Lean Startup: So you think you have a brilliant idea, yeah who else ?

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One of very common mistakes a startup can make is thinking they are on a winner, we even laugh at them during shows like Dragon Den as some more sod shows of a universal baby interchanging device thingy that he has donated the last X years of their life too. The poor person always looks so surprised too when others are not blown away with excitement when the idea is placed in front of them.

So how do you know if your in that fools camp or that you do have an idea ready to explode, where everyone will be saying with envy at parties for years to come: “I could have come up with that”.

Its not asking your friends, your partner or your mum … they always lie god bless them. Instead the truth comes from one place: customers. Get your idea out there in front of customers they will tell you bluntly and quickly if they like your idea by the action of giving you money.


BLOW: Networking is gold but dont over do it

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The business lesson of the week for me is how important it is to have a great network of peers and friends around you and also how its important to keep communication open to these relationships. The problem though is the methods of keeping relationships strong such as one on one meetings dont scale, yet you cant build strong relationships with a mass mailout email. I guess the solution is divide your network into must haves and prioritise keeping stronger relationships with those and keep the others at a arms length.

Also make sure you have a system of noting people that you haven’t communicated with for a while and that helps remind you to drop them a line, its always great to receive an email from an old friend and an opportunity to catch up with them.

Mum once said too much of anything is a bad thing, which as general comments go is a very true one. I hate when I go to an event like a usergroup meeting and there is a obvious disguised action that is just getting people to promote up themselves and getting me to whore out my network. A good example of this is godaddy when emails arrived I used to read them, then I realised you get one every couple of days I dont really care or notice them because the noise is to high, so simply put always respect your network and dont over promote yourself.

BLOW: Late for meeting etiquette

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When your late for a meeting it sends the signal that you dont care, so a late meeting should be avoided at all costs. I always plan to be there 15 – 30 mins early so to avoid late meetings and just because your early it doesnt mean its time wasted. The early time can be used to think about the meeting ie plan what you want out of it and what a successful meeting outcome would be, mobile email means the time can be used for email triage, maybe make a call to some people you have been meaning to catchup with or just take a breath and think about life.

Life does throw you curve balls so being late is something that can still happen, but always ring as soon as you know you will be late so the person is not waiting and not wasting their time, it gives a chance to reschedule because a rushed meeting is a bad meeting and if its a lunch meeting you should always be picking up the bill to show the person that you value their time.

One other final thing, if your in a meeting dont answer your mobile phone, if there is a must take call coming through then have the respect of warning the other people that your expecting a call and that its important

Love to hear other suggestions

BLOW: Keeping focused

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I thought it was time for me to get back to some old routines and one thing I enjoy doing is reflecting over the week that has been and think about where I can improve. I used to do this with a weekly blog post more for my own self growth then any value to others, but none the less people have commented that they have found things helpful.

I have a weakness that I tend to jump around from one project to another, as I get bored with the job at hand I find other things to do. This week I caught myself pressing “New Project” within visual studio, just for an hour I told myself … I quickly caught myself and put myself back to the deadlines and tasks at hand. The problem is I caught myself doing it three times in a day each time with a self made excuse such as “I could use this to build my skills”.

The solution is to set yourself short goals that are achievable in the day and celebrate the victories, reaching a goal makes the slog will worth it

Getting to know … Performance Design

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I had a chat with Mark Pickering from Performance Design (www.performancedesign.com.au), which is a company that builds performance tools for RX-8.

Mark talked about the importance of finding a suitable business partner and setting suitable goals for people involved and the affect that had on his business.

It is important that your able to set clear goals to people, in the standard work world its easy you turn up to work do your defined task and then you will get paid, but in the startup world these rules are flexible. Make sure before you start a project you have sat down with the person and both of you can answer : you will do W by X and if you do then you get Y if not then Z will happen. If you can do that then

The business lesson of the week was the art of judging when you should keep at something and when you shouldnt. Are you the crazy old miner that is seeking gold when its all over or are you the inch away from the jackpot seam ?

Mark is looking for people who can help him with some marketing strategy, can you help him or know somebody who can ? Why not drop a line to me @jamesmcc and we can record an interview about what advice you would give.

BLOW#9: Have you hugged your kids

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One things all business owners need to do to succeed is to focus on the business and sometimes that can mean to much focus, there are other things more important then business so don’t forget to spend some time and hug your kids.

Those people around that you enjoy spending time with are the ones that help you recharge for the challenges that the business world throws at you.

BLOW #8: Learn from your mistakes

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Like everything you do in life sometimes things never go as planned. Sometimes a disagreement occurs between you and your client, and majority of the times its because of a miscommunication.

The simple solution to this is like most things in business is to put yourself in the other persons shoes, have you signed up to a contract such as a mobile phone etc, only to be told something later that makes you think why wasnt I told that before I signed. The answer could be the person selling you the service assumed you understood something and thats an easy trap to fall into once your entrenched into a part of the industry.

When this occurs you are to blame as much as the client is from not asking the correct questions, so breakdown where the problems occurred make sure your contract clearly spells out the solution to the issue and make sure your sales work also highlights this to the client. I provide my clients a checklist I walk through with them, just helping me to make sure I have covered the necessary points. You may loose some customers because of this but your really only loosing customers that are going to be arguments at a later date.

BLOW #7: Keep your focus

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When you are your own boss you only have yourself to report to, often this freedom allows you to pursue what ever takes your fancy which is one of the great benefits of being your own boss. Unfortunately there is a very good reason why when you are an employee your boss makes you focus on what is important to the business because a business needs a goal.

So lesson here is always value your time and invest it wisely into which opportunities you would like to persue, make sure they fit into both your short and long term goals. After all the secret to business is the ability to leverage your existing relationships and successes.

This is one of the benefits of having a business partner or if your going solo a business mentor, as they will make you justify your change of mind which is what needed sometimes before you go off chasing the latest dream.

Have your got clear goals and understand exactly what your business does ?

BLOW #6: How was your quarter ?

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I have sat down today and reviewed my progress this quarter, I have exceeded my targets so I am very happy and gave myself a little reward. I am surprised by the number of small business owners that dont have a regular review of their progress and even more less that dont give themselves a reward system.

How can a business know where it is if it doesnt do a regular review or have metrics to measure the progress of the journey. It would be like starting a car journey with a map and not planning a route or knowing what your fuel usage is. Having goals whether they are financial or just development milestones are important so that makes sure you know where you are in the scheme of things.

There are lots of stresses in running a business and plenty of people will line up to give you a hard time when things are going wrong but the queues are very small when praise is to be dished out. So its nice to feel the feeling of success so take time to stop a smell the roses of success when things are going good to help you get through the bad times.

How was your quarter ? Did you hit your goals ?

BLOW #5: Keep yourself focused

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I have been struggling this week with being focused, I have had to do some boring tasks to get done and seems my body is really tired so it has taken me way to long to achieve my goals this week.

When your body is sending you a message it wise to listen to it, redefine your goals make sure you understand why the small things allow you to achieve the big sexy goals that you love to do.

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