Category: Affärsutveckling

The Four Actions Framework

I am reading the book Business Model Generation during the christmas holidays. Lots of good stuff to chew on for someone interested in agile busines development. One of the chapters is about the Blue Ocean Strategy and the four actions defined to challenge and disrupt an industry.
To find the four actions you ask four questions:

1. Which of the factors that the industry takes for granted should be eliminated?

2. Which factors should be reduced well below the industry standard?

3. Which factors should be raised well above the industry standard?

4. Which factors should be created that the industry has never offered?

Good questions to ask for anyone willing to disrupt and do some creative destruction on existing markets.

Fire. Aim. Load. Repeat.

I believe this is the essence of agile business development and the lean startup philosophy.

Fire. Just do it. Try something. The simplest thing that could possibly work. Build it as simple as possible, and then…

Aim. Learn from what you did. Measure everything. Make your product a learning entity, and then…

Load. Improve based on what you’ve learned. Adjust. Rebuild. And then…

Repeat. Start over again. This time a little wiser, a little better. A little closer.

Stealth Disease and First Mover Paranoia

Lean Startup-guru Eric Ries talks about a common ailment amongst the startups he meets: Stealth Disease:

They are too afraid to show something imperfect to the world or are afraid that a competitor will steal their idea.

I would like to highlight another common sickness that is sort of the flip side to the Stealth Disease: the First Mover Paranoia – the idea that your product has to be absolutely unique or else you will fail. Any sign of a competitor doing the same thing or something similar will immediately kill the startup idea as the founders become morally defused.

You would have thought that examples such as Google (not the first search engine), Facebook (not the first social network) or Amazon (not the first online book store) would eradicate this disease, but no, it is still very much present and viral. I see the symptoms of it all the time – and yes, I have myself also been infected from time to time.

I wonder how many startups or potential startups fall victim to these two diseases. The First Mover Paranoia is extra vicious since it strikes so early. Often long before the execution of the startup idea is even started.

The cure for the First Mover Paranoia is to not view competitors as impassable roadblocks but as a verification that the idea actually works and has a market. That is in fact great news! Now the challenge becomes to find holes in the existing market (geographic, pricing, quality etc.) or to improve on what the competitor is doing.

Tough, but less tough than trying to bring something completely new to the market.

Build a system, not a product

The turtle has an idea. He thinks it is so great he doesn’t tell anyone about it because he is afraid they might steal it. He keeps it locked in a box, waiting for the perfect opportunity to get funding and make the idea reality. He is waiting and he is waiting and he is waiting…

The grasshopper builds a product. He knows that the idea in the box will never build itself. What matters is action and getting started. So he builds and he builds and he builds…

The master grows a system. She knows that no matter how good she thinks her idea is, what matters is only what the customer thinks. That is why the master builds her startup as a learning system that can adapt to new findings – evolve. She knows that in a startup, both the problem and the solution are unknowns. The idea is useless until proven otherwise. The product is useless until proven otherwise. So you must always be learning.

Unlike the turtle, the master is not afraid to talk about her idea because that is how you learn.

Unlike the grasshopper, the master is not afraid to release an early beta product because that is how you learn.

The master is not afraid of failure because that is how you learn.

The master builds her product and her entire company like a living system, an organism with eyes and ears, agile and adaptive.

Because that is how you learn.

Money is failure

It used to be so simple.

You paid someone to build your product. Then you bought broadcasted advertising to market it. Finally, your product was sold in a store.

No matter what you sold, cars or toothbrushes, this worked and money made it happen.

Then came the internet.

The internet has this magic ability to pull people together across geographical distances (note how I even have to use the word “geographical” to highlight the type of distance I’m talking about – you didn’t have to do that before the web). When people can communicate with each other they start doing things. They talk about things. They explore and share ideas. They build things.

And they do it out of love. Out of passion.

This changes a lot of things, including advertising and how products are created.

People talk about things they like. People build on stuff they like, they add value to products they like.

This means that if your competitor has a product that ignites passion and love in their users, they will get a lot of marketing and product development done for free.

If you are stuck in the traditional way of thinking (pay for product development, pay for advertising) you will end up with a more expensive product that is evolving and innovating slower than your competitors.

Needless to say, you will fail.

Yepp, that’s right, money will make you fail.

I told you things had changed!

Now, I’m not saying you should leave all your product development and all your marketing to your users. Every product and every market has its’ own optimal balance of love and money and you have to find that yourself (in tight competition – or cooperation – with your competitors, of course).

How much love is there in your product?

What I am saying, though, is that you should start looking at your product development and advertising costs as failures.

