Author Archive

Thoughts on the Business Plan

The last assignment, the last commitment, the last thing to do. These are all things we might think about when turning in this business plan, however I thought of something else. I thought that this plan has the potential to define my near future. That this plan marks the start to a new beginning, a new adventure, a new direction. One of the exciting parts of this class was the opportunity to strategically prepare for our plan, and then to actually put it into action.

Presentation day was one of the best experiences of the semester! Why, because we had the chance to test our ideas our plan in the real world. That is a privilege that does not often come to university students. In fact much of our daily activities center around the imaginations of some project that has principles to teach. We work hard to win good grades, and then forget the principles that we were supposed to learn, that did not happen in this class. We had to sell our ideas, our strategy had to work, our sales pitch had to make sense, there was no safety net. Selling to outside professionals was in my mind the essential experience of learning. Metaphorically it represents the time when liquid ideas freeze into hard realities.

Working on our business plans have taught us more than just to format information in the right area. It has taught us to think about what makes our ideas stick, it has forced us consider the big picture of strategy, it has taught us the steps that need to be taken evaluate an idea. Today we turned in our plan, tomorrow we can forget it or we can take the lessons we learned and refine them into reality. I for one am ready to take the plunge.

Cold Reality

Taking the plunge into a cold Reality.

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May 5, 2011 at 5:37 pm Leave a comment

A Review of the Seven Deadly Sins in a Sales Pitch

A Review of the Seven Deadly Sins in a Sales pitch.

As we all prepare for our sales pitch for next week, I thought it would be helpful to include a summary of what I found helpful in this article found on INC.com

The first sin is: Not Building Suspense.

There is nothing worse than telling someone your idea and they seem interested then they drop into the glossy eye look.

Now I’ll be the first to admit that I put people to sleep a lot, the good thing is that I am getting better at seeing when I’m doing it. My advice to you is not just take the advice of the article, but to sweat the infection of passion for your idea. I always am more interested in listening to people when they really care.

The second sin is: Being too available. One of the great things about being a student is that we are naïve about peoples time. Getting into the business world has really cured me of this idea that my idea is so great it can take all the time in the world. My advice is not to take a person’s time by figuring out what they need to hear not what you want to tell them.

The third sin is: Scaring People. I really did not get what the author was trying to say. It seemed like they didn’t recommend threats which is a “duh” statement. I interpreted the advice like this. Don’t kill with details that make people feel intimidated. The old adage of KISS comes to mind.

The fourth sin is:  BS the Expert

Its bad when you don’t know the details. It is worse when you build a case on falsification. The best application for us next week would be to not make up the details if we simply don’t know. I would rewrite this section and say that the best thing to do in these situations is to tell all. Just categorize what the tell all covers so you don’t waste time.

The fifth sin is: Being overly nice.

Interpreting this advice for us would be: let’s not walk into our presentation with a these guys will tear us apart attitude, but instead we should go in to see the new thing we can learn and the benefits of outside advice.

The sixth sin is: Quoting Dead People

I guess it is hard to understand why we can’t build seriousness of our content with a good quote. I do however see the wisdom; don’t get carried away by sentimentality. Take away advice, keep our information central to our own authoritative research and business knowledge.

The seventh sin is: Being Boring

I agree! The best way to be boring is to kill people with details and variations. This for me will be the hardest part of the whole presentation.  Getting the emotional appeal to work consistently will be the biggest challenge.

May 5, 2011 at 4:32 pm Leave a comment

The Lessons From Hamilton Chase

During this semester I had the opportunity to work on a Hamilton Chase project with two creative partners in the Make You Mark Competition, Eric Wright and Cyrus Sarosh. The whole challenge was to develop an idea that could be created for $10. The premise was that you had to create or develop something that could be used to make a positive impact in some ones life. Our idea was to take the origins of a design competition and build the case for Green Guardians.

The idea was developed from an architectural competition that was outlined by a UK based agency, that supports urban infrastructure designs. The goal of the competition was to give a homeless person a secure and portable shelter for use in the urban environment. The competition generated Green Guardian concept vehicle. The Green Guardian idea was built on empowering homeless individuals with a means to collect recyclable’s so they could receive compensation from the local community for contributing to the greener urban environment. The green guardian would have a special cart designed by us to be manufactured at Lawrence Tech and that would allow them to be supported by a local business interested in social outreach and green issues. The cart would keep the recyclable’s for collection and also be a secure shelter for the homeless individual to use in the travels they make through urban environments.

Our goal was to establish a plan for implementation by a student led organization that would be composed of different colleges at the university. The engineering school would contribute the manufacturing process and manpower to manufacture the carts. The business school would lead the sales and operations of the business, the other colleges would contribute to the program from their various skill sets. The whole plan was to be run as a private venture that would be funded by outside business donations and maintained by purchases by business’ in urban areas countrywide.

As we began to design our plan we discovered that government support did not have a lot of staying power for this idea. The decision was made to develop the plan to be privately driven and privately funded. We felt that we should make the idea drivable by just the student body, and have minimal support by the university except for the provision of square footage for manufacturing.

We took the steps to establish an online presence, creating a Facebook page, developing a website, and creating a blog site.

Overall we felt we created a great idea, sadly we were disqualified for being late with our submittal to the review board. I learned that some of the best ideas come when there is a commitment to a common goal that is understood by all the parties involved. Furthermore I learned that even good ideas can hit snags in the river of development.

N. Turner

May 5, 2011 at 4:29 pm Leave a comment

The experience, not the thing!

