Monthly Archives: November 2018

Ways To Find New Pivoting Opportunities

In this post you’ll find a few strategies you can employ
today to find new pivoting opportunities for your business.

 

In one’s quest to building a profitable business it’s not
uncommon to have many ideas enter and leave the drawing board. Eventually we find
the one, and there we go for the following weeks, months or even years to try
to put that one idea to test. Sometimes it is the case that we did find the
one, and we move from worrying about the viability of the idea, to how to
establish our position in the market. Sometimes however, we have to go back to
the drawing board, which might mean erasing the whole idea altogether, or take
a not as harsh approach as making a simple pivot.

 

Ways to find new pivoting opportunities

Just like the creative process entailed when we are on the
search of a new business idea, finding the direction to which to pivot an
existing idea can be done in many different ways. Below are a few.

 

1. Try a new 
custumer segment

Sometimes a product or service is valuable
to more than one custumer segment, and for one reason or another we focus on one
of them. On your quest to find new pivoting opportunities for your business
idea, looking at other potential customers you didn’t yet focus on, might be
just the kind of change you need. If this is possible the adaptations you need
to make in the product/service can go from minimal to completely unnecessary.

 

Another advantage of course is that you
might also get to own a large percentage of an untapped segment, just as if the
idea was a complete innovation, which it is, but instead of being so for the
world, it’s an innovation for a certain kind of customer.

 

2. Change the business model

Another rather common kind of pivoting you
can also employ is to redesign the business model. Maybe the kind of customers
you attract although interested on what you have to offer don’t work well with
the charging structure like for example one time purchase vs monthly or yearly
re-billing, then changing the business model might be just the kind of change
your business might be in need of.

 

Just like trying a new customer segment for
which the product/service is still of value, changing the business model, might
in some situations require little to no modification in the product/service,
with the added benefit of attracting more paying customers.

 

3. Develop something new from the parts

In any kind of engineering be that of some machinery,
hardware or software, one idea prevails at the beginning of any problem solving
activity. The idea is to instead of trying to tackle the whole problem at once
and come up with a fully formed solution, to break down the problem into
independent parts. The step that follows is to apply the same idea to each sub
problem  until one finds itself with only
small manageable problems at hand. From the more broken down versions of your
problem you can then build step by step, a solution for the more complex
problem.

In computer programming it is often the case that some of
the sub-problems you find yourself with already have publicly available
solutions which come in the form of what goes by the name of libraries. In
those libraries lie computer code that the software developer can use, cutting
down the time it would take to get the whole project done.

Sometimes the parts you create, libraries in SW and pieces
in other kinds of engineering are so useful not only for your project, but to
other projects of a similar kind, that they can by themselves be made a
business on their own. So, if you find yourself wondering to what direction to
take your start up or fully formed business, it might pay to look at not only
previous ideas, but also the tools built to help those same previous ideas come
to life, since there is always the chance that someone who’s currently facing
the same problems you once faced, might be willing to pay for the solutions you
have to offer.

4. Spend some time in the shoes of the customer

When we think of the process of coming up
with an idea for a business, what comes to mind first tends to be the image of
a creative business genius who gets struck by a brilliant idea in their dreams
or while in the shower. In essence, one person comes up with the whole idea, a
team is built, and before we see it, the business is out there making millions
of dollars.

With this kind of strategy, the idea is to
spend some time thinking by ourselves, or as a team, and if we’re lucky enough
we are then blessed with the idea that we so desperately seek.

 

There is another approach  however, that relies less on luck than one
can hope for, and that is to immerse yourself in the environment of your target
customer. It’s not uncommon for new entrepreneurs to get their ideas from their
own day to day environments, where after noticing that something they get in
contact with can be done better, they get then the inspiration to start a
business with a more superior product/service.

 You can
get new ideas by doing the same. Instead of polling your potential customers on
what kinds of products/features they would be interested in, you can become
your potential customer, living the way they live, go to the places they go and
eating what they eat, mimicking their lifestyle as close as possible and as
time goes by you to see things the way they see, by feeling their pains and
going through the same problems they go through.

 

Summary

These are just a few of the many pivoting strategies you can
employ on your business specially if it’s a start-up or just an idea. We often
get the advice that one should stay on the same path no matter how many
failures one faces. Einstein is known for have said that taking the same
approach over and over again with no results is a sign of insanity, and so we
find ourselves wondering what to do if and when we fail in life: quit or keep
going? Both answers for this question carry their own hidden implications. If
you vote for quitting, the implication is that no matter what you did you’d
never succeed, while if we take the opposite approach, the assumption is that
no matter how many times you failed you’d eventually succeed, both of which
none of us can ever prove or be sure of.

The real question here is what is your overall goal? Is the
idea in question just a means to a larger big picture goal that can still be
accomplished if we take another path? Or is the idea/business in question the
big picture goal? 

It is all about knowledge and experience 😉

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Ways To Improve Your Mind

In this post you’ll find a few strategies you can apply
today on your self-improvement journey.

