PR Tips for Startups » Startups http://prtipsforstartups.com Innovative Marketing Strategies From Today Tue, 13 Aug 2013 07:07:07 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.6 Innovative Marketing Strategies From Today Chikodi Chima: Public Relations, Content Marketing , Sales and Business Development Strategist no Innovative Marketing Strategies From Today Public Relations, Content Marketing, Media Relations, Business Development, Lead Generation, Public Speaking, Storytelling, Entrepreneurship PR Tips for Startups » Startups http://prtipsforstartups.com/wp-content/uploads/powerpress/PRTips_logo_iTunes_iTunes_1400x1400.jpg http://prtipsforstartups.com/category/startups/ San Francisco, CA When Is Too Early For Startups To Begin The PR Process? http://prtipsforstartups.com/early-startups-pr-process/ http://prtipsforstartups.com/early-startups-pr-process/#comments Sun, 11 Aug 2013 05:45:57 +0000 Chikodi Chima http://prtipsforstartups.com/?p=1325

Startup Public Relations CC Stephen Poffe When Is Too Early For Startups To Begin The PR Process?

Don’t make the mistake of launching your business without considering your startup public relations strategy.

Despite what people say, It’s never too early to begin the startup public relations process. Even with just an idea, the sooner you engage in public relations, the sooner you’ll be able to verify if you’re on the right track.

Public relations is an umbrella term for product creation, engaging with customers, and courting the media. Starting the public relations process from Day 1 means identifying your public and key areas of differentiation that make you the right choice for prospects. Whether you’re past the MVP phase, or simple kicking around an idea, getting outsiders involved means developing customer relationships, advancing a company narrative, and growing your profile as an entrepreneur.

Public relations for your startup is different from advertising because your investment is time, not ad-buying dollars. That doesn’t make public relations free, but there is no out-of-pocket cost.

Simple way to begin the startup public relations process

Public relations for your business doesn’t have to be expensive. The fastest and easiest ways to engage in the PR process for your business is to maintain a corporate blog, and to be active on Twitter. Content that illuminates your growth process is a great way to humanize your company, and to create discussion with potential users and partners.

You should also follow influential bloggers in your industry and engage with their new blog posts and articles. Create a community around the problem you wish to solve. It’s essential to have a community for your product, both before and after you launch, as we discussed with Douglas Crets from Microsoft BizSpark.

Should you hire a PR firm to help?

The majority of public relations and content marketing activities startups need can be handled internally. Many startups have started hiring public relations firms early for good reason.

The barriers to entry for starting a technology company have never been lower. More startups means more innovation, and more solutions to real world problems. This means more competition for users’ attention, and more competition to get in front of journalists.

Hiring a public relations professional at an early stage can help you break through the noise, and stay on the radar of the journalists and influences who matter. An experienced PR firm or solo PR consultant is also there to help you develop important collateral for your company, such as media kits, website copy, and positioning statements. Publicists can also help your CEO or team members get invited to speak at conferences, and participate on panels at major industry events. A publicist can help startups generate the early buzz they need to attract key hires, or sway the decision-making process at a prestigious startup accelerator.

Early PR for Your Startup CC seanmcgrath When Is Too Early For Startups To Begin The PR Process?

Why you want early PR

The time has never been better for startups. Amazon Web Services has dramatically reduced the cost of hosting and file storage, and companies without technical founders, who are experts at product marketing, can do quite well. What’s needed is added awareness, and the credibility of media recognition. Startups featured in prominent publications are at an advantage when they’re looking for investors, or who when they’re attempting to close major partnerships with established players. While much of this startup public relations activity can be hacked, a PR pro, with knowledge of the landscape, can significantly add to your ground game.

What to do if you can’t afford full-time PR

Many startups cannot afford to retain a full-time publicist. But even at an early stage it’s still a good idea to seek the help of a PR professional. Depending on your budget, the maturity of your startup, and your public relations needs, you may be able to engage a startup PR professional on a per-project or one-off basis until you have significant momentum behind your company.

A publicist who specializes in startups can help you tease out the most compelling angles of your startup story, and can provide important feedback on what journalists cover startups like yours, as well as how to pitch them. Business Insider put together a handy resource for startups to pitch reporters. Jason Baptiste also has a helpful guide for pitching startup journalists on his site.

Countless resources, courses and how-to’s exist on how to engage the media. An experienced publicist has devoted his or her career to cultivating relationships with the press for the client’s benefit. This can only happen over time, and with repeated outreach. Ultimately startup journalists want to speak with entrepreneurs and CEOs, not their flacks, but PRs are a bridge to relationship formation. 

The best time to begin the startup PR process was yesterday. The second best time is right now. If you have questions or comments about PR for your startup, I’d love to help in any way I can. Just drop me a note.

Have you had experience with early PR, good or bad? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

 

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Hello, And Welcome To New Readers (: http://prtipsforstartups.com/readers/ http://prtipsforstartups.com/readers/#comments Tue, 06 Aug 2013 04:05:42 +0000 Chikodi Chima http://prtipsforstartups.com/?p=1274 World Map CC Eric Fischer Hello, And Welcome To New Readers (:

It’s an exciting time here at PR Tips For Startups. Over the last 48 hours we’ve experienced a surge of international traffic, and hundreds of new visitors. Thank you for checking out our blog, listening to the podcast and for sharing PR Tips content with your friends. We love it.

PR Tips For Startups soft-launched on May 1, 2013, and today alone we’ve had visitors from more than 80 countries. We are so honored to be a part of your day. Thank you!

The idea for this blog was to create a resource for startups and entrepreneurs searching for actionable, do-it-yourself public relations and content marketing advice.The mission of PR Tips For Startups is to help entrepreneurs and innovators like you change the world. Our actions change the world in big and small ways.

Entrepreneurs are heroes. Entrepreneurs dream big dreams, embrace risk and wake up every morning to build a better life for us all. Along the way you are creating jobs, you’re sharing yourself with your community, and you’re giving the ultimate gift; the gift of hope.

If today is your first day visting the blog, below are some of our most popular posts and articles. They should give you a feeling of who we are, and what we’re about.

 My Biggest Startup Founder Mistakes

Wipeout CC jesman Hello, And Welcome To New Readers (:

 

You may have found out about the blog because of this post. Esther Dyson says, “Always make new mistakes.” It’s only a mistake if we don’t learn from the things we do wrong.

Read: The 10 Biggest Mistakes I Made As Startup Founder

Five Places To Find Journalists Who Write About Startups

How To Find Journalists To Write About My Startup CC pasukaru76 Hello, And Welcome To New Readers (:

Getting publicity for your startup is hard, especially when you don’t know where to look. Here’s where to start.

