Why Start-Ups Give Up?

Why Start-Ups Give Up?

Yesterday one of my clients called me up and told me that she wants to stop with her business. She does no longer believe it will work and she is thinking about getting a job and going back to a more secure employment in one of the larger companies around. When I asked her what caused that sudden change in direction, she told me that she doesn’t seem to make any progress and there are so many others doing the same than her much more successful. She felt like she will never have a chance to make it in her market.
She’s been also watching hours of videos from all sorts of gurus, showing her how to make it big, how to create a huge amount of sign-ups on her website, how to attract people to her Facebook group and so on. She tried a few of their tips, but nothing seems to work for her. Some others tell her, she has to spent money on advertising to make it all happen and only amateurs try it the old way of spamming Social Media platforms with content with very limited result. But she really hasn’t got the money for advertising and she is scarred anyway that it will not work.

These kind of conversations are not new to me. To be absolutely truthful, most start-ups go through that process and I know exactly why that happens.
First let me explain, that these are real fears and when you mount one on top of the other it can become a heavy load and often causes this kind of reaction.
The most common reason for this reaction is that we forget the ground rules of any start-up. As I’ve written in one of my previous blogs “The Roles of a Business Owner“, many start-ups tend to fall into one role and completely disregarding the others.

A business consists of 3 different roles: the Entrepreneur, the Manager and the Worker. Each role is vital for the business to grow and survive.
The Entrepreneur is the dreamer, the goal setter, the one who defines the direction and principles of the company.
The Manager is the strategist. He creates the structure, the planning and is in charge of the assignment of resources.
The Worker is the doer. He is the one who works down his task list and does the things that need to be done.
They all need each other and cannot survive on their own. As a single person start-up you’re taking on all three roles and you need to the best in all three. That means you need to give each role the time and energy to be good.
I always advice to set aside a day per week to be the Entrepreneur. Look for business opportunities, watch the market and understand how it works. Dream big about the possibilities in your market. Go crazy, think big without any restrictions. Also spent one day a week to be the Manager. Take the dreams and ideas of the entrepreneur and include it in your planning. How many resources will you need to make that dream come true? What needs to happen? What do I have available today and where do I need to improve or extend? List the requirements and action points to be done and pass this on to the worker. His job is to do it.

It sounds fairly simple, right?

Why is it so hard for some to do just that?

Many tend to think that the worker is the most important part, because without him nothing happens. That’s true, but without planning and direction, the worker does not know what to do. That’s when the worker tries to do anything (that’s his job), looking everywhere for direction and in the end gets nothing done. That’s the frustration my client feels right now.

The worker is not the right person to decide what needs to be done, that’s the managers job. And the manager needs the direction from the entrepreneur.
Falling into that worker trap is what most of those gurus play at. It’s the managers job to identify what resources are required to get the job done.

In the end it is a question of perspective. Each role looks at the same thing from a different angle and you need those angles to get the full picture. If you just look at it from one side you’re missing a lot of information and opportunity.

This morning my client and I had a meeting and we reactivated the entrepreneur and the manager. She remembered why she started the business in the first place and her motivation slowly returned. We slipped into the role of manager and created a game plan for the next three month with clear goals and checkpoints in place. Now the worker knows what to do, is motivated again and eager to get things done.

It’s nice to see people smile.

Which role are you playing today?

Best Small Business Trends For 2017

Best Small Business Trends For 2017

Many experts in the field of Business Development predict 2017 to be the year for start-ups.
It has never been easier to start a business in Europe and more and more people of all ages are ready to run their own business and experience the freedom and opportunity that comes with it. If that is you, you probably ask yourself which sectors will be the most profitable and stable to create a business in.

The largest trend in any sector is clearly towards niche businesses. Targeting a very specific market segment with a very specific clientele is replacing the wide shot-gun approach. We can see more and more soft marketing without a call for action. This works through focused community building, with experiences and life style over product specific messages. The “Having to sell” approach is more and more replaced by the “Allowing to buy” approach. This forces many businesses to rethink their strategies and opens new doors for dedicated entrepreneurs.

Here I give you my own trend predictions, based on my research and working with entrepreneurs and start-ups.

