Evaluating Business Advice

Written by Theresa Shafer. Posted in Consulting Business

Everyone has advice for you about how to run your company! Even if it’s in the form of question like “When are you going to Get a Job?”

Friends and relatives who have only been employees may have your best interest at heart but not have the background or temperament to help you get your startup off the ground.

Starting a business is like becoming a new parent. When you are a new parent, everyone has advice. Sometimes you have to ignore friends, family and acquaintances’ best intentions. You’re the parent you know what’s best. Business advice is often the same way.

Hugh MacLeod’s Thoughts on Being an Entrepreneur

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in Startups

Hugh MacLeod posted “Random Thoughts on Being an Entrepreneur” earlier this week. I’ve picked the best five and added some of my own comments

4. Once you become an entrepreneur, you find the company of non-entrepreneurs a lot harder to be around. You’ve seen things they haven’t; the wavelengths alter, it’s that simple.

There are different perspectives in the world. There are craftsmen and brokers, salesmen and engineers, inventors and caretakers, just to name a few. It took me a long time to realize that I had an entrepreneurial frame of reference and that many folks around me didn’t. I think Hugh’s correct in that entrepreneurs can see possibilities that many other folks don’t, but the same is true of artist, engineers, and architects as well. I think entrepreneurs focus their imagination on business possibilities, where an artist may work in metal or an engineer in silicon.

6. Word of mouth is the best advertising medium of all. The best word of mouth comes from disrupting markets.

Creating value, exceptional or at least novel value, is another good way.

14. Smart, young, artistic people are always asking me which is a better career path, “Creativity” or “Money”. I always answer that it doesn’t matter. What matters is “Effective” and/or “Ineffective.”

I think what the more pernicious aspect to this is putting your creative life on hold to make money. As Robert Service observed “There are no pockets in a shroud.”

18. People remember the quality long after they’ve forgotten the price. Unless you try to rip them off.

In general, it’s best to assume that everything you do will be made public. If you are contemplating something that wouldn’t withstand that kind of scrutiny, try and find a more creative solution.

23. Running a startup is full of extreme ups and downs. Which is why so many successful and happy entrepreneurs I know lead such normal, stable, unglamorous, “boring”, family-centered lives. Somehow they need the latter in order to balance out the former. Extra-curricular drama looks great in the tabloids, but that’s all it’s ultimately good for.

I think this is probably the most important one. Steely Dan’s “Any World (That I’m Welcome To)” opened with “If I had my way, I would move to another lifetime.” But this is a teenager’s fantasy of getting away from home. Marriage and child rearing are not easy, much harder in many ways than doing a startup. But creating a decent workplace that provides a good living for your employees and value for your customers is easier when you are situated in a long term relationship and a family.

Update July 21, 2009: I just realized that I have done two distinct blog posts using this same blog post by Hugh MacLeod as a point of departure. See also “Hugh MacLeod’s Thoughts on Being an Entrepreneur 2” They make for interesting reading back to back.

Thinking About Your Business Goals for 2007, Part 2

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in Consulting Business, Startups

As a follow-up to yesterday’s post on thinking about your business goals for 2007, it’s also worthwhile to look at your own motivations and needs.

In an extending interview in Fast Company “Are You Deciding On Purpose,” Richard Leider advises that you ask yourself two key questions:

  1. What do you want?
  2. How will you know when you get it?

He continues:

“People really do have their own solutions. The problem is, either they don’t know how to discover them, or they avoid discovering them. But if you want to come up with good decisions for your work and your life, simply ask those two questions-because it all comes down to very simple things.”
Richard Leider  in “Are You Deciding On Purpose

He further suggests that there are four key factors to consider when thinking about your business goals

“First, discover how to live from the inside out. You absolutely have to start with yourself, not with the external demands of the situation. Second, discover your gifts. What is it that makes you unique? What song do you want to sing? Third, discover what moves you. Where do you find joy? A decision that connects with your own emotions is much more likely to succeed. And fourth, discover solitude. Go to a special place where you can find quiet. If it’s the mountains, take the time to get there. If you can’t go there, create a space in which you can find a similar peace of mind. In solitude, you’re much more likely to deal with the first three elements of this process.”
Richard Leider  in “Are You Deciding On Purpose

The best reason to take part in a startup or to start your own software or consulting business is that it furthers your own personal development. It should allow you to work on the problems that you feel are important or to create something that leverages your creativity, experience, expertise, and passion.

