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Understanding Lasting Effects to Measure Success

A good way to discern if a product or service is a need to have is to see what happens if it breaks or is no longer available. Would customers come kicking and screaming? Or, would the day pass by with little to no utterance? (No, not advocating you deliberately break your product.)
Of course, there’s another effect that can be much harder to realize – how effective was the product or service the first time that additional sales were not necessary. Or, there’s a much longer time between sales that effect can be harder to discern outside of problems.
You can count companies with fantastic quality such as Toyota, a great mattress company, Terminex (or other pest extermination companies), etc. In these cases, referrals and customer satisfaction records may hint at the lasting effects of products and services. Feedback is paramount to the growth of these companies.
Lasting effects is a big deal. They require quality. They require an emotional tie-in to be remembered. They require empat…
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Entrepreneurs, Think About Objections

Why isn’t an idea already in the market and being successful? Maybe the key question is, “why isn’t this idea working?”
A good way to tackle a new business idea is to think about the objections. That is, think about why problems exist today – what are their hurdles? Why hasn’t this idea been developed already? How is this problem being addressed today, and how did the market get here? How can these challenges be overcome?
Addressing these challenges (read: objections) is similar to approaches in brainstorming methods such as the Disney way and Six Thinking Hats.
When you ask these types of questions, you might find out macro trends are removing hurdles – maybe, then, it’s great timing for success. For Instagram, for example, anyone with a smartphone almost instantly became talented photographers. For Instagram, the technological evolution of cameras in smartphones lowered the barrier for general consumers to have “good” cameras. Instagram capitalized on this opportunity further by p…

Progression of Idea Validation

Having 100 million users and a billion in revenue is a pretty good validation of an idea. However, Rome was not built in a day. Validating an idea and the subsequent products/ startups is best done in stages.
The progression: Idea – Validating an idea requires initial feedback and feel amongst a select group of potential buyers. This can be done via surveys either in small verbal groups or large online surveys. This can also be through the first 10-20 customers where many may be friendlies.Product/ Service – This is the long sought-after “product-market” fit stage where validation comes from the first cohorts of buyers – scaling from 20 to 100 inorganic customers. Depending on the product/ service, engagement metrics may also provide validation.Company – Let’s call this stage the growth stage for a company. At this stage, validation comes from lower customer churn. In many cases, competition will be fiercer here, so churn could be a problem.Category/ Market – There are clear market le…

Think Delight First, Not Revenue

I overheard a discussion between two execs recently about the idea of working closer together. One exec was pitching another way to earn incremental revenue from existing customers. Except, the conversation stopped there – regarding more revenue anyways. Instead, the execs shifted focus to discussing how working closer together could add “delight” to customers.
It’s hugely telling when an entrepreneur pauses a discussion to shift the focus away from “more money” to “more delight”. Here, the entrepreneur understands the importance of thinking about the customer-first. Here, the entrepreneur understands the importance of creating emotional value.
Thinking revenue-first means thinking about the company first. However, the company does not exist without its customers. Thinking customer-first puts the company on a path to bringing customers in and retaining them [especially against competition].
When thinking about the services and products you can’t live without today, think about the …

Trends from Entrepreneurs’ Starts on NPR

National Public Radio (NPR) has a great podcast called “How I Built This” anchored by Guy Raz. From the show: How I Built This is a podcast about innovators, entrepreneurs, and idealists, and the stories behind the movements they built. Each episode is a narrative journey marked by triumphs, failures, serendipity and insight — told by the founders of some of the world's best known companies and brands. There are some really fascinating stories including Spanx’s Sarah Blakely, WeWork’s Miguel McKelvey, and Airbnb’s Joe Gebbia.
Here are some trends I heard from these stories: They’re opportunistic. Patagonia’s Yvon Chouinard started life out by becoming a metal worker to make climbing equipment when he couldn’t find what he wanted.They start things with people they haven’t known for a while… or they go it alone. WeWork’s Miguel McKelvey shared how he met his cofounder through his roommate after he wanted to work in NYC. He moved there. He met Adam Neumann who was highly complementary…

When We Ignore Our Previous Experience for Our Great Startup Idea

I met up with a friend recently who is noodling over an idea. What was interesting was how she was so deep into her idea, and didn’t use her life’s skills and work to help validate the idea.
Like me, she started her professional career in consulting. Like me, we both ignored our acquired consulting skills when building a startup (my example was Body Boss, as described in Postmortem of a Failed Startup).
It’s a funny and sad mistake I’ve seen a lot – starting with yours truly. There’s excitement in the initial idea that people put on the blinders. They (we) ignore experience in the previous “corporate” world. I attribute much of this to emotions running high. Emotions have ways of clouding our judgements and processes.
This happens especially in endeavors we get excited about but do not have explicit professional experience in. For myself and my Body Boss cofounders, that area was fitness. We loved fitness, but we came from outside the industry.
For example, what makes consulting s…

Thinking Out Loud: What Autonomous Vehicles Could Mean

There’s a lot of talk about autonomous vehicles these days – both the opportunities and the ramifications. It’s an exciting prospect of being able to travel “autonomously” beyond texting carefree or reading a book.
Consider the following: The alleviation of traffic. With autonomy comes prediction. With prediction comes the ability to mitigate traffic. Cars could potentially fly down roads well past current speed limits as they behave in hive-like manner. Imagine a beautifully orchestrated, synchronized traffic system where vehicles notify each other when they’re turning and exiting. Human reactionary delays and errors cause most of traffic, so the elimination of human thinking leads to huge opportunities.Going farther away from city centers. With autonomy comes the ability to be productive the moment workers leave their homes. They can work on computers much like commuters do today on planes, buses, and trains. As such, there can be a migration away from business epicenters as commute…