Category Archives: Accelerating your Startup Business

Rapid business development for a startup business is critical.

Great Networking Trick

Last week I accidentally discovered a great new networking trick. I was attending a lecture on Entrepreneurship in Norway. I walked into the auditorium where there were 100-150 chairs setup. I was early, so I went to the front of the room and sat in the chair that was nearest the podium in the first row where there happened to be an electric plug for my Mac. As each of the speakers, the experts and the VIPs arrived – those that were scheduled to speak – one after the other they came and introduced themselves to me. Since I was sitting close to the podium and since I had on a suit they all just assumed that I was someone very important or one of the other expert speakers. I shook their hands, we exchanged cards and I proceeded to ask them lots of questions concerning what they were going to speak about. I had a great time. They had a great time (because they got to talk about themselves) and I came home with a handful of the best business cards I had collected in a long time. Some of them are still probably asking themselves “who was that guy really?”

Keith Ferrazzi, the author of Never Eat Alone, says that Networking is one of the most important keys to success in a startup business. It will help you find jobs, recruit talent, win new customers and discover investors who’ll support your ideas. My experience is that being a great networker may not be absolutely essential, but it certainly makes things a lot easier and more fun.

According to Ferrazzi, successful networking is all about building close, sincere relationships based on mutual generosity. He says that entrepreneurs cannot achieve their career goals on their own. They have to network their way to success.

Many years ago I was co-founder of a software company and one of the other founders was a genius. A real genius. I mean the serious, lifetime member of MENSA, IQ-of-186 type genius. He was so brilliant that he was often challenged in other more normal social settings. This was good for me to understand. I am nowhere near what would be called genius, but OK, I have other talents. We worked well together as a team because we complimented each other. In today’s business world, you will need other people to help you to succeed and to provide the diversity necessary to solve complicated problems and challenges. Few successful entrepreneurs succeed by flying solo.

Dale Carnegie literally wrote the book on networking in 1936. How to Win Friends and Influence People demystified the process of making friends out of strangers and inspired legions of business coaches to carry on Carnegie’s message. His methods were so simple, yet so fundamentally useful. Here is what he recommended:

1. Smile – Simple huh? While this is easy enough, when I attended a networking event last week and I looked around the room to see how many people were actually smiling. I was shocked to see so many sour faces…lots of people frowning and staring down at their own shoes.

2. Ask Questions – Most people spend all their networking time talking about themselves. They drone on forever. Networking is about asking questions and being truly curious about the other person. If you take the time to ask, you will be surprised how fascinating, interesting and fun even the most boring person can be.

3. Listen – It is not enough to just ask questions. You have to stop to listen. I mean really listen. Listen to what they are saying. Listen to what they are not saying. Listen with your ears, your eyes and your gut feeling. Give generously of your time and attention. Nothing is more highly valued in our society today.

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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.

More Serial Entrepreneurs?

Yesterday I led a workshop for 20 young entrepreneurs in Dusseldorf, Germany. I asked them if they knew the expression “serial entrepreneurs”. Few did.  I asked if they knew the term “serial killers”. Yes. They all had watched enough TV crime shows to understand that term.

OK, so I challenged them to learn to become “serial entrepreneurs”. A serial killer commits one murder after another. A serial entrepreneur completes one startup and then immediately starts to dream about the next. Call this an illness or call it a calling in life. Some people just get it. Some people just don’t. Some people love the ability to convert an idea into a plan, a plan into a team, a team into a business, and a business into something of immense value and social change. Others just don’t understand the motivation that is needed to do this.

The workshop was the start of an 8-month program where 15 selected technology companies from the North Rhine Westphalia region will get special help, assistance, coaching and individual follow-up from experienced entrepreneurs and investors. In one way, this is a grand experiment. Just like young plants need special care and nutrients in order to grow quickly, this program seeks to nurture and to fertilize the environment where these 15 young companies will grow. The Dusseldorf region is a fertile growing ground. We are trying to make it even more so.

We need more serial entrepreneurs. We need more people who have learned how to start and build small businesses. We need more people that know how to write business plans and then how to raise capital to realize their dreams. We need more people who are willing to take risks and we need political systems that reward people who take initiative and create value.  The most important and vibrant part of any growing economy is the grassroots of startup companies that spring forth on their own.  Nurture them.

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. Subscribe to this newsletter/blog to receive frequent updates and tips.

Marathon Man for Startups

Have you seen the old movie called Marathon Man? Dustin Hoffmann plays the part of an amateur marathon runner who gets mixed up with a group of nasty ex-Nazis who torture him with a dental drill. His training as a marathon runner helps him to endure the pain until he is finally able to win in the end. It is a great movie and a good lesson for entrepreneurs.

Sorry to write this, but you have to be able to endure a lot of discomfort and pain if you expect to succeed with a startup business. There are no real short cuts. There are no easy paths to success. There is an old line that says “the harder I work, the luckier I get”. The truth is that there is a lot of hard work and it usually takes time. Lots of it.  Creating a successful startup is a marathon, not a 100 meter sprint.

Read John Nesheim’s blog post entitled: Longest Tennis Game in History : Lesson for Startups.
He writes about the recent Wimbledon tennis match between John Isner and Nicolas Mahut that lasted 3 days and ended in a tie-breaker with the score 70-68 (which is 183 games).  He writes the following:

BOTTOM LINE: Prepare for a very long run as you prepare to do your startup. Reality says you’ll be running a lot longer than you believe you will run. And you’ll run into unforeseen surprises as you round each corner. Those tennis players fought to the last stroke. You’ll be expected to do the same. When that is in your gut, your soul, then you’ll have what it takes.

Prepare indeed. Prepare yourself and adopt a strategy that will get you to the finish line with your startup business. Get help from experienced entrepreneurs who have already run the course.

I run a program for European Entrepreneurs called Fast-Track Funding. It is a program to accelerate the business development process and to increase the chances of getting seed funding quickly. It is not a short cut, but it will speed your progress. You can put your business on the fast-track to success. If you are interested in learning more, then contact me directly.

Am I crazy to be an entrepreneur?

Image from www.all4humor.comI woke up this morning and my first thought was that “I am crazy”! Stark, raving, mad, lunatic crazy. It was all triggered by an argument that I had with my business partner yesterday, which was by no means his fault.

Crazy can be defined as doing the same thing over and over, but expecting a different result. Crazy is when you have the most amazing product to sell, but your customer has no money. Crazy is when you create a sales forecast in Excel with hockey-stick escalating revenues, yet in your gut you know that this might not be too realistic. Crazy is when your business model is simply not working, but you refuse to see the light. Crazy is when we fool ourselves, both in business and in life.

But isn’t it necessary for entrepreneurs to be visionary? Don’t we have to own a dream? Don’t we have to see solutions where no one else dares to look or believe? Isn’t it necessary to “keep the faith” in spite of resistance? What if Thomas Edison had quit after over 1000 failed experiments to invent the light bulb? Isn’t that what makes some entrepreneurs great while others are only mediocre? Don’t entrepreneurs need to be a bit crazy?

In the book Awakening the Entrepreneur Within, by Michael Gerber, he talks about 4 different entrepreneur personality types. There is the DREAMER – the entrepreneur with the ability to see holes in the market and to discover innovative new ways of solving problems. There is the THINKER – the one who takes the dream and figures out the mechanics and the strategy necessary to make it work. There is the STORYTELLER – the one who figures out how to tell the world about this amazing dream, and then there is the LEADER – the one who buys the dream, understands the strategy, embraces the story, but takes LEADERSHIP.

My wife’s favorite mantra is “Balance, balance and even more balance”.

Balance is what entrepreneurs need. To succeed you must have all the 4 personality traits, not just one. You cannot be just a dreamer. You must also balance this by being a good thinker, storyteller and leader as well.

Nobody ever said that being an entrepreneur would be easy. Don’t give up your dream, but seek the balance that will make it all work.  I promise that I will.

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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. Subscribe to this newsletter/blog to receive frequent updates and tips. Contact me if you want to find out how we can help accelerate your business.

Image from www.all4humor.com

Personal Ad: Great Technology Seeks Sexy Problem to Solve

You would not believe how many times I have met brilliant entrepreneurs with amazing, cutting-edge technologies who are clueless about their markets and about who will actually be willing to pay money for their inventions. I talked with a guy who works at a local patent office recently. He said that they get 10 such calls every week of the year.

Here is a 1-Minute Reality Checklist for technology entrepreneurs:

  1. Does your business idea soothe someone’s pain, discomfort, frustration, or dissatisfaction?
  2. Are there lots of those people out there?
  3. Do these people (or companies, or governments) have money to pay for it?
  4. Will they be able to decide quickly to buy your product or service?
  5. Does your idea exploit something about you that is outstanding or unique?

If the answer to any of these questions is “NO”, then you need to do some soul-searching work on your business plan.

The best companies are not built on new technology. They are built on solving real-life problems. Pushing new technology is like pushing on a rope. It just doesn’t work. Start with a clearly defined problem. Start with a clearly defined group of people who all experience this problem. Let these people and their common problem pull your technology into the market. This strategy is much easier and long-term. If another technology comes along and eclipses yours, then just adopt it and continue solving the problem for your customers.

If you start with the technology first, then expect a long and difficult climb up the mountain of success. If you start with the problem first, then it will be like bobsledding.  You can choose.

This list was borrowed from Daniel Isenberg, who is a professor of entrepreneurship and Harvard PhD. Here is the link.

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. Subscribe to this newsletter/blog to receive frequent updates and tips.

It is hard to change just a little. Easier to change a lot.

To succeed as an entrepreneur you have to pay attention. You must pay close attention to what is going on around you – to your company, your market and to your own mindset.  And quite often you will discover that you need to make changes.

The problem with change is that changing just a little is often harder than changing a lot. Your old mindset still has its old values and attachments that inevitably will slide you back into your old groove. But when you change enough to create a new mindset, you can free yourself from your old way of looking at things and create a new groove.

The older we get, the more difficult habits are to break. The more we have done something one way, then the more difficult it is to do it another way. The longer we have a perspective, the harder it is to change the way we see things.  This is human nature.

Want to make a change? Make it a big change not a small one. Trying to wake up 15 minutes earlier each morning is harder than deciding to wake up 1 hour earlier. The transition is greater and the effect will be more noticeable and likely to stick. Trying to simply improve your sales skills is much more difficult than committing to making a significant change in your sales strategy (enroll in a course, hire a sales coach, employ a consultant). The point is that if you first come to the realization that you need to change something in your life, then make it a big change. You might find it easier and you will more likely succeed.

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.com and at www.xelerator.com.

Rick Salmon is an energetic entrepreneur who lives in Norway and believes that this beautiful world that we have created needs our help. Subscribe to this newsletter/blog to receive frequent updates and tips.

Are you Marketing to Hunters or Farmers?

HunterOrFarmerI was reviewing a marketing plan for a startup company the other day when I suddenly got a flash of insight and understanding. This company is struggling to succeed with their sales and marketing because they might be targeting the wrong group. The decision makers in their target market are Farmers, yet all their marketing content and campaigns seem to be aimed at Hunters. Both groups are important, but very different in how they see the world and react to things. This marketing plan has the target market group properly identified, but they might have the message and the delivery scheme a bit wrong.   Read the following blog posted by marketing expert Seth Godin:

Hunters and Farmers
10,000 years ago, civilization forked. Farming was invented and the way many people spent their time was changed forever.
Clearly, farming is a very different activity from hunting. Farmers spend time sweating the details, worrying about the weather, making smart choices about seeds and breeding and working hard to avoid a bad crop. Hunters, on the other hand, have long periods of distracted noticing interrupted by brief moments of frenzied panic.

It’s not crazy to imagine that some people are better at one activity than another. There might even be a gulf between people who are good at each of the two skills. Thom Hartmann has written extensively on this. He points out that medicating kids who might be better at hunting so that they can sit quietly in a school designed to teach farming doesn’t make a lot of sense.

A kid who has innate hunting skills is easily distracted, because noticing small movements in the brush is exactly what you’d need to do if you were hunting. Scan and scan and pounce. That same kid is able to drop everything and focus like a laser–for a while–if it’s urgent. The farming kid, on the other hand, is particularly good at tilling the fields of endless homework problems, each a bit like the other. Just don’t ask him to change gears instantly.

Marketers confuse the two groups. Are you selling a product that helps farmers… and hoping that hunters will buy it? How do you expect that people will discover your product, or believe that it will help them? The woman who reads each issue of Vogue, hurrying through the pages then clicking over to Zappos.com to overnight order the latest makeup kit–she’s hunting. Contrast this to the CTO who spends six months issuing RFPs (request for purchase) to buy a PBX… he’s farming.

Both groups are worthy, both groups are profitable. But each group is very different from the other, and I think we need to consider teaching, hiring and marketing to these groups in completely different ways. I’m not sure if there’s a genetic component or if this is merely a convenient grouping of people’s personas. All I know is that it often explains a lot about behavior (including mine).