Services for start-ups

Over the last years there has been a big trend towards coaching and entertainment and specially the IT sector has produced many new businesses. In 2017 this trend will most likely continue, but I believe there is the sector of Start-up Services which is neglected a lot but will play a bigger and bigger role in the years to come. This assumption is based on the fact that there are more and more small business owners. Most of them are probably very good in what they do, but lack a lot of experience and knowledge in the day to day running of a business. We have seen in other countries like the United States a steady increase in service related companies, supporting all these new entrepreneurs with their businesses and this trend is most likely to be the same in Europe.

Investment into Tech Companies will flatten out

Europe has never been strong when it comes to Crowdfunding or VC Investments, but over the last years there have been a huge number of bad investments. That means the screening process will become far more complex which most likely results in less mass investment. Specialist companies targeting niche markets will have a much higher chance to get investment than companies following a broader approach.

E-Commerce is changing

Over the last years the number of people starting e-commerce businesses has grown much faster than the market itself. That means things are going to be tougher. To make it work will take much longer and a larger investment. Currently we can see new e-commerce areas being developed targeting markets outside the main stream. The introduction of new online payment schemes (Square, Bitcoin currency, Apple/Google payment options) allow smaller amounts to be managed online without huge costs eating on the profit. This will open new markets for products below 10 Euro.

Data is King

Google and Co have reached a point where information is available in an instant for free (almost). But this amount of information also comes with problems that need solving. For data to have any impact it has to be relevant to the need of the market and that is an area of massive growth. Data Management Software and Services are on the rise and provide a huge potential for start-ups in that field.

Social Media and Marketing

Social Media Advertising is said to receive the biggest part of the cake this year and the trend is growing in the years to come. This means in order to use Social Media successfully for your business your advertising spending will have to increase. It is also most likely that advertising costs on Social Media Platforms will rise.
Video will become the biggest actor on all platforms. This will be a major opportunity for service driven start-ups as the investment in this field will be huge.

Offline vs Online

There is a large trend towards offline experiences. More and more people are tired to live their life sitting in front of a computer. Consumers looking for ways to get the same experience in the offline world. This area is growing, specially in education and young people development. But also services related to the ever growing older generation are on the up. This goes much further then just services, but extends into education, entertainment, health, fitness and community building. The need to develop and to contribute doesn’t stop when you’re 65 years old.

I hope this will give you some direction where to look for your own adventure.

What will be your business?

How To Be You (And An Amazing Business Leader)

How To Be You (And An Amazing Business Leader)

If you already run a business or in the process of starting one, you will be thinking about your business a lot. But you might not be surprised if I tell you that your business is most likely not the first item on your agenda.

You are.

Nor will you be surprised that I don’t believe your business is your life, but it might play a very important role in your life.

However, before you can decide what that role would be you must ask yourself the following questions:

  • What do I value most?
  • What kind of life do I want?
  • What do I want my life to feel and look like?
  • Who do I wish to be?

Your most important first task is to answer these questions.

Lets take another perspective of this process:

Imagine you’re going to attend the most important occasion in your life. It takes place in a large room filled with all your family and friends, your business associates and anyone else who is important in your life.

Can you see it?

The room is nicely decorated. The lighting is soft and welcoming and reflects warmly of the faces of all your guests. Everybody sits on very comfortable large chairs which fit perfectly to the deco of the room.
At the front of the room is a large table, beautifully decorated with candles on either end. In the centre of the table is the object of everyone’s attentions. A large, shining, ornate box. And in the box is… you! Stiff as a piece of wood.
Can you see yourself lying in this box, not a dry eye in the room?

Now listen.
From the four corners of the room comes a tape recording of your voice. Can you hear it? You’re speaking to your guests. You’re telling them the story of your life.
How would you like that story to go?
What would you like to say to everyone in the room after it’s too late to do anything about it?
If you had to write that script to be played for everyone around you at your own funeral, how would you like it to read?

Answering these questions is your primary aim!

And as soon as you’ve written the script, all you have to do is make it come true.
All you have to do is live the life as you laid it out.
All you have to do is take it serious and create it intentionally.
Actively turn your life into the life you want for yourself.

