Bootstrapping’s Impossible Promise : Stop Pulling And Start Pushing

What happens when you realize that you’ve built something that requires more expertise than you have? Usually, anxiety happens. And this can lead us into a trap of believing that if we just try harder for longer, we will figure it out. After all, isn’t that how we made it this far—trying harder? Inevitably, we may find ourselves exerting a tremendous amount of energy trying to lift ourselves up by our own bootstraps.

As I wrote about earlier, pulling on our own bootstraps is usually a fight we can’t win.

So, I propose a redirection of all that energy toward understanding what you can do better than anyone else.

I think Gary Keller and Jay Papasan illustrate this concept well in their book, The One Thing. They explore the power of understanding how and where to focus our energies to make the greatest impact, and they point to the example of “the domino effect.” In short, I can push on a domino that’s a fraction of a square inch, and 29 dominos later, if each domino is one and a half times the size of the domino in front of it, I could knock down a domino the size of the Empire State Building.

Let’s dwell on that for just a second.

By investing our time intentionally to understand where we need to push, we can exert less effort and have a greater impact than trying to pull ourselves up by our own bootstraps. After accepting that your greatest benefit to what you have created is to apply your energies where you will get the greatest return on that investment, dig deeper to find and define your strengths and weaknesses. I recommend StrengthsFinder 2.0 from Gallup and Tom Rath to get started. This is also an easy-to-read book that can have profound implications.

Understanding your natural strengths as a business owner and leader can help you identify quickly where you are lacking. For example, my top five strengths are ideation, strategic, input, futuristic and connectedness. I have learned to embrace those core strengths. I also have acknowledged that some of my weakest characteristics further down the list, like harmony, competition and discipline, are necessary for leading a successful business.

I could say that I need to work harder to turn my weaknesses into strengths and be a well-rounded person. And to be clear, there is nothing wrong with striving to be well rounded—but that is a journey of a lifetime that our businesses cannot wait for us to complete. Instead of throwing all my energy toward what I am not good at, I’ve found the best use of my energy is to invest it where I can generate the greatest amount of return on investment.

Using another physics example, take the gears on a bike. The point of having gears on a bike is to create the ability to adjust the return on energy input from our legs, to the petals, to the gears, through the chain, to the wheels. By adjusting up and down through the gears, we can ensure that we are getting as much return on investment for our energy as possible.

At too low a gear, we are pushing harder than we need to and expending energy we will need later. At too high a gear, we are pedaling fast but not getting the maximum amount of return per push. Understanding our strengths is tantamount to being able to dial in the gears on our bike based on the financial terrain to maximize the return on investment for our energy spent moving our business down the road.

Instead of trying to pedal faster or harder to make up for our weakness, we need to know where to push to generate the greatest return on investment and find others to invest their time and energy in the areas where they are strongest. There are people who are amazing where we are lacking. Finding them and adding them to our teams is a much greater use of our time and resources than trying to become mediocre at doing something we weren’t good at to begin with.

Lastly, I suggest taking time to read Jim Collins’s Good to Great or a current take on it in Gino Wickman’s Traction. Collins uses the example of a flywheel. His proposition is that if we are willing to focus our energy on moving forward the thing(s) we are best at, both personally and as a business, we can build momentum and get the greatest return on investment.

Whether it is a domino, bicycle or flywheel, there are numerous examples of how the most important journey we will embark on is the one where we invest in discovering how we can apply our strengths to a focused area that will generate the greatest impact and return on investment for our time and energy.

We can choose to expend our energy pulling on our own bootstraps—usually out of some sense that we have to do it all by ourselves. If we do, it’s likely that our business will never be more than what we have to offer, and our return on investment will be limited to our own strengths and by our own weaknesses. Or we can choose to start pushing from a position of our greatest strengths, setting our domino, bicycle, flywheel, business in motion, potentially changing the course of our careers.

If you are going to exert all that energy, why not send it in a direction that can create change and foster success? Knowing your strengths can help you identify the kind of strengths you need to find to supplement your business strategy—more on that in the next article.

Christopher M. White, Managing Partner, Eques, Inc. Read Christopher White’s full executive profile here.

Source: Bootstrapping’s Impossible Promise Part Two: Stop Pulling And Start Pushing

.

