8 suggestions for start-ups

 

1. Begin only if you are passionate about your idea

You have to be more passionate about your idea than about earning money with it, otherwise you will not last the first few years of little or no growth.  A client of mine is waiting for his website to go on-line so he can start and it’s already been six months of waiting for him.  But he is passionate about his idea(s) and he will go the distance if he continues in the way he ha begun.

 

2. Check your idea for viability, for feasibility, for financial growth and tweak accordingly

Is there a market for this idea/product?  Will it generate enough income at a price that is reasonable for the target niche?  Is the niche big enough to support your product idea in the long term, or is this a fad, which you will have to tweak or even give up in a year or two.  Remember it may take up to two years to generate “real” money.

 

Do you plan to do this full-time?  If so, how will you live until you start earning money.  In other words, what is your budget and financial plan?

 

3. Let others help you, and take advice; but leave naysayers out of the picture, at least until you have earned your first million-

 

You will have lots of people trying to tell you what to do and eventually some will give you wise advice.  Ask for advice, but from those who are doing something like this- either on a small, or on a big scale.  Ask for mentors from people who, as Brené Brown says, are “in that arena” too.

 

4. Get a coach

For most cases, you will need an independent, non-involved party that will ask you good questions (and that is what coaches do, ask questions so you can reflect on your choices and decisions).  Trust me on this.  You will need someone like this.

 

5. Build in time for recreation every day and every week and every quarter, because burnout is easy to catch-

Burnout may even be the reason for you starting your own enterprise.  The temptation is to focus so much on your idea that you don’t think about yourself, your key relationships and then you start to suffer.  Build in time for self-care, for a healthy physical and relational life and your start-up will last past the beginning stages.

 

6. Don’t give up; in fact, have a plan for if you feel like giving up-

Ask yourself, when things get tough, what am I going to do.  Ask, when I am running out of money to grow, what will I do.  Ask when I am tired and don’t feel like I can go on, what am I going to do. 

 

Remember.

And then remember those first days and the passion.  Remember the joy of starting and of that first sale.  Remember the advice you have received from good mentors.  Then take a (short) break, tweak, and carry one!  Don’t give up!

 

7. When it is time, on-board a team, first an outsourced on, and when ready, a salaried team

 

It could be that your idea is a solo-preneur idea, but you are going to need people to call on for support and help, people you can also recommend to others when they need help:  a web-person, an accountant (or at least software), possibly a lawyer, people who do things that help your business and are not in direct competition with you.  For example, a client who is an interior designer, may want someone specializing in furniture building or interior sewing to be on the team.

 

Eventually, if your company is meant to have employees, you need to pick them well.  Depending on if you have a partner or not, depends on the company structure.  For example, one partner is the CEO and the other the CFO.  I have seen this particular situation relatively often.  If you are alone, one of the first people to on-board should be a CFO-type person.  Money is not everything, but in a company, it is very important to watch all the numbers.  Then there are the marketing and sales types, the technology types (both for running and for growth-development, depending on the kind of idea you have), logistics/operations, and strategy.  In the beginning, people may wear quite a few hats, but as your company grows, the person will, hopefully have fewer and be able to focus on their strengths.

 

Allow your team to help you grow your company

Leadership is key and so is delegation and respect.  You need to create a culture of positive growth and listening to you main team’s ideas and suggestions.  Remember, if you want to grow you will need help.  Let your team do that for you!

 

8. Dream big.  Think about the future of your company and your life-

Once you are on your way, you should continue to dream.  What are your three, five, ten-year plans?  What is next?  And after that?  This might be where a coach comes in, again, to help you broaden your horizons.  Finally, here are a few more questions for you to chew on:

 

Is your idea reproducible?  Franchise-able? What does the long term look like?

 

Do you plan to sell your company?  If so, when?  These issues and more will be discussed in the next chapters, especially regarding starting a business in Switzerland, where I have lived for over two decades.  Enjoy the book, and the great challenge of Swiss Start-ups!

 

Patricia Jehle

Jehle Coaching

Contact me at patricia@jehle-coaching.com

Marketing Quiz/Check-up

Scaling Lean

 

A week ago I had the opportunity to go hear Ash Mauyra (AM) speak on scaling businesses and trying out new business ideas.  I have had a week to digest his talk and have read some of his new book, Scaling Lean, so I have some questions for you if you are working on new – or old - business ideas, especially with respect to marketing and getting those customers. Much of this blog is based on his talk and on the book.  The quotes are from his book.

