Archive for the ‘Start Up’ Category

I’ve been doing brainstorming sessions every week for the past month to get ideas for a new business. With the Economic Crisis hitting every single country in the world and with the developing of my country in particular I saw an opportunity to build a business that may have the opportunity to survive the crisis and grow as we get out of it.

The importance of creating a new business is far from simple, but they key benefits are easy to see. You’ll provide good jobs to the people that start the business with you, you’ll promote jobs in the industry (suppliers and intermediaries) and finally you’ll create an employment for yourself.

Starting ain’t easy. After thinking and analyzing ideas me and my partners came up with 2 possible ideas considering the amount of capital we have available right now (We have many more ideas that requiere more capital and that we will develop in the future). After getting the idea we decided to do a business plan, basically because we were asked for one original business plan at university as a requierment for graduation. Well it came out that doing a business plan is the best idea we’ve ever had. Putting your ideas on paper and starting to back them up with research is the best way to get to know you and your market. First of all you need to do the old SWOT analysis that is basically looking at the outer variables and inner variables togeter. External analysis gives you Opportunities and Threats and Internal analysis gives you Strengths and Weaknesses. Once you know yourself, your resources and how can you make them work on a given market you need to come up with strategies.

 

Michael Porter came up with a basic theory of strategies that helps a lot, then of course for the specific strategies you need to sit and think again. Coming up with the strategies for a new business it’s a very good thing to do because it makes you think in what will help your business to get costumers, how will you monetize it or create the income cashflows that will serve to keep going and how much service will you put out there.

In an economic downturn you face a market with less cash to spend and therefore and bigger challenge to attract them to use your product, so you need to innovate and the chances are that if you survive a year in an economic downturn with growing sales you can make a succesful business when we get out of it. So I encourage everyone to make a business, but for sure make a business plan so you have some base knowledge to know what to expect and to help you stick with the basic business. Of course,  a business plan can be wrong and it usually will fail to be 100% truthful on what to expect, but it’s a fair approach to what will happen and it is a good approach to a map to guide the development of the business. The other important point you need to cover is the capability of reacting to changes in the market. When you analyze the key factors on the SWOT analysis you come up with key variables you need to monitor and follow closely as you develop your business and if you see that one changes you neeed to be able to react quickly.

So building a business right now it’s not a crazy idea, just make sure to plan and know if you could make it survive a year or to with the cash you have. If you don’t have enough money for a big idea scale it down, but think of a business model that has the potential to be succesful in the whole world with minor tweaks, that may help you make a good business that has the potential to be big in it’s niche or market.

Economy has been the great subject these past weeks. The financial crisis has made us start to think if the model we’ve been pursuing was the correct one or if we should change to another one from now on. Many answers have came out from diverse people, to the ones proposing a closed market to develop all again, to other ones promoting capitalism with the adequate regulation, based on what Adam Smith proposed a little bit over 2 centuries ago.

In my opinion economy should keep going with the system we’ve been using, but based on a democracy and with close regulations in the places were markets can still fail because the distribution of information is not perfect.

But regardless of the macroeconomic results we will have this coming months I’m worried for the micro economic side of the matter. Microeconomics worry about what happens to us as individuals, so this is our personal state of affairs. How much money we earn, how much do we save, how much do we spend on cars and parties, etc. In the past years I’ve learned that Micro and Macro sometimes are not related. I’ve seen countries growing at 7% annually and yet not improving the quality of life of their people, so i wonder  if the opposite is also true.

In this rough times for Macroeconomics we for sure will have to cut off spending, some of us will lose our jobs (remember in macroeconomics losing your job will increase the rate from 4% to 4.000001%, but in Microeconomics it increases from 0% to 100%).   But life should not be that hard if we think we are capable of getting creative ideas. In this century brains are the ones that rule, so we need to dust them off and use them as much as we can. Some research shows that humans use just 5% of their brain capacity, in these times i guess we need to start trying to use 6, 7 or 8% so we can get and advantage.  Brains are dominating because talented people can build companies and millions of dollars in just a couple of years with ideas and the correct resources.

Back in the 19th century minds followed capital, now it’s the other way round. So in this times of crisis things aren’t that bad. We can’t lose it all, but we have our brains. We can come out with outstanding ideas to make new companies, associations or work clubs to produce nice ideas that will make our life easier. For example, Google has done this and followed a traditional business model. On the other hand Co-Working is doing another revolution and a business model, but with a amazing mission make people who work alone collaborate in a friendly environment.  And people are still creating new things. iPhone Apps are increasing in the itunes store, from loan calculators to tax paymentd widgets. Creativity is all around we just need to let the fear go out and start to think.

So if you feel this crisis is going to be bad, forget that! Start thinking in new ideas of how to improve the quality of life without increasing the cost to the people. How to make life easier with a marginal cost or how to help people collaborate to come out with new ideas and you will do well for sure. In this crisis we need to usea our processing power to   get out of it.

Economy is not based in capital or it’s based on BRAINS. And we all have one. So there is no excuse.     

Blogged with the Flock Browser

So continuing with my previous post about fear I will like to remember a bit of my junior classes at college about the SWOT analysis you have to do for your business or organization. I do a SWOT analysis for almost everything, I think I’ve interiorized the importance of the idea and i want to share how this process can help us focus a bit more on the important things in these times when economy  suggests we do that. 