Critics:

By: https://valerianfunds.com

How revenue-based financing can support bootstrapping

Let’s say you’ve built your MVP using your existing resources, you have some initial sales and you’re ready to take things to the next level. Venture capital isn’t looking like the best option for you, but you definitely need some working capital.

These circumstances require a smarter method of financing. On top of bootstrapping, companies in the eCommerce, subscription, marketplace and SaaS spaces now have the option to apply for revenue-based financing (RBF) to support their growth.

A type of non-dilutive funding, revenue-based financing is near-instantaneous capital that you repay over time solely as a percentage of your company’s future revenues.

So, what does this mean for you in the early stages of your business? It means you have a source of funding to boost efforts in marketing and sales, without having to give away equity or pay back rigid amounts that you can’t afford.

You get resources to grow further, while ensuring you only make payments that are proportionate to your revenue. For example, founders might choose to use funding to support their inventory or their marketing efforts. 

This is a game changer for founders, and it suddenly means that bootstrapping is a real and accessible option. It means they have another tool in their arsenal for growing a business without turning to less-than-ideal financing methods. 

That being said, taking an advance through revenue-based financing doesn’t rule out venture capital as a source of funding in the future. Plenty of companies bootstrap and utilize RBF before reaching a point in which VC makes sense for them….

More contents:

How To Stay Motivated and Stick To Your Goals

Goals are priceless if you have tools in place to keep you motivated and ensure you are accountable throughout the year. The more you can return to them, measure your progress and see how you’re tracking, the more likely you are to achieve them.

The key is to find out what motivates you. It’s a personal process, which means not every technique will necessarily speak to you. Here are some ways that might help you build a stronger focus on your goals in 2017.

Set aside quality time

Many people rush through their annual goal setting, yet this is a precious exercise for yourself and your business. If you are able to turn your attention to the process, it really pays off.

Take the time to find value in the process, and understand what a greater focus on personal and professional goals could mean for your future success.

To stay motivated, you want your goals to hold meaning and give you a clear purpose. By using this time to understand your purpose, your goals are more achievable when life gets busier later in the year.

Break goals down

Start with the broad goals, and break these down into smaller objectives that you can work towards. Then be sure to reward yourself and your team along the way to avoid losing motivation.

For example, if you want to build a new website for your business and don’t have the skills or resources to do so, the fear of failure can be off-putting. Instead, break the overall goal of having a new website down into milestones you can start to achieve.

Focus on what you can do today and ensure you reward success, even for the steps as you go. The ability to reward yourself as you make progress is a great motivator, and means a bit more than just ticking something off a list.

Also be sure to measure how far you have travelled, not how far you have to go.

Work with the experts

With your list goals, you can enlist others to help you achieve them and keep track of how they are going.  This applies in both your personal and business goals.

Work out who will be the most helpful in working towards specific goals, whether that’s your partner, a colleague or an external advisor.

For example, say your personal goal is to set up a self-managed super fund. It is likely this will take a lot of unnecessary leg work to get right, so rather use your time to find a professional to make the most of your efforts.

If outsourcing helps you achieve your goal, do it.

Be resilient

Like everything in life, meeting goals involves sticking it out and dealing with the challenges that will inevitably arise along the way. Ideally, to stay resilient you’ll want to try and keep your emotions in check and avoid getting flustered if things don’t go exactly to plan.

How flexible you are able to be with your goals will also affect how easy it is to stay resilient. Be prepared to put some goals aside, add new steps or refocus altogether, as long as they continue to align with a key purpose or vision, you will keep heading in the right direction.

Staying motivated is first and foremost in finding your purpose to achieve your goals. Be sure to have clearly laid out plans and a realization that you can’t do it all on your own. And you will be well on your way to creating achievable goals to keep you motivated throughout the year.

By: TEC Alumni Chair, CEO mentor and coach Richard Appleby

Source: How to stay motivated and stick to your goals – TEC

.

More contents:

How The Power Of Predictive Analytics Can Transform Business

Tableau analytics visual

With the acceleration of digital transformation in business, most CTOs, CIOs, and even middle management or analysts are now asking, “What’s next with data?” and what ongoing role will technology play in both digital and data transformations. Other questions that keep these individuals up at night include:

  • How can people throughout all organizational levels be more empowered to use data and help others make better decisions?
  • What prevents people from more deeply exploring and using data?
  • In what ways can analytics tools and methods help more people use data in the daily routine of business—asking questions, exploring hypotheses, and testing ideas?

