Wednesday, February 23, 2005


I am testing the Hello software from Google. Using Picassa to send it to my blog. Wow! Posted by Hello

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Userplane Equips Flourishing Dating Site PlentyofFish With Flash-Based Communication Tools

Userplane
Equips Flourishing Dating Site PlentyofFish With Flash-Based Communication Tools
: "PlentyofFish (www.plentyoffish.com), a free online dating service, is expanding its communication capabilities by deploying Userplane's Instant Communicator and Web Chat to enable members to converse with each other using live audio and video."

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Money from RSS

Dave Winer would not like this but money is going to flow in RSS. RSS is becoming too strong a medium to remove it from the clutches of advertising.

Wired has more on this :

As soon as mainstream publishers incorporated RSS feeds into their web businesses, you knew that ideas on how to make money from them would inevitably follow. This almost always means advertising, the bane of readers' existence, but it's the reason most content on the net remains free for the asking. So while some may protest the idea of monetizing RSS, it's inevitable. The trick will be to make it as unobtrusive as possible.

Since traditional media companies move slowly when it comes to incorporating new ideas, the first ones to dip their toes into the commercial waters have been, not surprisingly, folks like Jason Calacanis, founder of Weblogs, the parent company of Engadget, a well-trafficked tech blog, and Nick Denton, founder of Gawker and Wonkette, both of which have incorporated ads into RSS.



RSS will provides targetted and niche advertising and possibily the entry of a many small businesses who will look at this as the next big opportunity. We just need to wait and see when will the giants like Google and Yahoo will enter.

( Via Rob at BusinessPundit)





Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Change this! is a new idea by Seth Godin. He aims to spread good ideas around using many of the techniques which he has pioneered in books like Permission Marketing, Unleashing the Idea Virus, Survival is Not Enough and Purple Cow.

The ideas are created in a format which he calls a manifesto. They are designed very well and spread as a PDF document.

I would like to point to two manifestos I received in my InBox.

The answer is Bio-Diesel :

Michael Briggs | Trade in your Prius and buy a VW! What's better than hybrids and better than fuel cells? According to UNH researcher Michael Briggs, the answer is Biodiesel. Read his manifesto to find out why biodiesel is cheaper and more environmentally-friendly to produce, ready for large-scale production, and usable in existing automobiles. The results may surprise you.









Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Self-Serving Social Networks

I have been working on this discussion on the Deeshaa networks on how to get the network started and what is that we should be working on.

The main important thing which I have started to realise is that these networks should mean "something" to people and also that we should be able to translate that into actions.

Stephen Downes points to George Siemens blog about where he writes about Self-serving social networks.

Downes says :

The prevailing theory is that people will share because they want to contribute to the public good. This is true in some cases, but for many others, the use of a social network must satisfy some personal good. The item then reviews a few properties of successful social networks to make the point. There's something to this, though I would have worded it differently: social networks have to serve some useful purpose to the user.



Tuesday, October 19, 2004

It's Not the Idea. It's the Execution.

"Always remember that business ideas are a dime a dozen. Just think of the dotcom era of four years ago. But what really matters is the execution and the quality of the team, something the majority of those dotcoms lacked in. I have heard many a venture capitalist say that he or she would rather have an A management team and a B business concept that an A business concept and a B management team. It is not the idea, it is the people, and their ability to execute, that matters. It is not the idea. It is the people, and their ability to execute, that matters."

This was written by:
Ryan P. Allis, 19, is an economics major at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He is the founder of The Entrepreneurs' Coalition, a non-profit organization dedicated to building an international network of entrepreneurs, founder of www.zeromillion.com, and CEO and President of Virante, Inc. a North Carolina based software development and ebusiness consulting firm

It's Not the Idea. It's the Execution.

"Always remember that business ideas are a dime a dozen. Just think of the dotcom era of four years ago. But what really matters is the execution and the quality of the team, something the majority of those dotcoms lacked in. I have heard many a venture capitalist say that he or she would rather have an A management team and a B business concept that an A business concept and a B management team. It is not the idea, it is the people, and their ability to execute, that matters. It is not the idea. It is the people, and their ability to execute, that matters."

This was written by:

Sunday, October 03, 2004

Lending technologies

Danah Boyd asks :

"Why can't i just have the digital equivalent to my little Excel file that says 'lent to XX'? Why can't i just be forced to re-acquire the book before lending it out again? I do this all the time (or i'm forced to buy a new copy myself... i'm on copy #17 of Stone Butch Blues). I want a lending solution for digital technology damnit!"

Before applying, check out the blogs

"Job seekers use blogs to establish a strong online presence, display their skills and advertise their availability. For many just out of college, the blog is an essential networking tool because it is common for bloggers to link back and forth to others with recent posts. Corporate recruiters, in turn, use blogs to draw in qualified candidates, and they search for potential hires by reading bloggers who write about topics relevant to a particular industry.

