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Competitive Edge
Creating your Unique Value Proposition to gain your Competitive Edge.
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As a startup CEO, how do you decide whether to keep pushing on with a new startup or throw in the towel? - Quora

As a startup CEO, how do you decide whether to keep pushing on with a new startup or throw in the towel? - Quora | Competitive Edge | Scoop.it
Jason M. Lemkin, Co-founder/CEO EchoSign, acq'd by Ado... (more)
460 upvotes by Marc Bodnick (Co-Founder, Elevation Partners), David S. Rose (Founded six startups, two angel groups, three f... (more) ), Leo Widrich, (more)
Never, ever, ever, never quit if you can get to 10 paying customers (that aren't your friends, relatives, ex-bosses).

Ever.

Until the last nickel is gone, until they shut off the power (and even then, you can go to Starbucks).

Ever.

Because ... no one needs Yet Another Paid Product.  No one.

If you got 10 paying customers ... you can get 100.  You will get 100.  At some point.  If you don't quit.

And if you get 100 ... 1000 isn't impossible.  There are 6,000,000 businesses in the U.S. alone.

Break it up into 10x chunks.  One order of magnitude growth.

Quit if you never get 10 paying customers within 6, 12, 24, 200 months of launch, and have no ideas about how to tilt to get to 10.

But ... product-market fit for paid SaaS products is just so much rarer, and harder, than people realize.

Don't quit if you have 10 customers.

Find a way.   Push through. Read more answers: click image or title.


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Marc Kneepkens's insight:

Never give up fighting. Find a way.

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3 Reasons You Can’t Just Ask Customers What They Want | TechCrunch

3 Reasons You Can’t Just Ask Customers What They Want  |  TechCrunch | Competitive Edge | Scoop.it

Do you like apples or bananas? Coffee or tea? Pepperoni or cheese pizza? Simple questions result in simple answers which, when researching and developing a product is every product owner’s dream. “Just tell me what you want, and I’ll make it.” Quick. Easy. Simple.

But herein lies the problem; product development isn’t normally quick, easy or simple. Asking these types of questions, as tempting as they are to ask, bring about certain dangers that can result in skewed results, missing information, and, potentially, failed products. Listed below are the three primary reasons why asking customers direct questions can be a very dangerous endeavor.

The Customer Doesn’t Always Know What They Want

The first reason you can’t just ask customers what they want is that they aren’t always attuned to what they really need. Steve Jobs famously said, “People don’t know what they want until you show it to them.”

Typically, it is easier for people to review and comment on something that is placed in front of them rather than asking to imagine something that doesn’t yet exist. This can mean anything from developing a fully functioning prototype to a clickable presentation, or even simple, hand-drawn “screens” to help customers get a sense of the experience.

Additionally, it is also difficult for customers to articulate what it is they want or need, especially if it relates to a topic that is not something they often think about. People have a tendency to use what they know, which is why user adoption for certain products may take longer to catch on than others.

The Human Desire to Develop Patterns and Habits

The second danger in asking customers direct questions is the human desire to develop patterns and habits. Sigmund Freud called this phenomenon “repetition compulsion,” in that humans seek comfort in the familiar as well as a desire to return to an earlier known state of things.

What is even more desirable than returning to an earlier state of things is the desire to maintain certain habits. In the book The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business, Charles Duhigg spends much of the book describing various examples of products and adjoining habits while using a simple “Cue –> Routine –> Reward” diagram that illustrates the psychology behind how habits are formed and maintained.

These habits are sometimes formed over long periods of time, which makes trying to break or introduce new habits an extremely difficult and delicate process. During our user research phase, we try to avoid asking questions about potentially disrupting a customer’s current habit, instead asking questions that are related.

For example, in attempting to understand how a person organizes a party or trip, we may ask them to tell us how they typically go grocery shopping. This way we can begin to understand from a contextual standpoint, whether they are more strictly organized (have a specific list of items written down and go directly for those specific items) or they are more casual and spontaneous (venturing up and down each aisle and choosing items as they go).

Rather than asking individuals to “imagine a new world” that would alter the current habits of their lives resulting in potential resistance, we are able to gain a better understanding of their natural tendencies, current mentalities and preferences, which results in more rich and insightful information.

