Improved for whom?

>> Friday, August 28, 2009

Good point. Whenever you say improve, make sure your customers feel the same.



"The general point here is to make sure you evaluate innovations through the proper lens. The trap companies often run into is they think their view of quality is the same as the markets'. That's not always true. If the innovation isn't perceived to be better by the consumer, customer, partner, or supplier to whom it is targeted, then adoption could slow and frustration could grow."


Better Through Whose Eyes?
By Scott Anthony, HarvardBusiness.org


Full Story

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The million dollar question

>> Monday, August 24, 2009

(or the most difficult challenge)
Worth reading!
A very good post and a framework to thing (about) innovation.


"Ask yourself: is our organization already committing enough energy to innovation and strategic renewal? Will we be overtaken by what's next or will we create it? Could our senior executive team clearly articulate the three to four strategic ways in which we intend to reinvent our company and our industry over the next few years?
Organizations typically devote most of their energy to improving what they are already doing, rather than to learning about the future and creating what's next. Whenever this happens, a company is living on borrowed time.
What we need to do is siphon away some of the time, effort and bandwidth that usually go into execution, and reallocate it to understanding deep change and to generating new ideas and opportunities for growth. We need to put learning, creativity, and innovation at the top of the business agenda."


What Next?
By Rowan Gibson, Blogging Innovation


Full Story

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Lessons for the early days

Interesting post with 5 typical mistakes to avoid when starting a business.


5 Mistakes I Made When I Started My Business & How to Avoid Them
By Rieva Lesonsky, SmallBizBee


Full Story

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A question a day...

>> Friday, August 21, 2009

A good post about the importance of asking questions, as we all did in childhood.
Questions keep your mind open and stimulate innovative answers.


"If it is obvious that asking questions is such a powerful way of learning why do we stop asking questions? For some people the reason is that they are lazy. They assume they know all the main things they need to know and they do not bother to ask more.
(...)
With prospect, with clients, at school, at home, in business, with our friends, family, colleagues or managers we can check assumptions and gain a better appreciation of the issues by first asking questions. Start with very basic, broad questions then move to more specific areas to clarify your understanding.
(...)
Try to practice asking more questions in your everyday conversations. Instead of telling someone something, ask them a question. Intelligent questions stimulate, provoke, inform and inspire. Questions help us to teach as well as to learn."


Are You Asking Questions?
By Paul Sloane, Blogging Innovation


Full Story

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Innovation strategy template

>> Thursday, August 20, 2009

Six simple questions to answer in order to create an innovation strategy.


Innovation Perspectives - What/Why/When/How/Where/Who
By Drew Boyd, Blogging Innovation


Full Story

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Top 100 excuses for not innovating

>> Wednesday, August 19, 2009

An Extensive list and a good approach to overcome it.


The Top 100 Lamest Excuses for Not Innovating in 2009
By Mitch Ditkoff, The Heart of Innovation


Full Story

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Resources for Startups and Small Businesses (Part IV)

Free or low-cost services and applications, mainly easy to use web-based applications, to help and empower startups, freelancers and small businesses.
(all previously published links are available under 'Resources' label)


Other Tools&Services:
SurveyMonkey.com - online surveys
(www.surveymonkey.com)

thinkingVoice - live/ web integrated customer service
(thinkingvoice.com)

VerticalResponse - surveys and email marketing
(www.verticalresponse.com)

iContact - email marketing
(www.icontact.com)

intuit - suite of services and applications
(www.intuit.com)

xactly - sales performance management
(www.xactlycorp.com)

SuccessFactors - Performance & Talent Management
(www.successfactors.com)

Makana - Sales Compensation Management
(www.makanasolutions.com)

egnyte - online file storage
(www.egnyte.com)

Business Plan Pro - Business plan software
(http://www.paloalto.com/business_plan_software/)

Xero - accounting
(www.xero.com)

Guru - online services marketplace
(www.guru.com)

bla.st - online services marketplace
(www.bla.st)



See also:
Communication & productivity and Web links
CRM and Invoicing & Bill Management Links
Image banks, Logo Design and Printing Services Links


Let me know about your experience with this or other services.

Read more...

Coopetate!

>> Tuesday, August 18, 2009

That's a good point - why not cooperate with your competitors in some areas?


"Your goal is to find a way to partner with your "competitor" in such a way that both parties can substantially benefit from the other's resources - but without stealing customers or damaging anyone's credibility. Here are some examples of common alliances between competitors that are synergistic deals:
(...)
Rather than fighting over a small slice of the same pie, bake a new pie together and everyone wins. But never forget that your competitors would love you for dessert as well. Manage your risk, but don’t be afraid to take risk."