A driving factor behind job market blogging is the search engine Google, said Elizabeth Lawley, associate professor of information technology at the Rochester Institute of Technology. 'If you are thinking of interviewing someone, it's almost standard now to Google them online and see what you find,' Lawley said. 'If that person has a blog, it's usually the first thing that comes up.'"


So all of your MBAs out there, this is your big opportunity. Yes, some blogs have come up, written by MBAs chronicling their course details but not really serious networkers.

Again, as Networking goes, blogging basically makes it easier to have a online presence, but there is still a need to follow the basics of networking and understanding the Rule of Win-Win by Dave Winer.

The Rule of Win-Win says that by choosing to participate in the Web, I can promote my own interests, but I must acknowledge the existence of others and their interests. I don't sacrifice the truth in furthering my cause. In fact, if you accept the Rule of Win-Win, the truth is your first cause, it comes before all others.


Before applying, check out the blogs

"Job seekers use blogs to establish a strong online presence, display their skills and advertise their availability. For many just out of college, the blog is an essential networking tool because it is common for bloggers to link back and forth to others with recent posts. Corporate recruiters, in turn, use blogs to draw in qualified candidates, and they search for potential hires by reading bloggers who write about topics relevant to a particular industry.

A driving factor behind job market blogging is the search engine Google, said Elizabeth Lawley, associate professor of information technology at the Rochester Institute of Technology. 'If you are thinking of interviewing someone, it's almost standard now to Google them online and see what you find,' Lawley said. 'If that person has a blog, it's usually the first thing that comes up.'"


So all of your MBAs out there, this is your big opportunity. Yes, some blogs have come up, written by MBAs chronicling their course details but not really serious networkers.

Again, as Networking goes, blogging basically makes it easier to have a online presence, but there is still a need to follow the basics of networking and understanding the Rule of Win-Win by Dave Winer.

The Rule of Win-Win says that by choosing to participate in the Web, I can promote my own interests, but I must acknowledge the existence of others and their interests. I don't sacrifice the truth in furthering my cause. In fact, if you accept the Rule of Win-Win, the truth is your first cause, it comes before all others.


Podcasting

"NBC4 adds:

Podcasting allows you to subscribe to feeds, which include links to audio programs. Every time one of your subscriptions posts a new program, it automatically downloads onto your computer. You then transfer those shows to a portable music device, listen to it throughout your house via a wireless connection or take it with you wherever you go. Think of it as a personalized radio station that you program and change whenever you want.

The technical explanation is a bit more complex. The idea originally grew out of the Apple iPod community, where Adam Curry helped develop a piece of software called iPodder. iPodder automatically routes an audio program to an iPod and makes the process relatively seamless. It wasn't long before similar solutions sprung up for use with other devices.

The programs are delivered via an RSS feed, and there are already millions of computer users subscribing to at least a few text feeds of blogs and other sites. The RSS feed contains a link, which notifies your computer that a new audio program is available and begins downloading it into a pre-selected spot on your computer.

Podcasting -- like blogging -- seems to combine the best of the Internet with the best of traditional media. It's a way for someone to create and distribute a show to 40 people. And it also would allow a media company to distribute audio content to millions."

Friday, October 01, 2004

Joel on Software - It's Not Just Usability

Joel on Software - It's Not Just Usability:

"My goal today is not to whine about how usability is not important... usability is important at the margins, and there a lots of examples where bad usability kills people in small planes, creates famine and pestilence, etc.

My goal today is to talk about the next level of software design issues, after you've got the UI right: designing the social interface.

I need to explain that, I guess."

Joel on Software - Bionic Office

"Well, it's my own damn company and I can do something about it, so I did."

That was Joel on his office and company. I sure want to work in a place like that. Better still do something like that for my company.

Bnoopy: Persistence Pays.

Joe Kraus, one of the founders of Excite starts his blog on Entre. He tells a great story about Vinod Khosla.

Bnoopy: Persistence Pays. Part 1:

"The meetings we're all the same. We showed them our search technology, showed them 'concept-based' search, and showed them targeted advertising. To a firm, the first question they asked was a very reasonable one: 'great stuff guys, but what's your business plan? how are you going to make money?' Of course, being 22 years old and fresh out of college we replied, 'we thought you could help us out with that.' Apparently, that's the wrong answer. Who knew?

Rinse, lather, repeat.

Then we met Vinod...

By then, our deal had developed a certain 'smell' -- smart guys with interesting technology but an uncertain business plan. The demo to Vinod started off like they all did, but about 10 minutes into the meeting things got very different. He interrupted

'Can the technology scale? can you search a large database?'

Big Pause. It's not the money question. No one has ever asked us this before. Ummm.

'We don't know, we can't afford a hard drive big enough to test.'

Then, an amazing thing happened. Ten minutes into this meeting, his first introduction to the company and us, he pulls out his his cell phone, dials his assistant and buys us a $10,000, 10Gb hard drive."