Strenghts

This are the things you have that make you rock. Every person in the world has at least one strength that makes them rock, every company has one and everything has one too. The first thing a business needs to do these days is ask themselves What makes us rock? What makes users come here everyday? What makes users watch every episode? What makes users post comments? or whatever your result measures are. 

Strengths are things people notice that makes them want your product instead of the one made by anybody else.  Strenghts are the resources you have inside, are the things you can work to improve. 

In this times we need to look to the strenghts and make them more powerful than ever starting with people. In the 21st century we all know brains are the most valuable asset so we need to start developing those in ways we’ve not done it before. That is our main strength, we could lose our computer, servers, HQ offices, or even our house, but we don’t lose the brains.

 

Weaknesses 

This are the things we suck at. It’s a very politically incorrect way of saying it, but we definitely are not doing enough to change our weaknesses into strenghts or neutral features. A weakness is a thing that will make users go away from  to other people’s product or service. In the times of recession we need to value every user we have so we need to take all of our time monitoring what weaknesses we have. The best way to do this is to accept all the feedback we can, read it and act quickly to solve any problems. If you solve users problems they will most likely love you. I know i will love a company that solves my problems easily or that adapts to serve my needs. 

You are allowed to have lot’s of weaknesses the only one you are not allowed to have is : lack of communication with your users.

 

So far all this has been written over and over again and all entrepreneurs know that they need to focus on their Strenghts and Weaknesses.

Opportunities and Threats 

Right now we have lot’s of threats and many people fail to see the opportunities blinded by fear. In my last post i talked about how fear may lead people to act in ways that will cause damage to themselves and to others. On this times of economic crisis what will bring an edge to us is focusing on the Opportunities, more than on the threats. Of course we need to focus on threats, our future depends on what we do to keep them away from us. But this times bring endless opportunities. Stocks go lower and lower as people sell, advisors rate some stocks on the “SELL” list, the truth is that when you are selling somebody else is buying and it may be Warren Buffet, he understands that when the market goes down he has an opportunity to buy.

Remember a bear market brings opportunities for investors and for businesses to start focusing on markets that they didn’t saw in the first place. So i suggest you do a postive check on the world outside to see who might be interested in your product or a variation of it, what companies that may add some know-how to your organization are on sale and for low prices or what skills are being needed that you had and thought will never use. 

 

SWOT all together

Finally if you are focusing on keeping the inside lean you will be able to react quickly to opportunities. Remember this is the theory they teach in every business school, in every first day at work or in every book about business. 

My intention here is to remember that the theory may work well this time. Stop focusing or entering in panic because markets are going down and start to focus on what  Strenghts you have that will make everyone keep coming to you, look at what people want from you that you are not offering (opportunities), on what other people are failing to achieve so you can do that (others people weaknesses are also opportunities) and finally focus on eliminating everything that makes you weak and a potential victim. 

So if you need to take a habit these days take the one of SWOTing all you see. Starting for yourself or your business to the pet shop (you can find opportunities there). It may seem like a time taking process, but in time you will do it naturally.

I’ve always wanted to make my own business and in fact I’ve tried many businesses before. From selling cookies and cakes at school to doing my own business consulting firm. Then i finally opened my eyes to my passion, the Internet and how it brings people together. I’ve got to know many great persons over this last months since my “return to the net”. I’ve never should have left the internet in the first place, because business i wanted to do was here bringing solutions to people. 

I want to do a startup too and so far I have some ideas, but i will also like to contribute with other startups around the world. So this is my chance to give a tiny bit of help to a friend I’ve made around social media sites and that i hope i meet in person some day soon.  Calley Nye better known as SiliconCalley is trying to fund her startup with a great idea Start me Up. She want’s to raise 25,000 dollars to create the prototype of her site to pursue further fundings. Her start up is called DashBuzz and i can’t tell much about it only that it will solve the problem of having to administer many social media sites. This is a problem we’ve all had. The idea is simple:

  • We have a limited amount of time
  • We have plenty social media sites
  • We lose time updating all sites separately or,
  • We fail to update or be in some sites. 
Having known those facts i think this startup has a lot of future and i hope to learn more of it really soon. 
Calley wan’t the blogsphere and the twitterverse to fund the first part of this project. She is asking for a favor and she is planning on returning it. Remember Whuffie …if you build it up you can “cash” it later. For more details go here.
There is a donation button on her site and you can donate there or ask her more questions about it. Please Donate it’s a good cause and she says many people won’t fund a non-technical  first time start up fo. I say that’s wrong we can fund her startup. Finally I’m also a non-technical startup founder in the making. But the thing you need to notice is the desire burning in you when you do a new business and that fire that keeps you going every single day until you achieve your goals, just to set up new ones and keep going.
I want to help Calley and though I don’t have a paying Job right now I will look for ways of helping her because i believe that this project will actually help me and many others to manage social media in a more smart and efficient way. 
So please Help Calley and help this new Social Media Start Up Funding. If we all put a little bit a huge difference can be made. And as a side effect we challenge the old funding model with a more social one.
Making businesses is the best thing to do, for me it’s just what makes me go everyday.
J.J