 

Who are your key customers and which of their problems do you plan to solve?  Are those problems painful enough for them to want them solved?  What are they already spending on that pain? 

 

That pain is your gold mine, but you have to remember that for your potential customer to spend on your solution they have to give up something else, and the question is not whether your solution is better than that of the competitive solutions, but that the customer thinks it’s a better solution.  Thus, you have to love (and live) that pain more than your solution. With that your solution can get tested on customer validation.

 

What is your MVP? 

By that I don’t mean most valuable player, but the minimum viable product, in other words, what is your lowest amount of sales your company can live with in a period of time.

 

How are you creating your marketing experiments? 

How can you shorten your feedback loop to find out where your customers are buying and most importantly, why?  Are you looking at the correct numbers to keep those customers coming?  Do not fixate on a fictitious/unrealistic business plan – remember that according to AM, “traditional measures of progress are unhelpful” because in start-ups:

 

1. “Because revenue is near zero during the early stages, we settle for building velocity as a measure of progress.  But measuring progress as execution of untested plan is no better.

 

2. Investing heavily in quantitative metrics doesn’t automatically give you solutions.  Metrics can only tell you what’s going wrong, not why.  The more you invest in quantitative metrics, the more you end up drowning in a seat of non-actionable data.

 

3. Even when you are generating revenue, unless you can connect cause and effect, you can’t leverage the elements that are bring you success, and you can easily be led down the wrong path.”

 

The AM Solution:  GOLEAN: Goal, Observe and Orient, Learn-Leverage-Lift, Experiment, Analyze and , Next Actions

 

Think and act like a scientist- they do not run experiments, but create models (and check them with experiments).  The key idea is that there needs to be one single measure of progress for all people involved, for the entrepreneurs and business leaders and the stakeholders, and that is GOLEAN.

 

The model has three parts:  Defining progress (set your Goal), prioritizing waste (Observe and Orient) , and achieving breakthrough (Learn-Leverage-Lift, Experiment, Analyze, and Next steps) .

 

 

But remember, “No methodology can guarantee success.  But a good methodology can provide a feedback loop for continual improvement and learning.”

 

Part of the solution is lies in trying to avoid our “innovator’s bias”, the bias that knows our idea is the best.  Your potential customer and your investors may not believe that, and more importantly, they don’t necessarily care about your solution.  They have a different perspective, which is usually for the customer found in their problem(s).

 

What your potential investors want to know is what the market opportunity is (how big is the market).  They want to know how you will generate revenue and what your margins are.  Finally, they will want to know how you will keep your competitive edge.  Are you a blue ocean kind of idea?  Do you have patent(s) pending?  Is there a secret sauce that can’t be easily discovered?

 

So, what is your metric for indicating reliable (and not fake or vanity) measurement?  How do you create, deliver and capture value?  What is your unique value proposition (value creation)?  What is your cost structure (value delivery)? And, what are your revenue streams (where you capture your value for the company)?

 

And the (AM) value creation formula looks like this:

 

Created Value > Captured Value > = Cost (Value Delivery)

 

In the end, the issue is generating revenues and as Ash Maurya says, “There is no business in your business model without revenue.”  The idea is to maximize the difference between the value captured and the cost of delivering the value (your margins).  But even not-for-profits have a need for revenue, although their model aims to keep the difference between those two (cost and value) as close to zero as possible. 

 

Final questions

 

What is your product value?  What does it cost you to deliver this value?  How much do you receive for that delivery and does it reach your MVP goals?

 

Maybe I will blog next about traction and how you get customers, but for today, this is enough.

 

Have a very successful week!

 

For more on my WP blog, go here: www.jehle-coachingexpat.com  one of my latest is below:
CHANGE!

 

Change is GOOD and Change is HARD

CHANGE! Where are we and where do we want to go?

I am thinking about change this week, and working on a podcast to help some people implement change in their organization, so I will let my readers see a little into my ideas and thoughts.

Which changes and how?

  • change is good 
  • change is hard 
  • change is natural and normal, we all change; life is about change
  • change goes against the status quo and takes a lot of energy to bring about
  • change brings innovation and new energy
  • change gets stuck somewhere, usually

 

I believe all these and many more statements to be true about change. Change in an organization can be hard but it is necessary for continued innovation and sustained growth and life. Thus I have written up some steps and ideas to help bring about change within an organization, based on Dr. John Kotter’s seven steps.

