Lessons Learned-Tweaking the Plan

What I Think

I think some of the faithful readers may have missed the daily digests of articles posted on the LinkedIn Applied Entrepreneurship. I’ve taken a little leave of absence from this blog for a couple of weeks.

On the one hand, with the economy turning around, I’ve been busier than usual (a good thing) in the for-profit arena. On the other hand, I’ve gotten a couple of not-for-profit projects closer to their “happy place,” so some of my time is starting to free up again. I mentioned in an earlier post that I feel compelled to give back as much as I can, and allocate a substantial amount of my time to various not-for-profit activities, such as volunteering as a SCORE counselor, serving on some community organizations, and various not-for-profit boards. I try to keep a balance, but with all these balls in the air, the ebb and flow of projects takes some careful project management.

For that reason, among others, I periodically try to evaluate the ROI for those I try to serve. This, of course, includes clients of my law firm and consulting business, but also includes readers of this blog. I have been happy to see a relatively rapid increase in the number of readers, but, frankly, am not getting the feedback I had hoped for. Granted, much of the content of each post, since I changed directions initially many months ago, was a digest of the articles written by others. These articles were carefully selected by me for posting with the Applied Entrepreneurship group I started in late February of this year.

The LinkedIn group is thriving and growing. We’re working on our first live event in Louisville, probably between the end of this year and Derby 2010 (i.e. early Spring). We have members in quite a few states and in over a dozen countries.

Tonight, I just posted the tenth article of the day on the LinkedIn group site. That brings me to just short of 1,400 articles I have posted on various aspects of entrepreneurship since February. Rather than being satisfied with the plateau this blog has perhaps reached, I have now decided to try to tweak it again, to see if I can increase the value to those who read it.

I have spent the last couple of weeks considering alternatives. Originally, I wrote periodic posts on topics, which seemed appropriate for the original stated purpose of the blog. After starting the Applied Entrepreneurship group, it seemed appropriate to synchronize these posts with the articles I was reading and posting on a daily basis with the Applied Entrepreneurship group. My hope was that this would help reinforce the lessons learned, or to be learned, from reading the articles themselves. I tried to post the digest a few weeks after the original articles were posted on the LinkedIn site, so the digests would not serve as a crutch or replacement for reading the actual articles. I added my take-aways, and tried find common threads in the articles.

The benefit of this, as far as I was concerned, personally, was that I had to read and reread these articles in order to be able to digest them and comment upon them. As with seminars I teach for other lawyers, consultants and other entrepreneurs, when you have to teach someone else about something you’ve been doing for years, you have a tendency to relearn and sometimes conduct a self-audit of sorts on yourself and your own practices.

My personal ROI for creating these blog posts has been tremendous. It has definitely helped me gel my thoughts in a number of areas and to explore many new and emerging areas, such as where Web 3.0 is likely to take us. Frankly, I miss not having the personal benefit of carefully rereading and analyzing the articles I have been posting. I feel like I have been missing something important in these few weeks I’ve been missing from this blog.

In my effort to tweak the plan for this blog, I am again trying to find balance between what I strive to do for readers here, and what I try to do for others. As with all negotiations, there has to be a win-win. Part of that equation for me must be getting back to having an opportunity to again do the closer analysis of these hand-picked articles. What must give way is doing this on a daily basis.

This is where I could use your help and input if you have an interest in this blog. My present thinking is that this could tie in with another project I started several years ago, and have let malinger. That project was writing a book, to be published online, about starting a business in the bubble-burst period following the initial online business boom. That roller coaster has now been around the circuit a few times since I started the book, and I did publish quite a few chapters in the form of articles, which remain on my law firm Web site.

What I am considering now, is combining the book project with the blog project and the Applied Entrepreneurship project. I plan to keep posting the ten or so articles a day on the LinkedIn, Applied Entrepreneurship site. I enjoy looking for, reading, and posting the ten best articles I can find every day. I also continue to learn quite a bit by doing this, and hopefully, the Applied Entrepreneurship members do also.

Having reached the 1,400 article mark, I find that I now have quite a variety of articles on applied entrepreneurship, but some are obviously better than others. I have scores of “the ten best” or “the fifteen most important” type articles, many of which are on the same subject but come to different conclusions. My thought is that I will try to “mine” these articles and post my thoughts about what is really most important or helpful, one topic at a time.

If I post about once a week, what I might be able to do is give links to the articles I’m considering on a particular topic. I will then do my own analysis and thoughts in the topic and post that. If there is feedback, as I hope there will be, then this blog can really gain value from readers lending their own opinions on a topical and searchable basis.

Another part of the present plan is to try to put myself back in the role of a start-up entrepreneur, considering those things that typically come up first in the process. I then plan to work my way through those issues entrepreneurs face, in more or less, typically life cycle order.

There are several challenges to this plan. One is that many of the articles I have posted already deal with more than one subject. Unless I reread all 1,400, and keep up with the new ones as I post them, I will undoubtedly miss some articles on a particular topic. Another is that there are many entrepreneurial startup variations. Some entrepreneurs are offered a business by a departing boss who would like to retire. Some want to convert a hobby to a business. Some family members are expected to join the family business and seem to have little choice but to take over when the family requires it. Some entrepreneurs come across a franchise opportunity and go that route, which is clearly much different than starting a business from scratch or buying a going business. These days, there is a surge of big companies offering employees an “opportunity” to take limited operations of the business and split them off to a new company for the new entrepreneur/former employee.

There are many other scenarios, but the main path I plan to take is that of someone who has a general idea of the sort of business they would like to start from scratch, but who is uncertain how to proceed. That being the case, I plan to work with the process and see where it takes me.

The extra “fun” of this new project for me is that a group of very bright individuals I worked with on a board of directors, is now thinking of taking up the challenge of continuing to try to work together in our respective lives after rotating off of this board. We have a variety of skills, would like to make some money, have some fun, we like each other (so far), and would certainly want to remain friends. We are planning a social get together very soon, and coming up with an idea for how we could work together with the above goals in mind, is a challenge.

For these reasons, the first topic I plan to tackle is how to come up with the best idea for a business. Clearly, many topics intersect and overlap at this and essentially every other stage of the entrepreneur’s business life cycle. We all have to start someplace, and trying to figure out how to get started and what to get started on, is a common issue with many of my clients.

I would appreciate your thoughts on this plan and your support with my intended tweak. Please let me know what you think.

This is the preface to the startup series. Here’s the first article:

Lessons Learned – Refining (or finding) the Initial New Business Concept

Applied Entrepreneurship Logo-small

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.

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