Joel on Software - Work space quality references

Joel on Software - Work space quality references: "Over the years with several changes of employer and different assignments and various office moves for each employer, I came to realize that the quality of the workspace can have quite an effect on productivity as well as job satisfaction. In fact, one wonders why anyone is concerned with implementing software development processes when most developers are having a hard time concentrating on any task for more than ten minutes between ringing telephones in the next cubicle, howling HVAC systems or any of the other myriad distractions that prevent one from just sitting down and getting a 2-3 hour task completed.

Here is my description of a good workspace for software development: A quiet private office with a door and a clear window for each individual developer. For team projects the offices should be arranged together with convenient common areas.

I happened to find the Fog Creek and JoS web sites a few years ago when doing a web search trying to find employers that provided good workspace. As anyone who has worked in the field for long knows, the employers that provide good workspace are extremely rare. The people who are in charge of facilities are usually concerned with costs, not usefulness. "

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Natural Enterprise - Chapter List

Natural Enterprise (chapters in the upcoming book of the same name)

The Elevator Pitch (Chapter 1, July, 2004) the business case for Natural Enterprise, and how it differs from traditional business

How the New Economy Works (Chapter 2, August, 2004) a primer on an economy in transition, and what it means to the entrepreneur

Existential Enterprise (Chapter 3, June, 2004) ten steps to creating a Natural Enterprise

Assembling the Team (Chapter 4, June, 2004) finding people you'd love to work with, with all the skills you need but without overlap

Improvisational Planning (Chapter 5, July, 2004) exploiting the agility of Natural Enterprise to plan to succeed on your own terms

Viral Marketing (Chapter 6, May, 2004) spreading the word about your product or service by customer word-of-mouth

Financing Your Business Organically (Chapter 8, July, 2004) how to need less money, and to generate what you need internally

Avoiding the Landmines in Entrepreneurial Business (Chapter 12, May, 2004) the 10 fatal errors of entrepreneurs and how to avoid them

Business Innovation (Chapters 15-17, April, 2004) history, importance, and process for business innovation

NATURAL ENTERPRISE: FILLING AN UNMET NEED

As you do your research, keep asking these questions until you're highly confident that you know the answers:

* What exactly is the need?
* Who exactly is the customer (the group that has that need)?
* What are the alternative solutions to it? What are the benefits and drawbacks of each alternative? Which, all things considered, are the best, affordable alternatives?
* Who is offering, and who could easily offer, each of those solutions? Why aren't they already offering these solutions?
* What competencies and what resources would your enterprise need to have to bring the best alternatives to market?

As you do your research, keep asking these questions until you're highly confident that you know the answers:

* What exactly is the need?
* Who exactly is the customer (the group that has that need)?
* What are the alternative solutions to it? What are the benefits and drawbacks of each alternative? Which, all things considered, are the best, affordable alternatives?
* Who is offering, and who could easily offer, each of those solutions? Why aren't they already offering these solutions?
* What competencies and what resources would your enterprise need to have to bring the best alternatives to market?

You might think it takes a lot of gall to get so many people to give you so much information and to offer their opinions free of charge. But entrepreneurs and researchers I know tell me people are often glad to help, and to offer their opinion, as long as the demand on their time is modest and that the solicitation is polite and personal. That means, ideally, face-to-face, with the telephone used only to secure an interview with them. Prepare to wear out a lot of shoes doing your research.

Because business' products and services are so diverse, it's hard to generalize beyond this point about the process of Filling an Unmet Need. As the next three chapters will show, not only does going through this painstaking and time-consuming process almost guarantee you success, it can also dramatically reduce the amount of time, effort and money you need to spend promoting and marketing your product or service (you've already met a lot of your first customers, and if you fill their unmet needs they will spread the word to others -- and take some pride in having played a part in your success), and it can even reduce the amount of money you need to raise to launch the enterprise. But most importantly, you should follow this process, gruelling as it may be, because it works. If you doubt me, talk to any successful entrepreneur about the value of doing this, and you'll be convinced.

Friday, July 23, 2004

Blogging and WorldisGreen

Unfortunately my other site, www.worldisgreen.com which I have been consistently writing for the past 8 months on rural India is down and almost out.

I was in the process of shifting the website from one hosting provider to another. In the process I did not the renew the present hosting service. I continued to use the service for about 5 days after the expiry of the service. The hosting provider stopped the service, deleted the files on his server and now I am without my website. I did not have a back-up too and here I am.

I can get back the data from the tapes of the hosting provider but it would cost me $70. I think that this is a steep price and do not want to spend that kind of money.

Google has been kind enough to archive my whole site. I saved all the files (not 300 HTML cached pages but 6 HTML pages of my categories). So I have the data but it will be tough to put it back on the website.

I will be now using wordpress, a open source publishing tool for the new website. Apart from this I was planning to change the structure of the website according to the way I want to go forward.

I guess this incident has acclerated the process. I only hope that I get my readers back. And for the Google ranking I think "we" can get it back.






Monday, July 12, 2004

The Power of Impossible Thinking

Atanu points me to this wonderful article on mental models.


While not every “impossible thought” can become a reality, very often the greatest obstacle to transforming our organizations, society and personal lives is our own thinking. This may seem to be a simple idea in theory – that what we see and act upon is more a product of what is inside our heads than out in the world – but it has far-reaching implications for how we approach life and decision making. In a new book entitled, The Power of Impossible Thinking: Transform the Business of Your Life and the Life of Your Business, Wharton marketing professor Jerry Wind and Colin Crook, former chief technology officer at Citibank, present a process for “impossible thinking.”



This process starts with the recognition of the power of “mental models” but then offers practical approaches to challenges such as: How do you know when to jump to a new model? What do you do with the old models after the revolution? Where do you discover new models? How do you make sense of the world in an environment of overwhelming data? How do you transform your organization and the thinking of others? How do you harness the power of intuition? In a Q&A with Knowledge@Wharton, the authors offer their insights into these questions.

With fast, complex changes, making sense has become an essential skill for managers. As John Seely Brown, former chief scientist of Xerox and director of the Palo Alto Research Center, once commented, “In the old world, managers make products. In the new world, managers make sense of things.” Our book is focused on how to do this better.

Changing our thinking creates powerful opportunities for action. But to take those actions, the passengers first needed to change their hypothesis about what was going on.

One of the core issues is that we are not just data driven but we are hypothesis driven. This is a very important distinction. I now look at the underlying hypotheses in any situation. What do I think about this? Do I have a hypothesis to make sense of it? Have I examined this hypothesis or have I just looked quickly and said ‘I’ve been there and done that’ and just move on. Don’t rush to judgment and be much more mindful about the process. Once we know that the world is shaped and filtered by our own thinking, we recognize the need to constantly test our hypotheses against the world.

To challenge your thinking, you need to interact with diverse people and be able to see the potential wisdom of weird ideas.

It is amazing how malleable memory and perception can be – much more than we think. For example, in one research study subjects were standing at an airport ticket counter. The ticket agent pretended to drop something, ducked behind the counter and a different person finished the transaction. Many of the subjects didn’t even recognize the change had been made. We tune out big chunks of the environment.

We think we see the real world, but we actually see what’s already in our own minds. If we are not aware of the power of these internal models, we may just accept what we think we see as reality. This can be limiting, and sometimes even dangerous. We become very comfortable and dependent upon our current mental models.


In the book, we consider practical steps to change your thinking and the world. The first step is to become much more explicitly aware of why you see the world the way you do and what that implies. Second, you need to test the relevance of your current mental models against the changing environment. Do they still fit? If you need to change models, you need to generate new models and develop an integrated portfolio of models. Third, you need to overcome inhibitors to change by reshaping the infrastructure that supports the old models and changing the thinking of others. Finally, you need to quickly generate and act upon new models by experimenting, using intuition and continuing to assess and strengthen your models.

You also need to create a portfolio of models and use the one that works best for a particular situation.

So all the hypotheses need to be put on the table and tested. Anytime we seek to change our lives, we need to look at the underlying mental models across all aspects of our activities.


Tuesday, June 29, 2004

BPM: The Road Ahead :: AO

Michael Brown of Battery Ventures writes about BPM: The Road Ahead in AO.


Historically, senior management's view into a company's performance was limited to the financial data and metrics produced in statements by the CFO. Needless to say, there were very little, if any, objective non-financial measures with which to manage the business, and all the financial information available was historical. This method of management is analogous to driving a car while spending a majority of time looking into the rear-view mirror…with only one eye open.

The implementation of large transactional systems, such as ERP, CRM, SCM, and so on, in the 1990s significantly improved the collection of both financial and non-financial data. However, the data resident in these systems delivered only marginal relative value to management because the analysis and reporting of the data were limited to each individual application or a specific subset of applications through the implementation of a data warehouse; thus, it could not provide a holistic picture of a company's performance. Given the batch-process requirements of these systems, the data was not in real time and, consequently, of limited value.

This growth trajectory is primarily driven by three macro trends in the market:

1. Large ERP foundation.
2. New generation of BPM technology.
3. External market factors.

how do analysts think the industry will evolve? Although there are several schools of thought, the two primary theories are as follows:

1. The big getting bigger. Similar to the ERP market before it, some market pundits believe the BPM industry will continue to consolidate to the point where an overwhelming majority of the economic value and/or market cap is dominated by the top three or four vendors.

2. Market bifurcation. Believers in this theory state that vendors either have to achieve scale or specialize by developing either horizontal functionality or vertical market expertise. In short, there is no middle ground for a vendor to occupy.

Regardless of how the market structure changes over time, we believe there will be both evolutionary and revolutionary innovation as it matures. From an evolutionary perspective, the market will naturally demand a greater level of verticalization. Although a handful of vendors have tailored their solutions to address the requirements of a specific industry, most of the current solutions are akin to one-size-fits-all. The issues with this approach are longer implementation schedules and higher long-term maintenance costs. As the market matures, we believe vendors and/or their partners will look to verticalization as a way to both differentiate their solutions and drive incremental market growth.

