Archive for February, 2013

Quotes For Entrepreneurs–February 2013

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in Quotes, skmurphy

You can follow @skmurphy to get these hot off the mojo wire or wait until these quotes for entrepreneurs are collected in a blog post at the end of each month. Enter your E-mail if you would like Feedburner to deliver new blog posts to your inbox.

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“Don’t explain why it works; explain how you use it.”
Steven Brust

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“Before strongly desiring anything, we should examine the happiness of those who already possess it.”
Francois duc de La Rochefoucauld

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“Design is thinking made visual.”
Saul Bass

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“Make it a point to keep on the lookout for novel and interesting ideas that others have used successfully. Your idea has to be original only in its adaptation to the problem you are currently working on.”
Thomas Edison

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“The ability to learn faster than competitors may be the only sustainable competitive advantage.”
Arie P. de Geus in “Planning as Learning” from Harvard Business Review March-April 1988

Used as opening quote for Startups Where “We Are All In This Together” Learn Faster

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“It is not so hard to be original, what is hard, is to be original with continuity.”
Andres Segovia

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“We are all part of interlocking partially overlapping groups, networks and communities. We can really only prosper if other folks in our group, network, or community also prosper. Not that there isn’t competition, and fierce competition in a downturn, but few other firms are your direct competitor, and many can be partners of varying levels of engagement.”
Sean Murphy

This is the concluding paragraph to my blog post “Daniel Pink’s Free Agent Nation Worth Revisiting” from Nov-18-2008

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“If your prospects repeatedly show interest in something unrelated to what you are validating – swerve & follow what’s really bothering them.”
Asif Khan Mandozai @asifmandozai

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“Thinking is drawing in your head”
Alan Fletcher from “The Art of Looking Sideways

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“Our greatest weariness comes from work not done.”
Eric Hoffer

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“Limiting yourself to one side of a 3×5 card is a good way to craft a message or prioritize your objectives.”
Sean Murphy

See “3×5 Cards” for an elaboration and “Nuts, Bolts, and Jolts by Richard Moran” for some good business rules of thumb that fit on a 3×5 card.

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“Unless ideas are massaged into reality they evaporate.”
George Nelson

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“Always design a thing by considering it in its next larger context– a chair in a room, a room in a house, a house in an environment, an environment in a city plan.”
Eliel Saarinen

See also

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“It will be found, in fact, that the ingenious are always fanciful, and the truly imaginative never otherwise than analytic.”
Edgar Allan Poe

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“Every tool carries with it the spirit by which it has been created.”
Werner Heisenberg

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“I’ve got a great ambition to die of exhaustion rather than boredom.”
Thomas Carlyle

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“Be wary of relying on a ramjet for early growth.”
Sean Murphy

Used as title for “Be Wary of Relying on a Ramjet for Early Growth.” Included here due to a tweet by Milan Vrekic. A ramjet requires that the plane is already moving at a high fraction of the speed of sound and cannot be used for take-off or the early climb to cruising speed.

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“It is impossible for a man to learn what he thinks he already knows.”
Epictetus

Used as a closing quote for “Continuing Education in Entrepreneurship

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Challenges in Analysing Market Structure and Competitive Landscape

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in 1 Idea Stage, 3 Early Customer Stage, 4 Finding your Niche, Customer Development, skmurphy

Before you introduce a new product into an existing market you need to analyze the market structure and competitive landscape. This is a laundry list–not a prioritized list—of the set of challenges we currently wrestle with in helping clients monitor their external environment and craft strategies for new market creation and new product introduction into an existing market. I welcome any suggestions for resources or tools.

Startups Where “We Are All In This Together” Learn Faster

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

“The ability to learn faster than competitors may be the only sustainable competitive advantage.”
Arie P. de Geus in “Planning as Learning” in HBR March-April 1988

In “Planning as Learning” Arie P. de Geus offers an interesting contrast between two bird species–titmouse and robin–based on an article by Jeff S. Wyles, Joseph G. Kunkel, and Allan C. Wilson, “Birds, Behavior and Anatomical Evolution,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA, July 1983.

