Category Archives: Accelerating your Startup Business

Rapid business development for a startup business is critical.

The Secret to Pitching your Business in 30 seconds

If you can’t tell me in 30 seconds what you do and what you want, then I am not buying, investing or probably even listening any longer (except out of politeness).

While serving as an expert reviewer at venture contests I have heard hundreds of entrepreneurs pitch their ideas. Sadly to say very, very few get it right. Often I am left completely clueless about what their real business models and concepts are. I fail to understand what is unique and what would compel me to either invest or get involved. Help is sorely needed!

The Easy Solution

Successfully pitching a business idea in 30 seconds is much simpler than most people realize. And by the way… if you cannot do it in 30 seconds, then you wont be able to do it in 30 minutes either! My first piece of advice would be to select a model that works rather than experimenting on your own. There are many different models that we teach at Quickminds, but perhaps the simplest and best is the Message Map.

Build a Message Map in 3 simple steps.

Step 1: First, you need to write a simple Key Message Statement. Treat it like a Twitter message. Twitter has taught us several great communication messages. First Twitter has trained us to write short messages. They are limited to 140 characters, so you must think about brevity and clarity. Second, Twitter has trained us to write powerful messages. They are all designed to get you to take action (either to click on a link, to attend an event, or to write to your congressman).  To be compelling, your Key Message also needs to include a claim. Claims stake out the territory and qualify your offering. Do you dare to claim that your product can increase your customer’s profit $$ by 50%? Don’t be dishonest, but don’t be overly conservative. This is one of the hardest tasks for engineers and programmers, who want to be exact and perfectly factual in all statements. Find a way to make a compelling claim and you will grab the interest of your audience immediately. Write your Key Message Statement like a tweet and put it at the centre of the page.

Step 2: Write three Supporting Points. Select the three (and only three) points you need to make in order to back-up your Message Statement. A chair with only two legs will not stand on its ‘own. A chair with five legs is just too complicated. Three is the perfect number. Select points that have importance and emotional appeal to your listener. Remember to think from their viewpoint and not just from your own. What are the real benefits of your product or service? What will buying from you really do to benefit this person? Save them time? Earn them money? Make them look good with the girls? Write each of the 3 points onto the Map.

Step 3: Finally you should write at least 3 Evidence descriptions for each of the Points. Evidence can be in the form of statistics, examples, quotes from experts or even a simple story that illustrates the point. Choose anything that validates your claim and that gives your listener an emotional reason to want to learn more about your product or service. Have some fun with this! The more fun you have in telling about your business, the more likely you are to connect with your audience and to win their business.

The Most Common Reason for Failure

Crafting a good message will give you an invaluable tool for your business. Too many entrepreneurs spend all their time perfecting their technology, but forget to do even the most basic work on creating their message. In my experience this is one of the most common reasons for failure.  Invest time into your Message Map.

Practice Makes Perfect

Also remember to practice. This sounds like stupid advice, but is often forgotten. Only through practicing the delivery of your message will you get better. I have competed in and won several elevator pitch contests. I wrote my pitch, then I re-wrote it about a dozen times until I felt it was perfect. I practiced on friends, family, colleagues and even strangers. I kept re-writing until it got better and better (also shorter and shorter!). Pay as much attention to this as you do to your technology or products and I assure you that you will see huge improvements in your sales and pitching efforts.

Example of Message Map: 

We can help!

Want some help in creating a message map for your business? Contact us today.

Quickminds turns boring presenters into powerful communicators by using some of the world’s most cutting-edge, unique, innovative and inspiring techniques. Visit www.quickminds.net

5 Key Skills for Successful Serial Entrepreneurs

I just finished leading a 3-day workshop in Toulouse, France for 15 entrepreneurs from the incubators and technology centres of the European Space Agency. Today I have been asking myself questions about what the key skills are that these entrepreneurs will need to develop in order to succeed.

Success can be measured in many ways, but my goal has been to teach them to become serial entrepreneurs – persons who are capable of creating not just one startup business, but capable of starting many healthy businesses throughout their careers.

