Successful Entreprenuership Relies on These Two Concepts

I am amazed at how awesome it is to create something that people love, yet never existed before. As I look back upon my first entrepreneurial journey, two concepts really stand out as key to success.

First, always have in mind the whole shebang, that ultimate product that we are striving to build, in the form of a common vision. The whole shebang includes the ecosystem, the features, and the overall purpose of what you are trying to accomplish. The vision is then communicated and used by the team as guidelines for their work.

Second, flexibility in how it all comes together is required. Sure, you can writing a detailed business plan and plot every step of the way. But, flexibility along the journey lets the product evolve as the understanding of the vision evolves. As the saying goes, “there is more than one way to skin a cat,” so let your team help drive the technology, drive the UI, and let creativity, flexibility, and vision coalesce into an awesome product.

When flexibility and vision work against each other, one must stop and consider whether the deviation is worth the distraction. It could be as flexibility could introduce access to a whole new realm that compliments the vision. It could also create a totally separate vision that should be handled as a separate vision and project.

I would argue that flexibility in the implementation of a start-up is what creates a positive, fun, and creative environment where everyone is putting in their two cents. The final product will embody the souls of the team.

Once you have the whole shebang in the form of vision, you can lead your team down a flexible and highly creative path to success.

A Citizen’s Role in Politics

The world of politics has been a touchy subject for years.  Everyone has their own opinion on policies and laws that will continue to make this country great!  It is part of our duty as citizens to express our opinions and even act on those opinions as we see fit.  While the most basic action comes in the form of voting, the citizenry is responsible for making an informed decisions on which leaders we elect and which propositions we pass.

This informed decision needs to be based on research, debate, and internal contemplation.  However, the media is usually pretty quick to provide opinions for us that aren’t always in line with reality.  Recently, while having dinner with a friend, I uttered the words “Obama is a socialist,” which then triggered a far greater discussion on exactly what this meant and what actions by Obama support this.  I have to admit that at this time I couldn’t speak to any specific actions.  In fact, I was guilty of regurgitating a line from the media without doing my homework.  This shocked me.

Normally, I am a very well spoken individual who seldom says anything that isn’t founded in concrete.  While I admitted that I was at a loss and we moved on, that voice inside me (the responsible citizen voice) wanted to know if Obama is really a socialist.

The answer is no.  Socialism centers around an economy owned by the state and or geared toward a common ownership.  Of Obama’s policies that I am familiar with, none of them fit into this category.  In fact, after researching this issue, I discovered that Obama is a well respect “centered” politician who has acted for the good of the country, moving between democratic and republican ideals to move this country forward.

What started to truly stir my passion for understanding the situation of our government was a text I received from the same friend containing a link to a rather interesting article.  The commentary article by Spiegel Online titled, “America Has Already Lost Tuesday’s Election, Destroyed by Total Capitalism,” is a rather passionate, European view of what the America has become.

After reading the article, I took a step back.  While I agree that America is controlled more by total capitalist, part of me wanted to believe that even total capitalists wouldn’t act in a way that would jeopardize the future of America.  Then I realized that capitalism is far more about profit than long-term sustainability.

Taking a look at Apple, for instance, who has banked billions and billions of dollars while the American education system experiences a financial crisis is perhaps proof that there could be something to this viewpoint.

In addition, during Hurricane Sandy, hospitals were evacuated because their backup generators failed, yet a few blocks away, buildings beloning to major financial institutions were bright with light and had plenty of power to spare.  The contrast of this image made me slightly angry.

The third piece of information that this citizen gained in recent weeks, is a book by Thomas Mann and Norman Ornstein called “Its Worse Than It Looks.”  I came to find out about this book while driving on the freeway listening to NPR.  What really caught my attention was when the author equated House Republicans to American terrorists.  WHAT!

It seems the Republican party has done more damage to America’s future in the past few years than in the entire history of this country.  The Fiscal Cliff is a product Republican’s willingness to put their party over the good of the country, leveraging filibusters, and refusing to negotiate with the White House.   I couldn’t believe what I was hearing, let alone what I was reading after purchasing the book.