“Human beings aren’t the only ones whose learning ability is directly related to their ability to convey information. As a species, birds have great potential to learn, but there are important differences among them. Titmice, for example, move in flocks and mix freely, while robins live in well-defined parts of the garden and for the most part communicate antagonistically across the borders of their territories.

Virtually all the titmice in the U.K. quickly learned how to pierce the seals of milk bottles left at doorsteps. But robins as a group will never learn to do this (though individual birds may) because their capacity for institutional learning is low; one bird’s knowledge does not spread.

The same phenomenon occurs in management teams that work by mandate. The best learning takes place in teams that accept that the whole is larger than the sum of the parts, that there is a good that transcends the individual.”

Arie P. de Geus in “Planning as Learning” in HBR March-April 1988

Related Blog Posts

Ilya Semin of Datanyze on Value of Great Demo Workshop

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in Demos, skmurphy

We reach out to past attendees of the Great Demo workshop and ask them how they have applied the principles and techniques covered and what the impact has been on their business. Ilya Semin, the founder of software startup Datanyze, attended a Great Demo workshop in 2012 and sent us this detailed response. It is reproduced here with his permission.

Ilya Semin of Datanyze on Value of Great Demo Workshop

My name is Ilya Semin. I’m the founder of Datanyze (www.datanyze.com). Our product provides competitive intelligence for certain types of companies (Web analytics, Widgets, CDN, DNS, etc). It helps answer questions like “Who are the biggest customers of my competitor?” or “Who of my customers is currently evaluating one of my competitors?” The tool is very powerful and the best way to prove that is to demonstrate it to our potential customers.

My background is Computer Science and I’m used to dealing with computers, not humans. Perhaps that’s why sales is not something that I’m comfortable with, but as a founder of a small start-up I have to be involved in sales almost every day.

When it comes to demonstrating a product most people present it in a very fuzzy, unclear way. I’ve seen that so many times but I did not have the answer on how to make this process better. What I’ve learned during the Workshop completely changed the way I demonstrate our product.

Peter gave a very clear explanation and lots of examples on why traditional demos don’t work. What I really liked about the workshop is that not only it gives you a theoretical knowledge about why some demos are more efficient that the others, but it also provides a clear process for organizing demos and forces you to work on your own demo and make it better during the day. We were working in pairs to improve our pitches and everyone had a chance to present their products.  I really learned a lot from this workshop, I feel like it will be useful for everyone who is in sales, no matter what their level. We had some very experienced folks in the group and people like me who just started to practice it and I feel like everyone was very excited at the end of the day.

Update-Jan-20-2014: DataNyze profiled in VentureBeat: “This Startup Tells You When Companies Try Your Competitor’s Software.

Related Blog Posts

 Great Demo! Public Workshop October 15-16, 2014

October 15&16, 2014 “Great Demo!” San Jose, CA Register Now

Our next public Great Demo! Workshop is scheduled to take place October 15-16 in San Jose, California.

This is an excellent opportunity for individuals, small groups or for teams that have new hires.

We’ve found that these events are most productive when there are two or more participants from each organization (singletons are also fine). This helps to mimic real-life interactions as much as possible, both when preparing demos and delivering them in the role-play sessions.

Chris Kane: Great Demo’s Impact On The VendorRisk Sales Presentation

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in Demos, Events, skmurphy

We reach out to past attendees of the Great Demo workshop and ask them how they have applied the principles and techniques covered and what the impact has been on their business. Chris Kane of VendorRisk attended a workshop in 2012 and sent us this detailed response. It is reproduced here with his permission.

Great Demo’s Impact On The VendorRisk Sales Presentation

Software demos are the cornerstone of our sales process. We had successfully demonstrated our service to many prospects and closed a number of deals before we attended the Great Demo workshop, but we still felt that there was room for improvement.