Becoming a good serial entrepreneur involves learning the ability to do the following:

  1. Serial Entrepreneurs see opportunity. Opportunities arise where there are problems or where there are inefficiencies. While corporate employees tend to focus on resources, good entrepreneurs tend to focus on opportunities. When an employee encounters a problem within an organization, they most often try to figure out how to navigate around it. An entrepreneur, however, sees this as an opportunity to solve the problem and thereby to create a sellable product or service. Every problem is good news and an opportunity to a serial entrepreneur.
  2. Serial Entrepreneurs create and communicate a clear vision. A clear vision is key. Without it an entrepreneur ends up being vague and uncertain about how to go forward to create a solution or to organize the team that is necessary for success. A simple and magical thing happens when an entrepreneur creates a clear vision, commits to making it happen and then communicates it to the world.
  3. Serial Entrepreneurs are able to attract great people to work with them. Many entrepreneurs never get past this point. They work hard, but they mostly work alone. Their ventures seldom grow large and are limited by the fact that they are neither team players nor good leaders. Hire people who are smarter than you. Hire people that almost scare you because they are so capable. Only then will you raise the level of your company to new levels and ensure long-term success. Earn their trust, give them full responsibility and then get out of their way so they can make your company into a success.
  4. Serial Entrepreneurs are able to raise capital or to obtain whatever resources are necessary. Almost all good business ideas will need capital at some point. Without capital, growth takes longer. With capital, a company can often move quicker and take advantage of windows of opportunity that appear. Capital is like fertilizer for plants. Organic growth is always an option, but sometimes there are faster and better ways to stimulate rapid growth.
  5. Serial Entrepreneurs remain flexible, adapting to changes without abandoning their vision. As we all know so well, shit happens. One of the only constants in life is change. Being a successful serial entrepreneur involves developing the ability to stay flexible in the face of the winds of change, without losing sight of their vision.

Thanks to Roop Chandwani (www.aggiopartners.com) and Nico Goulet (www.adaravp.com) for inspiration for this article.

DARING TO DREAM – The Entrepreneur Mindset

“The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short; but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark.” — Michelangelo Buonarroti

I will never forget the night that it really hit me. I didn’t sleep once during the 6 hours that I tossed and turned in bed. I could barely keep my eyes closed. My brain was racing at breakneck speed with plans and ideas and visions of a future that was so bright and vibrant that I couldn’t contain my enthusiasm. I had just figured out that I really could succeed as an entrepreneur.

Earlier that day I had a dialogue with fellow BlueSky Software founder Jørgen Lien. He insisted that we had a shot… a real shot at busting open a segment of a large and growing software market, and in doing so a shot at creating a wildly-successful software company. This was my first technology startup. Although I had seen the possibility, I never really believed in it.  Before then. During that night it finally hit me.

20 years later and my dream is still alive, vibrant, bright and part of my everyday reality. BlueSky succeeded in busting open that market and went on later (without me) to be acquired by Macromedia/Adobe. Two other tech startups I did went well and are still flying high. I have worked closely with hundreds of talented entrepreneurs since then and yet I still have that moment in my mind.

For me, the biggest excitement was never about the riches and the wealth. It was not about fame and notoriety. Most of all, it was the realization that I could create.

The process of creation that an entrepreneur can experience is amazing. One minute you sit there with two empty hands and a head full of ideas. In the next moment your thoughts have been converted to real things and you have your hands full of value and new opportunity. It is like modern day alchemy – the ability to turn common objects into gold.

Three weeks from now I will be one of the keynote speakers at the Oslo Leadership Event (Fornebu Arena, May 27-29, 2011). I will use the opportunity to share some stories from my experiences as an entrepreneur. There have been a lot of crazy moments, but most of all I will use this opportunity to encourage everyone to think like an entrepreneur.

The Entrepreneur Mindset
Whether you want to create a business, or lead a sports team, or teach a classroom of students, sail alone around the world, become a master yoga instructor or just simply get the most out of today… it all starts by DARING TO DREAM. Dream big. Dream wild. Dream like you did when you were a kid. You would be amazed at what is really possible.

If you want to learn more about visualization tools or how to accelerate your business, then contact me or join one of my seminars. If you are going to attend the Oslo Leadership Event, then please come up and introduce yourself to me and share your dreams with me as well!

 

Hunting in the Sales Jungle

If you are running a startup business, then it is likely that you don’t have a lot of money or a lot of time to waste on unnecessary marketing and sales efforts. It’s like being deep in the jungle when you are tired, hungry and only have 1 arrow left. You must select your target very, very carefully before you take your only shot.