We don’t tend to explore these as much in our engagements: team dynamics and shared goals are more where we tend to focus. It’s not a bad idea at least once a year to make sure you are working on what you want to achieve and you have given some thought as to how you are keeping score.

Thinking About Your Business Goals for 2007

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in skmurphy, Startups

Thinking About Your Business Goals

We went through a brief planning exercise with our clients, and some prospective clients, that several found useful. Since it’s not not too late to do some planning for 2007, here are a few questions that should answer on a single piece of paper (perhaps even a 3×5 card you can carry with you)

  1. What went well last year? (If you haven’t celebrated do so now)
  2. How will you build on your 2006 success?
  3. What key value or attribute of your business do you want to enhance?
  4. What are one or more activities or initiatives you plan to stop doing in 2007?
  5. What is your target for growth next year? Are you ready for growth?
  6. What are the major risks you face in 2007; how will you mitigate them?

Mike Van Horn On Techniques For Faster Growth

I blogged about this last year in Mike Van Horn on “Are You Ready for Growth?” but it bears repeating here.

  • The better teams you can build… the faster you can grow.
    People who grow companies rapidly know how to put a good team in place, then move on to the next thing. They become a leader of independent teams.
  • The better you use your time–the faster you can grow.
    Invest your time strategically; be less concerned with saving time or managing time.
  • The more you think things through ahead of time–the faster you can grow.
    That means planning, including strategic plans, action plans, and project plans, with built-in review and accountability.
  • The savvier your advisors–the faster you can grow.
    You let go of the “lone ranger” approach to running the business. As your business grows, get advisors who are one step ahead of you.
  • The more you insist on top performance… the faster you can grow.
    Do not let mediocre performers dictate your rate of growth, whether they are employees, customers, vendors, or professionals.
  • The more knowledge you can get out of your head and the more systematized you get–the faster you can grow.
    Create manuals, checklists, and training seminars that teach employees all the magical things that you think only you can do. Then you and your people can focus attention on the big, creative challenges.

 

3 Ways to Build Credibility with Prospects

Written by Theresa Shafer. Posted in Consulting Business, Rules of Thumb, Startups

Here are three ways for building credibility.

  1. Referrals
    A referral is an introduction to a prospect with an endorsement. A referral allows you to borrow credibility from a trusted third party. They spring from shared success with your customers or former co-workers, someone who knows your potential and can vouch for you or your team’s ability to deliver. Meaningful referrals do not originate from a casual contact, someone you have met and spoken with only a few times: without a history of shared success they cannot substantiate your ability to deliver value.
  2. Speaking Engagements
    As soon as you are in the front of the room doing the talking, most people in the audience will give you the benefit of the doubt as a credible expert. Obviously once you open your mouth you can rapidly undo that perception. A successful speaking engagement combines a clear presentation of your thoughts not only in a strong narrative on a topic that’s of use to potential customers, but also in your answers to real questions from the audience.
  3. Writing Articles
    It may be easier to communicate your knowledge of your prospect’s issues in writing. Especially if you are someone like me who doesn’t enjoy public speaking you should work at the craft of clear business and technical writing. Most articles these days are presented on a website (e.g. blog entries like this one) or in an email newsletter. In either case you should consider writing in HTML and adding links to provide substantiation of your key citations.

Ser Hou Kuang & Sean Murphy Granted US Patent 7162706 B2

Written by Theresa Shafer. Posted in skmurphy

Ser Hou Kuang & Sean Murphy Granted US Patent #7162706 B2 for “Method for Analyzing and Validating Clock Integration Properties in Circuit Systems” on January 9, 2007.

Abstract: A method for analyzing and validating clock integration properties in a circuit design is disclosed. A database of timing points that are clocked cell elements of the circuit design is generated. Next, a timing point frame showing the interaction of the clocked cell elements and the non-clocked cell elements is generated. The timing point frame graphically shows the timing network properties for the cell elements of the circuit design. A clock analysis view can be generated from the timing point frame for selected timing points. In this respect, the timing point frame shows timing points that meet a prescribed criteria (e.g., same clock domain). Therefore, the clock analysis view provides a graphical representation of timing and clock interactions for the circuit design.

