Archive for the ‘Entrepreneur’ Category

Startup Links

August 14, 2012

Every day I comb through my Google Reader reading sites like Hacker News and others, and star articles that are especially interesting about startups, entrepreneurship and miscellany. These are some of my favorites:


Day 23 and Day 24 of The 31 Day Sprint

October 24, 2011

Thursday and Friday of this week were a struggle.  After a 90 minute run on Wednesday morning I was feeling lethargic and slow until Saturday.  It took me a while to figure out that getting four hours of sleep each night is not enough if you plan on not having a sedentary lifestyle.  I’ll be gunning for 6-8 hours of sleep each night and will try to keep the productivity level high.

Here are the updated numbers:

  • Total Weekly Points: 337
  • Average Daily Points: 67
  • Rolling 7 Day Total: 491
  • Rolling 7 Day Average: 70
  • LinkedIn Connections – 1,700+
In otherwords, I managed to hit my goal even though Thursday and Friday were technically a flop.  In addition to the Gobi Capital site, there are four other sites that are being prepped for launch.  One of them will be a subscription based portal that will provide business owners and soon to be entrepreneurs the tools to test their new business/product/service idea, launch their project and then achieve a high level of growth.
The objective of next week is based on income.  The whole purpose of The 31 Day Sprint was to achieve a higher level of activity that would enable an increase in income for myself.  I’ve been toying with the idea of doing another 31 Day Sprint, but adjusting the metrics slightly and setting a different objective.   When I was studying in Findland, there was a course based on a book called The Balanced Scorecard – I think I’ll start to adopt some of those concepts and take a more holistic approach to the next sprint.
Hard numbers for this week:
  • 63+ marketing points each day (minimum of 315 Monday to Friday)
  • 8 fitness points for the week (Saturday-Friday)
  • 5 life points for the week
  • 10% increase in weekly income
  • Identify 5 new potential projects
That’s it for now.  Have fun!

Day 16 of The 31 Day Sprint

October 11, 2011

Halfway There:

Well it’s been over two weeks.  The results are not that impressive, but here are the stats:

  • 1,400+ connections on LinkedIn
  • 3 days with over 20 points
  • 2 days with over 30 points
  • 1 days with over 40 points
  • 10 days with under 10 points
  • Total points – 147
  • Weekly average – 74 / 129 for the past week
  • Daily average – 11 / 18 for the past week
Looking at my production level, the first hurdle is having a daily average of 18 for the past week (check!); then over 34 points for next week.  Truth be told, it will not be easier as I’m counting out 7 work days – so next week does not work towards my benefit.  I am happy with the numbers from the past seven days and I’m looking forward to the remaining six work days.

Day 16:

The goal for today was simple – work on ways to leverage my existing network and find a muse.

Now ways to leverage my network is pretty simple – I can divide it into 4 categories:

  1. Lenders and Investors
  2. COI’s – centre’s of influence – people who refer deals
  3.  Acquaintances, Friends and Family
  4. Unknowns
I’m sending out a brief newsletter (it won’t look pretty but it will be functional) that will hit on the first two categories, inform the third category, and allow me to qualify the fourth category.  Over the past two weeks I’ve added almost 3,000 new contacts to my network and the majority of those fall into the “Unknown” category.  At the end of the month, the plan is to categorize the unknowns and start to develop a better relationship with them.
The goals for today and whether I accomplished them:
  1. Newsletter out………………………………………………..done
  2. Connect with 30+ business owners……………………..done
  3. Hit a minimum of 33 points……………………………….done
  4. 1500+ connections on LinkedIn………………………..done
  5. Complete To Do list………………………………………….done
  6. Update web site………………………………………………done
So far today the total point count is 43 with 1 points for fitness.
Now onto a muse.  I borrowed this term/idea from Timothy Ferris (author of the 4 Hour Work Week and the 4 Hour Body).  A muse is a reference to a business that can be launched within a short period of time that will grow to a $1M business within a year with little or no daily effort (here’s the blog post that describes how to go about developing a muse).  So far I’ve mapped out the process to go through and now testing a few ideas using the tools provided.  I will keep you posted on the progress.
I have also been batting around the idea of doing a Start-up Weekend or Start-up Week with a few fellow entrepreneurs.  I’ll devote more time tonight to fleshing out the idea, but it will revolve around the idea of a muse.

One Third Of The Way There….