To make sure this wasn’t a Democrat’s way of condemning the Republicans, I did some research of my own and found that the circumstances listed in the book are true.  In fact, I found a fascinating website called “Republicans for Obama” that agrees with a fundamental shift in Republican policy.  Instead of voting for the good of the country, Republicans are now voting to destroy the White House and the President of the United States.

These bits of information have awaken my role of citizen in politics.   While I intend to vote for Democrats going forward to give them back the majority, I will also spread the word regarding the new American terrorists sitting in the House.

What does citizenship have to do with Data, Creativity, Patterns, and Inspiration?  Everything.  Citizens must collect data, understand patterns in politics, and find the inspiration to act creatively to form the future that believe in.

I am sure this post will alienate employers/recruiters (probably won’t be working with Apple anytime soon) and create some controversy within my family.  But, it is my role as Citizen of the United States to research, understand and speak for what I believe in.

Landscapes

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Arriving in Bozeman, Montana for the first time and seeing the vast landscape and stunning mountain peaks, it is easy to fall in love. Golden fields give way to squares of green, bordered by roads that seem to go on forever. With the occasional building popping up, mimicking the distant peaks like Sacajawea Peak, the blend of natural and human landscapes appear with a respect for each other.

Where’s YOUR Documentation?

Any good reporting/analytics team in a company must have a foundation.  Whether the reporting/analytics team is in Marketing, Sales, Finance, or Customer Service, documentation is the foundation by which companies operate and communicate.

Without documentation there is no:

  • foundation to build reports
  • no defnition of data
  • no way of effectively communicating concepts
  • evolution of data understanding
  • reporting

For each employee working at a company, we have a responsibility to maintain documentation.  When the Business Systems team comes knocking with their questions of how your part of the business operates, you will be ready.

If you are presenting sales figures to the executive team, you NEED to have an understanding of what your figures include and don’t include.  It is your responsibility to understand your part of the business.

Even the janitor requires documentation.  What’s the sequence to cleaning the offices, how often do the desks and keyboards get wiped down, to how often they need to order toilet paper, maintaining an office for busy employees depends on documentation!

So, where is YOU documentation?

The Business of the 21st Century

As a Founder of a new start-up, I am faced with creating a business for the 21st Century.  For the last 100 years, businesses have evolved with technology (Salesforce).  Those that have not, get hacked away until they tumble (Borders). 

So, as I launch my own LLC, I must take note of what will carry my company through to the 22nd century.  Here are some ideas:

  • Customer Centric – the product is all about helping the customer solve a challenge long before they even knew they were challenged.  The product responds to the customer.
  • Data belongs to the customer – Unlike some social media sites that consume data and resell it, I firmly believe that the owner of the data is the individual that inputs it.  By delivering totally custom access to their data where and when they want it, I will empower my customer.
  • Social – Everyone and everything must be connected in some way. Allow the customer to create public and private groups and interact in real time however they choose. 
  • Ease of use – Make it just so simple to use, they have no other choice.  
  • Consumer to Business Communication – Make it darn easy for customers to submit feedback and interact with employees.  From surveys to conferences, leverage every opportunity to be in contact with not just customers, but consumers in general. 

These are just some of things that a 21st century business MUST DO.  As a customer or a business owner, what other things should successful businesses do?  

Customer Experience Is A Journey

Reflecting back on my career I can appreciate the value of a customer centric organization. Not only are customer centric organizations aligned around the customer, but they typically embolden the employee with value and the ability to make decisions.

Successful organizations are those that embrace business as an ongoing conversation that involves customers, employees and a larger ecosystem. Think of successful business as a conference room where management sits at the head of the table, customers on one side and employees on the other. The dialog must be chaperoned by all parties with listening and development of dialog constantly at the core. The ecosystem enters from time to time in the form of external speakers who discuss larger topics pertinent to the business.

Sure the conference room changes over time as do the players, but the conversation must always be ongoing and open. It is like being on a trip and exploring local establishments including restaurants, shops, and even people’s homes.  It is a journey of collaboration, communication and life.

Is your customer experience a journey?