I still have a house phone that hangs on the wall (remember those?). No one ever calls on it except for Grandpa (on occasion) and telephone salespeople. I have never purchased anything from a phone salesman, nor consented to any free offer or survey, and yet they still keep calling in the hopes that I may change my personality someday. Most often they are trying to sell things that I never, ever would want to buy anyways. In marketing, this is the opposite of the hungry jungle hunter with only one arrow. These phone salespeople will shoot at anything that moves (or answers the phone).

A key to marketing success
A key to rapid success for any business (whether startup or established) is to carefully choose a highly targeted, well defined, easily located, narrow niche market and to focus all marketing and sales efforts there. This can be the difference between survival and failure, and yet you would be surprised how many entrepreneurs fail to do so. Too many entrepreneurs are opportunistic, not strategic and it costs them dearly. The smaller your market, the better you will understand the needs and challenges of your customers. The better you understand your customers, the easier it is to develop features and benefits that address their specific needs. This will make the sales process faster, painless, easier and a lot more fun. Selling to highly qualified customers is easy because you have selected them based on their needs and you know how to talk with them in a manner that resonates with them.

Only Qualified Leads
I sell a coaching & mentoring program to entrepreneurs who want to learn to master the art of entrepreneurship and to become successful lifelong serial entrepreneurs. While I meet hundreds of entrepreneurs each year, only a few are truly interested in this type of learning and self-development. I would be foolish to waste a lot of my time & efforts in trying to pitch my program to entrepreneurs who are not interested.  Therefore I have designed a number of tools that allow the interested ones to come forward and identify themselves. This blog is one of those tools.

A free offer
If you talk to my clients you will hear that this program really works well. If you are not sure, then join me on a free interactive webinar on April 28th at 16:00 CET. During this online meeting I will show you some of the common mistakes and some of the easy ways that you can increase your number of qualified leads. Follow even one of these tips and you will have more clients that come to you and ask for your services. After the webinar, if you tell me that you are really interested in learning more, then we will talk. But only after you have identified yourself and your interest. If I only have one arrow, then I want to take careful aim before I waste your time and mine.

Join us on this next webinar (April 27th) and you will discover:

  • How to define a razor-sharp target market plan that will accelerate your business
  • My top 5 recommendations for re-defining your business to make better use of limited time and resources
  • How to use Guerrilla Marketing tactics to differentiate you from your competitors
  • The 5 most common marketing mistakes that entrepreneurs make
  • How to become less reliant on leading-edge technology and to build long-term value for your business
  • PLUS, a fatal mindset challenge that could be sabotaging your marketing efforts without you really realizing it!

Sign-up for the free series of webinars. Here are some of the topics we will discuss in future webinars.

  • APRIL 28, 2011 – Targeted marketing and niche strategies
  • MAY 26 – Secrets to raising capital for early-stage entrepreneurs
  • JUNE 30 – Sales acceleration tools and best practices
  • JULY 28 – Power networking skills that will let you connect with anyone fast
  • AUGUST 25 – Building lists of potential customers, your biggest asset
  • SEPTEMBER 29 – Closing sales faster and overcoming objections easily
  • OCTOBER 27 – Establishing rapport with investors and customers quickly
  • NOVEMBER 24 – Becoming a recognized thought leader in your industry
  • DECEMBER 29 – Guerrilla Marketing tricks and techniques
  • JANUARY 26, 2012 – Powerful Communication skills
  • FEBRUARY 23 – Story telling examples and methods
  • MARCH 29 – Pitching to investors in a way that will get results

THERE WILL BE A NEW WEBINAR ON THE LAST THURSDAY OF EACH MONTH

CLICK HERE TO REGISTER

Image: Thinkers Of The Jungle, by Gerd Schuster, Willie Smits and Jay Ullal, published by Ullmann Publishing,

 

 

Inspiration – What is your calling?

I believe that we all have something special to offer this world. No matter who you are… No matter what skills you possess or don’t possess, you have something special to contribute. Scientists have not yet succeeded with cloning a person. Each one of us really is unique. Totally unique. No two are alike, and therefore we each have something unique to offer this world.

What is it that really motivates you? What is it in your life that gives you energy and inspiration? What gets you up early in the morning or keeps you awake sleepless all night? Finding true inspiration is crucial for an entrepreneur. If you are not inspired by your work, then it will be a constant struggle. If you are truly inspired, then it will be a breeze.