With this in mind, plus observations and discussions with many Tableau customers and partners, it seems that today’s circumstances, behaviors, and needs make it the right time for predictive data analytics to help businesses and their people solve problems effectively.

Current realities and barriers to scale smarter decision-making with AI 

With growing, diverse data sets being collected, the analytics use cases to transform data into valuable insights are growing just as fast. Today, a wide range of tools and focused teams specialize in uncovering data insights to inform decision-making, but where organizations struggle is striking the right balance between activating highly technical data experts and business teams with deep domain experience.

Until now, using artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), and other statistical methods to solve business problems was mostly the domain of data scientists. Many organizations have small data science teams focused on specific, mission-critical, and highly scalable problems, but those teams usually have a long project list to handle.

At the same time though, there are a large number of business decisions that rely on experience, knowledge, and data—and that would greatly benefit from applying more advanced analysis techniques. People with domain knowledge and proximity to the business data could benefit greatly, if they had access to these techniques.

Instead, there’s currently a back-and-forth process of relying on data scientists and ML practitioners to build and deploy custom models—a cycle that lacks agility and the ability to iterate quickly. By the end, the data that the model was trained on could be stale and the process starts again. But organizations depend on business users to make key decisions daily that don’t rise to the priority level of their central data science team.

The opportunity to solve data science challenges

This is where there’s an opportunity to democratize data science capabilities, minimizing the trade-offs between extreme precision and control versus the time to insight—and the ability to take action on these insights. If we can give people tools or enhanced features to better apply predictive analytics techniques to business problems, data scientists can gain time back to focus on more complex problems. With this approach, business leaders can enable more teams to make data-driven decisions while continuing to keep up with the pace of business. Additional benefits gained from democratizing data science in this way include:

  • Reducing data exploration and prep work
  • Empowering analyst experts to deliver data science outputs at lower costs
  • Increasing the likelihood of producing successful models with more exploration of use cases by domain experts
  • Extending, automating, and accelerating analysis for business groups and domain experts
  • Reducing time and costs spent on deploying and integrating models
  • Promoting responsible use of data and AI with improved transparency and receiving guidance on how to minimize or address bias

Business scenarios that benefit from predictive analytics 

There are several business scenarios where predictive capabilities can be immensely useful.

Sales and marketing departments can apply it to lead scoring, opportunity scoring, predicting time to close, and many other CRM-related cases. Manufacturers and retailers can use it to help with supply chain distribution and optimization, forecasting consumer demand, and exploring adding new products to their mix. Human resources can use it to assess the likelihood of candidates accepting an offer, and how they can adjust salary and benefits to meet a candidate’s values. And companies can use it to explore office space options and costs. These are just a few of the potential scenarios.

A solution to consider: Tableau Business Science

We are only at the beginning of exploring what predictive capabilities in the hands of people closely aligned with the business will unlock. AI and ML will continue to advance. More organizations, in a similar focus as Tableau, will also keep looking for techniques that can help people closest to the business see, understand, and use data in new ways to ask and answer questions, uncover insights, solve problems, and take action.

This spring Tableau introduced a new class of AI-powered analytics that gives predictive capabilities to people who are close to the business. In this next stage of expanded data exploration and use, we hope business leaders embrace data to help others make better decisions, and to provide transparent insight into the factors influencing those decisions.

When people can think with their data—when analysis is more about asking and answering questions than learning complex software or skills—that’s when human potential will be unleashed, leading to amazing outcomes. Learn more about Tableau Business Science, what this technology gives business teams, and the value it delivers to existing workflows.

Olivia Nix is a Senior Manager of Product Marketing at Tableau. She leads a team focused on the use of AI and ML in analytics and engagement, including how to use technology to enable more people in organizations to make data-driven decisions. Olivia has been at Tableau for four years where she has worked closely with development teams on new product launches. Prior to Tableau, Olivia worked as an analyst at the Pew Center on Global Climate Change (now C2ES) and Johnson Controls. She has her MBA from the UCLA Anderson School of Management.