Our Overwhelming Need to Please Others

The final risk is people’s overwhelming desire to be a part of something, to be well liked, and the need to please others. While this is a slightly easier peril to overcome than the others, it is still important to understand how this behavior can influence individuals and skew results or information.

Often during interviews, customers will attempt to answer a question the way they think they should answer the question or provide an answer they think is “correct.” One of the primary causes is the asking of what are called “leading questions.” In other words, questions that are asked in such a way that there are only one or two answers that a person can respond with.

Likewise, questions such as, “Do you like coffee or tea?” leaves little room for original thoughts or answers because the question is too rigid and the answers too pre-defined. These types of questions establish a barrier to discovering how people truly feel about a subject, which can be counter-productive and result in unusable information.

Interviews are treated as more of a conversation than a survey or interrogation in order to build a rapport with customers so they feel comfortable enough to share the stories and events of their lives. It is through these stories that we uncover an individual’s thought processes, how they react in various situations, and additional insights that point to how they truly feel about certain products, applications and experiences.

The dangers mentioned in this post are not to say that “this-or-that” questions are completely useless. In certain situations and settings, such as AB usability testing, these types of questions can be quite valuable and informative. It is during discovery research, when you are trying to understand customers’ needs, desires  and pain points regarding a product, that these questions can be detrimental to a project.

So when you’re looking to improve an existing product, develop a new experience or enter a new marketplace, remember there are no quick and simple answers when it comes to understanding what customers want or need.


Get your Free Business Plan Template here: http://bit.ly/1aKy7km


Marc Kneepkens's insight:

The classic question: "What do you want" does not always result in the right answers. People need a choice or see what's in front of them...

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Develop an experience, not just a product | The Venture Company

Develop an experience, not just a product | The Venture Company | Competitive Edge | Scoop.it

My 3-year-old daughter uses my iPhone to play music videos and YouTube videos and has not touched a PC (or better, a Mac) yet. With the same content available on either she's obviously seen me operate my Mac and looks over my shoulder now and then, but finds all the keys and even the "Magic-mouse" complicated. Clearly a usage experience is more important to her than sheer processing power. Sounds familiar doesn't it? Nintendo anyone? What I see in so many early business plans today is the old-fashioned notion of deep technology expertise, something most traditional investors still harp on. I see too many BMW engines being developed without attention being paid to the development of The Ultimate Driving Experience®. True, you can't build the driving experience without great engines, but BMW, like no other vendor understands that the total experience is the selling point. In the end, technology will become commoditized and its differentiation will be determined by the way it interacts...

To read the full article, click on the title or image.



Get your Free Business Plan Template here: http://bit.ly/1aKy7km

Marc Kneepkens's insight:

Excellent observation. Keeping this in mind will create very loyal customers. This is an older article, but still very essential for any kind of business.

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It's Not About You - Focus 5 Design

It's Not About You - Focus 5 Design | Competitive Edge | Scoop.it
Real success happens when you realize it's not all about you. You have to think more about what you can give rather than what you can get.

When starting out in your business, stop trying to figure out how your product or service can make you lots of money. Instead, ask yourself how it can truly help someone. What real problem does it solve? How does it make the world a better place, even for just one person?

When you find yourself in a social situation like a meeting, a conference, or a seminar, don’t go into it thinking what you can get out of it. Think instead of what you can bring to the situation to make it better. How can you be helpful to others? What skills and talents can you bring to the table to improve the experience for those around you?

To read the full article, click on the title or image.



Get your Free Business Plan Template here: http://bit.ly/1aKy7km


Marc Kneepkens's insight:

Building a business is all about value. What do you offer? It's not about you, it's about how you can help your client. Then they will pay you.

The same reasoning for your business plan: what problem do you solve? How do you bring value?

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23 Rules for Face-to-Face Meetings

23 Rules for Face-to-Face Meetings | Competitive Edge | Scoop.it
Follow these guidelines when you meet with customers and you're much more likely to win their business.

While a lot of business is conducted today over the Internet and the telephone, customers often want to meet you personally, just to make certain you're the kind of person who can be trusted to deliver what you promise.

Here are the eternal DOs and DON'Ts of these face-to-face meetings, based upon my own experience and dozens of anecdotes from "school of hard knocks" salespeople:

1. DO have a specific goal.  

Always have a goal like: "obtain approval to present to senior management" rather than something vague like "build a better relationship."

To read the full article, click on the title.



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Via maher megadmini
Marc Kneepkens's insight:

Common sense tips for staying focused and keeping your client in the center.

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The secret to building startup buzz online

The secret to building startup buzz online | Competitive Edge | Scoop.it

There’s a lot being published these days about how to break into noisy digital environments and capture the interest of people whose attention spans are shorter than ever.Yes, you can achieve this goal with things like paid Facebook ads and sponsored tweets. You can do it by pushing content on native advertising platforms like Outbrain and Taboola.

I’m going to let you in on a little secret… There’s another approach that’s guaranteed to help your startup build buzz without the time and expense associated with digital marketing campaigns. If you really want to make a splash, what you need is an army of advocates.

Think about Apple’s fanboys. How many additional sales do you think Apple made – not because their products were the best, but because the social buzz surrounding them was so strong that people just had to be a part of it?

Every loyal brand advocate is a walking, talking advertisement for your company. And when you consider that 84 percent of respondents in Nielsen’s latest Trust in Advertising report cite word-of-mouth recommendations from friends and family members as the most trustworthy source of advertising, it’s clear that these power users have the potential to pay off big for your brand.

But the best news? Building an army of these advocates is easier than you think. Here’s how four entrepreneurs and startups are leveraging the power of social advocacy.

Noah Kagan

Noah Kagan is pretty much an internet business legend at this point, but if you aren’t familiar with his work, he was employee #30 at Facebook, and is consistently ranked one of the best growth hackers working today. Read more: click image or title.





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Marc Kneepkens's insight:

Making your clients feel special is the key! Great article with great ideas.

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Fine-arts schools aim to spark students' entrepreneurial savvy

Fine-arts schools aim to spark students' entrepreneurial savvy | Competitive Edge | Scoop.it
As crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter become more accessible than moneyed patrons, fine-arts schools want to spark students' entrepreneurial savvy.

As crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter become more accessible than moneyed patrons, fine-arts schools want to spark students' entrepreneurial savvy.

The Juilliard School, the Berklee College of Music in Boston and the San Francisco Conservatory of Music have embraced programs or courses aimed at developing students' business acumen alongside their artistic skill. Entrepreneurship is also a hot topic in courses at the Rhode Island School of Design and the Otis College of Art and Design in Los Angeles, while the certificate program in design entrepreneurship at Pratt Institute of New York has been in such high demand that the school is expanding the program to accommodate more students.

Focusing on craft alone won't prepare students for life as a working artist, says Joseph W. Polisi, president of the Juilliard School, which holds workshops that encourage an entrepreneurial mind-set; in one session, students pitched business ideas to Tony Award-winning producer Bruce Robert Harris.

Students "can't think that the only world out there is the world that existed" when artists were able to concentrate on their art alone, says Mr. Polisi. "That world, to a great degree, is gone."

Sites like YouTube and SoundCloud, which allow users to post music and videos, have changed the way musicians get noticed and have intensified competition for jobs and recording contracts, students and administrators say. Even for classical and jazz musicians, record labels are more likely to sign an artist who already has a ready-made following online.

The Berklee College of Music has begun holding YouTube "hack days," bringing students together with artists popular on YouTube such as Berklee alumnus AJ Rafael, along with Andres Palmiter, an audience-development strategist at the video platform. During the most recent hack day in March, students made their own performance videos in under 24 hours, and learned about the factors that go into a video's viral success.

Students "have to approach and think about what they're doing in the same way an entrepreneur does and the same way that a startup does," says Panos Panay, the managing director of Berklee College of Music's new Institute for Creative Entrepreneurship, or BerkleeICE.

BerkleeICE is also adding two elective courses this fall: one where students work with startups on such projects as designing apps or improving instruments, and another where students spend a semester forming their own music-focused startups. Mr. Panay, a Berklee alum who sold his own startup, Sonicbids—a site for performers and promoters to post about jobs—for about $15 million, will teach both classes.

Colin Thurmond, a doctoral student at the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston, has received three entrepreneurship grants valued at about $4,000 in total from his school, two of which helped fund a performance-design company he co-founded, and another for his online guitar boot camp.

The school, which has funded over 60 projects since 2010, says it wants students to not just learn about startups, but to create them as well. Mr. Thurmond said the grants and ventures have helped him pay for school while continuing to perform.

"It becomes less about one single stream of income," he says. "I want to be able to make my career doing things that I love."

As part of a multimillion-dollar initiative to prepare students for a wider variety of careers in the ever-changing music industry, the San Francisco Conservatory of Music is building a music technology facility and expects to add a battery of professional development courses in which students will learn how to write a press release, read financial statements and use crowdfunding websites like Kickstarter.

Assistant Dean MaryClare Brzytwa says the goal is to make graduates viable candidates for jobs as record engineers, independent composers and music supervisors for film and television.

"Many students don't have the practical digital skills necessary to actually secure employment in the field," says Ms. Brzytwa.

The Otis College of Art and Design in Los Angeles offers a course with nearby Loyola Marymount University on the development, funding and marketing of products such as the iPhone.

Working designers today need a broader understanding of the businesses they work in, playing a role at marketing and sales meetings, says Steve McAdam, academic chair of product design at Otis and a former toy designer at Mattel Inc.

"Because innovation is so important," Mr. McAdam says, "it has become clear that designers have to become leaders, and leaders have to become designers."



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Via Comfortable Home Design
Marc Kneepkens's insight:

No matter what you do, you still have to sell your service, product or craft to your public. It's great to see how crowdfunding brings that notion to art schools or anyone in general trying to commercialize what they have.

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How To Sell Absolutely Anything At Full Price

How To Sell Absolutely Anything At Full Price | Competitive Edge | Scoop.it
How to sell things at full price.

Price is the amount of money your customer pays for a product.  Value is what your customer perceives the benefits of that product to be, and the emotional connection he/she has to the product, the employee, and the company, in relation to the price.

How retail associates handle and present products to her/his customer adds - or reduces - the perceived value. This is true whether the products are drills, luggage, or diamond rings.

I've seen a salesperson treat a $40 product as if it was priced at $500, and I've seen a salesperson treat a $500 product like it was worth $40. Guess which salesperson sold more?

To read the full article, click on the image or title.



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Marc Kneepkens's insight:

Selling value should be central in every contact and sale.

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2014 - The Embolden Years: Change agents lead the way for digital transformation - Brian Solis

2014 - The Embolden Years: Change agents lead the way for digital transformation - Brian Solis | Competitive Edge | Scoop.it

2014 is upon us and it’s once again time to share our (Altimeter Group) predictions for the year ahead. Except this time, predictions are moved aside in favor of important trends that are on the horizon. Let’s use this time together wisely in the hopes of prioritizing our investments in relevant strategies and the time and resources necessary to bring them to life this year and next.

In 2013, Charlene Li and I published several reports, infographics, Slideshares, and even an ebook on the state and evolution of social business. I also published a new book that focused on the specific behavior of Generation-C and how they make and influence decisions, digitally, in each of the Four Moments of Truth.

The link between everything last year sets the stage for my work this year.

To read the full article, click on the title.

Get your Free Business Plan Template here: http://bit.ly/1aKy7km


Via Luis Costa
Marc Kneepkens's insight:

This guy, Brian Solis, is right on the edge. He took his surfboard and is playing the big wave! If you want to get a handle on what 'change' means today for yourself and your business, read the article.

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Why should startups think more about customer feedback than building new features everyday? | Startups FM

Why should startups think more about customer feedback than building new features everyday? | Startups FM | Competitive Edge | Scoop.it

Startup founders basking in the glory of their game-changing project, VC funds and the adulation of compliant employees often forget who’s the boss. It’s the customer that holds the power of life and death over every startup, and it’s usually a good idea to listen carefully to someone who’s capable of knocking your head off. Think of it as a navigational assistance system that provides direction based on where you are and where you want to be.

Feedbacks are required right from the beginning

In fact, the process of collecting feedback, analyzing it and implementing changes based on the feedback must begin when your startup is still a germ of an idea, and must be factored in at every stage thereon from pre-launch to early traction and the subsequent growth phase. The benefits of collecting feedback at each stage are different, and so are the methods used for collection and analysis of CSAT (customer satisfaction) data.


To read the full article, click on the title.


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Marc Kneepkens's insight:

Definitely easy to forget, but of prime importance in your endeavors to build a great company: customer service!

Important point, if you want to build a company that makes a difference, communicate with your clients, find out what they want.

See what Southwest Airlines did to get the edge!

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