Coopetition: Partner with a Competitor
By Marty Zwilling, Startup Professionals Musings


Full Story

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Intrapreneurship and innovation strategy

Very good article about intrapreneurship, innovation strategy and corporate strategy and, best of all, how align them all.


"If a corporation lacks a cohesive and well understood innovation strategy, can it still be productive and creative? I believe the answer is yes. Individual pockets of innovation can result in new products and services that significantly add to the corporate bottom line.
The downside of this approach is the amount of potential corporate energy that gets left on the table. Corporate intrapreneurs should be aware of and rallying around a well-defined innovation strategy. If they are not, then the company is missing out on a great opportunity to generate (and deliver!) breakthrough innovation."


Innovation Perspectives - Leveraging Intrapreneurs
By Steve Todd, Blogging Innovation


Full Story

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Resources for Startups and Small Businesses (Part III)

Free or low-cost services and applications, mainly easy to use web-based applications, to help and empower startups, freelancers and small businesses.
This time some links for Image banks, Logo Design and Printing services:
(all previously published links are also available under 'Resources' label)


Image banks:
iStockphoto (www.iStockphoto.com)
everystockphoto (www.everystockphoto.com)
Stockvault (www.stockvault.net)
Photorogue.com (www.photorogue.com)


Logo Design:
Logoworks (www.logoworks.com)
Logoyes (www.logoyes.com)


Printing Services:
Moo (www.moo.com)
Logoworks (www.logoworks.com)
Greenerprinter (www.greenerprinter.com)
Sticker Giant (www.stickergiant.com)


Let me know about your experience with this or other services.

Read more...

Resources for Startups and Small Businesses (Part II)

>> Monday, August 17, 2009

Free or low-cost services and applications, mainly easy to use web-based applications, to help and empower startups, freelancers and small businesses.
This time some links about CRM and Invoicing&Bill Management:
(You can read the previous post here, with some links about communications&productivity and web links; all published links are also available under 'Resources' label).


CRM:
Batchbook (www.Batchbook.com)
Networkhippo (networkhippo.com)
Seam Box (www.seambox.com)
ZOHO (crm.zoho.com)
FreeCRM (www.freecrm.com)


Invoicing and Bill Management:
Invoic€xpress (www.invoicexpress.com)
FreshBooks (www.freshbooks.com)
bill.com (www.bill.com)
zuora (www.zuora.com)

Let me know about your experience with this or other applications.

Read more...

Resources for Startups and Small Businesses (Part I)

Free or low-cost services and applications.
I'll start to post a list of services, mainly easy to use web-based applications, to help and empower startups, freelancers and small businesses.


Communication and productivity:
Google APPS (www.google.com/a)
Zoho: (www.zoho.com)
Microsoft Office Live (smallbusiness.officelive.com)
GoToMeeting (www.gotomeeting.com)


Web:
intuit (www.intuit.com)
Hot Banana (www.hotbanana.com)
Blogger (www.blogger.com/home)
Wordpress.com (http://wordpress.com/)
Wordpress.org (http://wordpress.org/)

Typepad (www.typepad.com)

Let me know about your experience with this or other applications.

Read more...

Homework before starting a new business

Interesting article with a small list of things to do before starting a new business or launching a new product.


"Research must be at the very heart of everything we do for our businesses.
(...)
Market research has to be our first effort if we are to create a successful business, because it’s only through finding what the demand is, what the price should be, how much competition there is for the sale, etc. that you can make an intelligent “go/no-go” decision.
(...)
The bottom line is that you must know what your customers want, how much they’re willing to pay, how many they’re likely to buy and who’s competing with you for that money. With that little bit of knowledge, you can choose whether to go ahead as planned or modify your product and test it again."


Starting a new small business - doing your homework
By Jim Fletcher, examiner.com


Full Story

Read more...

Unconventional thinking

>> Thursday, August 13, 2009

Innovation doesn't mean necessarily to totally create something completely new. Most of the times, the innovation track of a company may be (or must be) focus on promoting something different across their business models, creating competitive advantages by the unconventional way they meet customer needs.
Worst reading article about beyond Product Innovation.


"One of the problems with innovation is that, in any given industry, it can get harder and harder over time to come up with the kind of ideas that totally reinvent things in a fundamental and significant way.
(...)
Because, when everything else is the same, you have to innovate around whatever you have left.
(...)
Think about how you might be able to design your whole business model from the customer backward, looking at each and every component as an opportunity for innovation and competitive advantage. When you start to unpack your business model in this way, you will invariably discover lots of ways to dramatically redesign what you do - and how you do it - in order to create new value for the customer."


Beyond Product Innovation
By Rowan Gibson, Blogging Innovation


Full Story

Read more...

Change cycle of entrepreneurs

Very Good! Anyone feeling insane while preparing a new venture must read.


"You aren’t crazy—there are good reasons why starting a business feels hard. Like any big change in life like getting married or having a baby, entrepreneurship has its ups and downs.
(...)
I explain it at least once a week to reassure my clients that “nothing is going right and it feels like the universe is conspiring against you, but you are not insane for thinking of starting a business, and once you get through this rough patch, things really will get better.” See if you can identify which square of change you are currently in according to Beck’s framework"


You Aren't Crazy, You're Just an Entrepreneur
By Pamela Slim, American Express Open Forum


Full Story

Read more...

Does your company solve any problem?

>> Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Worst reading. The truth is "customers pay for solutions, but there is no market for ideas".


"Equally often, I see startups who are on the road to implementing an idea, but haven’t figured out what problem it solves – the business plan waxes on eloquently for 20 pages about how great this product and technology is, but never gets around to defining the problem (investors call it the “solution looking for a problem” syndrome).
(...)
Start solving a problem today that you can use as the basis for the “idea” for your next startup."


Startups: Start with a Problem, Not an Idea
By Martin Zwilling, Startup Professionals Musings


Full Story

Read more...

Tips for starting a business during a Recession

Interesting and motivating perspective about starting a company in difficult times.


"Starting a business is difficult enough when the economy is strong but when you decide to start a business amid a 9.7 percent unemployment rate--while foreclosures are at an all-time high and bankruptcies are reaching epic proportions--the odds for success seem hopeless.
For startups willing to defy the odds, there are many advantages to starting a small business during a recession, and it can even be done without burring yourself in debt. Experts will tell you that the absolute best time to start a business is during a recession, and several well-known, highly successful businesses were launched during weakened economies."


Start a Business Without Going Broke
By Debbie Dragon, Entrepreneur


Full Story

Read more...

Measuring innovation

Interesting post about measuring innovation: what to measure; how to measure; how to track progress and what to do with this information.


"Measuring innovation is where the rubber meets the road. While it's very easy to wax eloquent about innovation, I've found that for most companies, measuring innovation is quite a tall order. Moreover, even for those organizations that do measure innovation, are they measuring the right metrics, for the right reasons?
(...)
So, how do you tell if an innovation initiative is successful? According to Scott Anthony at Harvard Business Online, perceptions of initial successes or failures are often times misleading when it comes to whether innovation will be successful on a sustainable basis."


Creating Innovation Metrics
By Mike Myatt, Blogging Innovation


Full Story

Read more...

Are you ready for a mentor?

>> Monday, August 10, 2009

Interesting post by Martin Zwilling about business mentoring. He reminds us the (big) difference between a friend and a mentor and explains what kind of person an entrepreneur should look for.


"Friends tell you what you want to hear. Mentors tell you what you need to hear"
(...)
Before you are ready for a mentor, you must know yourself. Have you assessed your strengths and weaknesses? What are your goals? Where are you heading? Unless you know these things, no one can help you. Also you need to be prepared to take advice and criticism, if it is honest, helpful, and given in a friendly way.
Once you are ready, what are some of the attributes of a good mentor that you should look for?"


Entrepreneur: Your Friend is not your Mentor
By Martin Zwilling, Startup Professionals Musings


Full Story

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Entrepreneurs and Start-ups: Focus on tactics

A precious lesson for an entrepreneur. Take good care of your tactics or your company won't live enough to even think about strategy.


"Our goal as entrepreneurs in the short term is to get to the long term. To think, to invent, to create to build and ultimately to survive. If we survive long enough our we’ll be able to test our strategy in market.
(...)
The lesson for startups is simple. Our tactics give us a chance at being strategic in the long run."


Tactics vs strategy
By Steve Sammartino, Start Up Blog


Full Story

Read more...

Entrepreneurs: Stop doing what is not helping you

>> Friday, August 07, 2009

Set your goals, name your top 20 priorities and kick ass. Good advice from Startup Booster


"Over and over again we hear the phrase “live as if today is the last day for you.” Setting long-term goal is important but following the daily task is crucial to achieve that goal. Your daily tasks are the stepping stones for your success. If you don’t follow your daily tasks that you have set aside, the long-term goal becomes irrelevant. Are you working hard for nothing? Do you want to be efficient and use your time wisely to achieve your goals faster? Then read the rest of the article."