I was intrigued by this TED talk about collaborative consumption. The speaker (Rachel Botsman) made some interesting observations about the recent development of the sharing culture. In her talk, she mentioned that there is an increasing demand for the experience versus the object. That concept is interesting because the stuff I have around my room is there because it is experience driven. Everything we have has some elemental impact into our individuality and lifestyle. This fact may be obvious to us, but oblivious to the entrepreneur. Lets face it we all want to make our idea great, we all want to make money, we all want to develop our monetary share of other people’s experience. Yet the greatest thing that overcomes many entrepreneurs is the integration or application of our ideas. We ponder the big questions; What step do I need to take to get my idea or product to go? How do I appeal to the biggest market? What are the trade offs for the best profit? etc…

I think that the concept of collaborative consumption has an inherent litmus test to gain perspective on those questions. What type of experience does my product or idea have?  Can this question sharpen our ideas, products, and services?

I don’t necessarily like the concept in general and the way that speaker contextualized it. However the theory got me thinking about refining demand. Technology and the web are a large part of our business culture. The development of this refining concept can definitely help us entrepreneurs test ideas.

March 3, 2011 at 3:11 pm Leave a comment

Look what Square did!

Remember when we discussed the financial opportunities of using Square as a tool for getting quick payments? Well according to INC.com the company Square has cut the 15 cent processing fee to their transactions. I think this will be great, since much of our class has a business model that would be streamlined by processing credit card payments. This solution is shaping up to be a great tool for small business owners and entrepreneurs in general.

Getting the Money (Photo Credit-http://smallbiztrends.com/2010/02/how-to-get-paid-like-michael-dell.html)

One of the greatest nightmares faced by small business owners like myself has been the dreaded fight to get paid for work done. There are many industries that face this challenge, construction contracting is perhaps one of the biggest realms where getting paid quickly is a nothing but a pipe dream. With technology like Square and their competitors, there is a cheap payment processor can cut the dreams and become a larger part of the business. The news that Square cut the fee got me thinking how to make the capitol flow: What a great way to get and process small investments.

After our class with Pavan Muzumdar, the idea of using revenue for funding began to percolate in my mind. Since we have been polishing and refining our idea pitches at a fevered rate, I found myself lacking the targeted goal for refining my pitch. Then Square! Here is the goal, create the pitch with the express purpose of getting the casual friend, or the family member to buy an “option” investment. Granted its farfetched, but do you think you can transfer the passion of your idea into a micro investment opportunity? I’m not talking about hundreds of dollars, just small stuff. If they really want to invest more they can. The premise seems crazy, but what if your cause or idea is worth it? Maybe it’s the big litmus test for the soundness of your concept? Remember the rumor about a guy who funded his education by asking for one penny at a time, crazy but it worked.

I am so excited that square is refining their model closer to their objectives mentioned in the article. I’m excited because the light at the end of the tunnel is getting brighter, it might be a ‘square’ light but as an entrepreneur looking for bootstrap funding it has the potential to make the next step a reality.

February 23, 2011 at 4:38 pm Leave a comment

Is the Blue Ocean Turning Red?

 

I just finished reading an article on INC.com called “Small Circus Big Dreams”:

http://www.inc.com/articles/201102/entrepreneurship-in-the-small-circus.html

I was intrigued to see that there is a slew of competitors coming into the market place (Just check the sidebar in the article for ‘circus’) in the great ocean of Cirque de Soleil. I began to ask a two questions about the world of Blue Ocean Strategy.

First, do they (Cirque) still float in a blue ocean or has it begun to change color; how long of a timeline does an ideas blue ocean last? They obviously have defined the market place and are the industry leaders, however there are markets that they left untouched. Was this a wise thing to do? Or since they have become so big ($$$$$$) have they have lost some of their edge?

My own answer is that they have succeeded in defining their world of entertainment so well that their competitor will always work in the shadow of the mighty cirque. They still float in a blue ocean because they have implemented their strategy canvas to the highest degree.

Second, after reviewing the site of Aerial Angles, they got their investors to see the potential of their idea by saying we are different from Cirque because we will tell our audiences the secrets as well as the story. Did they create their own blue ocean by just changing a few things like venue and size? Or since they use the individual artist to make their show unique have they reinvigorated the idea of stars? Is this unique or a copy?

My own answer is that it’s both. They are unique because they have resurrected the very thing that was killing Barnum and Bailey & Ringling Bros. by bringing a troupe of unique individuals. Which means that they are not competing on the same plane as Cirque and although they are in the shadow, they have distinguished themselves by working in smaller markets.  In my mind they still are also copying because they are following the market path that was forged by Cirque and not changing the market. Is this last point debatable yes.

Please give me your thoughts.

 

February 5, 2011 at 11:52 pm Leave a comment

Becoming Entrepreneurial

So how does it begin? Is there a formula? Can I flip a switch? What does it take to become the entrepreneur that generates the greatest social change, the profound business solution, the simple idea made great?

I don’t know but I want to learn. Looking at my past suggests the origin of this interest.

As a child, I always was fascinated with the real world, at least my impressions of it. I thrived on curiosity, my interests in history and technology (old and new) where an everyday part of my life. I listened to the history of others, imagined  what I cold not see, and emulated what was exciting. One time I set out with my siblings, on a round the world adventure that started at the front door and ended at the back. Nevertheless, during this journey we encountered great danger, overcame  challenges, and surmounted the impossible  all with simple things like pillowcases, sticks, stones, ropes and buckets etc. Each object was modified in the imagination to suite our needs. In hindsight,  my youth has the stirrings of entrepreneurial spirit. I learned what a could, took what I didn’t have made it, and set out with great determination. (more…)

January 29, 2011 at 4:43 pm 2 comments


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