Read: Five Places To Find Journalists Who Write About Startups

What Do Journalists Love? Data!

Stabilo CC plindberg Hello, And Welcome To New Readers (:

 

One of the best ways to get journalists to pay attention to your startup is to tell unique and powerful stories about the world from your company’s unique perspective.

Read: What Do Journalists Love? Data!

How can we help you help others?

PR Tips For Startups continues to grow and evolve. We’re creating a community where entrepreneurs educate and mentor each other. We want you to add you voice.

Please let me know how we can make your experience even better.

If you have a startup-related topic you want to see on the blog, please send us an email. We love getting questions and feedback.

Is there a podcast guest you would like to see featured on a future episode? Do tell!

Would like to contribute a guest post? Please, please, please! We would be thrilled!

PR Tips For Startups is for startup founders and entrepreneurs like you. Together we’re making the world a brighter, more-connected and more generous place. And it all starts with you. However we can help each other, we must.

Take the first step, and submit your comments or questions in the form below.

Cheers!

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Global Startups Need A Stronger Voice http://prtipsforstartups.com/global-startups-stronger-voice/ http://prtipsforstartups.com/global-startups-stronger-voice/#comments Thu, 25 Jul 2013 04:07:00 +0000 Chikodi Chima http://prtipsforstartups.com/?p=1142 Startups Ignore Diversity At Their Peril CC Gordon Tseng Global Startups Need A Stronger Voice

A recent Fast Company article by Neal Ungerleider left me speechless. Titled “Startup Culture’s Lack Of Diversity Stifles Innovation,”  Ungerleider says today’s buzziest startups are not innovators, and there is no excuse.

[D]espite the fact that tens of millions of American Android and iPhone owners are struggling to make ends meet–and that there are even more who are senior citizens, who live in rural areas, lack college or high school degrees, or are financially excluded–startups disproportionately target the young, suburban/urban, and middle-to-upper-class. Because of that, the technology world is missing out on a lot of innovation–and, even more importantly to the companies behind technology, missing out on potential profits.

People without bank accounts, without smart phones and who are older than 65 are virtually being ignored by founders who are young, urban and represent a cozy circle of elite universities, and pathways to success. A lack of racial, gender and generational diversity among founders means that startups compete to out-Über one another, or to improve the experience on apps and services that are only used by early adopters.

Too many solutions in search of problems

In my time I’ve encountered countless startups whose founders think Yelp is “broken,” and our trying fix it. Despite the fact the company had a very successful IPO in March 2012, and even with a user base of millions, most Americans don’t consult the site before choosing a restaurant.

TechCrunch co-editor Alexia Tsotsis had a great piece about how trips home for the holidays were a great opportunity for “normals research,” spending time among people who aren’t leading-edge technology adopters. People like my mom and dad, who own smart phones (Android), but don’t tweet, check in or filter selfies. The American buying public–not to mention the global consumer–is a lot more like my parents, than like most Silicon Valley startup founders. My parents are probably seem like early adopters to billions of people still waiting to join the Internet revolution.

There’s nothing wrong with creating something people are willing to buy. But we can do so much more.

Earth from Space CC azamali Global Startups Need A Stronger Voice

Our time on Earth is finite

There are a lot of hard problems that aren’t being solved, in fact they’re not even being touched. This is largely because folks who could solve our biggest problems don’t know these problems exist. It’s unfortunate, but it’s also an opportunity that hasn’t passed us by.

“More techies and investors from different backgrounds are sorely needed,” says Ungerleider. “They aren’t needed for the sake of P.C. inclusiveness; they’re needed because the market demands their products.”

You have already answered the call

The PR Tips For Startups community is truly global and today includes readers in more than 425 cities and 65 countries. Many more, in fact.

You are part of a global conversation about entrepreneurship, innovation and a continuous cycle of disruptive technologies that will improve hundreds of millions of lives. You are heroes in your communities, in your cities and to me.

Thank you!

Entrepreneurship is the most powerful force for change, and it’s a force that does not belong to anyone alone.

Silicon Valley continues to dominate headlines when it comes to startup news. But in growing numbers mobile app developers, entrepreneurs and visionaries from Brazil, Nigeria, India, Singapore, South Africa, France, Kenya, Romania and across the spectrum are showing the world what is possible. Thank you for inspiring me. Thanks for being part of the conversation.

Your voice makes us stronger. The world needs to hear your voice. The world is waiting for your story to be told.

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Uncomfortable Is The New Normal: Five Tips For Young Entrepreneurs http://prtipsforstartups.com/young-entrepreneur-advice/ http://prtipsforstartups.com/young-entrepreneur-advice/#comments Tue, 23 Jul 2013 15:47:30 +0000 Chikodi Chima http://prtipsforstartups.com/?p=1067 Entrepreneurship is about being uncomfortable CC 1sock Uncomfortable Is The New Normal: Five Tips For Young Entrepreneurs

[Note: This post is part of a Startup Edition series on lessons for new entrepreneurs]

“I sense you’re going to be very successful,” my cab driver said. As San Francisco afternoon traffic lurched forward, the conversation had gotten very personal, as taxi cab confessions often do.

“There’s something about the way you carry yourself, and how you communicate your ideas,” she said.

“Why do I feel like I’m bashing my head against a wall half the time?” I wanted to say. “The other half of the time feels like I’m punching sand.”

I bit my tongue.

“Thanks,” I replied.

Perhaps I should be applauding the fact that a nagging, ever-present sense of discomfort had an inspirational effect on a complete stranger. It certainly didn’t feel that way at the time.

I’m sure this feeling of disquiet and unrest is shared by many entrepreneurs. While things may appear “normal” on the outside, below the surface is a boiling sea of conflicting emotions. With so many mission-critical decisions to make it’s hard to recognize and celebrate incremental progress.

“Being succesful in entrepreneurship is not about intelligence, it’s about perserverance,” Scripted.com co-founder and CEO Sunil Rajaraman said on a recent episode of the Entrepreneur on Fire podcast.

In spite of all the hype-making, entrepreneurship is the furthest thing from glamorous. If you aren’t making it on a box.net or Pinteterest level, you’re fighting an uphill battle for survival.  And the biggest struggle is to keep yourself focused on the mission at hand. As I’m learning, entrepreneurship is about how to make peace with being uncomfortable.

While each entrepreneur’s journey is different, here are five pieces of advice I have for young, first-time startup founders and small business owners.

Starting a business is easy but it takes perserverance to be successful CC Jasmine Uncomfortable Is The New Normal: Five Tips For Young Entrepreneurs

1. Starting is the easy part

Launching a business is exhilarating.