Here are excerpts from the PicoCraft datasheet for it’s initial offering

Clock Domain Profiler and Analysis tool that leverages your existing Static Timing setup and Library, to rapidly identify likely Synchronization Errors in the final tape-out netlist for high clock-count multi-million gate SOC designs.

  • Uncover Asynchronous CDC Errors PrimeTime Ignores
  • High Capacity: Fast Turnaround of Full Chip Analyses
  • Exhaustive Root-Cause Analysis for all Modes

This is a challenge related to but distinct from detailed timing analysis, complicated by several design trends that we believe will continue to accelerate over the next two to three process nodes:

  1. Increasingly complex power management schemes are proliferating the number of distinct operating modes that need to be analyzed.
  2. Higher levels of integration are increasing the number of distinct interfaces, each with their own on chip clocking and synchronization requirement.
  3. Clock trees are consuming a higher fraction of chip logic and require separate analysis that is aware of physical implementation and on chip variation effects.

Traditional static timing tool development teams at remain focused on calculating detailed timing that is highly correlated with Spice. New entrants are relying either on formal methods that work from pre-layout RTL but lack the capacity for full chip analysis or structural pattern recognition techniques that require naming conventions or a distinct set of cell models to work. GPP is unique in leveraging existing static timing models to build high level clock interaction representations from the physical implementation of a full chip.

Power of Website Content

Written by Theresa Shafer. Posted in Blogging, Consulting Business

Here’s a good blog post on website content. How Can 10 Simple Articles Change Your Life? In his post Chris Pearson, recounts a story about a friend who creates a website (nothing fancy) but has wonderful content (10 articles). He kills his competition with his content. If you are selling your expertise, try promoting yourself with articles that satisfy your prospects’ needs. They will search the web looking for information and find you. Articles posted on a website can provide leads years after the initial posting. Don’t forget to submit them to industry websites. If your website provides a service, people will find you.

Making Our Business More Credible in 2006

Written by Theresa Shafer. Posted in Uncategorized

We did an end of year de-briefing session an concluded that that the following changes had a things that had a positive effect on our business in 2006.

“The right way to build a company is to experiment in lots of small ways, so that you have plenty of room to make mistakes and change strategies.”
Vinod Khosla quoted in “What Does Vinod Khosla Know About Web 2.0 That Others Don’t?

As an old friend used to say “easy to say, very hard to do.” What experiments are you running this year to improve the credibility of your business?

January’s Silicon Valley NewTech Meetup

Written by Francis Adanza. Posted in Startups

Last night, I attended the January Silicon Valley New Tech Meetup.  For those of you who do not know the format of these gatherings, it is very simple.  Each group of presenters is allowed five minutes to pitch their offering and then the crowd is allocated five minutes to ask questions.

The first presenters were the founders of inChorus.  inChorus has a very complicated technology that leverages the knowledge of its users.  Users post projects/problems on the site and people who feel they have knowledge of the subject matter respond with their insight.

The second presenters were the founders of Pinger.  It was obvious that their pitch was well rehearsed and timed perfectly.  The presentation was articulate, timed, and informative.  It was easy to see the problem and the value of their solution.  To me, the most compelling part of their business model is that they do not have to partner with any of the cell phone service providers.  In a very competitive cell phone market, startups usually design technology that can only be used with the service provider’s permission.  I really like the fact the Pinger understands this challenge and designed an application that works around this obstacle.

The third presenters were from ComicVine.com.  The presentation was very casual and conversational.  The presenter really opened the door for crowd interaction.  If you visit their website, you will be blown away by the graphics and the imagination of the sites users.

The last presenter was from PowerReviews.com.  I found the site to very similar to consumer digest reports.  It is a customer reviews and ratings service.  PowerReviews.com is trying to leverage the power of its users to rank and compare consumer products.

Paul Saffo “Best Strategy is Ready, Fire, Steer”

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in Quotes, skmurphy

Paul Saffo had the lead quote in my October 18 post on Quotes on Foresight (Understanding the Future) “Never mistake a clear view for a short distance.” He has so many more trenchant observations on foresight and understanding what has already happened that I am following up with a post devoted to his quotes and observations. Those of you taking part in the “ruthless reinvention” of Silicon Valley may find some food for thought.

“Best strategy used to be ready, aim, fire. Now the best strategy is ready, fire, steer. Put supplies where you might need them on the journey. Just get into the right neighborhood and you will find the address.”

recounted in How To Mobilize The New Players on the Field by Richard Edelman (note: emphasis added, does not appear in original text).

“Never mistake a clear view for a short distance”

Paul offers an elaboration of this one on his website: technologies take time–as much as twenty years–to move from invention to arrival in our lives. Because we assume the adoption will be more rapid, we inevitably over-estimate the short-term and under-estimate the long-term impact of new technologies.

War is no longer chess; it’s Go.”

He explains to Maryann Lawlor in “Collaborative Technologies Demand Deep Change

In chess, the center of the board is the important real estate to control; in the game of Go, the edges are critical to winning. While chess pieces are hierarchical, each stone in Go is equally powerful.

Cheap sensors are shaping this decade, and the poster child is going to be robots.

from “The Ten Coolest Technologies You’ve Never Heard of: The Robot Revolution” (July 7, 2006 in PC Magazine).

The secret to Silicon Valley’s success is that it’s constantly reinventing itself. The secret to it continuing to be a high-tech center is that it is a place that continues to ruthlessly reinvent itself, to ruthlessly drive old companies out of business, start new companies. That turnover is, I think, the secret to our success. We always think about being a success, but there are vastly more failures in the valley than there are successes. And the valley is not really built on the spires of earlier companies, but on their rubble.

From April 1997 interview for the Tech Museum The Revolutionaries: Paul Saffo

There are no regular people. There are people we tend to remember the names of, and we seem to have this fascination with deifying certain individuals. At some level, how do I say it? Look at any Silicon Valley company, and people instantly say, this company, oh! The head of that company; they are so smart. But the company isn’t one person; the company is a team of people and for everyone who conventional wisdom says a genius business leader or a successful entrepreneur or whatever, there are hundreds of other people who are just as extraordinary whose names we don’t know.

From a 2006 SF Chronicle Interview “Institute for the Future / On the Record

I don’t think information overload is a function of the volume of information. It’s a derivative of the volume of information plus the sense-making tools you have. Think about the rise of info-graphics in newspapers. Those were sense-making tools to help people (absorb information). You can bookmark your Web pages. Now we have things like (the Web site) Del.icio.us that allow you to create tags to share and organize Web pages. In my class, we are using a wiki (a Web page that is like an open bulletin board). The rise of Wikipedia (an online encyclopedia)—that is a sense-making tool. These are tools that help us make sense of information. I think it was Samuel Johnson who said, “There are two kinds of information in this world: that what you know and that what you know where to get.” The tools help the latter, and that is what keeps us from going nuts. The sense of overload comes from the gap between that sudden jump in volume (of information) and the tools we have to make sense of it.

People Manage People, Tools Manage Data

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

This was a principle for systems design suggested in a talk I heard 15-20 years ago. I can no longer remember the speaker’s name but I remember that he was in the disk drive business. Google has proven unavailing in sourcing it so it was probably an original insight with this engineer that hasn’t gained wider currency.

It should. People Manage People, Tools Manage Data

When I went back to Cisco for my second tour of duty in 1998 (I had been there from 1990 to 1994; the second time I was able to last until mid-2003 before I went back to being an entrepreneur) I was surprised at the number of workflow systems that were being designed and deployed to limit input and decrease options that could be requested. People were instructing IT to design interfaces that would do things they would never be so rude to do face to face, in e-mail, or over the phone. The designers were always surprised when they (or their management chain) continued to get e-mail and phone calls because people wouldn’t limit themselves to the options on the web form.

These were workflow systems and request tracking systems for what had been negotiations. So what’s my point? Anytime you set out to manage employees, partners, or customers with inflexible systems to channel their activities don’t be surprised when it doesn’t quite work out like you planned.

I am a huge fan of defect tracking systems, source code management systems, and any tool that allows you to get a better handle on the data thrown off by your actions. But be careful of trying to use software to “manage people.”

Winston Churchill observed that “We shape our buildings, and forever afterwards our buildings shape us.” So it is with our internal control and scorekeeping mechanisms. Be careful not to abdicate your responsibilities here.

Six From Encyclopedia Neurotica

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in Quotes, skmurphy

Jon Winokur has published a number of good books, including “The Portable Curmudgeon” and “Advice to Writers,” and was interviewed September 2006 by Guy Kawasaki, which prompted me to add his most recent, “Encyclopedia Neurotica” to my Amazon cart (where books can linger for months or years). I was frankly a little disappointed, but found a half dozen nuggets–one for each of my readers–that founding teams might find thought provoking.

affluenza
Virus of affluence that psychotherapist Jessie H. O’Neill defines as “the collective addictions, character flaws, psychological wounds, neuroses, and behavioral disorders caused or exacerbated by the presence of, or desire for, wealth.” Affluenza victims, regardless of their socioeconomic level, falsely believe that money can solve all their problems.

“Our Age of Anxiety is, in great part, the result of trying to do today’s jobs with yesterday’s tools.”
Marshall McLuhan

“I arise in the morning torn between a desire to improve the world and desire to enjoy the world. This makes it hard to plan the day.”
E. B. White

“In the real dark night of the soul, it is always 3 o’clock in the morning.”
The Crack Up, F. Scott Fitzgerald

“Mid-life crisis is what happens when you get to the top of the ladder and discover that it’s against the wrong wall.”
Joseph Campbell

“The struggle to reach the top is itself enough to fulfill the heart of man. One must believe that Sisyphus is happy.”
The Myth of Sisyphus, Albert Camus

Our 2007 New Year’s Resolutions

Written by Theresa Shafer. Posted in Consulting Business

Theresa: my 2007 New Year’s Resolution is to do more public speaking. Given how nervous I get speaking in public, I’m going to start with baby steps and talk at our upcoming workshop, Getting More Customers. Hopefully I will have enough nerve to do a joint talk later this year.

Francis: I also want to get better at public speaking but since Theresa took that one I will take a different one. I plan to read the books mentioned in Sean’s talk “Twelve Books for the Busy CEO” this year.

Sean: focus more on the positive accomplishments of clients and prospects. I think it’s an occupational hazard as a consultant to try and “add value” by pointing out where folks are making mistakes or have problems. It’s just as important to acknowledge what’s working that we can help them build on. I blogged about this in Hey Wait a Minute, That’s Me in the “Before” Picture but it’s worth more focus in 2007.

Tips for Hiring (and Firing) a Sales Person

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

I had the good fortune to attend the SVASE CXO Forum Dec-6-06 where Peter Bakonyvari, Vice President of Sales at JPMorgan SymPro, explored some of the practical realities in building a sales team. In particular what is involved in hiring and firing a sales person.

First 90 days Is Critical

Bakonyvari’s made the point that the first 90 days were critical for determining whether a new sales hire was successful. It is important to set realistic  expectations, put them in writing, and focus on shared success metrics that are easy to measure and agreed to by the salesperson. He offered the following timeline as a basis for getting up to speed on a complex product:

  • 30 days: learn product and be able to communicate value
  • 60 days: start calling and get in front of prospects, start pipeline
  • 90 days: should have prospects who are developing

He shared that he was able to hire successfully about 50% of the time and that is was important to cut losses (“take no prisoners”) and not accept excuses after 90 days.

Three Simple Tests Before You Hire

James Connor, who runs the SVASE CXO forum, offered three simple tests that any sales candidate should be able to pass before being hired.

  • Show me a spreadsheet that demonstrates the ROI for a product.
  • Write me a short article on something you know about.
  • Call me and speak on the telephone.

If the candidate doesn’t have some facility with Excel, writing ability, and good telephone skills, then you should think very hard about extending an offer.

Comments From The Audience

  • Be careful of a VP of sales from a large company as your first hire: if you want someone who will “get out there.” You’ve hired a general when you need a soldier.
  • Understand when you need a business development person instead a sales person. A sales person needs a stable product with a proven sales process and works with a quota. Business development creates new opportunities and is measured on the markets that are identified that can be exploited.
  • Some sales hires will just work for base as long as you let them.
  • The marketeer makes the phone ring then sales guy answers it
  • It can be useful on a larger team to have someone who can cold call and generate leads
  • Expect to spend more than $100K in base for an enterprise sales person, don’t expect to find anyone worth hiring who will work on 100% commission.

