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Showing posts from 2018

Initial Customer Discovery in E-Commerce

I’ve been on a customer discovery journey over the last couple weeks. I haven’t dug deep on Mom Test-esque questions. Instead, I’m setting a baseline on the e-commerce space for myself.
Below are highlights from my discussions so far – Initial round of 7 folks from the e-commerce space representing directors and managers of marketing with a couple in sales. Companies were each in the $1B+ category largely in consumer, but also having B2B opportunities.Primary levers for growing e-commerce businesses:Customer acquisitionFulfillmentThese two levers have the greatest effect on net revenueTo achieve higher sales, too, companies are evaluating:Shortest path to revenue -- "click-to-checkout"Building an "optimal" customer experienceCustomer experience for companies range from custom, and temporary, showrooms to shortening the path to revenue with engaging design elements (e.g. imagery, product information consistency)The Amazon Effect has affected some of the longest-stan…

Being Cautious and Re-Orienting When Credibility is Limited

I’m listening to Ray Dalio’s book Principles. At whatever page I’m on, he talks about being open while also being persistent. His point revolves around the principle for always learning. To learn, people need to be open to listening. And yet, people are quick to dig into their own ideas, even if they haven’t showcased success – myself included.
Ray believes successful leaders should be able to showcase at least three instances of such in some area.
It dawns on me on this site that I espouse a lot about entrepreneurship without several successes – if we classify a liquidity event as success (e.g. stock offering, being acquired). That could continue to promote the idea that success only comes from a liquidity event which is not true. From this standpoint, should readers even value what I have to say? That’s a humbling question.
Though, Ray describes the value inexperience brings with it including new, outside perspective. He also talks about gaining buy-in from others with experience…

Entrepreneurship Is Full of Hard Work that Is Rarely Sought After

I posted recently about the importance to periodically check how a current role/ position fits into the greater journey – “Before Making Moves Based On Today’s Bad, Chart How All The Dots Align to A Path”. I took this to heart recently by reviewing my resume and updating my skills and experience. It’s made me aware of my career progression and my upcoming path as I head into my mid-30s. In short: optically, I’ve been rather stagnant.
Building a startup is incredibly hard work. Many startups do not come close to the type of success that is read about in the news or even the local startup digest. Entrepreneurship, though intrinsically rewarding, is not well-received professionally.
As I’ve had the great opportunities to lead sales at Body Boss Fitness, SalesWise, and SalesWise’s new product/ brand Burner Rocket, they’ve all been tough experiences to get through. Starting from virtually nothing and fighting to get scraps of the first 10 customers and then the next is rarely seen from t…

Silly Efficiencies and Cost Savings In Pursuit of Entrepreneurship

When it comes to finding efficiencies and cost savings, I’ve got a few tricks up my sleeves. It’s certainly helpful as an entrepreneur – sometimes bootstrapped. Of course, not all things are tricks as much as they are realizations. Here are a few: I attended Emory University’s Goizueta Business School back 2012-2013 for my MBA. Back then, early on, at least, I thought I was going to graduate and re-enter the world of consulting. I suspected I would garner a nice-sized pay bump. I had visions of getting a BMW M3 and upgrade my house (purchased 2009). Except, I ended up going full-time into boot-strapped entrepreneurship. There were no upgrades. I kept my expenses relatively low, and stuck it out with the same car and house for years.I did eventually change my car last year but stayed in my house. What’s fascinating are the visions for bigger, better when I thought about higher wages. However, they’re not things I needed. I’ve been happy in my home, and honestly, I probably should’ve ke…

Book Review: The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey

I just wrapped up The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey. I’m finally crossing off books that have been recommended to me several years ago. This was one of those books that I had already heard so much about, especially given my highly habitual life.
The book centers around 7 habits that Covey covers: Be proactive.Begin with the end in mind.Put first things first.Think win-win.Seek to understand, then to be understood.Synergize.Sharpen the saw. The first three habits are focused around the self while habits 4-6 are about the external relations. The last habit is about constant improvement.

What makes Covey’s book easy to understand and approachable are the real-world examples and applicability to everyday life. I won’t go into detail about each of the habits. However, I will say that each habit is a constant practice for me which makes sense given Covey’s message.
Of the habits, the most difficult for me are seeking to understand and thinking win-win. Too often we …

21 Lessons Learned from My Time at Atlanta Tech Village

Recently, my company and I left @ATLTechVillage. It was bittersweet -- a place I visited right after @davidcummings bought the building, and always wanted to be a member of. As I left, I wanted to write a letter, but decided a list of lessons from my time would be more welcome...— Daryl Lu (@TheDLu) August 9, 2018Here are my 21 lessons learned from my time @ATLTechVillage... to all you Villagers, entrepreneurs, Atlantans, the Community. (Many more sure to come up as time goes & things marinate, but here goes!)— Daryl Lu (@TheDLu) August 9, 20181\Don’t EVER merge into the right-turn lane in front of ATV on Piedmont too late during lunch or afternoon rush hour. Police will yell at you to “unmerge”. Talk-back & get a ticket. Think you got away? Check your rearview. She’s likely running after you.— Daryl Lu (@TheDLu) August 9, 20182\If you want some mid-day entertainment, watch the traffic police during lunch or afternoon rush hour to see the above lesson in action. Warning: 15 mi…

Book Review: The Advantage by Patrick Lencioni

I just finished The Advantage by Patrick Lencioni on why organization health is the number one reason companies succeed. Lencioni argues it’s the true competitive advantage companies have.
The Advantage by Patrick Lencioni I’ve read a lot of business books and have gone through an MBA program to learn about competitive advantages and the “it” factors that makes some companies better than others. Most of the readings have been about culture with a sprinkling of motivations. Culture makes the most noise for success, and it’s not a surprise. Culture is more uniquely applied for a company. How it operates with values and its mission. If values and the mission provide the map of a company, then organization health is the step-by-step directions to navigate.
The key take-aways: Organizational health starts from the top. Much like culture, leaders can determine the health of company. Eliminating office politics (big points here from Lencioni) while ensuring the leaders row all in the same di…

Business Insulation – The Good and Bad Opportunities

“Business insulation” – I’m going to trademark that to stand for both the visible and hidden layer(s) that stops/ slows businesses from learning outside processes and systems. I think about business insulation for two reasons: It’s common for companies in “typical” industry positions to operate much like they have operated since inception. Many industries and businesses stay closely aligned to original go-to-market strategies. Folks do not realize the opportunities afforded by fast-growing technology companies and the evolution of “best practices”.Companies with business insulation are ripe for both good and bad opportunities. The good opportunities include companies that can be made stronger and grow faster sustainably with streamlined workflows and minor tweaks to business systems. The bad opportunities (“challenges”) include the difficulties for companies to overcome the insulation. How do they learn of opportunities, let alone implement them? Think: change management is the number…

Models and Frameworks for Upstarting Your Startup

I know a few folks who are diving into new ideas. One way of starting up has been fleshing out the Lean Canvas -- a simple one-pager in lieu of a business plan.
Like a business plan, the Lean Canvas helps folks capture the key elements of a business without building out a detailed, largely never-to-be-used-again business plan. It's certainly a good way to get started while thinking holistically.
Another method I've been thinking about after reviewing "landing page how-to's"(see Julian's Landing Pages handbook)is what I'll refer to as the Alternatives-Value-Personas (AVP) framework. This is a