More interestingly, we believe the market will significantly benefit from the next generation of BPM, which will include revolutionary technology such as predictive analytics. Not only will BPM solutions have the ability to predict how an organization will react to external economic events, but they will also prescribe actions/solutions to senior management to address the specific situation. This level of visibility and foresight will enable management, like the driver in our analogy, to concentrate on what's ahead, while only looking back to see how far the competition has fallen.

Fasten your seat belt and enjoy the ride.

Monday, June 28, 2004

Art of the Start

Brendon Wilson puts up the Art of the Start Guy Kawasaki conf online.


I struggled (this is the introduction chapter of the book) to come up with a Top Ten the things you really need to do to start your company off correctly. And there are not ten things - the most that I could come up with (that are crucially important) is five. So this is a top five for you - I'd like to go through these top five things and discuss them in rather great detail from The Art of the Start.

Lesson 1: Make Meaning

The first thing I learned that, you know as Bill alluded to, is that we have seen literally thousands of companies over the past six or seven years, and we have met tens of thousands of entrepreneurs and entrepreneur teams. And with hindsight, although we were honestly swept up in it as much as they were, I think the thing that we learned the top level thing you must have. If you're going to create company and that company's going to be successful, it is because the founders of the company want to make meaning. Not money. Not prestige. Not power. Not status. It is about making meaning.

I would encourage you entrepreneurs as you're contemplating your companies or forming your companies to think about what is the meaning going to be? Not the money. Money is the outcome of successful meaning-making, if you will.

Let's analyze the types of meaning - I think there are principally four types:

* One is to make the world a better place by a product or a service.
* The second is to increase the quality of life of people.
* The third is to right something that is wrong, to fix something.
* The fourth is to prevent the end of something good.

Lesson 2: Make A Mantra

Lesson number two is a passionate request from me for you to focus on making an organization mantra. Now a mantra is very different from a mission statement. A mantra is typically shorter - arguable the shortest mantra ever is "om" (the Hindu mantra) - it is a sacred verbal formula. It is thing where if you could ask any employee "what do you do?", they would understand it immediately and be able to consistently communicate the purpose and meaning of the company.

A mantra is short and sweet. Let me give you some examples.

Nike's mantra is "authentic athletic experience". If you were to ask a Nike employee "what do you do?", it is about "authentic athletic experience'. Disney is about "fun family entertainment". The Green Bay Packers football - "winning is everything". Those are mantras, they are not mission statements.

By contrast, let me give you a mission statement. Starbuck's mantra is "rewarding everyday moments". Starbuck's mission statement is: "established Starbucks as the premier provider in the world of the finest coffee in the world while maintaining our uncompromising principles while we grow". Which one do you think is easier to remember?

Lesson 3: Get Going

...to be continued

Entrepreneur's VC Pitch

Rajesh points to this article on the questions a Entreprenuer should answer before pitching to a VC. This is true for starting any business.


1) WHAT IS YOUR VISION?
- What is your big vision?
- What problem are you solving and for whom?
- Where do you want to be in the future?

2) WHAT IS YOUR MARKET OPPORTUNITY AND HOW BIG IS IT?
- How big is the market opportunity you are pursuing and how fast is it growing?
- How established (or nascent) is the market?
- Do you have a credible claim on being one of the top two or three players in the market?

3) DESCRIBE YOUR PRODUCT/SERVICE
- What is your product/service?
- How does it solve your customer’s problem?
- What is unique about your product/service?

4) WHO IS YOUR CUSTOMER?
- Who are your existing customers?
- Who is your target customer?
- What defines an "ideal" customer prospect?
- Who actually writes you the check?
- Use specific customer examples where possible.

5) WHAT IS YOUR VALUE PROPOSITION?
- What is your value proposition to the customer?
- What kind of ROI can your customer expect by using buying your product/service?
- What pain are you eliminating?
- Are you selling vitamins, aspirin or antibiotics? (I.e. a luxury, a nice-to-have, or a need-to-have)

6) HOW ARE YOU SELLING?
- What does the sales process look like and how long is the sales cycle?
- How will you reach the target customer? What does it cost to "acquire" a customer?
- What is your sales, marketing and distribution strategy?
- What is the current sales pipeline?

7) HOW DO YOU ACQUIRE CUSTOMERS?
- What is your cost to acquire a customer?
- How will this acquisition cost change over time and why?
- What is the lifetime value of a customer?

8) WHO IS YOUR MANAGEMENT TEAM?
- Who is the management team?
- What is their experience?
- What pieces are missing and what is the plan for filling them?

9) WHAT IS YOUR REVENUE MODEL?
- How do you make money?
- What is your revenue model?
- What is required to become profitable?

10) WHAT STAGE OF DEVELOPMENT ARE YOU AT?
- What is your stage of development? Technology/product? Team? Financial metrics/revenue?
- What has been the progress to date (make reality and future clear)?
- What are your future milestones?

11) WHAT ARE YOUR PLANS FOR FUND RAISING?
- What funds have already been raised?
- How much money are you raising and at what valuation?
- How will the money be spent?
- How long will it last and where will the company "be" on its milestones progress at that time?
- How much additional funding do you anticipate raising & when?

12) WHO IS YOUR COMPETITION?
- Who is your existing & likely competition?
- Who is adjacent to you (in the market) that could enter your market (and compete) or could be a co-opted partner?
- What are their strengths/weaknesses?
- Why are you different?

13) WHAT PARTNERSHIPS DO YOU HAVE?
- Who are your key distribution and technology partners (current & future)?
- How dependent are you on these partners?

14) HOW DO YOU FIT WITH THE PROSPECTIVE INVESTOR?
- How does this fit w/ the investor’s portfolio and expertise?
- What synergies, competition exist with the investor’s existing portfolio?

15) OTHER
- What assumptions are key to the success of the business?
- What "gotchas" could change the business overnight? New technologies, new market entrants, change in standards or regulations?
- What are your company’s weak links?

Sunday, June 27, 2004

Essential Abilities of Intelligence


  • To Respond to situation very flexibly
  • To take advantage of fortuitous circumstances
  • To make sens out of ambiguos or contradictory circumstances
  • To find similarities between situations despite differences which may separate them
  • To draw distinctions between situations despite similarities which may link them
  • To synthesize new concepts by taking old concepts and putting them together in new ways
  • To come up with ideas which are novel.


  • Source :

    Tuesday, June 22, 2004

    The Future Buddha


    The Future Buddha

    Buddhism has been waiting for the Future
    Buddha for 26 centuries.
    Christians have been waiting
    for the “second coming” for two millennia.

    Oddly they have not figured out
    the future never comes.

    The Buddha, the Christ, can only come in the present.
    In fact I am certain there has never been a time,
    during the period of humans on this planet,
    when enlightened ones have not been here.

    The proprietors of religions
    want us to believe
    enlightened ones only come
    ever few thousand years.

    The future Buddha
    Is the man across the street
    Who leads a quiet life,
    Who does not go into debt for things.
    He simply begins and ends each day
    In the silence of internal refuge.

    The future Christ is the mother
    Next door who never yells at her children.
    And, before and after her day,
    when all are asleep,
    she communes with the Infinite.

    The future Avatar works at the convenience store,
    And two other jobs, to put food on the table,
    while going to college.
    He is always patient,
    even when his customers are not,
    Because, he begins and ends each day
    In union with the divine.

    The future prophet is never unkind.
    He never raises his voice to his wife
    Or children, because faces Mecca
    every day at noon
    in submission to the One.

    The future enlightened one is not
    Just one divinely inspired being,
    Who Moses-like, parts the seas,
    Buddha-like turns into a rainbow, or
    Jesus-like, walks on water.

    The future Buddha is you and me
    Beginning and ending each day
    In communion with what we hold as sacred
    And, by connecting all of the moments
    of each day with a calm and still presents,
    So that we walk all of our days, upon days,
    In the presence of the Shining One.

    The future Avatar, Buddha, Christ is now
    And, we are emerging,
    not in grape-like clusters,
    but thinly dispersed, like wildflowers in the desert.
    It is you and me bringing our craving
    To rest, and becoming living
    embodiments of peace, patience and compassion
    In every moment.

    -- Jeff Brooks --
    © 2004


    Exchange is the key.

    Ripples provides adivce for Micro-business. His main point is that "understanding customers" and providing goods or services to them is the most important thing. Everything else just follows that.


    Let me share the most basic facts I know to be true about business:

    - All legitimate business is based upon the principle of exchange
    - Exchange is providing something valuable and getting appropriate value in return
    - Value can be established through communication with the prospective customer
    - You find out what the person wants and is willing to pay for it
    - If you provide exchange in abundance, that is the most certain way to grow a business as you will have customers telling others about you.

    All of the other activities of a business are only there to support the creation of an exchange of goods or services with a continuing series of customers.

    Exchange is the key. It is the fundamental activity of any business, especially a micro-business where you are self-employed. Many people have it backward. It's not about your product or service. What is important is: What do people need and want and how can I provide it?

    If you concentrate on finding out what people want that you can provide, you will inevitably come to a point where your resources and the prospective customer's needs line up and the way to proceed will become clear. It may take a lot of research to work out how to produce a uniformly acceptable product or service, but it will all be worth it if you can deliver what is needed and wanted. The next thing to do is to become more efficient so you can start making a profit.

    The important thing is that you have created an exchange. If you have chosen well, you should have more exchanges coming up. If there are no more prospects, repeat the process of finding out what people need and want until you find a need that will keep you busy for a longer period of time.

    If you follow this advice, your micro-business will expand before you know it. If business start dropping off, go back and read this post again and see what has dropped out.

    Marketing - Your Highest Payoff Activity

    Ducktape marketing suggests that you decide your PAY or Personal Average Yield and the figure out the area in which you need to concentrate on. Obviously Marketing, Innovation and Customer service comes out tops. Everything else is a cost.


    You only have so much time in a day right?

    So wouldn't it make sense to focus as much of your time as possible on the things that produce the highest payoff.

    I don't know about you but most small business owners are do-it-yourself types and get sucked into doing the littlest silly work faster than you can say "Oh look, the copier is jammed again."

    If you want to achieve any of your goals and finally start making what you are worth then you’ve got to stop doing $5/hr work. Period.
    MORE...

    As you might have guessed by now, I believe that every business owner's highest payoff work or best use of time is any amount of time spent doing effective marketing.

    Here's a little math quiz that I suggest you play with to help drive home this point. Figure out how much money you make annually or, better yet, how much you want or need to make annually to achieve your dreams and goals.

    Now, divide that number by 2080. (That's the number you get if you work 40 hours a week for 52 weeks a year - I know, I know, you work 80 hours a week but just work with me here.)

    The answer you get is what I call your PAY(sm) or Personal Average Yield.(sm) The idea here is to pin down what you are worth an hour and realize that if you can hire someone to do any of the things you currently spend your time on for less than that number, you can't afford to do it yourself - did I mention that you could use the spare time to do some marketing.

    So let's run some numbers. Let's say that you want to make $150,000 per year. Well, using our little formula that means that you need to be doing work that is worth a little over $72/hr - 8 hours a day.

    But guess what...we haven't even factored in any overhead or costs of doing business. That number might really get big if you've got those as well.

    This is the point at which many people finally come to understand that they are undercharging for their services…but that’s another issue all together.

    So I ask you. Is fiddling with the copier, chatting with the mailman, running to the office supply store, making deliveries, or returning meaningless email paying you $72/hr? For that matter, doesn’t mowing your own grass, washing your own car, cleaning your own windows take you away from marketing your business? I know, now I’m asking you to give up most of the fun things you like to do everyday but hey, if you can get the neighbor kid to mow your grass for anything less than $100/hr, therefore giving you 3 hours to write a killer sales letter - it’s probably a steal

    Figure out your PAY number, paint it on the wall in your office, and then go about setting up your business in a way that allows you to focus on the only things that can really pay that kind of money: marketing, innovation, and customer service. – cause everything else is just a cost.


    High-Tech Branding: Can't Build It, Must Earn It

    Evelyn blogs about Branding and recommends the newsletter of David Taber. Som gems from him :


    In high tech, a brand cannot be built: it has to be earned. A brand is the effect or consequence of your actions: it's your reputation boiled down to a name and a logo. The most powerful brands do not come from "marketing", but from great customer experiences: terrific product quality, creativeness in feature set selection and design, value, and consistency. Most branding exercises in high tech are a colossal waste of resources.

    Although there are short-term tricks, the serious players know that the way to build a brand is to make their customers successful. The most powerful force in all branding is word-of-mouth.

    10 Questions for Effective Business Planning

    Today in Decker Marketing we look at the business planning and some of the questions which will help us plan better.


    Entrepreneur posted an article called 7 Habits for Business Success by Brian Tracy, exerpted from his book “Million Dollar Habits”.

    There’s one section of the article I really like…it’s the first habit: Plan Thoroughly. It lists 10 questions for better business planning…

    Plan Thoroughly

    The first requirement for business success is the habit of planning. The better, more thoroughly, and more detailed that you plan your activities in advance, the faster and easier it will be for you to carry out your plans and get the results you desire once you start to work.

    There is a "Six P" acronym that says, "Proper Prior Planning Prevents Poor Performance." Very often, the first 20 percent of the time that you spend developing complete plans will save you 80 percent of the time later in achieving the business goals you've set.

    To plan better, develop the habit of asking and answering the following questions:

    1. What exactly is my product or service?
    2. Who exactly is my customer?
    3. Why does my customer buy?
    4. What does my customer consider value?
    5. What is it that makes my product or service superior to that of my competitors?
    6. Why is it that my prospective customer does not buy?
    7. Why does my prospective customer buy from my competitor?
    8. What value does he/she perceive in buying from my competitor?
    9. How can I offset that perception and get my competitor's customers to buy from me?
    10. What one thing must my customer be convinced of to buy from me, rather than from someone else?


    These are applicable in a small business or for managers in a division of a large company. Yet most managers don’t stop to ask these basic questions. Planning and strategy does not have to be left to expensive consultants -- you can just ask some simple questions and get paid a lot less!


    Marketing Collateral

    Another blockbuster article from Marketing Sherpa. This is about the need to create different marketing collateral [brochures, websites, power points etc] for different products and sales situations. Also, some advice on managing sales force.


    "It used to be that the most successful organizations had a value proposition that was: We'll give you a slightly better product or service and charge you slightly more for it," says Neil Rackham, author and internationally known consultant for sales forces at companies such as IBM, Xerox, AT&T, and Citicorp.