Iterating Towards Bethlehem: Michael Sippey at SVPMA 8/2/2006

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in Events, Quotes, skmurphy, TwoWeekSaaS

Michael Sippey’s original title for his August 2, 2006 talk at SVPMA was “Iterating Towards Bethlehem” was changed to a less cryptic Making the Shift From Being a Packaged Software Person to Being a Hosted Services Person. The original title was a riff on Yeats’ Slouching Towards Bethlehem (not the Joan Didion book or the Angel episode).

SaaS Roundtable: Managing Rapid Release Cycles

Written by Theresa Shafer. Posted in Events

Gone are the days of annual release cycle. For many companies, weekly releases are the new standard. Picking the best software release cycle impacts your customers, team, and management. At this roundtable discussion we will exchange tips and gotchas. Provide a look at the impact on business models, teams and product development.

Tuesday October 30 2007, 11:30 – 1:00 pm
Fenwick & West 801 California Street Mountain View, California 94041
Cost for lunch: $20 After Oct. 24 $30

Register071030

About the Roundtable Leaders

Anthony Scampavia
At SKMurphy, he provides consulting for Software Startups focusing on Early Customer, Early Revenue

  • Reviewing and defining product release and test strategies
  • Developing test and development sandbox environments focusing on automated regressions and system level testing

Prior to SKMurphy, Anthony was a Director at Cisco Systems. He managed the growth from 1 test engineer to a division of 280 employees in multiple sites, and 20,000 sq ft of test labs. Anthony holds a BA in Computer Science from University of California at San Diego.

Sean Murphy
Sean Murphy has taken an entrepreneurial approach to life since he could drive. He has served as an advisor to dozens of startups, helping them explore new options and bring their businesses to new levels. His firm, SKMurphy, Inc., focuses on early customers and early revenue for software startups, helping engineers to understand business development.

Prior to SKMurphy, Sean worked in a variety of areas including software engineering, engineering management, application engineering, business development, product marketing and customer support. His clients include Cisco Systems, 3Com, AMD, MMC Networks, Escalade and VLSI Technology. Sean holds a BS in Mathematical Sciences and an MS in Engineering-Economic Systems from Stanford University.

SKMurphy: Getting More Customers Workshop

Written by Theresa Shafer. Posted in Events

Finding More Customers

Every business owner asks “How do I Find More Customers? How can I get the phone to ring?” Is your New Year’s Resolution to develop a plan to grow your business? Now is the time to get started.

SKMurphy offers a three hour Getting More Customers workshop where you develop a one-page ACTION plan and we provide follow-up to hold you accountable. We are not promising a fast and easy way to obtain customers. Our methodology of setting goals, developing plans, and exploring options will help you build a framework to maximize your resources as a start up. If you are a software startup or consultant, these workshop allow you to focus on building your business.

June 2006 SDForum Interview

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in Books, Customer Development, Quotes, skmurphy

I was interviewed in June 2006 by Barbara Cass, Volunteer Director for the SDForum, the final text appeared in the July/August 2006 newsletter (see page 15 of the PDF version). I have updated it here to add links for many of the referenced works and the quotes. KV Rao and I did a one year term as co-chairs of the Marketing Special Interest Group (SIG), our term ended in December 2006. Filomena U and Ed Buckingham took over, and are now the ones answering the sdforum_marketingsig-owner@yahoogroups.com alias.

Volunteer Spotlight
Interview with Sean Murphy, Co-Chair of the Marketing SIG

Q: Sean, you are a long-time member of SDForum. What helped you to decide to volunteer as chair of the Marketing SIG?

I had attended a number of the programs over the years and found them useful not only for the information that the speaker offered but also for what I would learn from other attendees. SIG meetings are a good way to keep a finger on the pulse of Silicon Valley. William Gibson observed that “the future is already here, it’s just unevenly distributed,” The SDForum SIGs are one place that’s certainly true. And I wanted to show my support for what the SDForum offers.

Q: What has been your experience in organizing these meetings thus far?