Simple? Yes.
Easy? No.

But essential if you want your business to have any meaning beyond work.
Because if your business becomes an important part of your script, if your business is a major contribution to your dream and is to become a significant component of your life’s story, you have to let your business know what that story is.

And how can you do this without knowing what it is?
Can you see why it is so important to create your story and live it fully? If you don’t know it, you can’t live it.
How would you know what your first steps should be?
How would you measure your progress?
How would you know where you are at any given moment?
How would you know how far you’ve come?
And how would you know how far you still have to go?

Without that story you’ll have no direction. It would be impossible to ever arrive.

Like with most successful companies, I believe great people are those who know how they got were they are and what they need to do to get where they going.
Great people have a vision of their lives and everyday they take steps towards that vision.
They work on their lives, not just in their lives.
I believe the difference between great people and everyone else is that great people actively create their lives, while everyone else is created by their lives, waiting to see where life will take them next.

If you haven’t done it yet, take the time right now and start writing your script!

Who do you want to be?

How To Make Good Business Decisions

How To Make Good Business Decisions

Are you getting stuck when taking important business decisions?

We all fall into this trap from time to time. I believe getting bogged down or stuck is part of being human.
When problems come up, it’s just too easy to get derailed. Our human biology is to avoid decisions that might carry risk and to procrastinate by pushing those decisions away. You can see this tendency materialise in an endless cycle of emails and in calling yet another meeting. We fall back into doing what you might call research and give it some time, waiting for something to pop-up. This can turn into an endless cycle and gets us nowhere.

How do you get out of this cycle?

Lets face it, making a decision always carries a certain risk. Nobody knows the future and predicting an outcome to 100% is not possible. For many decisions we take every day, predicting even an outcome of 50% is a rarity. That means taking decisions requires you to take risks.

Are you worried about taking risks?

You shouldn’t.

The only way to learn and get better at making the right decisions is by making the wrong decisions.

Making the wrong decision is not really the problem. It is the consequence of that wrong decision that is holding us back.

However, not making a decision is most often the worst decision to make.

The easiest way to get things right is by knowing what doesn’t work and that requires you to decide. You see the paradox?

For any decision you need to be clear about following points:

  • Am I the right person to take that decision?
  • Who should be involved in the decision process?
  • What is the core issue I am deciding on?
  • What is the expected result of my decision?
  • What is the highest impact of my decision?

Once you’re clear about these points, the next step is what I call the “Rapid Decision Process”.

This process is divided into 2 parts. The first part is called “TCI” (Test Core Issue).

The idea behind it is to cut the large decision into smaller decisions. Then very quickly test each one and review the result. Depending on the result, adjust the the rest of the decisions.

Lets take an example:
Imagine you realise that the way you were selling your products isn’t really giving you the results you’ve expected. You’re faced with the problem to change that process. You’ve investigated several options and now you have to decide which one will be the one to use. There is a high risk of getting it wrong. You’re already behind your target numbers and introducing a new system will take even more time and resources. This kind of decision can stop anyone. It’s a scary place to be.

If you apply the “Rapid Decision Process”, you would need to identify the core change. Which part has the most impact? Take the most important one and implement that change straight away.

Count on failure, as it will most likely fail.

But see it as a required learning process to make the right decision. The reason this is so powerful is because it removes a lot of assumptions we make when looking at new processes. We need to replace these assumptions with real values. The “Rapid Decision Process” does exactly that. As soon as an assumption is replaced with real data, the picture changes. And as clearer it becomes as easier is the decision.

I have worked with clients using this technique introducing small decision factors from multiple possible options at the same time. Watching the interactions and recording the results. In our example we would setup different very simple sales channels at the same time, testing each one and replacing assumptions with results. It is important to do this very quickly. It is very similar to split testing of marketing and advertising campaigns, but with this method we use the least amount of resources possible to test the outcome.

For this to work really well, identifying the core issues is very important. In our sales example the interaction with the customer is the core part of a sales strategy. That’s the part that needs testing. Not the website promoting the product or the training of the sales staff. You need to find the core item of the strategy to decided on.

The second part is called “DIN” (Do It Now).

It’s that easy.

Ready to go?