Investor Secrets For Smart Competitive Positioning

In their passion and excitement about a new product or service, entrepreneurs tend to continually narrow the scope of potential competitors, and often claim to have no direct competitors. This raises a big red flag with potential investors, who conclude that no competitors means no market, or you haven’t looked, and the new startup is...

Entrepreneurs Must Start Selling And Listening Early

Savvy entrepreneurs start testing their ideas on potential customers even before the concept is fully cooked. They have enough confidence in their ability to deliver that they don’t worry about someone stealing the idea to get there first, and they don’t forget to listen carefully to critical feedback. They become walking public relations machines for...

Should Entrepreneurs Grow Revenue Or User Count?

Some analysts argue that revenue drives growth, while others say user growth drives revenue. Both have worked.Google reached $1 billion in revenue within five years of incorporation, and now has a market capitalization of over $400 billion. Twitter showed no focus on revenue in the first five years, but was able to parlay 500 million...

Are You Properly Managing Your Core Competency?

If you have a software development background like mine, I’m sure you often get questions about when to outsource, versus building the solution in-house. The same applies to manufacturing and almost any process these days. Outsourcing is defined as contracting the work to another company, usually located in a developing country, like India, China, or...

How Smart Entrepreneurs Select VC / Angel Investors

Too many entrepreneurs tell me they are looking for an investor, and can’t differentiate between venture capital (VC) investors versus accredited Angel investors. They argue that the color of the money is the same from either source. They fail to realize that the considerations are quite different for each, which can make or break their...

Startups Must Embrace Coopetition For Rapid Growth

Startup founders are known for their passion for their startup idea, and for their passion to kill every competitor. Thus they often overlook the fact that their biggest growth opportunity may be a win-win collaboration with a serious competitor, known in the business as coopetition. Of course, this path involves some risk, but you never...

Smart Entrepreneurs Don’t Need Disruptive Technology

It may not be as sexy, but starting a new business that builds on an existing technology or business model is usually less risky than introducing that ultimate new disruptive technology. There are many levels of innovation that go beyond copying someone else’s idea, but stop short of pushing the bleeding edge. Many of the...

Hungry Entrepreneurs Always Seem To Find Capital

Every startup needs access to capital, whether for funding product development, for initial rollout efforts, acquiring inventory, or paying that first employee. Most entrepreneurs think first of bank loans as the primary source of money, only to find out that banks are really the least likely benefactors for startups. Thus “creative” really means maximizing non-bank...

Practice Entrepreneur Integrity As Seen By Others

As an entrepreneur, your personal integrity is critical for getting and keeping the support of investors and team members, and your company’s integrity is critical for getting and keeping customers and vendors. But in a practical sense, what does that really mean? Most definitions of integrity include something like “the quality of being honest and...

Entrepreneurs Today Don’t Need A Big Budget To Start

It wasn’t so many years ago that starting a new e-commerce business on the Internet was a complex custom development project, usually costing a million dollars or more. Now you can do it for free, or a few hundred dollars, with one of the many web building tools available, like Shopify or Weebly Store. A...

Agility Is The Key To Survival In Good Times And Bad

Most small businesses are trying to forget the recent recession, and get back to “business as usual.” They don’t realize that business as usual is gone forever. With social media and smart phone conversations, real product information spreads at astounding speeds. Entrepreneurs that are not listening, not engaging, and not changing will be left behind...

Smart Entrepreneurs Know Customer Buying Moments

Today’s customers are much more in control of their buying decision, as they have more choices and more information than ever before. Almost instantly, via the Internet or on their smartphone in the store, they can find the lowest price alternative or their favorite features, without waiting for push marketing or listening to your best...

How Much Should You Get For Your Invention Idea?

Every inventor seems to think their invention is worth a million dollars, but I haven’t seen anyone pay that much for one yet. In fact, I often have to tell aspiring entrepreneurs that their inventions have zero value, at least not until they are put in the context of a business plan, with qualified people...

10 Entrepreneur Alternatives To Investor Funding

The “valley of death” is a common term in the startup world, referring to the difficulty of covering the negative cash flow in the early stages of a startup, before their new product or service is bringing in revenue from real customers. I often get asked about the real alternatives to bridge this valley, and...

How Great Entrepreneurs Really Listen To Customers

Entrepreneurs and business executives seem to be even more focused on their technology than the rest of us, and less inclined to listen to the voice of the customer, even if they remember to ask. Real two-way conversations with real customers, including the all-important body language, are unheard-of these days. Being connected to the Internet...