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.

USA passes Educating Entrepreneurs bill

“Every $1 dollar invested in this program will put $2.87 into the national treasury” – N.Velazquez (US State Representative)

“The entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well in our region. What is lacking is the opportunity and ability to tap into ‘the experts’.” Donna Kilhoffer (Community Education Council)

On July 28, 2009 the US House of Representatives passed a bi-partisan bill called the Educating Entrepreneurs Through Today’s Technology Act. The bill was introduced by New York Democrat Nydia Velazquez, who is the Chairperson of the House Small Business Committee.  It provides funds for creating a USA national training program for entrepreneurs, startups and small businesses. It will finance satellite and advanced network infrastructure as well as leading-edge content and participation by some of the most successful and experienced entrepreneurs on the planet. The delivery will be live, online, interactive and available to small business owners and entrepreneurs nationwide. Whether they live in the backwoods of West Virginia or in the heart of Silicon Valley, they will now have access to instant, interactive and specialized expertise. Now that is the type of government stimulus program I like.

Why is this important for European entrepreneurs and politicians?

  • USA entrepreneurs are challenged because there are so many remote geographies and rural areas. Europeans are challenged because there are so many different and also remote nationalities. Europe needs this kind of program.
  • USA entrepreneurs are blessed with a single, large and homogeneous market. Europeans need to lower the national barriers so that European Entrepreneurs can service EU markets unencumbered.
  • USA venture capital markets are uniform and relatively equivalent across the country (the VC terms in Boston are not that much different from those in Silicon Valley or the Technology Triangle in N.Carolina). Europe needs to flatten the geography.
  • USA entrepreneurs struggle with internationalization and cross-border ventures. Europeans understand this innately and should be encouraged to use this to their competitive advantage.

Europe needs to find a way to turn this from a disadvantage into a competitive advantage.

Your comments on this article are encouraged.

Here is more information:


Thompson Bill Passes House “The Educating Entrepreneurs through Today’s Technology Act”

July 28, 2009 6:12 PM. Washington, D.C.—Today the House of Representatives passed by voice vote, House Resolution 1807, the Educating Entrepreneurs through Today’s Technology Act, introduced by U.S. Representative Glenn `GT’ Thompson, R-Howard.

“Small businesses are the backbone of our economy, employing roughly half of U.S. workers, and while our communities are experiencing high unemployment rates, the entrepreneurial spirit remains alive and well,” Thompson told the Members.  “For many underserved and rural areas, it is critical to have the opportunity and ability to tap into resources that will foster further economic development and provide prospective entrepreneurs with the same access afforded to their suburban and urban counterparts.”

The measure will provide high-quality tele-distance training through a competitive grants process administered by the Small Business Administration. The program will promote peer-to-peer networking for small business development, by using technology to deliver information and share data on-line and through videos and satellite communication.

Satellite seminars and online information services will allow prospective and established business men and women to interact with each other to trouble shoot problems and share best practices for interacting with the Small business Administration.  This is a good example of the proliferation of online networking sites, where people can exchange their knowledge and  information.  This one will offer facts and figures on securing financing, navigating government regulations and learning to get a small business off the ground.

For many entrepreneurs, accessing this kind of information requires driving long distances to a Small Business Development Center.  This legislation will bring the information to home computers.

In April, when this bill had a hearing before the Small Business Committee, Donna Kilhoffer, the program manager for the Community Education Council of Elk and Cameron Counties testified, “The entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well in our region. What is lacking is the opportunity and ability to tap into ‘the experts’.”

This measure will allow people throughout the Nation to tap into the experts.

Thompson’s bill passed in May as well when it was included as a part of a larger House-passed bill, (H.R. 2352), the Job Creation through Entrepreneurship Act of 2009.  Both measures await action in the U.S. Senate before either can become law.

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

Daring to take the first step

KseniyaSimonovaWe live in an amazing world with so many talented and creative people. Every once in a while I see something that is so different and novel that it makes me stop and marvel. I just watched a YouTube video that had this effect on me. I found it mesmerizing. It takes six minutes to view, but read the intro first to understand the story.

Continue reading Daring to take the first step

The Entrepreneur Mad Hatter

madhatterToday I feel like Johnny Depp in the movie Alice in Wonderland, who plays the role of the Mad Hatter. An entrepreneur in an early-stage startup company has a lot of different hats to wear, and this can be enough to drive you stark-raving mad.

In order to keep my business afloat I need to be skilled with a number of different tasks such as: Marketing (including web, CMS, branding, advertising, social media, desktop publishing, copywriting…), Sales (including distribution models, negotiation, networking…), General Administration, HR & Personnel issues, Engineering, Legal issues, IP & Patents, Government reporting and compliance, etc.  The list is endless and each area requires some time and energy. How do you keep from going crazy?

Continue reading The Entrepreneur Mad Hatter

What every entrepreneur should learn from Abraham Lincoln

lincolncleanStarting a business is tough. No one will refute that fact. USA Statistics back this up to tell that approx. 90% of all startups will fail within the first 5 years.

What is the key entrepreneurial trait that differentiates the other 10 percent? No, it is not that these entrepreneurs are smarter, have better technology, have whiter teeth or have rich sugar daddies. There is a key personality trait that keeps them trying until they eventually succeed. They are simply stubborn.

Continue reading What every entrepreneur should learn from Abraham Lincoln

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