September 30, 2011

Once upon a time there was a young man who wanted to do more – not just more in terms of sales or with his business, but with his life.  More health, more awake, more money, more travelling, more adventure, more fun!  So he set a goal for himself and devised a way to to achieve his goal and took the first step.

This is the 31 Day Sprint – an idea started from Tom Hopkins book, “How To Master The Art of Sales” – that I have expanded to include most facets of my life.  The general idea of the sprint is to get specific – to track the activities that you do on a daily basis that will lead to you achieving your goal.  Want more sales?  Map out the activities that you take a potential client through and then add a point for each goal.  Assign one point when you make a “real life encounter”, such as talking to a new potential client on the phone (no points for leaving a voicemail) or getting a contract signed.  For things such as sending out a newsletter or emailing a newsworthy item, you get one point for every 20 that you reach.

Today is Day 10 for my sprint here are some stats – average daily points (11), points this week (102), new referrals (3), new supplier (1).  You can find more info here.  I’ll admit that it took a few days to get going and to ensure that I had the right processes setup to track everything.

Why I Agreed To The Nine Day Challenge

June 2, 2011

I find myself in a unique position this morning and one that I haven’t been in for a few years – I am the underdog.

I don’t mind being in this position except that I’m down 183 to 59 and it seems to be a pretty big hill to climb – not insurmountable but definitely daunting.  I do wake up in the morning in a cold sweat wondering what I can do today to get more people involved in The Nine Day Challenge.  I do worry with every passing minute if we can raise the funds that we promised we would for the local Big Brothers Big Sisters (South Simcoe chapter).  Monday night, Krystal and I gave a pitch to their board of directors, and aside from some concerns about the humiliation part, they were in support of it. Now we have to deliver on our promise.

So the big question is – why did I agree to do a social media challenge with a 19 year old girl?

Yes, I realized when I agreed to do it that her generation lives and breaths social media with the same fervor that my generation adopted the PC.  Take into account that she had setup her page within five minutes and had ten ‘likes’ five minutes after that – I’m up against someone who is dedicated to win and knows what she is doing.

I agreed to do this challenge for two reasons: to help a local charity and to help a budding entrepreneur.  Six weeks ago, Andie at the Nottawasaga Community Futures Development Corporation asked if I would sit down with Krystal to talk about starting her business (Krystal Kares) and applying for the Summer Company program.  From our first meeting, I would see the potential that Krystal possesses.  The enthusiasm and passion that she has for wanting to make a positive impact in her community is contagious and I found myself asking “How can I do more?”

Ten weeks ago I was experiencing one of the worst earthquakes in recorded history while living in Sendai, Japan (as well as experiencing the emotional roller coaster of being on an island while two nuclear power plants melt down and dealing with dozens of aftershocks).  On April 1st, I was part of a team that put together Stories From Sendai to raise funds for Habitat For Humanity to help with rebuilding parts of the North-East coast of Japan.  I realized from that and past experiences, that many local charities have issues raising enough funds to keep their programs running (let alone maintain an office and staff) and have the much larger issue of getting people involved – to either sit on their Board as a director or as a volunteers to run / participate in the programs.  It was also from running that fundraiser that I was able to see how a marketing campaign and fundraising event could rapidly be crafted, fleshed out and then deployed within a very short time frame.

I know that for me, this Nine Day Challenge is exactly that – a challenge.  So I ask for your support in three ways:

1.  Go to my Facebook page for Gobi Capital and click “Like”.

2.  Go to The Nine Day Challenge web site and see how you can get involved.

3.  Take time today to think about what you can do today to make an improvement in your community.  Then act on it.  Pick up the phone, send an email, talk to someone.  I dare you to find your voice and ask a charity or not-for-profit “What can I do to help?”

Whether I win or lose this challenge, I know that I’ve done my part to make this community a better place.  Now I ask you to do yours.  Get involved today.

New Office

May 11, 2011

The new office is officially setup – all phone, internet, cubicles, etc have been setup and now open for business.  The background noise tends to increase as the day wears on and it is definitely easier to see the computer screen in the afternoon as there is no ‘rising sun glare’.

The new cubicles

Not my favourite colour but it suits the work environment very well

The view from the cubicle (taken at 7:30am approx.)

The pool will be open in a few weeks and the sauna was tested out Sunday night (75C for an average temperature).  The gardens should be in full bloom in two weeks (there’s a bit of a lag compared to Toronto) and the first hummingbird was spotted on the weekend.

Needless to say I’m looking forward to the new work environment and a new work ethic of working “smarter and harder (when necessary)”.  The new business cards should be printed up soon and although I will be returning to Asia sometime in the near future, I will use my time in Canada to start having the greatest impact on the community as possible.

Break Time

April 4, 2011

It’s time for a quick break from the hustle and bustle of Toronto for a breath of fresh air north of the city.  I will need the time to do some research for a few projects and to take some personal time.

I’ll begin writing regularly next week.

Are You Coachable?

February 9, 2011

You don’t know everything.

You do know that, don’t you?

Continual learning is a basic necessity to professional improvement and in many cases it’s other people who will help you get there.

But only if you’re coachable.  Are you?

To be coachable means to be…

  • Approachable
  • Attentive
  • Receptive
  • Curious
  • Objective
  • Trusting
  • Shapeable
  • Confident

It means that you must listen with the intent to learn rather than to show what you know – exactly the type of listening required in the sales process (listen>talk).

So who wants to coach someone?  And who needs a coach?

Dealing With Change

January 21, 2011

“Why can’t things be like they were when I first started?”

I was fortunate yesterday to be able to sit down and reconnect with a few people that I had not really spoken to since I left for Japan.  It was good to sit down and talk, but by 4pm I was exhausted with three more people to see, I had to reluctantly turn down a relaxing sauna.  There was a common theme that emerged from the day of meetings and it was that a large number of entrepreneurs are living in the past.  If their current lives are not rocketing towards success personally or professionally, they are stuck in a rut wondering how they can get back the good days when the world was filled with hope.  This was gleaned not from the people I met with but with the clients that they had been working with over the past year.

Change is inevitable and I’ve come to rely on it as a constant.  The one thing I do know is that everything will change no matter how well things are planned out.  However, I’m never satisfied without taking things to the next level – recognizing change will happen is a moot point.  Putting a process together to monitor change is moving things up a level.  Responding to change as it happens helps to stay ahead of the curve.

A few points:

  1. Monitor ongoing change: establish an ongoing trend line for the number of new customers, average order size, lifetime customer values, overall sales growth, and sales within specific segmentation categories (geography, type of business, etc)
  2. Consider impacts: if there is a trend change, ask yourself – “will the change significantly impact our industry or product / service category? If so, in what ways will the change potentially manifest itself? In what ways is the change a threat? An opportunity?
    Weak signal monitoring (recognizing small or micro changes that can lead to macro changes)
    A.  The more irreverent and upsetting a new idea is to the status quo, the more chance it has of reaching a level of importance
    B.  The more often you hear, “That’s just a fad,” the more likely it’s not
    C.  Identifying and monitoring weak signals should be an ongoing, systematic process
    D.  The ability to see the next big thing before it happens is equal parts art and science
    E.  Weak signals often grow by joining forces with other weak signals. In other words, weak signals often need reinforcement from other ideas floating outside the established boundaries before they can be seen or heard.
  3. Develop a response: I can’t tell you what your response should be to the macro forces of change that surround you. That’s for you to decide. What I can suggest is a systematic and regular effort to insert the future into your ongoing planning efforts. An organization’s ability to put the future into the plan with any degree of accuracy is rare. The ability to take action on such a plan is where the money is made.  Here are a few common trends:
    1. Shifting demographics
    2. Changing China
    3. Casper Technology
    4. Small Business Going Forward

“A new factor, that of rapid change, has come into the world. We have not yet learned how to adjust ourselves to its economic and social consequences.” – Wallace B. Dohham, Harvard Business Review

    MaRS DD Top 10 Blogs For 2010

    January 4, 2011

    MaRS Discovery District Blog

    5465 seconds of remarkable TED talks
    Open source seed documents
    Professors without patents: The unexpected entrepreneurs?
    Sir Ronald Cohen on social finance: “The next big thing”
    Do you have what it takes to be Canada’s next great entrepreneur?
    The 50-year overnight success story of Mr. Porter
    Seven reasons you might fail to become the best
    Michael McCain on entrepreneurial professionalism: From small family business to large public enterprise
    Green Energy Act Finance Forum: Taking cleantech to Bay Street
    Social Entrepreneurship: Can “Lawyers Without Borders” help with funding?

    Click through to their blog to access the links to this list!

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