Archive for the ‘ Entrepreneurship ’ Category

Change is Hard

Change is hard.

Millions of years of evolution have taught us that opening that strange door is likely to put us face to face with a pack of hungry predators while only a short span of rational thought tells us that it’s far more likely to reveal the postman with a delivery from the Fruit of the Month club. It’s only our insatiable curiosity, ambition and often blind stupidity that keeps us opening doors with no idea of what lies on the other side. It’s no wonder that when you get a group of us together, we tend to beat that behavior out of those foolhardy lunatics that put the rest of us at risk.

Remember this the next time that you’re confronted with an innovative idea. If it weren’t for those foolhardy lunatics, we never would have come down out of the trees.

Advice for a new Startup

Not really a question, but, I’m in desperate search of entrepreneurial advice and knowledge for start-up venture

19 y/o seeking advice and guidance, or just general knowledge on a website start-up venture.
Concept, design, brand, etc. all thought out and in writing, just looking for guidance and/or someone with experience in the field to evaluate idea. Any help is much appreciated. Thanks

Gregg McDonough

Student, Hopeful Entrepreneur

This may sound pretty basic, but I’d strongly recommend that you go through the exercise of building your business plan. Even if you have funding, have all of your resources on-board, etc., building your business plan is going to help you think through some of the challenges that you’re going to face and prepare you to answer the questions that potential investors, customers and partners are going to ask. If you take that and your concept, design and brand out to the street, you’ll get the feedback and insight that you’re probably looking for. Again, even if you have your funding, going through the exercise will help you to identify the kind of roadblocks that you’re likely to encounter. If you don’t have any experience with building business plans, pick up a book (there are dozens of them out there) or shell out for a copy of Business Plan Pro. (BPP is a great package and has tons of sample plans) I’d also recommend hooking up with your local Small Business Development Center (SBDC) or SCORE office (you can find a listing of both at While they don’t tend to have a lot of in-depth expertise in web startups, they do have the foundation info for building a sustainable business model. They also run cheap (often free) courses and seminars that will be valuable to any startup. They may also be able to hook you up with local angels or potential partners. If this all seems like too much and you’re really looking to just be the “idea guy”, go and talk to your local bank manager. They’ll know who in your area might be interested in working with you. You could do this online, but eventually you’re going to need to build those personal relationships and it’s often better to do it close to home. Good Luck!”

I Beleive…

A consultant’s only asset with any long-term value is reputation.

Technologies fall out of favour. Business Processes evolve. Companies are bought and sold. Ultimately, the only asset that a consultant has is their reputation and ethics. Many consultants (and consulting organizations) forget this and focus on the short-term value of inflated billing, placing inexperienced consultants, under-bidding and then running over budget, working on poorly considered client projects, etc. While this short-term approach may be financially profitable, it results in unhappy clients, a bad “street cred” and can ultimately lead to the ruin of the consulting organization or even the client companies.

Communication is at the heart of every successful project

A team that doesn’t communicate well internally, with the customer and with the vendors will fail. The project may be completed, but the results will be less than optimal, the project will be more expensive than required and the ongoing support costs will ultimately be higher. Clients, Management, Vendors and the direct project team need to function as a unified whole to ensure success.

Technology has no inherent value

The only value that technology has is in how it can bring value to the business. Implementing technology for the sake of technology is not only a waste of time and money, but can ultimately be detrimental to the business. Some companies don’t need a web site. Many organizations don’t need to engage in eCommerce. Implementing a multi-million dollar ERP system for a company with $500K worth of revenues isn’t going to magically drop them into the Fortune-50. Regardless of what the “other guys” are doing, your projected ROI (return on investment) should be the main driver behind any new technology initiative.

ROI (Return on Investment) doesn’t always mean direct revenue or cost savings

Your “return” on a project is nothing more or less than “business value”. Laying the groundwork to be able to exploit future opportunities, increasing your organizational agility, improving employee or customer satisfaction are all incredibly valuable to sustaining and growing your business. Many companies destroy their agility and their own futures by not quantifying these “soft benefits” or considering them as important as the hard dollars.

Nobody ever knowingly makes a wrong decision

This statement replaces the traditional “The Customer is Always Right”. If there are two diametrically opposed approaches, chances are that somebody is working with incomplete assumptions or data. By acknowledging that nobody knowingly makes a wrong decision, open communication of the relevant information can uncover where the disconnect has occurred.

If it’s not measured, it’s not managed

Project Management is a science and not an art. Deliverables should be objective, quantified (or at least enumerated in some way) and tracked. If an objective is not measurable, it can’t be tracked or monitored. If it can’t be monitored, it certainly can’t be managed. In many cases, Project Managers encounter deliverables that they feel can’t be objectively measured. If that’s the case, then the deliverable needs to be broken down or redefined to provide a clear set of exit or acceptance criteria. Committments need to be either time-based or event driven. “Whenever” often becomes “Never” or results in a last minute rush with predictably poor results.

Costs should not exceed the expected benefits

A client should clearly understand the benefits of the project, the projected value of these benefits to the organization and the costs of implementation, training and long-term support. If the costs exceed the potential benefits (direct and indirect), the project needs to be restructured or abandoned. Implementing a solution simply for prestige, empire building or billing purposes is irresponsible and unethical and can lead to disastrous long-term results.

Excessive analysis/planning/requirements definition, etc. are as crippling as no analysis/planning/requirements definition.

Most people and organizations are familiar with “Analysis Paralysis”, the inability to make a decision without analyzing every tiny detail, facet, risk, etc. to the exclusion of any real work. The new trend is a form of “Methodology Fundamentalism”, the tendency of an organization to adopt a methodology word-for-word rather than applying it appropriately for the tasks/project at hand. It’s important for everyone to understand the steps and the processes required to manage a project, but it’s equally important to know when the effort required to carry out a task outweighs the benefits. When a team can communicate effectively, there is a natural tendency to want to work using a cascaded development approach. A linear approach is appropriate for some projects, but where a cascade approach is applicable, accepting and embracing it up-front will make for a much more efficient and predictable project.

People shouldn’t be “shoe-horned” into roles as a client “make work” effort or in an attempt to increase billing.

Everyone has their own expertise, knowledge-base, interests and abilities. It is the responsibility of the Project Manager to understand where the strengths and interests of each team member lie. Furthermore, it is the PMs responsibility to ensure that everyone is engaged to the best of their abilities and with the best long-term outlook possible. Using resources inappropriately wastes everyone’s time and effort.

Ongoing Documentation is essential

Everyone should be working with the ultimate goal of becoming redundant. It takes very little effort to document throughout the project and revise the documentation as necessary. However, it can be an overwhelming or impossible task to document retroactively.