Paid advertising is failure to ignite the love in your users that make them talk about your product.

Paid development is failure to ignite the love in your users that make them build on and innovate on your product.

Money is failure. Go for love instead.

Your business idea as a promise


Formulating your business idea in a clear and concise way can be extremely hard. It’s easy to fall in to the trap of being too general or trying to please everyone. Everyone who ever has tried to come up with an elevator pitch knows how hard it can be to summarize your business idea in one or a few sentences. Especially true is this for startups where the focus of the entire company can be in constant flux.

One way out of this trap is to imagine the business idea as a promise made to someone, preferably a specific person. The person can be made up (see marketing persona or archetype) but should of course be right for the intended market.

The important thing is that this person has a problem and you have the solution.

Imagine standing in front of this person while they are exposed to the problem your product is supposed to solve. Now, imagine putting your hand on the persons shoulder and promise that person to solve the problem. How would you describe that promise? What words would you use?

That’s your business idea.

If you’re having problem imaging this scenario then maybe your business idea isn’t as straightforward as it can be. Maybe your solving too many problems for too many people? Maybe your solving a made up problem that no one in the real world is exposed to? A large company can of course make many promises to many people, but a small startup should stick to one promise to one persona.

Formulating it as a promise is also good for morale. It becomes crystal clear that what you’re doing is helping someone solve a problem. Your making the world a better place! This is what entrepreneurs do: we solve problems. Startups, specifically, solve problems that no one thought about solving before.

So, the next time someone asks about your business idea, how about giving them a promise?

The purpose of starting a business according to Pamela Slim

Guy Kawasaki has done a great interview with Pamela Slim where she talks about how to quit your job and a start a company. A subject she’s written a book about: Escape from Cubicle Nation. This is so true, from the interview:

“[…] the purpose of a business is to allow you to live the kind of life that makes you happy, healthy, wise, and wealthy…”

I am more and more thinking that personal growth and business development goes hand in hand. They can’t be separated, especially for small businesses. It can’t, no it must not, be about only money. You have to create something you love working with if the business is to be sustainable. Growing a business is also about growing the individuals working with that business.
We are leaving the industrial age. That also means leaving the industrial ways of thinking. Today a business has be agile and rewarding for the people involved. It has to have values, at least if it wants to survive in the long run.

“Subscribe to me” och länken som den nya copyrighten

Vilka affärsmodeller är hållbara i en värld av Free? Tror vi kommer att få se mer av sådant här:

Here’s what I’m offering:
1) You, the subscriber, agree to give me $9.50 a month for a year, to support my art. This is a donation that supports my work, not the purchase of a particular piece of art.
2) At the end of that year, I’ll put up a webpage with a selection of digital prints (at least 6 pieces, maybe a lot more). You can choose any two prints. There are no additional costs, not even shipping. Effectively, two prints cost you less than half what you would normally pay for one ($125+shipping). That’s your reward for investing in me.

Det är därför jag tror att en modern upphovsrättslagstiftning måste fokusera på upphovsmannen snarare än det skapade objektet och att länken är den nya copyrighten.

Med andra ord: kopiera gärna vad jag skapat men se för f-n till att ge mig cred för det!

Med tredje ord: länka alltid tillbaka.

Uppdaterat: med fjärde ord, det här tror jag inte alls på.

Ola Ahlvarsson: “idéer är värdelösa”

Var på Exciteras Enterpriseforum igår kväll (rekommenderas!) och lyssnade på några entreprenörer berätta om livet som företagare. En av dem var Ola Ahlvarsson.

Ola är mästare på att förmedla andra människors one-liners. Han snappar upp guldkorn av visdom från alla spännande människor han möter sedan paketerar han dem och gör det hela till sitt eget budskap. Alltid underhållande att lyssna på.

Han inledde med att berätta om några briljanta affärsidéer han haft som ung, bl.a. en gratistidning för tunnelbanan (som andra sedan gjorde stor succé av) eller personliga ringsignaler till telefoner. Hans poäng med dessa historier var det som också var det viktigaste i hela hans föredrag (“om ni bara ska ta med er en enda sak från ikväll så det det här“). Han sa:

“Idéer är värdelösa. Det är att utföra idéerna som räknas.”

Känns det igen? Denna insikt är så viktig och lätt att glömma bort, särskilt om man som både undertecknad och Ahlvarsson är s.k. Kalle Anka-entreprenörer, d.v.s. en människa med massor av affärsidéer om allt möjligt.

Så, kära mönsterbrytare, förändringsagent, entreprenör som läser detta, glöm aldrig att din affärsidé är värdelös.

Tills den dag den blir verklighet.