I am fortunate to have KV Rao as a co-chair. He is bright, articulate, and deeply thoughtful. He was early at WebEx in marketing and business development and has an appreciation for both startup and established company marketing issues. He has pulled together our two best programs so far: the “DotCom to DotBust to Web 2.0” talk by Dave Thompson that was our January kickoff and our May panel on “Making The Leap From An Application To A Platform Business.”

I have enjoyed pulling together an eclectic mix of topics: “Guerrilla Marketing for Startups“, “Internal Marketing–Fostering Technology Adoption“, “Building Strategy and Driving Consensus through Shared Mapping“, and “You Named it What?” We have attracted a diverse and thoughtful audience. Bill Grosso, who runs the Emerging Technologies SIG has been an invaluable advisor to me to get this year’s programs off to a running start.

Q: What have you learned from the first six months of putting on programs?

I think we have run informative programs on a broad range of topics, often because the audience has contributed as much as the speaker or speakers have. It’s very important to get a good title and to explain early in the description the speaker’s key experiences that will equip them address the topic as an expert. We are the Marketing SIG for the Software Development Forum so we tend to get a very technical audience: the key to successful programs is adequately preparing the speakers.

Q: What is the focus of your own business and have you seen value to your business since meeting with this group each month?

Our firm, SKMurphy, Inc. offers business development consulting to early stage software startups with a focus on early customers and early revenue. I think the value for me is the insights I get from the people I have met, either because I invited them to speak, or they were attracted to the topic for that night’s program. The SIG has given me a good reason to reach out to some individuals and have conversations that I otherwise might have missed out on. I would encourage folks to get involved, but I believe that it’s more about creating a community that we would all like to live in, and listening to and learning from strangers.

Q: Have you seen changes in the ways companies market or should be marketing their products in today’s world?

My firm’s focus is on strategy and business development for software startups. We work with early stage startups who sell to businesses. I personally have an interest in new technologies for collaboration–things like wikis, blogs, IM that are “new” in the sense that they are only a little over a decade old–and knowledge management methodologies like the “community of practice” model. So I look at the marketing issues from perspective that’s distinct from the consumer-oriented “get big fast” model that seems to be coming back into vogue: 2006 feels a lot like 1996 to me, with all of the various “pitch events” that are going on every month now. And I tend to work with teams that are bootstrapping both because it’s a mindset I find easier to relate to–I prefer pitching to prospects rather than VC’s–and because they tend to be more innovative than the VC-backed folks, who are normally channeled into a handful of predictable trajectories.

So, what I tend to see are startup teams who have a firm grasp on technology and product development issues but are less clear on one or more of the key concepts for successful new product introduction. Bill Davidow’s “whole product” paradigm from his “Marketing High Technology” book is fundamental to understanding the different between selling an invention and marketing an innovation. Geoffrey Moore’sCrossing the Chasm” framework, best expressed in his “Inside the Tornado” book is the solid explanation of the evolution of technology markets. Clayton Christensen’s “sustaining vs. disruptive innovation” model in his “Innovator’s Dilemma” book is the best “anatomy lesson for a karate student,” explaining to startups how and where to attack an established firm. Steve Blank’s “Four Steps to the Epiphany” is filled with detailed checklists for how a startup team must distinguish between product development and customer development as they explore a new market.

Postscript: I think answering this question started me down the path to the December 2006 Marketing SIG Program: Twelve Business Books in One Hour for the Busy CEO. I wish I could claim “anatomy lecture for the karate student” as mine but it’s based on a line from Chapter 18 of Red Dragon by Thomas Harris: “The others listened like karate students at an anatomy lecture.”

Q: What are some of your aspirations for the Marketing SIG in the near future?

We want to continue to fulfill our promise to provide practical tips and techniques for anticipating, identifying, and satisfying customers needs for emerging technologies profitably. We have several exciting programs in the hopper for the second half of 2006 but are always looking for good speakers on interesting topics. Contact us at sdforum_marketingsig-owner@yahoogroups.com with suggestions or to volunteer.

You Need to Be a Little Crazy

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

Theresa heard a radio interview with Barry Moltz in 2003 and suggested that I get his book. In December 2003 I purchased a copy of You Need to Be a Little Crazy and when it arrived from Amazon I put it on my to-be-read pile where it languished until early this morning when I read it in one setting, making notes in the margin and jotting down page numbers for quotes I was going to harvest for later re-use on a 3×5 card as I read.

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