    That doesn't work anymore, he says. Today, there are two different kinds of customers looking for value in different ways: transactional vs. consultative customers.

    Rackham explained to us how you can create collateral materials for each type:

    Marketing to transactional customers


    "The transactional customer is only concerned with cost and ease of doing business," Rackham says. "They're the ones who will see your product as pretty well substitutable with anyone else's product." With these more 'simple' sales, the customer knows the problem and the solution, and is looking for the best deal.

    "I want to buy 17 laptops and I want them to have a Pentium III processor and I want them to have these characteristics. What's your price?" Rackham explains.

    With transactional sales, the sales force doesn't contribute much value, because the sale is based on a product that already exists.

    "A standard off-the-shelf software package doesn't need a sales person," says Rackham. In fact, sales channels for these products are moving toward call centers and the Internet. It's the marketing collateral -- brochures, Web copy, catalogs -- that shows the value of the product.

    Marketing to consultative customers


    A consultative transaction is more complex: the customer has a problem but doesn't know the solution. The sales force must show the value of the product to the customer. "The role of marketing here is very different," says Rackham.

    You can't produce collateral material in a traditional way on consultative sales. "Products tend to be customized so standard brochures work against you," Rackham says. "What marketing can do is understand that most of the value lies in how the sales person uses the product to solve the customer's problem."

    Every major sale goes through three distinct phases from a customer's point of view. In each phase, marketing materials that support the sales force's efforts should change. For example:

    o Phase one: "Do I have a problem?"

    Here, the customer is considering whether changes should be made. They're saying, in essence, "I think I might have a problem. I don't really have good data on my customers and I'm wondering if I ought to do something about it," Rackham says.

    In this case, a brochure on a CRM system won't help. Instead, offer analytical tools that show the customer how big the problem is. For example:

    --benchmarks on what other companies in the same industry are doing, ie: 78% of companies have implemented some sort of CRM system

    --10 questions to ask to see if you have a CRM problem

    --data on what it's costing the company to have a CRM problem

    o Phase two: "Who can solve my problem?"

    By now, the customer has decided they have a problem that needs attention and is struggling to find criteria to help choose a product or service.

    "At a macro level, offer ways to help customers think about how to make the decision," Rackham says. For example, IBM has been very successful producing collateral materials that help customers who have never bought a major enterprise system set criteria for how to judge systems acquisitions.

    "Collateral is provided not to help them look at the product the way a brochure would," he says. "It's not interesting to a customer to know it's green and seventeen inches long," They want to know how the product compares, what it will cost to own it, what it will cost to maintain it.

    Collateral material might include:

    --quantified data showing cost of ownership

    --analysis of your performance vs. a competitor's performance

    --criteria that show how successful companies make purchasing decisions for products like yours

    --steps on how to assess best performance

    o Phase three: "But what if…?"

    The third phase is based on fear. Customers wonder: what if the product doesn't perform, what if something goes wrong, what risks am I taking?

    Marketing tools should minimize risk in the mind of the customer, and case studies can be very powerful tools. "Show what you do that makes implementation successful," Rackham suggests, such as a case study that illustrates how you manage to install your product without disrupting the workflow.

    Testimonials also minimize perceived risk in this phase.

    How to get the sales force to use marketing materials properly

    "Sales people have a phenomenal capability of snatching confusion from the jaws of clarity," Rackham says. "You may believe you have created very clear tools, but the evidence is that sales people will be highly confused."

    To keep this from happening, he suggests two techniques:

    o Technique #1. Go on sales calls

    Introduce your tools by working through an actual major sale with the sales team.

    "Have a direct involvement with selling, almost in an apprenticeship way," he says. This helps the sales team understand how to use the tools, and helps you to know which tools work better than others.

    With transactional sales, marketers don't particularly need to go out in the field -- you can get a picture of the market by surveys and other research. But in a consultative sale it's very much "one-on-one, so the best marketing departments are actively involved with sales to get close to the customer."

    o Technique #2. A "solemn vow"

    The relationship between sales and marketing is relatively uneasy these days, Rackham says. "Too many marketing people sit in an ivory tower when it comes to tools. They provide wonderfully analytical and beautiful PowerPoints, none of which mean much to sales or customers."

    Without an understanding between sales and marketing, it may be difficult to get the sales force's buy-in to allow marketing to go on sales calls.

    "A lot of companies right now are experimenting with new ways to put sales and marketing together, and the first step is that the most senior group in sales and marketing have to get together and make a solemn vow that they're going to be on the same page," says Rackham. "If they start there, there is hope."

    Don't ask sales to gather information from the field and report back: reporting and the filling out of forms take time away from the business of selling. Rather, position marketing as a means to provide the sales team with the tools to help them succeed.

    "Top sales managers are feeling that the only people selling are the rock-star sales people, and nobody knows how they're doing it. The answer is that marketing works with them to provide tools to allow ordinary mortals to succeed."