Archive for November, 2009

Quotes for Entrepreneurs – November 2009

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in Quotes, skmurphy

Baked fresh on @skmurphy and collected into a blog post at the end of the month. Enter your E-mail if you would like Feedburner to deliver new blog posts to your inbox.

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“Hawkins Law: Progress does not involve replacing one theory that is wrong with one that is right, rather it involves replacing one theory that is wrong with one that is more subtly wrong.”
David W. Hawkins

Hat Tip to Nick Gall and his “Hawkins Law” post.

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“In an always on world presence is meaningless. Of course you are on-line, who and what are you available for is the issue.”
Yori Nelken
, Founder and CEO Timebridge

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“The future is an abstraction, all change is happening now.”
Marcelo Rinesi

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“Everything can look like a failure in the middle.” Rosabeth Moss Kanter

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“Financial news is valuable to smaller audiences: paywalls work for niche financial sites (WSJ, FT, Economist)”
Clay Shirky in “Let a Thousand Flowers Bloom to Replace Newspapers; Don’t Put a Paywall Around a Public Good.”

This is a summary of

“…because financial news is not valuable the larger the audience is. It’s, in fact, valuable the smaller the audience is. I don’t want my mom reading what I know about IBM until I get my trades in. And so, a paywall is — a paywall damages general news and benefits financial news. And it is no accident that the three great models of pay walls — The Wall Street Journal, The Financial Times, and The Economist. Because although they have general interest sections, they are all, at base, niche publications for traders and business people.”

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“If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the precipitate.” Steve Wright

Quoted earlier in “Quotes on Operational Excellence

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“He had a unique levitas, an anti-gravity field that surrounded him and lifted the spirits of everyone he met.”
Said of Robert L. Forward by Mark Zimmermann in “Faster Forward

In “Welcome to 2009” I mentioned that I read Zimmerman’s zhurnal: “I recommend it wholeheartedly for entrepreneurs even though it’s written by a physicist with a Zen frame of mind who has taken up marathon running in his 50’s. He is thoroughly committed to mindfulness and self-improvement, two goals any entrepreneur should strive for.”

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“A new broom sweeps clean, but an old one knows the corners.” Irish Proverb

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“Useful advice is rarely relaxing.” Merlin Mann from twitter

Merlin Mann changed direction in September of 2008 with a blog post entitled “Better” where he re-committed to excellence. I wonder if the name “Merlin” imposes a geas on a child to be relentlessly creative or otherwise wizardly his entire life.

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“Our bodies are our gardens to which our wills are gardeners.”
Shakespeare (Othello)

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“Illness isn’t the only thing that’s contagious – wellness is too.” Jen McCabe

Thanksgiving 2009

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in skmurphy

It’s early in the morning on Thanksgiving Day and I wanted to reprise my short list of what I am thankful for; it’s been the same for the last few years:

  • Health
  • Family
  • Friends
  • Opportunity

To be self-employed in a downturn is a wonderful opportunity: I don’t have to worry about getting laid off. And as long as I have health, family, and friends the formula for avoiding bad luck is simple:

“I never knew an early-rising, hard-working, prudent man, careful of his earnings, and strictly honest who complained of bad luck.” Henry Ward Beecher

We live in uncertain times. We find ourselves in the midst of recession and increasingly rapid technology transitions. I continued to be guided by two rules of thumb for navigating turbulent situations:

  1. “It may looks like a crisis but it’s only the end of an illusion.” Gerald Weinberg in Secrets of Consulting
  2. “Innovation requires us to systematically identify changes that have already occurred but whose full effects have not yet been felt, and then to look at them as opportunities. It also requires existing companies to abandon rather than defend yesterday.” Peter Drucker in Innovation and Entrepreneurship

There is a Bootstrapper Breakfast This Friday at Red Rock Coffee

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in Events, skmurphy

steaming hot coffee and serious conversationWe are meeting in Mountain View at 9am at Red Rock Coffee for a Bootstrapper Breakfast: it’s the fourth Friday of the month. Take a break from the four day Thanksgiving weekend and join us Friday for a Bootstrapper Breakfast in Mountain View at Red Rock Coffee. It may be a more intimate session for Red Rock but we have a dozen or so folks signed up so we will run at least one table.

At this point there are effectively three work weeks left in 2009, three topics we might discuss depending upon interest are:

  • lessons learned in 2009
  • key objectives to accomplish before the end of the year
  • plans for 2010.

RSVP and join us if you are in town.

Updated Home Page, Let Us Know What You Think

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in skmurphy

We’ve streamlined our home page and highlighted our advisory services, our sales and marketing support, audio and video for some recent presentations, and our Bootstrapper Breakfast events. We welcome your feedback and suggestions.

Listen To Talks The workshop page now highlights a September 2009 talk at SF BAY ACM “The Limits of I’ll Know It When I See It“, Video available on FORA TV, and an Oct 2007 talk at the KASE Entrepreneur Seminar: “You’ve Launched: Now What? Post Launch Growth Plan” with the Podcast and transcript available.
Startup Advisor The Startup Advisor page highlights our desire to help entrepreneurs build a business. We want to work with small teams who plan to change the world, creating more opportunities than they started with.
Early Customers and Early Revenue We understand the selling process for early stage startups and can provide strategic advice on company development and customer development. We provide business level metrics for tracking your progress. Call us if people “don’t get what you are trying to sell.” We can help with hands-on sales and marketing support.
steaming hot coffee and serious conversation Join Other Entrepreneurs Who Eat Problems for Breakfast! This is your chance to compare notes on operational, development, and business issues with peers. These breakfasts were designed for entrepreneurs to share ideas and leverage thoughts with others who are serious about growing their business.

Early Bird for Jan-2010 “Idea to Revenue” Ends Next Week

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in 1 Idea Stage, 2 Open for Business Stage, Events, skmurphy

Just a quick reminder, the early bird rate ends next week for our Jan 12, 2010 Idea to Revenue workshop in Redwood Shores, CA. If you are in formation or the early days of your startup this is a good opportunity to spend four hours on your business with your team members. We help you ask each other the hard questions so you can leave with a one page plan for your next steps. This will sell out, register now.

Update Jan-3: Sold out.

Updating Your Website? Don’t Forget …

Written by Theresa Shafer. Posted in Rules of Thumb, skmurphy

If you are updating your website, here a couple of things you want to make sure you do:

  • Add Google Analytics to your new pages.
  • Add permanent redirects (HTTP 301) for any pages you have moved/renamed to preserve search engine ranking.
  • View your website on multiple browsers (at least the latest versions of Internet Explorer and Firefox).
  • Run Website Grader to get a short fix-it list for things you may have overlooked.
  • Run a spell check on any pages you have added or updated; we use spellr.us.

Update Nov-17 Andy Wright of Elevensoft suggests “I’d also check for broken links and check that your markup is valid.” Two good suggestions which prompt me to add

  • Google’s Webmaster Tools offer a number of good checks: in particular the “Crawl Errors” and “HTML Suggestions” diagnostics. Like Google Analytics it’s free.

Update Nov-20: Colin Warwick suggests “Xenu’s Link Sleuth is another good broken link checker. It’s an app that you install.”

Veterans Day 2009

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in skmurphy

“We sleep soundly in our beds because rough men stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would do us harm.”  Winston Churchill

A thank you on Veterans Day to all of the men and women in our armed forces who make this Silicon Valley oasis of rationality and innovation possible.

Ben Foden on “Creating Genuine Connections with Social Media”

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in Rules of Thumb, skmurphy

Ben Foden has been working with us part time; the following is a blog post he developed on creating genuine connections with social media.

“Remember that the goal of all social media interactions are to create genuine relationships… so when you connect with someone that may be a good contact for you, move to offline (email, phone, in-person, etc) to create a deeper communication and stronger relationship.”- Joseph Ranseth

For business owners, the strength of their relationships is one of their most important assets. “It’s not what you know, but who you know” still holds very true with all of the new tools available for meeting and connecting with people.

As someone interested in pursuing further social media awareness and connection, I will cover the best platforms, key things to be aware of, and specific actions to take before engaging.

In the grand scheme of social media there is a hierarchy of genuineness — not all social media sites are equal in their level of spam, noise, and lack of ROT (return on time).

From most genuine to least, here are the most effective destinations for business people online:

  1. Industry and other Relevant Blogs
  2. LinkedIn
  3. Twitter
  4. Facebook
  5. Docstoc
  6. SlideShare

Others : MySpace, Digg, StumbleUpon, Flickr, YouTube, and many many more.

Let this list function also as your order of priority when dealing with a very limited time schedule and still attempting to make social media connections.

Why are blogs above LinkedIn?  Most bloggers don’t get that many comments and will greatly appreciate one that addresses one of their blog posts.

With a nod to Octane‘s Report on Social Media there are five things to bear in mind when striking up conversation within social media.

  1. Keep in mind your target market, Ask “Who am I writing this to (and why)?”
  2. Always reach out to individuals with a personal and relevant message rather than the template approach– The default “I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn” is not cutting it.
  3. Keep your professional head on at all times (obviously) — no flame wars, no extended arguments, etc..  Ask “Would my mother be offended by this?”
  4. Rather than pushing an agenda, monitor these sources periodically and respond, respond, respond. The value is really created when you engage a customer, partner, or niche in their time of need.
  5. Update as consistently as possible whether weekly, daily, or more often as appropriate for each service.

When it comes to updating your profiles with content and putting some value out into the world, the Golden Rule still applies. Also:

  • Try to inject your expertise into larger topics and debates, to offer useful advice to individuals whether in the form of a blog post or comment, tweet, LinkedIn Question, Facebook status, or other formats.
  • Share things that are funny, informational, insightful, or otherwise significant.
  • Tell people what you are reading, working on, or care strongly about.
  • When adding content anywhere, ask: “Is this something I would like to hear about?”

Social Media for Startups: “Less is More”

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in Rules of Thumb, skmurphy

There has been a lot written about various aspects of social media: what tools to use, how disruptive it is, how to develop and/or demonstrate expertise. Here are four rules of thumb we follow.

  1. To establish a reputation you have to be visible or reasonably well known, but it’s more important to be known for meeting your commitments and giving good advice.
  2. Active participation in a community should be with a view not only to making yourself visible but also allowing you a chance to demonstrate appropriate expertise. “Less is more” is a good guideline here, in that it’s better to have folks asking for your opinion than asking for you to stop repeating yourself.
  3. You should be making these same assessments of expertise and reliability of potential customers and/or partners, which means far more listening than talking.
  4. Focus is on narrowcasting information to select groups, sending appropriate information to different sets of recipients.

Marc Andreessen’s Entrepreneurial Insights Rescued from Bit Rot by Jed Christiansen

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in skmurphy

Marc Andreessen started a new VC firm, Andreesen Horowitz, in July but has yet to explain why he deleted his excellent series of articles on entrepreneurship from his site.

I am glad that Jed Christiansen has rescued them from bit rot. Two posts that are definitely worth reading:

Six Simple Suggestions for Using LinkedIn

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in Rules of Thumb, skmurphy

I use LinkedIn very differently than many of the folks I meet out and about in the Valley. I normally only link to people I have had shared success with. I do not link with folks who I have just casually met. I believe it’s important to keep track of folks I have had shared successes with and can legitimately endorse, if asked, so that I can forward their requests or respond to their needs.

  1. When asking someone to connect: don’t use the default introduction text, always personalize it.
  2. Use E-Mail to introduce folks or request an introduction.
  3. Don’t try to reach more than a “Friend of a Friend.” If your request has to transit more than one person your probability of success goes way down, more importantly you lose the value of having a trusted party in common.
  4. Do “mutual introductions” (e.g. “Bob meet Jack, Jack meet Bob” with a paragraph on each and contact coordinates).
  5. Endorse folks who deserve it.  Always spell check endorsements. Don’t ask for reciprocal endorsements: it weakens your endorsement a return endorsement within a few days is automatically discounted.
  6. Reconnect with folks you had have prior shared success with: team mates, co-workers, vendors, customers. It’s an easy way to stay in touch and it’s likely if you have been successful together in the past, you may have other opportunities together in the future.
  7. Do not spam LinkedIn groups with the same blog posts. Many people do this without knowing that RSS feeds are there for this. (Suggested by John Blake in the comments, it’s a good one.)

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