Source: How The Power Of Predictive Analytics Can Transform Business

.

Critics:

Predictive analytics encompasses a variety of statistical techniques from data mining, predictive modelling, and machine learning that analyze current and historical facts to make predictions about future or otherwise unknown events.

In business, predictive models exploit patterns found in historical and transactional data to identify risks and opportunities. Models capture relationships among many factors to allow assessment of risk or potential associated with a particular set of conditions, guiding decision-making for candidate transactions.

The defining functional effect of these technical approaches is that predictive analytics provides a predictive score (probability) for each individual (customer, employee, healthcare patient, product SKU, vehicle, component, machine, or other organizational unit) in order to determine, inform, or influence organizational processes that pertain across large numbers of individuals, such as in marketing, credit risk assessment, fraud detection, manufacturing, healthcare, and government operations including law enforcement.

Predictive analytics is used in actuarial science,marketing,business management, sports/fantasy sports, insurance,policing, telecommunications,retail, travel, mobility, healthcare, child protection, pharmaceuticals,capacity planning, social networking and other fields.

One of the best-known applications is credit scoring,[1] which is used throughout business management. Scoring models process a customer’s credit history, loan application, customer data, etc., in order to rank-order individuals by their likelihood of making future credit payments on time.

Predictive analytics is an area of statistics that deals with extracting information from data and using it to predict trends and behavior patterns. The enhancement of predictive web analytics calculates statistical probabilities of future events online. Predictive analytics statistical techniques include data modeling, machine learning, AI, deep learning algorithms and data mining.Often the unknown event of interest is in the future, but predictive analytics can be applied to any type of unknown whether it be in the past, present or future.

For example, identifying suspects after a crime has been committed, or credit card fraud as it occurs.The core of predictive analytics relies on capturing relationships between explanatory variables and the predicted variables from past occurrences, and exploiting them to predict the unknown outcome. It is important to note, however, that the accuracy and usability of results will depend greatly on the level of data analysis and the quality of assumptions.

Predictive analytics is often defined as predicting at a more detailed level of granularity, i.e., generating predictive scores (probabilities) for each individual organizational element. This distinguishes it from forecasting. For example, “Predictive analytics—Technology that learns from experience (data) to predict the future behavior of individuals in order to drive better decisions.”In future industrial systems, the value of predictive analytics will be to predict and prevent potential issues to achieve near-zero break-down and further be integrated into prescriptive analytics for decision optimization.

See also

3 Ways to Get Minority-Led Small Businesses Back to Business

3 Ways to Get Minority-Led Small Businesses Back to Business

If the pandemic deepened the challenges of dealing with long-felt issues among business owners of color, the recovery is putting them in focus. Access to capital and racial inequity in America continue to weigh on underrepresented small-business owners.

That was the key takeaway from a recent virtual briefing dubbed “Back to Business: Restarting Main Street in the Wake of Covid-19,” which was hosted by Reimagine Main Street, a project founded last year to lead small businesses toward an inclusive economic recovery. The discussion convened business leaders and officials, who offered their own ideas for how to resolve these longstanding issues so that minority-led businesses can get back to business.

Here are their top three tips:

1. Help people get vaccinated.

As the pandemic fueled much of the recent difficulty hitting underrepresented business owners and entrepreneurs, a good first step is to do all you can to overcome the pandemic, which can be achieved by helping people get vaccinated. “You can’t get the economy back on track without beating Covid,” says Cedric Richmond, a senior adviser to President Biden. Specifically, he suggests offering vaccine incentives to employees, customers, and the communities you serve.

He proposes offering paid time off for employees to get a jab, and providing compensation for missing work because of vaccine complications as motivation. “So many people can’t afford to lose a day or two of work,” says Richmond, therefore servicing the needs of your employees is a crucial part of getting the economy up and running again.

As for customers, the more people who are vaccinated, the quicker it is you’ll return to normalcy. So consider rewarding consumers who are fully vaccinated. United Airlines, for instance, last week launched its “Shot to Fly” campaign, offering the chance to win a year of free flights to vaccinated customers. “We just appreciate the business community partnering with us to get it done,” says Richmond.