Pandora founder Tim Westergren recently wrote on LinkedIn about his heady startup days  back in 1999. Crammed into a studio apartment, and surrounded by whiteboards, he and his Pandora co-founders were confident they were going to revolutionize the music industry, and put artists first. They even raised money from investors who believed in their mission.

And then $#!t got real:

We began running out of money and wound up in a long, grueling fight for survival. It took almost 4 years, a few business model changes, and 348 investor pitches before we were able to raise another venture capital round. By the time we got to the closing in March of 2004, we had deferred close to $2 million of salary, racked up massive credit card debt, battled lawsuits and eviction notices, and experienced just about every other imaginable challenge for a young business. It was a wild process that by all measures we should not have survived. As I enjoy the progress of Pandora, those days are never far from my mind.

Do you have the grit to suffer through four years of the so-called “trough of despair?” That’s how long it could take to get real traction–if it happens at all. And the more audacious your vision, the harder you will have to fight.

Creating product-market fit is much harder than getting the ball rolling.

Entrepreneurship is a balance of passion and pragmatism CC Beniamino Baj Uncomfortable Is The New Normal: Five Tips For Young Entrepreneurs

2. Balance passion and practicality

In order to make it as an entrepreneur you have to have passion, but pragmatism is the attribute that will get you much further.

“Make something people want,” Y Combinator founder Paul Graham says.

While you may think your idea is going to set the world ablaze, you’re not your customer. Neither are your friends and family.

Practice customer development to ensure you’re not going down the wrong road with a product or service no one needs. A fast and easy way to “get out of the building,” and get real feedback is to take your product idea or prototype to a coffee shop ask random strangers for their honest opinion. Even if you have to buy a few coffees, and hear some unwanted criticism, it’s a lot cheaper than building a full product no one buys.

Its OK to work for someone else before becoming an entrepreneur CC Fabian Mohr Uncomfortable Is The New Normal: Five Tips For Young Entrepreneurs

3. There’s no shame in having a job first

Starting an entrepreneurial career as someone’s employee can be a safe and advantageous way to ease into startup life. You have a steady paycheck, and you get to learn from other people’s mistakes at no cost to yourself.

Fellow Startup Edition writer Jason Shah wrote:

I didn’t buy the, “Work on 0.0001% of a product that touches millions,” argument. The control-freak, narcissist in me wanted to own the damn thing.

After all, Jason had just sold his five-year-old company before graduating college. Not too shabby. But Jason admits he didn’t know how much he didn’t know until he started working for someone else.

When I worked on my own, I didn’t have analytics teams, useful dashboards, and a kickass in-house multivariate testing tool. Sure, you have Google Analytics, Mixpanel, and others. But Yammer has provided a 101 in the AARRR metrics and focusing on engagement, retention, and virality with a certain clarity that I didn’t have on my own. With millions of users, I have been able to measure things on a new level vs. the purely qualitative data I got from user testing with my other products that had much smaller user bases.

The most successful entrepreneurs are in their forties and fifties, running companies you’ve never read about on TechCrunch, Mashable or The Verge. With age comes experience. Working within an organization allows you to see its deficiencies, and to build up a rolodex of potential customers once you’ve launched a product.

And while tech acquisitions are rare form of exit, startups created by former employees to solve enterprise problems become juicy targets. Marc Benioff of Salesforce was a long-time Oracle employee before striking out on his own. And established players like Microsoft and Oracle often buy smaller firms for their customer relationships, and recurring revenue, or simply to snuff out a rival.

Today’s Salesforce would be a pretty rich meal.

Entrepreneurs Need Mentors CC arriba Uncomfortable Is The New Normal: Five Tips For Young Entrepreneurs

4. Seek out mentors

Mentorship is a vital and increasingly-scarce form of career education. You’ll make plenty of startup mistakes of your own, but a mentor can help you spot many before they happen.

Priscilla Claman writes in the Harvard Business Review that you should seek out a “personal board of directors for your career,” a panel of expert mentors who can advise you across a range of professional aptitudes.

There’s no need to hold meetings or even inform each person of his or her status as a board member — but you do need to select the right people and stay in touch. Just like any good board, the people you choose should have different contributions to make to your thinking….The people on your board of directors should know more than you about something, be better than you are at something, or offer different points of view.

Sometimes you’ll have a mentor and not even realize it. That person you go to for advice could be the corner shopkeeper, or in my case a local restaurateur whom I jokingly refer to as “my guru.”

While it’s great to have a mentor who understands your business, it’s equally valuable to have a mentor who can provide you with valuable life insights. I’d say this is even more important than having an advisor. “The night is dark, and full of terrors,” as Game Of Thrones character Milesandra is fond of repeating. Recruit allies to your cause whose perspectives will keep your grounded, motivated and focused on the big picture.

Bonus: Podcasters are great mentors

You can and should listen to entrepreneurship podcasts to hear how other startup founders made it work, and to learn from their failures. Podcasts such as Mixergy, Entrepreneur on Fire, Foolish Adventure, The Lifestyle Business Podcast and the Web Domination Podcast are great resources, because you won’t always hear from the same handful of founders who dominate the mainstream news.

The process of entrepreneurship is the same, whether you aim for an IPO, or you just can’t stand working for someone else your whole life. Entrepreneur podcasts allow you to tap into the minds of fellow entrepreneurs and learn from a wide range of industries and perspectives.

The World Needs Entreprenuers CC Nomadic Lass Uncomfortable Is The New Normal: Five Tips For Young Entrepreneurs

5. The world needs you

Even when you feel at your loneliest point remember that the world needs entrepreneurs like you. There are many time when you will feel alone, confused and aimless. It happens to everyone. And you may be building the wrong product, and have to start again from scratch. But the world is full of problems, and problem-solvers like you are in short supply.

“I’d rather see you fail at your own startup then succeed reading about someone else’s,” As Dave McClure from 500 Startups says.

Your time is now. The world needs you!

This post was part of a Startup Edition series on lessons for young entrepreneurs

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Startups Without Goals Plan To Fail http://prtipsforstartups.com/startups-goals-plan-fail/ http://prtipsforstartups.com/startups-goals-plan-fail/#comments Mon, 15 Jul 2013 01:45:46 +0000 Chikodi Chima http://prtipsforstartups.com/?p=986 Startups Failure Comes From Setting Goals After Its Too Late CC cobiie Startups Without Goals Plan To FailFailure to plan is planning to fail.

Far too many startups fail because they don’t define their mission until its too late. One of my biggest startup mistakes was fleshing out goals with my co-founder more than a year after we had been working together.  As ridiculous as this sounds, I’m sure I’m not the only person who has launched a venture without a discreet goal in mind.

