Carlos (recent winner of a Red Dot Award — go Carlos!) gave me a great tip last year about how to get a project budget from a client.
First you should just ask them for it. Be blunt: “What’s your budget or budget range for this project?” If you have a good client they’ll tell you (and trust me, you want good clients — finding the right clients is 90% of this business). If you have a reticent client they may say “we don’t have one yet” or “we’re just looking right now” or “we want you to tell us how much it will cost.” Truth is, everyone has a number in their head. They have a good idea of what they can spend or they wouldn’t be shopping in public. If they don’t then they shouldn’t be asking you to invest your time in writing a proposal — and you most certainly shouldn’t provide them with one.
So, how do you get the number when they won’t tell you? Try this: When they tell you they don’t have a number say, “Oh, ok. So a $100,000 solution would work for you?” They’ll quickly come back… “Oh no, probably something more around $30K.” BINGO: That’s the budget.
You need three things to create a successful startup:
to start with good people,
to make something customers actually want,
and to spend as little money as possible.
Most startups that fail do it because they fail at one of these. A startup that does all three will probably succeed.
And that's kind of exciting, when you think about it, because all three are doable. Hard, but doable. And since a startup that succeeds ordinarily makes its founders rich, that implies getting rich is doable too. Hard, but doable.
If there is one message I'd like to get across about startups, that's it. There is no magically difficult step that requires brilliance to solve.
This book is a weapon of mass construction. My goal was to provide the definitive guide for anyone starting anything. It builds upon my experience as an evangelist, entrepreneur, and most recently, as a venture capitalist who found, fixed, and funded startups.
The book is as relevant for two guys in a garage starting the next Google as social activists trying to save the world. GIST: cuts through the theoretical crap, theories and gets down to the real-world tactics of pitching, positioning, branding, recruiting, bootstrapping, and rainmaking.
I gave a talk at ETech on Monday called "Entrepreneuring for Geeks." I've given this general talk a few times now -- how can the more technically minded among us move into making companies of our own? I really enjoy the talks because I really enjoy entrepreneurs; at least, I enjoy the ones who are really excited about making something fantastic through their efforts. "Do you want to sell sugar water for the rest of your life, or do you want to change the world?" Right.
I started out this year's talk with a set of "proverbs" I've collected or thought up over the years. I liked the format of a Go book I recently read, called (not surprisingly!) "Proverbs," and decided to adopt it for the talk. These are basically little nuggets of wisdom for bite-sized nutrition. Enjoy...
The thing you must remember about just about every corporate or organizational brochure is this: People won't read it.
I didn't say it wasn't important. I just said it wasn't going to get read.
People will consider its heft. They might glance at the photos. They will certainly notice the layout. And, if you're lucky, they'll read a few captions or testimonials.
At its best, a brochure is begging for someone to judge you. It says, "assume that because we could hire really good printers and photographers and designers and writers, we are talented [surgeons, real estate developers, whatever]" And more often than not, people do just that.
At its worst, a brochure solves a prospect's problem (the problem of: what should I do about this opportunity?) by giving them an easy way to say "no." "No," she thinks, "I don't need to talk with you... I've reviewed the brochure."
Choose the best answer from the options below.
Keep your eyes on your own computer screen, and remember
that it's cheating to email other internet users during the test.
Follow the link at the bottom to see the answers.
Its performance is the envy of executives and engineers around the world ... For techno-evangelists, Google is a marvel of Web brilliance ... For Wall Street, it may be the IPO that changes everything (again) ... But Google is also a case study in savvy management -- a company filled with cutting-edge ideas, rigorous accountability, and relentless attention to detail ... Here's a search for the growth secrets of one of the world's most exciting young companies -- a company from which every company can learn.
And the sort of company that every company can learn from. What follows, then, is our effort to "google" Google: to search for the growth secrets of one of the world's most exciting growth companies. Like the logic of the search-engine itself, our search was deep and democratic. We didn't focus on Google's big three: CEO Eric Schmidt and founders Brin and Page. Instead, we went into the ranks and talked with the project managers and engineers who make Google tick. Here's what we learned:
Follow these five golden rules, says Michael Parsons, and nothing can possibly go wrong
At this point even the most cynical will probably concede that this internet thing is going to be around for a while. For good or ill, the audience is moving online, which means the people who serve the audience have to move with them, whether they're selling TV, baked beans, or words. This means a lot of change: The Daily Telegraph is even going to a specially designed, brand new round office in Victoria as part of its belated conversion to the importance of new media. I'm sure they will be absolutely fine, as long as they study my five basic principles for understanding online publishing.
Over the years I've started a small handful of Internet/software projects/companies. Examples include Mailinator, Preemptive Solutions, Inc., and Classhat. Actually, I've started a large handful but no one knows about most of them because they were (in no particular order): dumb ideas, unsuccessful, too hard for me to complete. Given that I now rate any new idea I get according to a set of rules that helps me filter out good ideas from bad. At least, whatever I consider bad. Keep in mind these rules are for the canonical one or 2-person pre-startup - if you have 8million in VC, there's a lot of other magic you can do.
