As always, Seth Godin has something smart to say:
- Build in virality. Consider: Groupon.
- Don't sell a product that can be purchased cheaper at Amazon.
- Subscriptions beat one-off sales.
- Try to create an environment where your customers are happier when there are other customers doing business with you (see #1).
- Treat different customers differently.
- Generate joy, don't just satisfy a need for a commodity.
- Rely on unique individuals, not an easily copyable system.
- Plan on remarkable experiences, not remarkable ads.
- Don't build a fortress of secrets, bet on open.
- Unless there's a differentiating business reason, use off the shelf software and cheap cloud storage.
- The asset of the future is the embrace of a tribe, not a cheaper widget.
- Match expenses to cash flow–don't run out of money, because it's no longer 1999.
- Create scarcity but act with abundance. Free samples create demand for the valuable (but not unlimited) tier you offer.
- Tell a story, erect a mythology, walk the walk.
- Plan on obsolescence (of your products, not your customers).
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I usually go to a store quite close to my job (I never quite make it home for the 7:30 closing time of the store where I live), that is quite central and has long opening hours. I am not the only one working close by and needing to do shopping late in the evening so there are usually quite long queues to the cash registers. I don’t really mind these types of queues, because they’re an excellent opportunity to reflect and engage in some people-watching.
Yesterday, when standing in the queue, I noticed quite an interesting addition to the area around the cash registers. In the “impulse candy shopping area” there now was a big cardboard stand from Chiquita offering individual bananas for the hungry & tired shopper. How clever! Here – within easy reach – is a healthy, energy-rich alternative to picking up a Mars or Snickers – suitably placed for impulse purchases.
I quickly picked up a banana to support such a smart business development.
Today I happened to have podcasts about two different entrepreneurs in my ipod, both trying to do good and each wanting to solve two challenging tasks – poverty and global warming. For me this is an interesting issue as I am currently trying to figure out what I want to devote myself to (as most 20-30 year olds).
The first of them, Shai Agassi, I originally heard about in an Entrepreneurial Thought Leaders podcast (do try them out – they’re amazing!) and was quite impressed by his way of speaking about how he attempts to solve global warming. He doesn’t think small and nimble – no he believes in a full out, complete shift in paradigm. He says that the only viable solution to solve a problem of this complexity.
Then we have Mohammed Yunus, Nobel peace price winner, who started almost infinitely small – with one $27 dollar loan – which he then followed up with another and another and so on. He solved a small, manageable problem and continued on to the next logical step. There wasn’t a grand plan to fix poverty, it was just a plan to help a group of women.
Both took quite different approaches – but who’s right? You might say, this is all depending on the type of the problem – and even though I’d agree in principle, in practice I don’t see humans acting this way. It seems to me that most people I meet, including myself, seems to prefer to find grand scale solutions.
In Silicon Valley in 98-99 it was all about the grand plans, in Silicon Valley 08-09 it’s all about the small and scalable. Solving poverty was long the realm of large NGOs and government bodies, today social entrepreneurship is all the rage. When to apply what strategy?
My guess would be a combination of the two, I’ll be back in 20 years when I figured it out.