2. Create an inclusive recovery.

Ensuring Black and Latinx business owners continue to receive financial support is vital, says Tammy Halevy, co-lead of Reimagine Main Street. Passing the American Jobs Plan, Biden’s nearly $2 trillion plan to shore up the nation’s crumbling infrastructure and boost green jobs, would be a start, adds Halevy. Additionally, it would be helpful to offer new grant programs and to “push the [Small Business Administration] to process forgiveness applications faster” to Black and Brown business owners, who need help accessing capital.

But you can’t just rely on the government for help, says Richmond. It is important for all small-business communities to help one another. Yes, you need to focus on supply chains and other internal matters. However, intentionally supporting other ancillary businesses, such as law firms, accountants, and even the local car wash, is an important step in getting minority communities as a whole back in business.

3. Demand greater access to capital.

For many minority-owned small businesses, federal relief was not accessible throughout the pandemic, says Chiling Tong, president and CEO of Asian/Pacific Islander American Chamber of Commerce. “Sixty percent of AAPI businesses, who did not apply for federal relief, did not apply because they did not think they were eligible for relief.”

Tong notes that a lack of awareness was a problem. But also, she adds: There was a potential language barrier. She says that information regarding some federal aid programs was not translated into other languages, at least initially.

These technical disadvantages pervaded long before the pandemic, she adds. The government at all levels needs to partner with various chambers of commerce to disband technical disadvantages these communities face, making sure they have the capability to apply for and maintain the same access to capital that other businesses have, says Tong.

Through investments targeted toward an inclusive recovery, vaccine incentives, and expanding access to capital, small businesses will thrive, says Richmond, and “as [small businesses] succeed and flourish, we know that the economy and the country will do the same.”

By Alicia Doniger

Source: 3 Ways to Get Minority-Led Small Businesses Back to Business | Inc.com

.

Critics:

Marketing plan

  • Market research – To produce a marketing plan for small businesses, research needs to be done on similar businesses, which should include desk research (done online or with directories) and field research. This gives an insight into the target group’s behavior and shopping patterns. Analyzing the competitor’s marketing strategies makes it easier for small businesses to gain market share.
  • Marketing mix – Marketing mix is a crucial factor for any business to be successful. Especially for a small business, examining a competitor’s marketing mix can be very helpful. An appropriate market mix, which uses different types of marketing, can help to boost sales.
  • Product life cycle – After the launch of the business, crucial points of focus should be the growth phase (adding customers, adding products or services, and/or expanding to new markets) and working towards the maturity phase. Once the business reaches the maturity stage, an extension strategy should be in place. Re-launching is also an option at this stage. Pricing strategy should be flexible and based on the different stages of the product life cycle.
  • Promotion techniques – It is preferable to keep promotion expenses as low as possible. ‘Word of mouth’, ‘email marketing’, ‘print-ads’ in local newspapers, etc. can be effective.
  • Channels of distribution – Selecting an effective channel of distribution may reduce the promotional expenses as well as overall expenses for a small business.

References

How to Spot Business Ideas Worth Pursuing

How to Spot Business Ideas Worth Pursuing

Nothing propels a company more quickly than innovation, and nothing stifles it more quickly than a “that’s how we’ve always done it” attitude. News startup Axios is an excellent example of a company breaking barriers and thinking outside the box. The company is making a big bet that other companies will pay to learn how to write like Axios reporters.

The new communications platform, AxiosHQ, launched in February and enables companies to send Axios-style, just-the-facts internal newsletters. Its cost? At least $10,000 annually. It remains to be seen whether executives will be willing to invest that kind of money, but it’s a fascinating proposition.

Related: Why Your Marketing Team Should Be Journalists

What does it take for organizations to vet, approve and develop similarly innovative ideas? The answer is not simple, and it varies from company to company. Innovation efforts get plenty of lip service, but it’s much harder to perfect a process for selecting and implementing top ideas.

No magic wand for innovation

In the same way that data-driven decisions run many aspects of an organization, leaders need to use data to create a rubric for vetting innovative ideas. This enforces discipline and keeps everyone on the same page.

Without an evaluation process, innovation programs become short-sighted and may fall out of alignment with long-term organizational goals. Having an organized process also removes emotion from decision-making to keep project focus and dollar spend as data-driven as possible.

