August 25, 2013: Steve Ballmer has been the story this weekend with the announcement of his pending retirement. The 7% jump in MSFT shares on that news probably won’t be highlighted in his personal memoirs, but he apparently made some investors happy. Personally, I’d give him credit for protecting the core franchises of Windows and Office while trying a few radical changes of late. He wasn’t afraid to start making his own hardware in the Surface line, adding touch to the latest version of Windows, and even emulating Apple’s retail store concept. The Surface Pro isn’t bad for a Microsof
August 18, 2013: My previous post talked about why it may be hard for you, even though you are a great communicator, to get things done when you must manage upward and outward and depend on the timely responses and actions of others outside your supervision. As promised, here’s the same list this week but oriented toward achieving desired results from your own employees, particularly when you’ve achieved a bit of scale, say 50 or more.
August 11, 2013: Several experiences this week brought to the fore issues of dealing with other people as you try to grow your business. First, let’s assume you are a capable, organized person who knows the appropriate ways to solicit responses from customers, vendors, investors, colleagues, and others not under your direct control. You use clear, concise, no-nonsense terms and can communicate by phone, email, text, meeting, or even carrier pigeon. If these assumptions don’t apply to you, then check back next week.
August 3, 2013: Several years ago I met with a young entrepreneur already on his way toward building a glorious business, and he asked me a question I didn’t really expect: “What should I be worried about?” I was immediately thinking that if I were in his shoes, I wouldn’t be too worried about anything, but I decided to reply that just his asking the question demonstrated a healthy respect for the vagaries of business. I recall telling him that he should probably be concerned only if he ever quit worrying. All of us who have matriculated as entrepreneurs from startup to exit know how m
June 27, 2013: Earlier this week my post dealt with how managing your startup is dramatically affected when you actually have paying customers. For most businesses, the commencement of revenues also leads to an increase in headcount. You move beyond the comfort zone of your trusted founding team and must learn to accomplish things through people of varying skill sets and motivations who are mainly interested in a paycheck.
Lean startup methods are all about customer discovery, gathering information to create a product that fulfills the needs you identify in this process, and then actually landing that first customer. That’s when the fun begins, and it’s not all rosy. Here are ten considerations that come into play at that milestone in the life of your startup:
July 14, 2014: My agenda for July and August is pretty daunting, for which I am grateful, but that’s causing me to reflect on my personal workflow. As you may have read in earlier posts, I’ve interjected a Google Chromebook into my otherwise pure Apple environment, but I’m also the tech support person for a Windows 8 touchscreen Sony that resides with me. I actually rather like Windows 8, ONLY if used in the context of a touch screen, but I don’t think I’ll blend it into my personal IT infrastructure. I accomplish my mission just by keeping its user’s cursing to a minimum.
The mission of the day for me is revising our ticketing company’s financial model based on the great reception we’re having in a new and rather novel distribution channel. It’s very easy to make a series of seemingly prudent building-block assumptions that in the end multiply into a big number. We’re not expecting to overtake Stubhub before the end of this year, and we’ve been careful to do a sanity check in what we know to be a very large market but also one with intense competition. In six months, after a full College Football season, we’ll have proved or disproved most of these baseli
July 2, 2013: The noted 1984 book The Naked Public Square by Lutheran pastor Richard John Neuhaus spoke to the absence of religious speech in the discourse on public policy. As we approach this July 4, it’s time to make a similar observation about the relative absence of our technology industry in political affairs. Sure the major companies have discovered the fine art of lobbying in recent years and have grown in scale to the point that they can’t help but touch and be touched by public events. But, by and large, in my entire career the tech sector has played a disprop
June 28, 2013: Twice in the last couple of weeks I have seen a well-done pitch by a student company addressing the rather high percentage of online shopping carts that are abandoned before a purchase is concluded. That particular solution calls on your social networks to nudge you back to that unfilled order.
My theory is that most shopping carts are abandoned because the user is simply trying to figure out what the final cost will be and what are the various optional extras. Here’s a case in point: