Lessons I Learned Today 5/4/09 – Preparing for chaos; the business start-up

Here is a recap of highlights from articles and discussions posted on the Applied Entrepreneurship group site on LinkedIn.

*Six Low-Risk Ways to Start a Business by Karen Axelton

1 Start your business from home
2 Start your business part time
3 Start an e-commerce business
4 Buy an existing business
5 Buy a franchise
6 Don’t hire employees: Be sure to stay on the right side of the Internal Revenue Service when hiring independent contractors.

*Serial Entrepreneurs Learn from Their Mistakes by Aleksandra Todorova

The trick is learning from your defeats so that they’ll help your next start-up succeed.
Before you start a business, talk to potential customers.

Go into business with a passion.

Be realistic about your limitations.

Put together a strong team.

It’s OK to take a break.


*Five measures for micro business success by Stacey Barr

Keep your funnel full by tracking number of new leads.

Convert leads to customers by tracking sales conversion rate.

*When Should You Quit Your Day Job? by Karen E. Klein

Through an honest evaluation of your business potential, your capabilities, and your commitment, the decision about your current job should become much clearer. Make sure all the partners agree before anyone goes full-time with the new company.


*How To Grow Your Blog Through Customer Development by Neil Patel

If you really want more sustainable traffic you first have to understand the people coming to your blog.

Instead of assuming things about your readers, start getting feedback from them through services like Skribi.

Figure out what direction you should take your content, using polling services like Poll Daddy.

Start surveying.

Analyze the traffic sources that are bringing you visitors, such as referring sites and search engine keywords can help you understand the type of people visiting your blog.

Visitor loyalty – see what’s causing your high bounce rate and try to improve it.

Track the number of searches per day and what keywords your users are searching for. This should help you understand what they are looking for and what you need to provide to these readers.

Drill down to see what worldwide cities bring you the most traffic.

Feedburner doesn’t just show you how many RSS subscribers you have, it also gives you data on what your RSS readers like and dislike reading.

Engage – every time someone comments on your blog, you should respond to him or her.


*Preparing for Chaos – the Life of a Startup by Steve Blank

Startups are inherently chaos. As a founder you need to prepare yourself to think creatively and independently, because more often than not, conditions on the ground will change so rapidly that the original well-thought-out business plan becomes irrelevant.

If you can’t manage chaos and uncertainty, if you can’t bias yourself for action and if you wait around for someone else to tell you what to do, then your investors and competitors will make your decisions for you and you will run out of money and your company will die.

The best way to keep your company alive is to instill in every employee a decisive mindset that can quickly separate the crucial from the irrelevant, synthesize the output, and use this intelligence to create islands of order in the all-out chaos of a startup.

*Steve Blank and Eric Ries: “Customers! Customers! Customers!”

Steve Blank – companies tend to follow a linear development path that takes them through four main stages:

1) conceptualization,

2) product development,

3) beta testing, and

4) launching.

Eric Ries – argued that this strategy only makes sense when both the problem and the solution to that problem are fully understood. Most startups, however, cannot readily conceive a good solution to the problem they’ve identified.

What I Think

When thinking about starting a new business, or leaving your day job to go full time with a new venture, you have to be brutally honest with yourself and your “stakeholders” such as family members and potential business partners. If you don’t have a real, burning passion for the new venture, leave it alone and go back to your day job until or unless you do find that one passionate opportunity.

If you get past step number one, there are some easy and inexpensive ways to slide into the new venture. Work this process into your business plan so as to avoid gratuitous scrapes and bruises. You will get enough of those anyway. No need to be careless about getting more than necessary.

Don’t assume anything. If business is good, always keep checking what is going into the pipeline just as carefully as what is coming out. If the front end slows down for any reason, an alarm should immediately go off in your head, telling you the profit will be slowing down soon. Figure out what is happening and do everything possible to fix the funnel at the front end of the profit pipe.

Every start-up has a bit of chaos. Most have a fairly large share. If you know how to manage this and lead your partners and employees through this sea of chaos, you will be ahead of the competition on the other side. The daily ups and downs of the unexpected can be a source of innovation, which will give you an even greater competitive advantage. If not prepared for the rough sea, it can also sink your boat. Expect a rough ride and do as much preparation for it as possible before you start the voyage.


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If you enjoyed my impression of these articles, why don’t you read them for yourself and see what you and I missed or hit? Join the Applied Entrepreneurship group on LinkedIn. Membership is free and I try to post about ten articles a day there. We have some great discussions going and if you are an entrepreneur, we hope you will join us.

Posted in Applied Entrepreneurship, business, Business interruption, crisis, etc., Business life cycle, Buying a business, Financing a business, Growing a business, Innovation, Perseverance, Planning for a business, Running a business, Starting a business, Thinking about a new business, Women Business Enterprise

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