Here are some steps to change with a few questions

SEE THE NEED

  • See need and increase urgency
  • Choose your change team and find your first movers/influencers (from a large group of people across the organization at all levels)

Some Questions:

  • Do you see a Big Opportunity that could ignite the hearts and minds of your people?
  • Do you know how to identify, articulate and communicate it?
  • Are you able to connect an external change factor with a special capability of your organization?
  • What are the stakes if you succeed? Consequences if you fail?
  • Can you get at least 50% of your organization to buy in to the change?
  • How will you find a way to engage a formalized network to take on the change initiative?
  • How can this new change be seen as a “want to” and not a “have to”?

AND

  • How might current hierarchical and silo-based structures stop communication and engagement (especially regarding change)?
  • Where in your organization are people aligned around a single idea that inspires them to do things that move ideas forward?
  • Do people within the organization speak about the goals in the same way with the same priority? If not, how can these be aligned?
  • If you asked people around the organization about the Change Vision, how many different answers would you get?

DECIDE & PREPARE

  • Focus- define your vision foundation and values and choose your outcomes
  • Assess- conduct a change readiness assessment and assess where you are at the moment in terms of the chosen outcomes
  • Plan- (get and involve a coach specializing in change management)establish a change leadership team
  • What needs to be in your strategy?
  1. A vision with measurable objectives that are simple to communicate
  2. Think S.M.A.R.T. (look this up if you don’t know about it)
  3. Make a step-by step plan
  4. Involve your first movers/leaders in this planning stage so they are on the same page with you—you will need people from different areas/departments so the seeds can be sown throughout the organization
  • Spread the message- inform your first movers, make concrete change management plans, build organizational support through communication of need and plan
  1. Within and without the organization, but first within!
  2. Remove any expected barriers or resistant systems before making the change
  3. Make sure anything undermining the vision is gotten rid of

MANAGE

  • Enable and empower action- make sure the ones who bring change (leaders, first movers) have the power to implement the change
  • Train- initiate training and coaching of the change agents
  • Communicate- clearly communicate expectations for all involved across the whole organization, including addressing anticipated resistance
  • Implement- mobilize the (change) teams and execute the plans

REINFORCE

  • Celebrate- celebrate all, even small, successes
  • Sustain- remember to add energy after the honeymoon stage where change often gets bogged down, don’t stop until it is finished and totally refined
  • Refine – assess progress and see where to change the process and plans
  • Adapt- identify improvement areas via continued checks and feedback
  • Continue to communicate-
  1. Go public with your change(s)- share with all donors and other key stakeholders outside of your organization
  2. Show the public where you are and where you want to go and the way you plan to get there: articulate a clear vision for everyone
  3. Repeat your vision until it becomes know, up to 12 months

 

 

CHANGE and Penguins

What have you been thinking about? I have been thinking about change, a book about penguins and my podcast to help some people implement change in their organization has just gone live.

The reason I am thinking about change partially has to do with what I am teaching this semester at university. I am using the book “Our Iceberg is Melting” by Dr. John Kotter in one of my classes. It’s not (really) about global warming, but instead about change management. It’s a fable showing how you get an organization to enact change well.

 

The first step is to get your leaders, movers and shakers (influencers) on board and to do that you communicate the great urgent need for the change- the BIG WHY. And your urgent need has to scare people a little- to a penguin a melting iceberg is a very scary situation, indeed.

 

You need a majority to be on board with the change. Mr. Kotter says you should have at least 50% of an organization on board with the change, and it would be better to have about 75% in full agreement. That’s a lot of people! Thus, your communication of the NEED is really the key to the whole change process.

After that it’s all about communication, organization, planning and seeing the change completely through. This process is nothing to take lightly. Change must be managed well and thoroughly for it to succeed.

 

Here are the steps:

  • See and communicate the need 
  • Decide and Prepare (plan!)
  • Manage the change
  • Reinforce the change

 

The other reason I am thinking about change is that my third podcast on the topic of change and decision making is now up and running and should you be interested, it gives a more in-depth look into the change process than this blog does. https://qt4cm.org/037-make-decision-regarding-major-change-ministry-part-3/