Archive for January, 2010

The Carpet Cleaning Confession

Posted on: January 29th, 2010 by Mike No Comments

Confession: I spent a summer as a carpet cleaner.

Twice.

The 2nd go-round was quite different, however, in that we had GPS to guide us through the various suburbs surrounding Madison. As I thought back on this earlier today, I realized that even though we had GPS, the anxiety of finding and arriving at the location on time was far higher. And it wasn’t just the British lady’s voice.

Here’s my thesis.

The 1st summer we never really cared about the route, specifically. We had our point on the map and knew, one way or another, we’d get there. Like those airplanes headed to Hawaii, we spent a lot of time in a state of course correction. Complete information was never available, so a level of confusion was standard. You got used to it.

Summer number deuce, different story. No map. No finding the destination first, then setting the direction. Just plug in the address and go. Information was far more accessible, making the lack of information feel far more perilous.

Life was defined by that next turn in 2.6 miles…

… and suddenly, missing that turn was terrifying; the consequences unknown. Would we still make the appointment on time? What’s the excuse? No, we already had lunch at 10am. The GPS drastically reduced our awareness of the surroundings and general route.

I’ve noticed a similar parallel with the increased prevalence of Google Maps and cell phones. The willingness to adventure to places unknown is far smaller. Securing a commitment more than 48 hours in advance is a much harder sell.

With the convenience of these new tools also comes a reliance on them. And with that reliance, old familiarities become unknowns.

I would imagine that this is also happening to our customers and our markets.

Knowledge and Intelligence

Posted on: January 29th, 2010 by Mike No Comments

Do not underestimate the intelligence or overestimate the knowledge of your prospect.

This is not an original quote, but I can’t remember who said it.

Positioning

Posted on: January 28th, 2010 by Mike No Comments

Here’s a question:

If you had to choose just one idea for your business to represent in your customer’s mind, which would you pick?

Tim Ferriss connected his book to the concept of “lifestyle design.” Gary Vaynerchuk became the spry guy bringing wine to us commoners (though that’s getting diluted with his foray into social media). Both these guys have strong positions within a prospect’s mind. You can’t talk about lifestyle change without talking about Tim’s book. There’s a mass of people who can’t say “wine” without saying “Gary.”

Creating this connection in your prospect’s mind is called “positioning.”

Positioning yourself around just 1 idea forces you to find a true opportunity in the market. It also makes it easier for customers to understand what you can do for them.

Here’s a book to get you started.

(The obvious follow up: once you’ve chosen your position, what are you doing today to establish that connection?)

Choosing Your Next Target

Posted on: January 28th, 2010 by Mike No Comments

We believe in the simple, not the complex. We believe that we need to own and control the primary technologies behind the products we make, and participate only in markets where we can make a significant contribution. (Tim Cook @ Daring Fireball)

Emphasis mine. Apple doesn’t go into a market hoping to be “one of the players.” They go into it specifically to seriously kick everybody’s ass.

There is a mind shift when you choose to only select and tackle markets this way. You have to choose your targets more carefully and focus your energy and resources more intently.

I don’t think this is necessary for the entrepreneur just finding her feet (just get revenue!), but it certainly affects how she might think about expanding.

The Wall, continued

Posted on: January 19th, 2010 by Mike No Comments

Back yourself into a corner and these versions will vividly appear before your eye. (37signals)

He’s talking about software, but putting your back against the wall also applies to your entrepreneurial drive.

Back yourself into a corner, truly back against the wall, and you’ll discover new sources of speed, insight, and possibilities, no matter what you’re working on.

Posted on: January 19th, 2010 by Mike No Comments

Or, to put it another way: Posterous is an engineered product, while Tumblr is a designed product.

New York VS San Francisco via a “Tumblr VS Posterous” lens.

Talent VS Effort

Posted on: January 12th, 2010 by Mike No Comments

It was the last time I thought that whether or not I was successful depended on my talent or intelligence. It really comes down to hard work people. Ever since then, I have attacked each thing that I do not understand until I understand it. (John)

Another believer in effort over talent.

Taking Action Now

Posted on: January 4th, 2010 by Mike No Comments

It’s true, maybe you only need a couple of days to do something great. Right now is the best time to test that for yourself.