seth Godin

We often think of great leaders in terms of iconic figures who are captains of industry or heroes of war or quarterbacks of football teams.  They inspire their followers and the rest of us marvel as they “lead” toward a cause or goal.  They also give great speeches.

But I am coming to believe that leadership has much more humble and lonely origins.  It starts with a problem, perhaps one that affects a lot of people.  Most of us, when confronted with a problem, are content to suffer along, wishing someone would come up with a creative solution.  Maybe it’s a crappy service or a product that has defects.  Or maybe it’s a disaster or an oppressive culture.

The reason we tend to do nothing is the status quo is a powerful force that resists change.  It has everything to lose.  Change is hard.

The leader is the one who decides it’s no longer acceptable to remain in the status quo, if for no other reason than to change his or her personal circumstances.  Sometimes others take notice and join in.  That usually happens when they sense less risk.

So the leader is the one who decides there is a better way and sets about finding that way.  They take on the risk and find a solution.  Others then follow.

Oh, wait…

That’s what entrepreneurs do…

Read “Tribes” by Seth Godin

 

Blogging Gazelle is published daily by Shawn Carson

“It’s not the amount of money you raise, it’s who you raise it from.” – Jason Freedman

One popular saying is, “the best deal is the one on the table.”  It’s hard raising capital and if you are lucky enough to catch the attention of an investor, you’d be crazy not to take the money and get on with it.

On the other hand…

It’s never just about the money.  For one thing, there’s the personality issue; a conversation for another time.

The point here is that your investment partners need to bring something to the relationship beside their money.  They need to have a track record of helping their portfolio companies get to the next level of investment.  They also need to bring their Contact List to help you grow the business and get you in front of the right advisors.

If it’s just about the money, you might be better off, GULP, to pass on the deal.

“Be captain of your destiny, not prisoner of wishful thinking.” – Dharmesh Shah

I was intrigued by an  article I read recently about a college business class assignment.  Each team was given $5 to start a business and operate it for a few hours.  Success was determined by how much total revenue was generated.  The teams could plan all they wanted but once they opened the envelope with the money in it, a time clock started.

The interesting thing is that the best ideas (most profitable) were from those teams that didn’t spend any of the money.  In other words, they started with $0 capital.  The winning team generated $600 on a Saturday night.  The problem they solved? Wait times at popular restaurants.

There are problems that need a solution everywhere!  Entrepreneurs are the ones who decide to do something about it.