For innovation to succeed, leaders also have to be aligned around critical factors. This forms a living rubric that can be adapted throughout the organization as business needs shift and evolve. Generally, some sort of innovation leader — a chief innovation officer, a chief strategy officer or a business unit leader — will lead this team to ensure the process runs smoothly and stays on track.

When we developed our rubric at Coplex, we struggled to find a technical solution that was flexible enough while still enabling us to manage our ideas. We ended up building one ourselves. We now use this tool to drive the underlying engine of our entire idea management process, and it works because effective innovation strategy always starts at the top. Bring your entire leadership team together from the beginning of the process to discuss priorities and foster conversations about ideas, outlining your concrete vision along the way.

Related: Did Someone Reject Your Idea? Because of Coronavirus, They Might Reconsider

Here are three ways to evaluate your innovation ideas and create a framework to make them a strategic reality:

1. Create an innovation blueprint

Before you begin to gather ideas from your team, you have to first come up with a blueprint — such as Google’s Eight Pillars of Innovation — that defines the initiative’s overall structure. This helps put up guardrails around the problem spaces the organization is willing to play in and, more importantly, which problem spaces are off-limits.

An innovation blueprint consists of three distinct components: statement, antithesis and thesis. Your statement defines your company’s ambitions and outlines why you believe in what you’re doing, why now is the best time to do it and what makes you the best candidate for the job.

From here, develop an antithesis that defines the problems, business models and core technologies you don’t intend to address. Why? It removes distractions and keeps the focus on priorities. Finally, create a thesis that gives you a clear lens into how you’ll invest in problem spaces, business models and technologies to create the change you want to see.

2. Define innovation themes

Once you’ve developed a solid blueprint, it’s time to identify the themes of problem spaces you intend to solve. This step will define the categories in which your innovation ideas should fall while clearly outlining how your solutions could come into play.

Think of this as similar to how the National Association of Engineers (NAE) outlines the many challenges left to overcome in its field. In its report on the grand challenges of engineering, NAE defines themes (e.g., joy, sustainability, health and security) as areas ripe for innovation and abundant with opportunity.

The core reason for taking this approach? It allows you to consider potential ways to innovate beyond what the organization had imagined before — and to set goals with those parameters in mind.

Related: What Sustainable Innovation Might Look Like in 2021

3. Map measurement criteria back to a rubric

Once you’ve defined your innovation themes, it’s time to develop the criteria you’ll use to measure your success. Global design firm IDEO made it a goal to quantify innovation by looking at its clients’ internal team dynamics as well as other companies focused on innovation.

The firm identified six areas key to innovation and then sent its survey, coined “Creative Difference,” to larger organizations to understand how team members were performing when it came to innovation. Once the survey was complete, IDEO sent results with tangible innovation metrics and recommendations on how to follow and meet them moving forward.

As you define how you measure innovation and create your unique rubric, keep in mind that you aren’t limited to traditional metrics. Feel comfortable being creative and innovative as you decide on those! It’s possible to measure everything from societal impact and economic value to organizational scale and new market discovery.

The process of pursuing innovative ideas requires much more than a quick brainstorming session or selecting an appealing idea from a list. By creating an underlying philosophy and structure governing the prioritization of ideas that flow through an organization, you can retain control over your innovation program’s outcomes instead of leaving anything to chance.

Business ideas that solve problems are fundamental to developing the world and companies such as Curemark are one of many who do this. Curemark is a biotech company founded by Joan Fallon, who noticed that a lot of the children she treated were low on an enzyme for processing protein and since then she has quit her job and has built Curemark to solve this problem. Curemark has now raised $50 million and is on its way to solving a problem that truly exists.

Profitability is a business’s ability to generate earnings compared to its costs over a certain period of time. This is possibly the most important aspect of any business idea in the long term, as this is what makes a business survive in order to keep having the impact that it has. Profitable ideas need a strong revenue stream against its costs and this tends to create the success of the business, however, some companies defy this and make losses to begin with, yet are still exceptional business ideas that are worth billions.

Brenda Schmidt

By: Brenda Schmidt / Entrepreneur Leadership Network Contributor

 

Source: How to Spot Business Ideas Worth Pursuing

.

References

Newcomer, Eric (30 June 2015). “Uber bonds term sheet reveals $470 million in operating losses”. bloomberg.com. Retrieved 29 October 2015.

%d bloggers like this: