Let's say you're a small (one or two person) startup, and you decided to offer something unique in a specific space.
The moment your unique feature proves to be useful, your competitor copies it. It only takes them a few weeks since they have 20x the resources that you do.
Now they don't just offer the same unique functionality as you do, but they also have a more polished product.
Is the solution here to compete on price? You developed this feature at 1/20th the expenses of the competitor. Because you don't have this huge amount of people on your payroll, you can charge less.
Or is the solution to stick to unique features that cannot easily be copied? Like if you magically found a unique set of training data that allowed your ML model to be vastly superior – and your competitor's team of 40 ML PhD's for some reason cannot replicate it on their own.
What are your thoughts on this problem?
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In my experience in large businesses as well as years of advising startups, I see far too much focus on product skills, and too little on people and process skills. In my view, this focus on the wrong skill set is the primary reason why over half of new businesses fail in the first five years, and only one out of a hundred startups get their requested funding from professional investors.
In fact, there is much evidence that the same principles separate success from mediocrity in most of the disciplines in business. I recognized this as I was reading the classic book, ”The Only Sales Guide You’ll Ever Need,” by Anthony Iannarino, who is an international sales leader and expert on optimizing results. His focus is on sales, but I see the same skills needed for entrepreneurs.
His top eight required skill set elements for sales don’t even mention product skills, and match my view of the right skill set for successful entrepreneurs, with only a few priority changes:
- Creating and sharing a vision. Storytelling and projecting a vision are foundational skills that are required from the first moment in starting a business. The old myth that “if we build it, they will come” has not worked for a long time. The best visions begin in the future, describe how to get there together, touch on emotions, and work in your values.
- Diagnosing and understanding the customer problem. This means all business people, especially entrepreneurs, need to get beyond the presentations and the experts, to actively listen to real customers. They need to ask customers the difficult questions, and really understand costs versus benefits, as well as competitive alternatives.
- Opening relationships and creating opportunities. Whereas providers used to control information, the Internet has given customers access to more information and more choices than ever. They demand interactive relationships with you, and depend on the relationships you have with their friends. Relationships are the new keys to opportunities.
- Producing results with and through others. You can’t build a business or sell alone. You have to lead and motivate many others with the right skill set to make it happen. To do this, you call upon your storytelling, negotiating, and change-management skills, all the while demonstrating your unswerving accountability. It’s up to you to clear the way.
- Asking for and obtaining commitments. Building a company and selling are all about gaining commitments. While it’s true that you can go too far too fast when asking for funding or asking for an order, all too often fear and timidity keeps entrepreneurs from going far enough fast enough. Offering more value is the key to a quicker close.
- Negotiating and creating win-win deals. When dealing with customers or partners, only win-win deals make sense. It’s all about value for both parties, and good negotiation is highlighting value. Great entrepreneurs are able to think on their feet, and are always prepared. Highlight the points of agreement, rather than hammer on the differences.
- Understanding business essentials and creating value. Product leadership alone might have been enough in the past, but today people are looking at a bigger picture. They want a business that is ethical, understands sustainability, and provides leadership that goes beyond profitability for shareholders. Value is far more than cost versus price.
- Building consensus and helping others change. Consensus and change are hard. These require building a team that can work together, identify the obstacles to change, deal with conflicting interests, and overcome the challenges to change. Great entrepreneurs create and sell a compelling case for change, and lead that change.
Put simply, your personal and people skills are the difference that makes the difference, more so than the product or service you bring to the table. It takes discipline, initiative, a positive attitude, and the ability to communicate and be accountable to set your business apart from the million others that have equal access to your customers. Make them remember you and appreciate the added value.
Startup Professionals Musings
Be it an early-stage starter founder or a well-established entrepreneur, development shouldn’t cease. And, this is possible by reading inspirational books. Reading visionary books, you can get the much-needed knowledge in the best possible way. Maybe, you will not get a perfect idea or perfect book to be successful but these could inspire and suggest a lot of ideas.
Inspiring books for entrepreneurs
There are a slew of inspirational books for entrepreneurs that are worth reading. The ultimate purpose of reading these books is to inculcate valuable lessons and make them equipped with the knowledge to run a startup or business successfully. Here’s a list of inspirational books that every entrepreneur has to read.
The Startup Owner’s Manual
The Startup Owner’s Manual by Steve Blank, Bob Village is an exceptional workbook for those who aim to build a startup. The book focuses on the current-day problems of today’s startups, explaining them using a highly practice-centric solution approach. Also, this book comprises over 40 helpful checklists for all project phases and explanations for both spin-offs and digital startups. The book shows step-by-step instructions to build scalable, successful, and profitable startups.
Click here to buy The Startup Owner’s Manual
Tools of Titans
Tools of Titans: The Tactics, Routines, and Habits of Billionaires, Icons and World-Class Performers by the well-known advisor and investor Tim Ferriss interviewed nearly 200 world-class performers and gathered successful tips and stories. In this book, he shares insights about their success stories with his readers. He provides both giveaway tips and tricks and also lets managers relate the same to their daily life sans any issues. It gives away answers to all their serious questions about the biggest motivation, movers, and productivity.
Click here to buy Tools of Titans
Zero to One
Zero to One: Notes on Start-Ups, or How to Build the Future is a book by Peter Thiel with Blake Masters. Peter Thiel is a PayPal co-founder and one of the initial-stage investors of Facebook. Undoubtedly, the book will be one of the favourites for founders who think out-of-the-box. It shares daring ideas and notes to make worthy claims regarding business ideas. He also shares justifications that cannot be easily dismissed and is aimed to founders who want to build a tech company that is successful.
Click here to buy Zero to One
The Ideal Executive
The Ideal Executive by Ichak Kalderon Adizes is a book hat narrates a story of a mythical creature, which is compared with a fabulous unicorn. It is an ideal leader that is beautiful but doesn’t exist in nature and is known only to a few people. Many companies are confident that such a person can be educated or trained or hire someone else. And, they could get disappointed after the other hire. The reason is that the ideal manager should have the qualities to run the business.
Click here to buy The Ideal Executive
ReWork: Change the Way You Work Forever
ReWork: Change the Way You Work Forever by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson is a book that is segmented into different topics or single-page recipes that resolve all the problems that one could face when starting a business. These include experimenting and testing prior to planning, measuring, making quick decisions, creating a culture, etc. ReWork is the perfect playbook for anyone who has the dream of doing things on their own.
Click here to buy ReWork: Change The Way You Work Forever
The Ascent of Money
The Ascent of Money: A Financial History of the World by Niall Ferguson details the economic history, which is important for all to understand. The book elaborates on how money has evolved and how complicated it has become. It details that the economy has cycles and it is common to experience a recession. And, it claims that it is imperative to understand why each cycle happens and how to get through to the other one. As some businesses might face a downturn, this will help the founders of such businesses to put everything into perspective and face the challenges.
Click here to buy The Ascent of Money
Limits to Growth
The Limits to Growth by Donella H. Meadows could be out of date as the book does an exceptional job at providing explanations about exponential growth. The book details the major environmental challenges that are faced by people and how they work together to ensure improved productivity. The Limits to Growth shares information that is relevant to those who work in the tech industry and helps the witness success.
Click here to buy Limits to Growth
The Hard Thing About Hard Things
The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers is one of the ideal books that is available out there for those who want to run a successful startup. The book helps new founders with useful information and is quite interesting for them to read. The Hard Thing About Hard Things reveals the true challenges that are faced by founders and entrepreneurs and provides them with practical advice to face some most common situations.
Click here to buy The Hard Thing About Hard Things
The Five Dysfunctions of a Team
The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable by Patrick Lencioni details the role of culture in creating an efficient team and allowing various teams to function at their best. This book offers a leadership fable, which is instructive and enthralling as the author’s previous bestsellers. He has unleashed his intellect and storytelling power to the complex and fascinating world of teams. Throughout the book, there are references of dysfunctions that detail why even the best teams often struggle.
Click here to buy Five Dysfunctions of a Team
The Effective Executive
The Effective Executive by Peter Drucker reminds us that there is the ability to get the right things done. Usually, this involves doing what others have overlooked and avoiding things that are unproductive. The author identifies five talents that are essential and effectiveness. In fact, this book helps everyone learn regardless of their natural gifts. Imagination, intelligence, and knowledge could be wasted in an executive job sans the learned habits of mind and convert the same into results.
Click here to buy The Effective Executive
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The post 10 inspirational books that every entrepreneur should read in 2020 appeared first on Silicon Canals .
The dog days of summer are here, which means prime reading time. While the warmer weather continues to beckon us outdoors (while still practicing social distancing, of course) and most of us find ourselves with a bit more free time due to the pandemic, it feels as though there is more time to hit the books.
Aspiring entrepreneurs can use this down time to help improve their understanding of business operations and best practices, enhance their leadership skills and alter their perspectives.
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Here is a list of 15 books that entrepreneurs should add to their reading lists:
Chris Guillebeau provides 50 case studies to show how it’s possible to transform your life and become an entrepreneur for very little money. Although there are dozens of books on how to break into entrepreneurship, this one has some of the most actionable advice. The checklists stand out because Guillebeau makes it easy to follow along and get moving on turning that passion into a purposeful business.
Read a Q&A with author Chris Guillebeau on “The $ 100 Startup” here.
Beth Buelow destroys the notion that successful entrepreneurs are all extroverts with huge personalities. If anything, many are actually introverts that seem quiet and low-key but are also deep thinkers. Introverts may not think that they can become business leaders, but Beth Buelow shows them how in this insightful book. It’s packed with practical advice that it’s easy to put to work immediately.
MJ DeMarco delivers a fast-paced story about how to generate the impact necessary to make millions. He walks readers through the process of changing their mindset by sharing inspirational stories about how he developed his own financial success. The book covers numerous ways an entrepreneur can create an impact. He also connects his online forum for entrepreneurs to the concepts in the book to provide more value for the reader.
Gary Vaynerchuk is one of the most interesting people to follow on social media. When it comes to telling it like it is, he pulls no punches. In this book, he offers a primer on how to leverage the best social media platforms as well as how to develop a podcast that will win a following. In reading the book, you can hear Gary’s irreverent style and delivery that has won him so many fervent fans.
Read an excerpt from “Crushing It!” here.
There’s nothing like ice cream during the summer. In this case, though, it’s a double scoop of entrepreneurship in a book about the two founders behind the Ben & Jerry’s ice cream brand. The book explains how the two entrepreneurs built their business and brand and explores how they incorporated a corporate social responsibility (CSR) program within their overall business strategy. It’s set primarily in the 1980s, but the lessons ring true over time. It’s a funny, engaging read.
Elad Gil breaks down the notion that startups have to fight in order to survive and grow into a successful business. Instead, it’s about a battle to create a business that can thrive, which goes beyond thinking about how to make the startup survive the early stages. Numerous stories illustrate his concepts, creating an entertaining and insightful reading experience.
Peter Thiel offers a unique perspective for how to develop and lead a startup, including how to look at innovation in a way you might not have before. For example, he shows you how to ask yourself questions that can lead to uncovering value in places you would have never thought of looking. After reading this book, you will understand his premise of managing from “zero to one.”
Although this book is formatted more like a reference guide for entrepreneurs, it’s ideal for skipping around and reading certain sections that may be of greater relevance or interest for your startup venture. It covers both theoretical topics and real-world examples for aspects of business development and management, including customer acquisition and development, lean operations, technology investments and budgeting.
Although the book has been around for almost a decade, it’s a must-read for new entrepreneurs that may have not been jumping into the ring until now. The advice still holds true today (maybe even more so!) because of the emphasis that Eric Ries places on method and conscious decision as well as continuous innovation over strategic planning.
Learn more about the lean startup methodology here.
Jason Fried reworks all the ideas you know about business, competition and funding startups. In doing so, he shows founders how they can succeed at an accelerated rate. He also serves as a “cheerleader” by emphasizing inspirational messages about self-belief and confidence.
Ben Horowitz takes a refreshing approach to the idea of starting a business. Rather than focusing on the idea of success and achievement, he focuses on acknowledging that a business is not perfect, you will make mistakes, and most often, those mistakes lead to learning lessons and a pathway to a better business.
Richard Branson invites you into his life by sharing personal stories that have shaped him as a person and an entrepreneur. This book reads like an adventure story but one that actually happened as you follow him through his journey to build and grow the Virgin empire.
Seth Godin wants entrepreneurs to see how they can become indispensable to customers, investors and team members. In this book, he explains how to focus on the type of interactions that can produce meaningful results for everyone involved.
Although fairly deep for summer reading, entrepreneurs will be enthralled with this study of how to develop their minds to think like today’s top serial entrepreneurs and innovators. Johnson methodically takes you through the entire process of rewiring your brain to be ready to create and lead the next big thing.
This is another deep book that shows you how to tap into more of your brain that is just waiting to go to work to innovate and disrupt. You’ll learn how to enact multiple approaches, including using more of your left brain’s logical, organized thinking while also tapping into your right brain’s creative impetus.
Whether you use an audiobook, digital version, or print edition, it’s time to stock up on some reading that will help you innovate and grow your business.
The post 15 Books That Every Entrepreneur Should Read During the Pandemic appeared first on StartupNation.