One of the big changes we have made in putting the Great Demo methods into practice has been to cut the running time of our demo from an hour and 15 minutes or even two hours down to about 30 or 35 minutes. VendorRisk is a SaaS app, so our demos involve setting up the story, showing a few screenshots, and switching to the live app depending upon the prospect’s areas of interest.

Looking back we tended to bounce from topic to topic and feature to feature using a training model as our structure. Now we use a progression of simple to complex stories and use cases. As a result, our prospects more easily connect with how they can use the software for the commonly occurring–and then the less commonly occurring–situations that come up in managing vendor contracts.

We have also introduced a 15-minute phone conversation in advance of the main demo to help better understand a prospect’s critical business issues before we start the first demonstration. This has been very well received: our newer customers have told us that they feel like we’ve really listened to their needs and are showing them a demo tailored specifically for them–despite the fact that almost all our customers have the exact same issues! It’s increased our confidence going into the demo because we have fewer surprise issues or areas of concern.

We have seen the benefits of this preparation and change in delivery style in an increase in the percentage of prospects who become customers.

Chris Kane, Partner, VendorRisk

Related Blog Posts

 Great Demo! Public Workshop October 15-16, 2014

October 15&16, 2014 “Great Demo!” San Jose, CA Register Now

Our next public Great Demo! Workshop is scheduled to take place October 15-16 in San Jose, California.

This is an excellent opportunity for individuals, small groups or for teams that have new hires.

We’ve found that these events are most productive when there are two or more participants from each organization (singletons are also fine). This helps to mimic real-life interactions as much as possible, both when preparing demos and delivering them in the role-play sessions.

Six Tips For Writing An E-Mail To A Prospect or Potential Partner

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in 3 Early Customer Stage, Rules of Thumb, Sales, skmurphy

“I spent some time working in the television industry, and I learned a technique that writers use. It’s called “the bad version.” When you feel that a plot solution exists, but you can’t yet imagine it, you describe instead a bad version that has no purpose other than stimulating the other writers to imagine a better version.

For example, if your character is stuck on an island, the bad version of his escape might involve monkeys crafting a helicopter out of palm fronds and coconuts. That story idea is obviously bad, but it might stimulate you to think in terms of other engineering solutions, or other monkey-related solutions. The first step in thinking of an idea that will work is to stop fixating on ideas that won’t. The bad version of an idea moves your mind to a new vantage point.”
Scott Adams in “How To Tax the Rich

Sometimes its easier to live in anticipation of a potential sale or business relationship than to initiate a conversation and risk getting rejected. If you are finding it hard to get started on an e-mail to a prospect or a potential partner here are a couple of things you can try:
  1. The Hollywood Approach: write the bad version. I realized in reading Scott Adam’s article “How To Tax the Rich” that “writing the bad version” is something that we often do just to help a team move forward with an e-mail to a prospect or potential partner.
  2. The Schoolboy Approach: write an outline. Normally shorter is better for an opening e-mail and you may be able to expand each item into a single sentence instead of a paragraph or a section and be done.
  3. Add a Middleman: call/talk someone and explain the key points you want to make. Extra points for recording it to allow for easier capture instead of breaking your flow to write it down as you go. We sometimes act as an interviewer or a proxy for the target audience to help a client unlock insights.
  4. Quit Typing:  put down the keyboard and pick up the phone (or click on Skype) and call the person you owe the e-mail and make your points directly. Extra points for making your own recording of the voicemail you leave when you cannot reach them so that you can now send a more coherent e-mail.
  5. Begin With The End In Mind: Write the e-mail you would like to get in response to your e-mail. Use that as a guide to crafting your approach (from Stephen R. Covey’s 2nd Habit: “Begin With The End In Mind”).
  6. Use Your Right Brain Instead Of Your Left: sketch out the issue or proposal on a whiteboard, a piece of graph paper, a 3×5 card, or a napkin depending upon where inspiration strikes you.

See also

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