I valued connections with people over making money. I still wanted to make money, but it wasn’t what motivated me to launch the endeavor. My co-founder saw an opportunity to disrupt incumbent technologies with huge financial upside if we got it right. It was the classic example of blind men describing an elephant. We were doomed to startup failure because the closer we got to achieving one set of priorities, the further we would be from the other.

Defining Goals Is Crucial To Startup Success CC TheLizardQueen Startups Without Goals Plan To Fail

 

When genius fails to plan

Last night I watched Beauty is Embarrassing  an amazing documentary about artist, animator, puppeteer and all-around awesome human being Wayne White. If you’ve ever seen Pee Wee’s Playhouse you know his work.

Wayne says his mission is to add humor to the world of fine art. Simple as it sounds, this is no small task. The art world is a stuffy and self-serious domain. Comedy is one of the most difficult things to pull off. Anyone who has ever been to an amateur standup night can tell you this. But equipped with a clear mission Wayne is tearing the art world a new one, and living a fully-realized life. We should all be so lucky.

Wayne says his first memories are watching people react to his drawings as a toddler. Growing up in the deep South Wayne knew he wasn’t destined for small town life. He moved to New York, and then Hollywood, but even as he excelled as an artist, Wayne struggled to define his mission; to make fine art fun.

The voices in his head told him what he wanted was wrong, but no one will tell you to your face. Even if someone had the guts to say it, they don’t have the power to stop you from achieving your destiny because no one is in charge. Those few people (trolls) who have the audacity to publicly doubt you are probably your greatest source of inspiration. You burn with the fire to prove them wrong.

Define success before you start

Goal-setting is one of the most powerful tools in the startup arsenal. In a world of uncertainty the goals you set for yourself are something within your control. Much like setting reasonable expectations, goals are concrete outcomes you hope to achieve, and committing to  expectations we set for ourselves that can lay the path for future success.

Why setting goals is so hard

Setting goals is one of the hardest things to do in life. Seriously. We may be working towards something, but if we never define it clearly we can never be wrong.

 

Failing to fail

This is called failing to fail. It’s a dangerous. Failing to fail is a defense mechanism we use so that we never get our hopes up too high, and we can avoid embarrassment. It’s the opposite of setting goals, because we’ll accept whatever we get as fate.

So much of entrepreneurial success is due to luck. But it’s not blind, dumb luck. As my wise uncle in Nigeria always says, “Luck is when preparation meets opportunity.” If you’re prepared for opportunity, you’ll know what it looks like and what to do with it.

 

Startup Failure Comes From Not Setting Goals CC sweis78 Startups Without Goals Plan To Fail

Get lucky with S.M.A.R.T. goals

I recommend setting S.M.A.R.T. goals, which I first encountered after listening Pat Flynn talk about the subject of mind hacks on his podcast. S.M.A.R.T. goals are:

  • Specific
  • Measurarable
  • Attainable
  • Realistic
  • Time-bound

Once you have a framework for success you’ll know when you’re on the right track and when you’re not.

 

Goals allow you to say “no”

Saying “no” is the ultimate badge of achievement. It’s a hard-earned right, and not a privilege.

Ghandi said, “A ‘no’ uttered from deepest conviction is better and greater than a “yes” merely uttered to please, or what is worse, to avoid trouble.”  And Apple founder Steve Jobs said, “Innovations is saying ‘no’ to 1,000 things,” to focus on the few that matter.

If you don’t know, or don’t recognize what you really want, you’ll say “yes” to things that will never deliver your desired outcomes. Having a goal allows you to say no to 1,000 things so you can say yes to the right few.

 

Goals must be public

My goal here at PR Tips For Startups is to help entrepreneurs change the world. We achieve this by providing innovative marketing strategies from today’s small business leaders. The better we all are at finding the right audience for our message, the sooner they can benefit from what we have to offer. In this way we jointly make a contribution to a better life.

I was a little uncomfortable sharing my goal. Who am I to want such a thing? Every entrepreneur in Silicon Valley wants to change the world. That’s so corny! Why shouldn’t I focus my energy on something else.

No one tells you what they really think except your true friends. You’re lucky if three people in your life are such straight shooters. All the self-doubt comes from me.

Well, what else would that something be? My destiny is mine! No one lives my mistakes.

Goals hold you accountable to an outcome, but it’s you who has to do the work to succeed.

 

Setting the wrong goals is an avoidable startup mistake

So much of startup life is focused on tactical goals, such as getting outside investment from the right VCs, launching new features, and getting media coverage from the right technology journalists. All of these are worthy pursuits. They should not interfere with your larger goals.

Understand the difference between tactical goals and strategic goals. Think of a tactical goal as the roadmap to your destination. Imagine a cross-country road trip. Tactical goals are the mile markers along the way, such as stopping at the Grand Canyon as you drive from California to New York.

 Stretch Goals CC Rainbirder Startups Without Goals Plan To Fail

Stretch goals vs milestones

 

I recently read an amazing LifeHacker piece about scientific ways to crush procrastination. I highly recommend checking it out.

There are many categories of startup mistakes, but overcommitment is one of the most flagrant offenses. As the CEO of a startup you’re aspirations are limitless, but your resources–and especially time–is finite.

In the most basic sense, “dreaming big” isn’t all that bad advice (though dreaming too much can be harmful, more on that later).

But there’s also the problem of setting up grandiose plans and becoming intimidated by your own lofty expectations. Since you don’t want to stop dreaming big, the best way to find a balance is to simply set “macro goals” and “micro quotas.” Your goals should be the large scale things that you hope to accomplish, that much is obvious. But your quotas are what you must get done everyday to make it happen.

Setting a low bar means overachieving every day.

You know there will always be a fire to put out tomorrow, but racking up small wins daily is a great way to build momentum and keep yourself moving forward.

Stretch goals are the opposite of bankable daily quotas. With the wind at your back you should challenge yourself to achieve greatness. You never know where you’ll end up, but visualization of success is of the most important things you can do. Surprise yourself
And in spite of what you’ve read, I still have a lot of work to do setting goals. It’s definitely a growth area. At the beginning of a work day I often write my session goals, but I don’t reconcile the daily, tactical achievements against my long-term mission.

Part of writing about goals and goal-setting is a reminder, and  a public declaration of my intent. I’m accountable to you now, but especially to myself.

Any suggestions?

I’d love to hear your thoughts on the best ways to consistently achieve your goals. You don’t have to be an expert at it–I’m not–but how do you get more done in less time, and keep focused on what’s important? I want to hear from you!

  • What are your favorite goal-setting apps?
  • What goal hacks work for you?
  • Where do you go for inspiration?
  • What’s your best productivity hack?

Sound off in the comments section below.

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Journalists Make Better Entrepreneurs Than MBA’s http://prtipsforstartups.com/journalists-make-better-entrepreneurs-than-mbas/ http://prtipsforstartups.com/journalists-make-better-entrepreneurs-than-mbas/#comments Sat, 13 Jul 2013 01:30:27 +0000 Chikodi Chima http://prtipsforstartups.com/?p=924 Journalists Make Better Entrepreneurs than MBAs CC Happeningfish Journalists Make Better Entrepreneurs Than MBAsI’m a journalist. I’m also an entrepreneur. Not saying I’m good at either here, just stating facts.

While everyone looks to business school graduates to grow great companies, it’s journalists who actually go to school to learn the skills necessary to be successful entrepreneurs.

Kara Swisher recently said, “Journalists need to start being entrepreneurial like everyone else.” I would argue we journalists are more entrepreneurial than your average bear, and that includes MBA’s.

Why journalists make great entrepreneurs

Journalists make great entrepreneurs because of the cold realities of doing business. “Everyone has a plan until he gets punched in the face,” as boxer Mike Tyson is famous for saying. Business theory and business practice are two very different beasts. No one takes more lumps, and is more used to things going wrong than a journalist.

Getting Rejected Is Part of Business CC Easy Wingman Journalists Make Better Entrepreneurs Than MBAs

Rejection is part of the job

If you aren’t being rejected you  aren’t taking risks. If you’re not taking any risks you’re not an entrepreneur, you’re a manager.

Journalists put themselves in harm’s way and get into uncomfortable situations for a living. You can’t sit in your aeron chair and report from the frontlines of a conflict at the same time. You have to get uncomfortable to get the prize.

Nothing is harder than asking for someone’s hard-earned money.

Journalists make good entrepreneurs because we’re used to rejection. We take take rejection in stride.

Your customer is probably a bootstrapped entrepreneur or small business owner who’s risking his kid’s college tuition on new and untested products. If you’re just starting up in business then chances are pretty good you’re not selling to the Fortune

500, or publicly traded companies. Any hesitation to buy is because he or she is in the same situation you are–just hoping to make it.

Its A Numbers Game CC Spooky Dad Journalists Make Better Entrepreneurs Than MBAs

It’s a numbers game

There are millions of small businesses in the U.S., and hundreds or thousands in your market. Journalists need to find sources for their stories, but it’s rare that only one person is capable of giving expert feedback on a human event. If you’re counting on a single customer to make you’re year, it’s like expecting a single source to hold your story together. Not gonna happen.

When you’re on a tight deadline you need to find the right person fast. This is why it’s essential for journalists to have a beat, and to continually cultivate new sources.

As an entrepreneur your deadline is running out of cash. Whether you’re concern is making next month’s payroll, or hitting investor milestones, you need to have a way to keep money in the door. Those are customers.

While a journalist has a beat, you have a prospects list. You’ll blow deadline if you’re wasting time with prospects who won’t convert. Knowing whom to talk to is key.

Actionable Customer Development from Andreas Klinger

Journalists ask good questions

Getting in front of the right people is hard enough, but it’s equally important to engage constructively and deliberately. The best way to do this is to ask questions.

The slide deck above is about customer development, and it inspired this post. What jumped out at me is how it emphasized asking questions in the right way. As a journalist this is now second nature.

Journalists are trained to ask people open-ended questions. A yes or no question will get you a “yes” or a “no.”

  • Why
  • How much
  • When was the last time
  • What does it feel like
  • Who can…

Are all questions that can’t be answered in a word. Give people a chance to open up and they will.

Journalists wear many hats

Startup Founders Wear Many Hats Journalists Make Better Entrepreneurs Than MBAs

I was fortunate to enroll in the Digital Media program at the Columbia Journalism School. While I was a student

  • Adobe Photoshop
  • Adobe Illustrator
  • Final Cut Pro
  • Pro Tools

were my some of my best friends. We spent way too many late nights together in the editing lab.

Techie and non-tech journalists are responsible for story sourcing, pitching, reporting, writing, editing and even a little self-promotion. It’s all in a day’s work.

Founders have to wear just as many hats. If you’re the CEO of an early-stage startup your job entails

  •  company strategy
  • Accounting and finance
  • Human resources
  • Marketing
  • Product
  • Customer relations
  • Procurement and operations

just to name a few.

They don’t teach you this in business school. And to the extent you are acquainted with the process, it’s another thing to be accountable for all of these activities on a daily basis.

Journalists are excellent communicators

Communicating with the public is at the heart of any successful business. You may learn presentation skills in business school, but to be an effective reporter is to be a man (or woman) of the people.

It doesn’t hurt to be able to write well (and fast). These are the essential skills of the journalism trade.

The ability to tell your story better than your competitors–and to the right audience–is what will set you apart in business. If you’re able to master storytelling you’re at a distinct advantage.

To be fair, there are only four graduate journalism programs in the U.S., while there are hundreds of business programs. And if journalists were really so good at business, the profession might not be in such disarray.

But on-the-job learning only happens when you’re working. As an MBA candidate you learn about working. As a journalism student you experience the real world every day. This looks a lot more like running a business to me.

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On July 4th Celebrate The Startup Revolution http://prtipsforstartups.com/july-4-celebrate-startups/ http://prtipsforstartups.com/july-4-celebrate-startups/#comments Thu, 04 Jul 2013 10:05:04 +0000 Chikodi Chima http://prtipsforstartups.com/?p=790 July 4 CC Leewrightonflickr 300x300 On July 4th Celebrate The Startup Revolution July 4th is America’s birthday. Today I invite you to celebrate the celebrate the revolutionary spirit of startup culture, and the power of disruption.

July 4th is my favorite day of the year. More than my birthday. Seriously!

We gather together, grill and blow stuff up. What could possibly be better? I love the lights and the sounds of the fireworks, and the rumble in my belly when a big shell ignites. I also love the collective euphoria after a big, public fireworks display. And what could be a better representation of startup life?

Startups are about disruption and revolution. Startups are about being scrappy, inventive and embracing risk. Those principles transformed the 13 colonies into the United States, when the founding fathers of this nation finally grew tired of living under the oppression of the crown. You’re reading this because you’re a revolutionary, no matter whether you’re in Silicon Valley, New York, Lagos, Singapore, Bangalore, Jakarta, Paris or Vancouver.

Hopefully your startup was born because you too are a freedom fighter who finally grew tired of being oppressed by shoddy software, half-baked or underpowered devices and bad design. Filling a hole in the market is an act of rebellion, and it’s not easy to make people see the value of what you created. But you’re fighting the good fight.

And the wind is at your back. The switch to cloud-based technologies, smartphones and social media are some of the most disruptive and revolutionary forces I can point to in the world of startups. Low-cost, pay-as-you-go storage from Amazon Web Services, telephone infrastructure as a service from Twilio, and affordable smartphones are just a few of the forces disrupting the old order. Seize the momentum and leave your mark on the world!

I hope it makes your heart race when you look up to the sky, smell the gunpowder and hear the explosions. Those of us who will celebrate America’s revolution today, think about making the revolution your own, and how your startup can free hundreds, thousands or millions of people from arcane, inefficient and painful solutions of the past, and how you are creating a better future. Those of us who are abroad, and who share the revolutionary spirit, this is your day too! This is your fight!

¡Viva la revolución!

July 4 Fireworks CC semuthutan On July 4th Celebrate The Startup Revolution

 

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Why You Should Manage Your Own Expectations First http://prtipsforstartups.com/managing-expectations/ http://prtipsforstartups.com/managing-expectations/#comments Sat, 22 Jun 2013 19:31:57 +0000 Chikodi Chima http://prtipsforstartups.com/?p=739 Handshake CC AJC1 300x248 Why You Should Manage Your Own Expectations FirstUnder promise. Over deliver.

They’re four of the most important words in public relations and in business.

Expectation management is the most vital tool you have to ensure your success, and it’s one that is completely within your control.

What makes entrepreneurship so exciting–and so nerve-wracking–is the sheer number of variables you don’t control. But setting proper expectations is something only you can do. And once expectations are set you have to no choice but to meet or exceed them.

Managing client expectations is about creating value in a manner and at a cost that is mutually agreeable. The relationship is pretty straightforward; You will deliver X product by Y date in exchange for N dollars. As long as the conditions are met, everyone should be happy.

It starts to get tricky when expectations meet the real world.

Always give yourself more time than you need

Last night I had a long discussion with a friend that triggered this post. One of the biggest takeaways was the importance of giving yourself a time cushion to make sure you can always meet or exceed expectations. Things always take longer than expected.

Don’t put yourself in a position of having to scramble to make a deadline because you didn’t foresee obstacles or roadblocks.

Regardless of how long a project will take, once you’ve agreed to a delivery date, you have to meet it. It’s much worse to blow deadline than to promise a deliverable in 10 days, even if you know it will only take one day. If you deliver ahead of schedule you look like a rock star.

Giving yourself a proper time cushion is the productivity hack that will ensure delighted stakeholders every time.

The difference between reasonable expectations and low expectations

Setting low expectations is cheating. You do yourself a disservice when you set the bar so low you could reach your goals in your sleep. In some situations this might be necessary, but if you consistently set low expectations for yourself and others, you’re cheating yourself out of a chance to grow.

I remember turning in a particular project faster and better than my boss expected, and she said, “I didn’t think you were going to be able to do this.” It wasn’t a compliment. It stung. I had just stepped over a low bar. Don’t let this happen to you.

 

Managing expectations based on past success

If you’ve ever read an investment prospectus you’ve probably seen the disclaimer that says something along the lines of, “Past success is not a guarantee of future returns.” No one knows which way the market will head. We use what we know about the past to manage future risk, but it’s imprecise.

Every situation and every client relationship is different. By dwelling too much in the past, and by resting on your laurels, you open the door to disappointment when you don’t hit benchmarks for a unique scenary. You can’t go back in time to create the situations that conspired for stellar results, so why set yourself up for disappointment?

It’s best to guarantee process and transparency instead. Here’s how we delivered client success in the past, and it’s how we’ll work with you, too. Nothing is ever a guarantee, but past performance give you a sense of what you can expect in the future.

Managing one’s own expectations is hardest

I struggle with setting reasonable expectations for myself. I’m hyper-ambitious and I want what I do to stand out. I’m sure most entrepreneurs feel this way.

I know what I’m capable of. I know what I’ve created and what I have achieved in the past. Shouldn’t these accomplishments be my calling card? No.

These are competencies and achievements, but they’re not a guarantee.

Runner Statue CC InspiredInDesmoines Why You Should Manage Your Own Expectations First

Why managing one’s own expectations is so hard

The problem with managing one’s own expectations is that we want to be super-human when we’re not. Well, maybe you are.

I want to please. More than that, I want clients who are dazzled.

Your reputation is built on what you deliver, not what you promise. We’ve all got more time than we think. Entrepreneurship is fueled by fear, urgency and constant deadlines, but it’s still a marathon. Relationships form over time, and they have to be constantly nurtured.

While I strive to have a reputation for innovative thinking and creativity, I should be happy as long as people know me as someone who keeps his word, and delivers on time. This is how business gets done, and it’s what people really want.

How to under promise and over deliver with yourself

Treat yourself like a client, and you’ll start to do everything differently–and hopefully better. It’s another hard, yet important thing to do.

One way to do this is to under promise and over deliver with yourself. Perhaps most important is giving yourself enough time to hit your projected targets.

I was at an event recently about work/life balance where one of the participants said you should rack up small wins at the end of the night/workday so you can go to bed with a feeling of accomplishment. None of these wins have to be seismic to be meaningful.

Setting achievable goals for yourself, and then over-delivering is probably the best way to consistently feel like a rockstar. And once you start getting comfortable, make sure to keep moving the goalposts so you continue to grow.

As an entrepreneur your work is never done, so it’s important to celebrate small victories.

A final word

It’s tricky to set reasonable expectations when dealing with clients and customers. It’s harder still to set reasonable expectations by which to live.

No one cares if you say you’re amazing at what you do, and you are. Congratulations. You’ve just matched expectations and you’re not a liar. But If you set the bar too high, then you’ll never be able to hit the marks you’ve set, and everything you deliver will be a disappointment, regardless of merit. Expectation management is about promising competence and delivering excellence.

I say all this as a student, of course. I’m struggle with all of the issues outline above, and need to learn how to set reasonable, human expectations while working with and around such sharpshooters.

To convert paying customers into raving fans, don’t promise the stars, pledege Kilamanjaro and deliver Everest.

 

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The 10 Biggest Mistakes I Made As Startup Founder http://prtipsforstartups.com/my-startup-founder-mistakes/ http://prtipsforstartups.com/my-startup-founder-mistakes/#comments Tue, 18 Jun 2013 16:00:43 +0000 Chikodi Chima http://prtipsforstartups.com/?p=676 Wipeout CC jesman The 10 Biggest Mistakes I Made As Startup Founder

This post is part of a Startup Edition series on mistakes made

When I dissolved my startup it triggered one of the most euphoric feelings I’ve ever experienced. The lock popped on a trap I created for myself, and I was filled with an instant urge to start something new and better.

So much of entrepreneurial success is the refusal to accept reality. We bend the Universe to conform to our ideal of a better world. We believe it when no one else does. And sometimes we’re right.

But this stubbornness comes at a high cost. When things aren’t working out, hungry and foolish like you and me are the last to know.

How did I get to failure?

BLue Angels CC wes 300x200 The 10 Biggest Mistakes I Made As Startup FounderThe decision to shut down the company happened on a picture-perfect summer afternoon. Thunder split the air as the Blue Angels precision flying team practiced their maneuvers.

As the F-18 Hornets simulated aerial combat overhead, my co-founder and I hurled accusations across the kitchen table. It wasn’t planned, but it couldn’t have been more cinematic, or more iconic moment to end a business relationship.

Eighteen months earlier, my friend and former roommate  joined  me on a mission to create an online learning platform. The goal was to deliver live, video instruction enabling people to sell their expertise online and earn money, similar to Udemy and SkillShare. We thought we had a viable niche serving baby-boomers who needed “upskilling” to perform better at their current jobs, or to transition into different roles in the new information economy. We wanted to make the training process efficient, cost effective and customizable, without the need for a pricey, arcane university credential.

I would come to learn out startup success is more much about avoiding crucial mistakes than it is about executing the grand vision.

The 10 Biggest Mistakes I Made

The following is a collection of mistakes I made as founder of Future Forge Labs, an edtech venture I ran with a friend for two years.

Choosing the wrong co-founder

Shackles CC Richard Vignola 300x200 The 10 Biggest Mistakes I Made As Startup Founder

Choose the wrong co-founder you’re doomed to die a slow startup death.

I chose my friend and former roommate to be my cofounder because he could code. When I asked him to be part of something, he said yes. No more thought went into it.

It was much later when I learned that experienced entrepreneurs perform excruciating due diligence on potential cofounders before entering into a professional relationship.

Choosing your co-founder is more important than picking a spouse. And in the end, you’ll bicker like a married couple, but you need to find ways to make it work for the good of your startup baby.

We were wrong for each other in so many ways, but the pivotal moment came for me when my cofounder and I argued for 20 minutes about the type of paper to use for our business cards. We dug in our heels, bickered relentlessly, and in the end no business cards were ever printed or even designed.

There were plenty of small and large disagreements after this one, but it characterized how petty and uncooperative our relationship had become. Most of our fights were about ego–actually all of them were–and we had no mechanism for settling disputes. Disputes like these were not about what was right for the customer or the business, but instead who was wrong, and why. I still shudder at the thought.

On the flip side, my favorite bit of startup culture were the “board meetings” we would have at a nearby tennis court, flinging a frisbee over the net and chatting.

Don’t build a business you can’t afford

Money Bags CC Dunbars 300x199 The 10 Biggest Mistakes I Made As Startup FounderWe built our business in anticipation of receiving VC money. Our servers ran open source technologies, but the cost of operation and serving live video would be exorbitant with any amount of success. Without an infusion of outside cash we would never be able to grow the product we had created.

As a former Silicon Valley tech reporter I was confident in my ability to raise money as soon as we had something to show.

Chasing down VCs is not unlike corralling sources for news stories, but it is a ton of work. Getting funded is a full-time job, which means you’re not working on product or serving customers. Bootstrap your business, or don’t build it. Once you take money you become an employee.

Fail fast and move on

I was ready to pull the plug nine months before we called it quits. I was stubborn and thought I could will my way to success. My gut told me it wasn’t working.

Failing fast can mean abandoning features or ideas, or even the concept of a business. The faster you decide, the more time you will have to work on something that has a chance to win.

Swagger CC Maurits Van Heuldsen 300x207 The 10 Biggest Mistakes I Made As Startup FounderYour business should reflect your personality

We thought we would be selling to stodgy, faceless corporations and hoighty toighty higher ed administrators. We never spoke with any, but this became the operating assumption. We molded our company to fit a perceived image that would pass muster with these fictitious and ever-so-discerning customers.

The image we projected and who I am as a person were at odds. As I’ve written, it’s important for startups to own their swag because we do business with people we know, like and trust. If you’re a quirky, colorful and fun-loving person there are enough businesses and customers out there that reflect your values. The more you let your personality shine, the sooner you will find each other.

Build community before you build product

Forming an active community before you launch is the cheapest and most effective form of public relations your startup can get. Community allows you to listen to problems and gather user feedback that will help you deliver the most effective product possible, and have a built-in customer base before you go live.

Your MVP needs to be a minimum viable product

At Future Forge we didn’t have an MVP, but we spent more than a year arriving at a workable prototype before showing it to anyone.

My cofounder spent months and thousands of dollars of his own money to launch our MVP. Technically it may have been a masterpiece, but it was hard to tell from the user’s perspective–and in the end that’s the only opinion that matters. If we had started with a lightweight MVP–even an email signup form–we could have validated our early ideas, and built a product based on the needs expressed by the market.

Instead we created a solution in search of a problem. Somewhere out there hundreds of customers are still waiting to have their lives transformed by our our platform. Not!

Dog Eating CC Anne Dabney 300x188 The 10 Biggest Mistakes I Made As Startup Founder

Eat your own dog food

The term “dog fooding” is a well-known concept about being an enthusiastic user of your own tools.

If you build a factory to make dog food, you’ll be in serious trouble if your dog won’t eat it. The only way to know is if you sample your product and delight in using it to solve your own problems.

If I’m honest, I didn’t delight in using our product, and days would pass where I wouldn’t log into the site we’d created. I allowed myself to be seduced by the business value of our product–and the market size–and overlooked the user experience. This should have been a sign.

Focus on problems, not markets

The accelerator model, as exemplified by Y Combinator, TechStars and others encourages founders to focus on markets, not problems. It’s no one’s fault. VC needs exponential returns, and the only way to do this is serve a customer base of millions. But accelerators and venture funds make multiple bets in the hopes that one out of 10 will be a LinkedIn or Palo Alto Networks.

You’re not a bet, are you?

At Future Forge we looked at the gargantuan education market and saw limitless opportunity for success. Although we narrowed our problem set to skills-based, adult education, we should have chosen a specific use case that we understood better than anyone alive. With 314 million people in the U.S. you can live quite well off a large slice of a small pie.

Greedy Squirrel CC Kautrock 300x185 The 10 Biggest Mistakes I Made As Startup FounderDon’t hoard ideas

No one wants to steal your startup idea.

Share what you’re working on and get feedback early.

I spoke with Matt Mireles, co-founder of SpeakerText, who encouraged me to reach out to our competitors and find out why they weren’t tackling the problem we set out to conquer. Opportunities materialized the moment I told family and friends what I was working on.

An idea is nothing without implementation. Share early and share often.

Don’t  Incorporating too early

We incorporated in anticipation of customers, but we didn’t have any. This was a costly and time-consuming mistake. In the end our lawyer and the State of Delaware got paid, but incorporation did nothing to advance our goals. Even shutting down the company cost $750, which came out of personal funds.

In the future I would postpone a Delaware incorporation until a legitimate customer need or serious investment opportunity necessitated it. Otherwise, it’s one of those vanity metrics that are meaningless to the bottom line.

A few lessons learned

Forgive me for waxing on, but I’ve never shared this experience before, so I jumped at the chance. If you got this far then I imagine the preceding tips have been helpful. Below are a few more lessons I learned along the path to startup failure.

Set goals for yourself

These days I set S.M.A.R.T. goals for everything, and I map out success before I begin. “If you stand for nothing, you’ll fall for anything,” as the saying goes. The ability to confidently say no to things that don’t fit into the master plan is crucial to success. The only way not to waver on the path to success is when you have a clear destination in mind.

Take care of your brain and body

Mastering your psychology is crucial to success. So too is maintaining proper health and diet. You’re in it for the long haul, and you need to preserve mental energy and physical vigor to get the job done right

You will bounce back

While I’m not invincible, I bounce back stronger every time. However, resilience isn’t enough to succeed. Rolling with the punches is not the same as creating and executing a plan of attack.

 Build a lifestyle business

My final piece advice to aspiring entrepreneurs is to build a technology-enabled lifestyle business, not a disruptive tech company. A lifestyle business solves a problem, often one you know well, and uses technology to deliver results to people. A disruptive technology startup aims to transform a massive market such as travel, education or publishing by using deflationary economics to deliver products or services at scale. I don’t know the failure rate for disruptive technology companies is well known, but the high-profile payouts are rare.

You’re going make less money with a lifestyle business, but you’re going to have more fun.

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How Small Wins: What Real Ninjas Can Teach Entrepreneurs http://prtipsforstartups.com/how-small-wins/ http://prtipsforstartups.com/how-small-wins/#comments Sat, 01 Jun 2013 19:22:35 +0000 Chikodi Chima http://prtipsforstartups.com/?p=546 Small Wins CC Jurvetson How Small Wins: What Real Ninjas Can Teach Entrepreneurs

The term “ninja” gets thrown around in a business context it’s become as meaningless as the word “hipster.”  Real-life ninja are battle-hardened problem-solvers who never back down from a challenge. Their’s is a proud history, with many parallels to entrepreneurship, as guest contributor and Kwirkly founder Chris Ogunlowo shares.

I’ve just finished reading Guy Shapiro’s Ninja Innovation: The Ten Killer Strategies of Successful Businesses – it is a brilliant book that draws on the stealthy qualities that make up a ninja, and how those qualities are necessary for today’s entrepreneur.

Ninjas, covert mercenaries of feudal Japan, specialized in unconventional warfare that made folks stay in awe of them. Shapiro draws from the qualities of these daredevils and cleverly juxtaposes it with how modern and successful entrepreneurs are ninjas.

Though Shapiro did not allude to the size of businesses that need to embrace ninja qualities, small businesses are particularly primed to exhibit these traits.

Call it David taking on Goliath, or any of the new allusions that are used these days, but it’s really the age of the Davids.

Examples are now everywhere on how seemingly hapless institutions that are only armed with good ideas and clever implementations, and–if you may–an immeasurable amount of insanity, are taking on established and powerful institutions and winning.

Admittedly, there are downsides to being small; it makes one an unlikely candidate for a disruptive mission. But there lies the fun. The smart entrepreneur admits this shortcoming and devises clever ways to survive.

Ninja Star CC Funky64 How Small Wins: What Real Ninjas Can Teach Entrepreneurs

Disruption is the mission

With just few resources at his or her disposal, small is taking on a mission that calls for a lot of imagination. Limited on resources but high on imagination, you’re a disruptor, and you’re possibly taking on one that’s high on resources (mostly having all the money and a legacy business model) but low on imagination – the ‘about-to-be-disrupted’. Other things may fail, but not a strong imagination that understands how to put pieces together with much flair and skill. The journey requires that you break the rules and establish a new order. A healthy dose of imagination is a necessity.

A killer idea

There has to be a compelling idea – one that promises something new. New doesn’t necessarily mean non-existent; it could be a small augmentation of an existing product (or service), or a pruning down of an existing one into a more manageable size for a once overwhelmed consumer. It may be an evolution of sorts that an existing organization is oblivious to, but which the smart small guy implements better to render the big guy obsolete. Without a good idea, everything else is useless. The only way to win is to do something your opponent does not expect, “You must innovate or die.”

Ninjas are resilient

This is a prerequisite for survival. There will be challenges that will push one to give up and question the notion of one’s existence but the small guy takes it in, summoning up as much muscle as possible to weather any condition, however unbearable. Risk is inevitable. There are records of ninjas staying up all nights in enemy quarters, brazing the most discomfiting weather and physical conditions.

Oh, you’ll need a strike force: a team of committed daredevils who also understand the risk at stake and are consumed by the adventure and the waiting glory. Build the right team.

The goal is victory and so adaptability is important. Innovation is happening at a maddening rate, and with that comes the need to withstand its surge and adapt accordingly. Technology is pushing humanity forward like never before and mounting pressures on long tested traditions.

Markets are not exempted

Businesses are being forced to take chances in order to survive. Here’s where the small guy comes in with his unique ability to be flexible. He doesn’t crave consistency. He fully understands the changing nature of the new world.

As Shapiro said: it takes a rare kind of vision to spot opportunities, a rare courage to pursue them, and a uniquely skilled team to succeed.

Hello, David.

 


 

Chris Ogunlowo 190x300 How Small Wins: What Real Ninjas Can Teach Entrepreneurs

Chris Ogunlowo is a Creative & Principal Partner at Kwirkly, a startup advertising agency based in Lagos, Nigeria. He has worked on some major brands including Virgin Atlantic, British American Tobacco Nigeria, MTN, International Energy Insurance, Fidelity Bank, Virgin Atlantic etc. A two-time national winner of the Young Lions Competition, he represented Nigeria at the International Festival of Creativity, France. He’s a graduate of Communication & Language Arts from the University of Ibadan.

He’s driven by a relentless passion for creativity, entrepreneurship, and an obsession about the future.

When not enjoying jokes and acts of irreverence on the internet, he’s busy fiddling with his phone and daydreaming about owning a dog.

Follow Chris on Twitter: Business @Kwirkly | Personal @Aloofar

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