The simple key to effective marketing is to really understand your customer. Understand them so well that you know whether they are hunters or farmers. Understand them so well that you know what keeps them awake at night and worrying about the future. Know what they are talking about with their colleagues. Know what they need. More importantly, know what they want (I need a new car for basic transportation, but I really want a shiny little sports car…). How do you do this?  Simple. Go spend some time with them. Invite them to lunch. Just drop by their offices to see what they are doing. If you are a hunter yourself, you probably already do this frequently. If you are a farmer, then get off the farm now and then.

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.com and at www.xelerator.com.

Rick Salmon is an energetic entrepreneur who lives in Norway and believes that this beautiful world that we have created needs our help. Subscribe to this newsletter/blog to receive frequent updates and tips.

Laid-off?… then Become An Entrepreneur

These days, the workers in the Northeast of England have the feeling that things have not been worse since the famine and plagues of the middle ages. Unemployment is at an all-time high, problems are escalating and you have a whole new generation growing up without any means of work or income other than government subsidies. Only fools entertain optimistic thoughts, let alone dare to leave the house with smiles on their faces.

Then to make matters worse, I just read an article about a group in the Northeast that is encouraging people who are facing layoffs from their jobs to consider becoming entrepreneurs.

How dare they? Is becoming an entrepreneur really an option for someone facing redundancy and unemployment?

My Story
What got me started? 20 years ago I was working for Norsk Data, a large corporation that went through several big rounds of layoffs. One year after the third round I learned from my boss that my name had been on the list of those to be fired in the last round. Being familiar with my work, he had rescued me from the list. Learning this news shook me to the core. I had never even imagined that I could lose my job. In spite of all the layoffs, it had not even been a remote possibility in my mind. After all, I was so smart and talented (I thought). Leaning this fact shattered my ideas about job stability. It made me completely rethink which career path was ”safe” and which was ”risky”. I vowed to myself that I would never again put myself in a position where another person’s whim could affect my future in such a dramatic manner. I decided that by becoming an entrepreneur, I could control my own fate and shape my own destiny. Within 3 months of receiving this news, I was involved with 2 software programmers in my first successful tech startup called BlueSky Software (renamed eHelp Corporation). Since then I have been involved with over 12 different startups and early stage ventures. It became a good career for me.

The threat of being laid-off prompted me to take action. How would you deal with this same situation? I sincerely believe that more people who are faced with layoffs should indeed consider becoming entrepreneurs. I will not promise you that it is an easy path to walk, but for the right type of person, it is a good move to make.

Excerpt from:  Forum urges recession hit people into business:

“No one is ever going to suggest that starting a business is the easy option – such a step into the unknown can be daunting or even intimidating. But there has never been a better time to give it a go because you’re not alone. There are plenty who are in the same position and plenty who’ve been through it, come out the other side and once they’ve worked through the doubts and challenges never look back. And their stories are always inspirational.”

“Entrepreneurs have an increasing role to play in the future success of the economy and we should see this as an opportunity to transform the economic make-up of the region.”

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.com and at www.xelerator.com.
Rick Salmon is an energetic entrepreneur who believes that this beautiful world that we have created needs our help. Subscribe to this newsletter/blog to receive frequent updates and tips.

Coaching Athletes vs. Coaching Entrepreneurs

COACHING ATHLETES:

All professional athletes have coaches. No serious competitor would attempt to compete at peak level without one. A coach is not just another player or colleague; a coach is a specially trained person with a very specific role. A coach does not have to be a star athlete. Sometimes the best coaches were never really good at the sport. They have different skills. So why do athletes need a coach? Is there a real purpose that the coach fulfills? Is it really necessary?

Let’s look at what a (good) sports coach does: Continue reading Coaching Athletes vs. Coaching Entrepreneurs

The Most Common Mistakes that Startup Companies Make

63learnThere is an old saying that goes:

  • Success is the result of Good Judgment
  • Good Judgment is the result of Experience
  • Experience is the result of Bad Judgment

Have I learned anything after almost 20 years of doing startup companies? I try not to make the same mistakes more than at least 1 time. Today I sat down and decided to make a list of the most common mistakes that I (and other entrepreneurs) typically make.

Continue reading The Most Common Mistakes that Startup Companies Make