Here they are:
If there is no business model, its a hobby, not an idea.
The best ideas make your customers money.
The best place to be that I know of is B2B2C.
If you're going B2C, look for revenue models that don't come right from the consumer.
Revisit every bad idea every once in awhile.
Do your best to create a system of recurring revenue.
Cliff Atkinson schrijft over de beste stuctuur die je presentaties kunt geven:
Unlocking the secret code of a persuasive story
A persuasive story uses the structure of a story, but spins the story in a particular way that ensures it aims at achieving results we need in presentations: by using persuasion. You can apply this fundamental structure to any type of presentation. Using a visual medium such as PowerPoint gives you additional levels of communicative power, the same ones that Hollywood shows us every day.
For example, let's see how a persuasive story looks in the form of the first five slides in a PowerPoint presentation to a board of directors, where the presenter is seeking approval for a new product. Instead of using a category heading, the top of each slide features a simple statement that addresses each category of information that the board needs to know about, as described here.
Establish the setting.
The headline of Slide 1 reads: Our sector of business is undergoing major change. The subject of this headline establishes the common setting for the presentation and relates the "where" and "when" for everyone in the audience.
Designate the audience as the main character.
The headline of Slide 2 reads: Every board faces tough decisions about what to do next. The subject of this headline establishes the members of the board as the main characters in this story, establishing the "who" of the story.
Describe a conflict involving the audience.
The headline of Slide 3 reads: Six new products have eroded our market share. The subject of this headline describes a conflict the board faces that has created an imbalance. This explains "why" the audience is there.
Explain the audience's desired state.
The headline of Slide 4 reads: We can regain profitability by launching a new product. The board doesn't want to stay in a state of imbalance, so the subject of this headline describes the board's desired state, describing "what" the audience wants to see happen next.
Recommend a solution.
The headline of Slide 5 reads: Approve the plan to build Product X, and we'll reach our goals. This final headline recommends a solution, describing "how" the audience will get from its current state of imbalance to its desired state of balance.
Reading these five headlines in succession reveals an interesting and engaging story that will be sure to capture the board's attention. And when you add an illustration to each of these headlines, you open up the power of projected images, including full-screen photographs, clip art, or even simple animated words.
The rest of the story
The five slides in this example form the backbone of Act I of a persuasive story structure. Act II then spins off of the pivotal fifth slide, explaining the various reasons why the audience should accept the solution. Act III frames the resolution, setting the stage for the audience to decide whether to accept the recommended solution.
With the solid structure of your first five slides in place, your presentations will move well beyond the stale world of bullet points, and into the lively world of a persuasive story. By blending together the classic concepts of story and persuasion with your PowerPoint software, you are sure to engage your audience and make things much more interesting—and productive—for both you and your audience.
Seth Godin: Sliced bread and other marketing delights
In a world of too many options and too little time, our obvious choice is to ignore the ordinary stuff. Marketing guru Seth Godin spells out why, when it comes getting our attention, bad or bizarre ideas are more successful than boring ones. And early adopters, not the mainstream's bell curve, are the new sweet spot of the market.
I'm writing this article on the flight back from a week-long trip to Istanbul, Turkey. My wife Kirsten is an amateur rug collector and we decided to celebrate her birthday in Istanbul where the 11th International Conference On Oriental Carpets was being held. (Candidly, until earlier this year, I didn't even know there was such a conference -- let alone the fact that it drew hundreds of people).
Loving husband that I am, I accompanied Kirsten during her visits to a variety of rug dealers in Sultanhamet (the old district of Istanbul which is the carpet capital of the world). This is where The Grand Bazaar is located. If you've never been to Istanbul, I highly recommend it. It's a great city.
In any case, here are some of the insights I gained from my experience.
Sales Tips From Turkish Rug Dealers
Make your customers smarter (If your offering is clearly the "smart" choice for the customer, helping the customer get smarter is a great strategy)
Focus On Relationships, Not Transactions
Make It Safe and Easy To Leave (By making yourself easy to leave, you make yourself easy to love)
Don't Disparage The Competition
Don't Judge The Customer (Your best customers unfortunately do not walk around with convenient labels on their heads. You'll actually have to try and get to know them)
For those of you that have been to Turkey or shopped for rugs, you may have had a much different experience than I did. Could be that we just got "lucky" and wound up in shops that had a disproportionately high level of professionalism. I don't think any of the above insights are particularly controversial, but if you have comments or criticisms, please share.
Goal-Directed Design necessarily involves first-hand research with real-world users. Whether these interviews last 30 minutes or two hours, the first few minutes of discussion are vital to establishing rapport with your participant.
Outside of celebrities and politicians, few people are practiced at giving interviews. And while participants are almost always willing to help as best as they can, there may be some unspoken questions troubling them before an interview begins. This article offers a list of common topics that proactively address these questions and make participants feel at ease.
Introduction Who are these people?
Explanation What’s going on here?
Time Will this take long?
Control What if they ask me something I don’t know or don’t want to say?
Confidentiality What if I say something that will come back to haunt me?