Entrepreneurs: Know How to Set Priorities and to Follow Them
By Startup Booster


Full Story

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Cost of innovation

Very good article, with great tips on how to keep innovation alive with small and affordable bets.


"You do not get innovation for free - you have to allocate time, money and people to the search for new products, services, methods etc. However, innovation can lead to powerful cost savings, profitable new products and competitive advantage. Indeed right now the main benefit of innovation might be survival. If you just cut costs and don't innovate you will be bypassed in the market by more agile competitors.
There are inexpensive ways to achieve innovation."


Is Innovation Expensive?
By Paul Sloane, Blogging Innovation


Full Story

Read more...

Rules for success

>> Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Good story. Ten rules for small business success.
May not be hard to identify ten more but, whenever inspiration is needed, this ten may well help you.



"Several themes developed throughout the afternoon, which I believe make up ten critical lessons or rules for succeeding with a small & special business. Here's what I took away:
(...)
Even if you screw up occasionally, loyal customers will stay with you if you treat them right. Make something people love, and you'll create long-term passionate users who tell your story to others."


10 Rules for Small Business Success
By Matt Heinz, Blogging Innovation


Full Story

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How about innovate to collaborate?

>> Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Worth reading; a good approach to get collaboration driven by innovation.


"People collaborate to innovate. But what about the other way around?
(...)
Collaboration is seen as an essential element of change and group effectiveness.
(...)
For a more innovation approach, here is a structured approach using Systematic Inventive Thinking. Start by listing components of the collaborators (their resources, departments, assets... all the basic building blocks that make up each collaborator)."


Innovation by Collaboration
By Drew Boyd, Blogging Innovation


Read more...

Leading innovation

Very good. 10 tips for innovation leaders.


"VCs use a portfolio approach so that they balance the risk of losers with the upsides of winners. They like to consider a large number of proposals. They are comfortable with the knowledge that many of the ideas they back will fail. These are all important lessons for corporate executives who typically consider only a handful of proposals and who abhor failure."


Top 10 Tips for the Innovation Leader
By Paul Sloane, Blogging Innovation


Read more...

Startups, Sales and Sales teams

Some interesting tips about sales and sales teams. Who, How and When a startup should hire and create a sales team.


"2. You don’t need sales people, you need sales. Don’t think VP of Sales — think “Revenue Engineer”. (Not the greatest analogy, but just like you won’t hire a development “manager” as one of the first 5 people in a startup, you shouldn’t hire a sales “manager” either). Don’t get caught up in fancy titles — focus on dollars in the door."


Building Startup Sales Teams: Tips For Founders
by Dharmesh Shah, onStartups.com


Full Story

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How about communicate with your target?

>> Monday, August 03, 2009

Worth reading. I believe we all tend to forget with who should we talk with.



"If you’re like most small business owners, you’re thinking about what you want people to know about you, your products or services, and your business. And you’re also probably thinking about your own wants, needs and goals (IE: getting the client or making the sale).
This is perfectly natural and all well and good. But if you really want to make more sales with less struggle, you’ve got to shift your mindset and put yourself in your ideal client’s or customer’s shoes. Then talk about what’s important to them."


Improve Your Marketing Effectiveness by Targeting the Right Niche Market
By Stacy Karacostas, Startupnation


Full Story

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Some mistakes can cost your business

>> Sunday, August 02, 2009

A list of common mistakes that may cost your business


"People do make mistakes; Small business owners do, too - We are not super-humans. Nevertheless, we need to identify what common mistakes we often do - consciously or not - that eventually fail our businesses."


10 Mistakes Small Business Owners Make That Cost Them Their Businesses
By Ivan Widjaya, Noobpreneur.com


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Leading by influence

A good advice on how to lead without formal authority.


"(...) leadership is more about influence, than control. Leaders are finding that influence is required more and more for effective leadership. Leading without authority is the ultimate test of your leadership, ask anyone who has worked in or been involved in, leading a non-profit organisation!"


Three Key Principles when Leading without Authority
By George Ambles, The Practice of Leadership


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Who should you partner with?

We all need help. Look for someone that can really help you.


"In my view, one of the most important aspects of being a successful entrepreneur is surrounding yourself with people smarter than you. Top entrepreneurs spend more time putting the right team in place to accomplish their objectives than they spend on many other components of their job.
(...)
if you can find people with more passion, more knowledge, and more desire to succeed than you have, it will push you to be better and take the organization to new levels. Here is a summary of the characteristics to look for:"


Entrepreneurs: Team With People Smarter Than You
By Marty Zwilling, Startup Professionals Musings


Read more...

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