So how does your business and your work inspire you? If it does not, then what would it take to change this? There is a huge amount of energy available to you if you can tap into inspiration. Money and fame will only motivate you so far. Finding a bigger agenda and aligning your life values with your startup business are keys to accelerated and sustained success.

Do you agree with this? Then hire yourself a coach to challenge you for 3 months. See what kind of huge changes you are capable of.  I have seen some pretty amazing and inspiring things the last years of coaching entrepreneur­­s. How about you?

INSPIRATION
When you are inspired by some great
purpose, some extraordinary project,
all your thoughts break their bonds;
Your mind transcends limitations,
your consciousness expands in every
direction, and you find yourself in a new,
great and wonderful world.

Dormant forces, faculties and talents
become alive, and you discover yourself
to be a greater person by far than you
ever dreamed yourself to be. 
– Patanjali (1st century BC)

Want to turn-around your business and achieve results in record time? Contact me to discuss Executive Coaching, Group Facilitation and Management for Hire services for technology companies. You can learn more at www.ricksalmon.comwww.xelerator.com and at www.e-unlimited.com.

Rick Salmon is an energetic entrepreneur who lives in Norway and believes that European startup companies can succeed and grow quickly if only they get the proper help and assistance. Please join the discussion and leave your comments. Subscribe to this newsletter/blog to receive frequent updates and tips.

Why are you an Entrepreneur – really?

What motives you as an entrepreneur? What is the real reason that you are willing to work long hours 7 days a week with low pay, few colleagues, no flashy benefits, no fancy office, no job security, and the constant risk of failure staring you right in the eyes? Are you crazy, reckless or just stupid?

These are questions that I ask myself often, and yet I have no intention of quitting being an entrepreneur. It is what I am. It is what I do. It is the skillset that I have learned, developed and have made into a lifelong career.

Watch the fantastic video below from Daniel Pink’s book entitled DRIVE. Ask yourself why you are an entrepreneur and what it is that really will motivate you and your colleagues to succeed.

YouTube Preview Image

Whether you are working alone in a startup or building a dynamic team, finding the right factors for motivation is critical. Aligning values and creating empowering assignments will unlock peak performance in yourself and in your colleagues.


Want to turn-around your business and achieve results in record time? Contact me to discuss Executive Coaching, Group Facilitation and Management for Hire services for technology companies. You can learn more at www.ricksalmon.comwww.xelerator.com and at www.e-unlimited.com.

Rick Salmon is an energetic entrepreneur who lives in Norway and believes that European startup companies can succeed and grow quickly if only they get the proper help and assistance. Please join the discussion and leave your comments. Subscribe to this newsletter/blog to receive frequent updates and tips.

Fall in Love with your Market, not with your Technology

Why do so many early-stage technology companies struggle? One reason is that they fall in love with their technology. Many entrepreneurs are great engineers or scientists. They create all sorts of inventions and smart new technologies. They write algorithms, file patents and then they march out to search for markets, calling ”Is there anyone out there who could use my new technology?”

Pushing technology is like pushing on a rope.

When I graduated from University I had two buddies. The first one loved IT technology. He always had the latest PC/phone/PDA/gadgets. He chose a career in the IT industry and was constantly searching for that next razor-edge, earth-shaking, game-changing technology wave.  The second buddy chose to sell coffee machines. We smirked at this. He said that in most large office buildings (at that time – early 1990s) they drank really bad coffee. He was right and he decided to change this. He focused on the problems of a specific market. He licensed and sold whatever technology was best. He made a fortune selling these coffee machines. We others are still searching for new technology, much like Don Quixote out looking for dragons to fight.

I do corporate turnarounds for early-stage companies that are struggling. I have lots of tricks, but the one that works most often is to get them to let go of the technology obsession and to tune their ears and eyes on the needs of a unique market.

It is really simple and easy.

Don’t fall in love with your technology. Fall in love with your market. Your market will last for many years. Technologies just come and go.

Want to turn-around your business and achieve results in record time? Contact me to discuss Executive Coaching, Group Facilitation and Management for Hire services for technology companies. You can learn more at www.ricksalmon.comwww.xelerator.com and at www.e-unlimited.com.

Rick Salmon is an energetic entrepreneur who lives in Norway and believes that European startup companies can succeed and grow quickly if only they get the proper help and assistance. Please join the discussion and leave your comments. Subscribe to this newsletter/blog to receive frequent updates and tips.

Being an Entrepreneur – Curse or Blessing?

Image from www.entrepreneurialdaddy.com

I have been away from my writing for quite some time. I have struggled to find the time. I have struggled to find the words. I have struggled to find the inspiration because I am in the middle of starting a new business and it is tough. Really tough.

There are a thousand things that I need to be doing at all times for this startup business. There are people I should be calling. There are plans I should be writing. There is social media buzz that I should be creating. There are investors that I should be cultivating. There is a huge uncertainty hanging over me and also there is a real shortage of cash. This lack of cash is the curse and the constant companion of all early-stage entrepreneurs.

Because I am an entrepreneur, I have my freedom. Freedom to choose and freedom to act. Because I am an entrepreneur I have the ability to create and to manifest from my efforts. I can take full responsibility for my situation without anyone else to blame. This provides a fantastic platform for personal development and constant growth and improvement. There is even the potential for big economic rewards if I am successful in creating value.

Tempting are the thoughts of getting a real job, having a steady income and a regular paycheck. Tempting is the false illusion that this would give me safety and satisfaction. After all, I am an entrepreneur. I would feel tethered and bound if I were stuck in someone else’s corporate vision. I have to create and live my own vision. Being an entrepreneur is sometimes a curse, but mostly it is a great blessing.

Want to turn-around your business and achieve results in record time? Contact me to discuss Executive Coaching, Group Facilitation and Management for Hire services for technology companies. You can learn more at www.ricksalmon.comwww.xelerator.com and at www.e-unlimited.com.

Rick Salmon is an energetic entrepreneur who lives in Norway and believes that European startup companies can succeed and grow quickly if only they get the proper help and assistance. Please join the discussion and leave your comments. Subscribe to this newsletter/blog to receive frequent updates and tips.

Entrepreneur Self Sabotage

We all have 2 different minds. One is logical, the other is emotional and they don’t always agree with each other. Sometimes they will do whatever they can to sabotage each other.

Consider the following entrepreneur story:
Gauri Nanda was a graduate student at MIT who got an $80K loan from her parents to start a business. Her first product is called CLOCKY. It is an alarm clock on wheels. You set the alarm to ring at 06:00 in the morning. When the time comes, the clock wheels itself off your bedside table and races around your bedroom making loud and annoying robot-like noises. You have to chase it down in order to shut it up. It is a great gimmick, Nanda has sold over 100 thousand clocks already and was featured on the cover of Inc. Magazine.

But why would 100,000 people want to chase a loud and annoying alarm clock around their bedrooms each morning?

Back to the two minds… One mind (the logical one) wants to get up at 06:00. The other mind (the emotional one) wants to stay in bed and sleep a few more lazy hours.

So Why do we fight with ourselves so often?

I coached an entrepreneur last week regarding his long-term goals. He was very clear on what he wanted to achieve long-term with his startup company but when we discussed what factors were keeping him from achieving success, the list was endless. The conclusion we reached was that he is not really sure if he is willing to do the work – to pay the high price that is needed to make his company a success. He keeps hoping he will find a short cut or an easy path to success, but in the meantime his company is moving very slowly. After lots of questioning, he sited several examples of situations where he had setup a specific goal and then sabotaged the result by either failing to follow-up or by prioritizing other tasks. His one mind wants success. His other mind wants an easy lifestyle.

Reaching this conclusion did not solve his problem, but it did shed a lot of light on it. He went away from the coaching session much more conscious of self-sabotage and with a new resolve to remove the excuses and to re-focus on accelerated success.

This is all about Values. People who are clear on their values don’t have the big internal conflicts. People who are not clear often end up sabotaging themselves. Working with a coach on clarifying your own values can be a fun and really interesting experience.

Are you ever of two minds? Do you ever sabotage yourself? If the answer is yes, then maybe you should contact me about a coaching trial and then put the Clocky on your Christmas wish list.

_________________________

Want to turn-around your business and achieve results in record time? Contact me to discuss Executive Coaching, Group Facilitation and Management for Hire services for technology companies. You can learn more at www.ricksalmon.comwww.xelerator.com and at www.e-unlimited.com.

Rick Salmon is an energetic entrepreneur who lives in Norway and believes that European startup companies can succeed and grow quickly if only they get the proper help and assistance. Please join the discussion and leave your comments. Subscribe to this newsletter/blog to receive frequent updates and tips.