 

Self-improvement is one of the most talked about subjects in
self-help books, and almost as much in the social media. A part of what goes in
inspirational speeches is messages designed to bring a person up from the
common moments of low self-esteem and low self-belief which occur to anybody on
their way to achieving their dreams. Some go as far as to say that nurturing
your day dreaming about your dreams alone can get the universe to get you what
you want. Whether this is true or not, the most useful piece of advice that you
eventually hear is to improve yourself. Unlike most other kind of advice you
can find out there this is one of those things that you can’t help but to agree
with the first moment you hear it. You arrive at the same conclusion as your
advisor, and in a moment of clarity you wonder why you’ve never thought of it
in the first place. Right after the most natural thought that comes is how can
I do that?

 

Ways to improve your mind

Self-improvement just like health is one of those things
that can be done in many ways. The problem that brings to us is that in order
to incorporate those small improvements to our lives they have to be made
habits, and habits take some time to take root (66 days according to the
universe College London). If we try to do it all at once we quickly lose
control and we go back to day one. So the next intuitive idea then becomes to
do it in the areas that matter most, starting from health and relationships,
and going down and down to the aspects of life that matter the least. Here
we’ll focus on the mind.

1. Struggle is the light

The most common advice given to people who
want to build stronger and bigger muscles is to progressively heavier and
heavier weighs. The reason why this works is because our bodies adapt to the
environment around us, and if a part of your environment includes occasionally
lifting heavy weights, the most reasonable thing is to grow bigger muscles. So
for the body builder, the pain that comes from lifting weights becomes
his/her’s guide to bigger muscles.

 

The brain follows the same principle. The
more difficult problems you deal with, the more conditioned you’ll be to deal
with difficult problems. Research has shown that the brain just like our
muscles can adapt to the environment around us, and this phenomenon goes by the
name of neuroplasticity, which is the ability of the brain to rewire itself.

 

With more struggle also comes the ability
to deal with stress. The same idea then applies, if you live in a stress less
bubble the moment you find yourself in a difficult situation chances are that
you’ll break. One of the biggest advocates of this self- improvement strategy
is the Ex-navy Seal David Goggins, who Is known for believing in the idea that
suffering, as counter intuitive as it might sound is a powerful teacher of
mental toughness due to the strengthening effect they create in one’s mind and
spirit. A life without challenges or stress of any kind predisposes one to
break the first time things gets a little tough, which eventually will if you
live long enough.

 

So, actively seek stressful situations and
challenge yourself to stand by and go through them. The advantage you gain from
doing this is that more than just suffering or a challenge, this will be a form
of controlled suffering/challenge, in which you have the power to set it all to
be a little out of your reach, enough for you to feel and be uncomfortable, but
not enough for you to break.

 

2.  Read broadly

This is one of the most common advice
anyone can get from self-help groups, but just because it’s popular doesn’t
mean it’s irrelevant. One reason why this point might be easily ignored by you
and anyone else who reads this post is that new tendency of ours of giving more
weight to the latest ideas about anything. The old and well established
principles and ideas are looked down upon, and some go as far as making the
incorrect mental connection that if it’s old, it means it’s out-dated.

 

Just like with a cook, the more ingredients
your mind has to work with, the more things can be done/accomplished. Think of
each subject your read on as one more mini-tool you can use to solve problems
and the more of those you possess, the more problems you can solve. We tend to
value most the ones who can solve the most problems, so it follows that with
each book you not only increase your problem solving abilities, but also
increase your value to the world.

 

One problem with reading that I myself
faced in the past was lack of time. So, to solve this problem I tried speed
reading, and for the same reason( maybe lack of time) my efforts weren’t
successful. There I was with the desire to acquire more knowledge, but still
with bottlenecks in time and reading speed. The solution came as obvious and at
the same time counter-intuitive. We think of reading as a very important thing
to do for one’s self-improvement, and for the ones who for some reason or
another are not able to, this self-improvement part is dismissed. This is the
old weakness of obsessing about the way instead of the results. My problem and
probably yours too was that I assumed that the only way to consume books was
through reading. There is another way, and that is through audio. Now that
pretty much everybody has a smartphone, this strategy is even more viable. If
you can’t read quickly you certainly can do so by speeding up your listening
speed which can be more easily improved. So, a book which would take you a
month reading can be finished in a few days, if not in hours, and slowly you
get to build your own composite of knowledge.

 

3.  Remove Ignorance

When we think about improving anything be
that health, our relationships or our minds, the first instinct we have is that
of trying to add to it. The truth is that although adding stuff is a part of
self-improvement, removing the things that limit or slow you down can be just
as important. Think about health for example. If you smoke and drink alcohol
every single day, it’s safe to assume that any exercise and healthy eating you
might do will be limited in terms of benefits by the bad things you do to your
body. You might notice that by giving up smoking and alcohol alone you might
notice a boost in energy, health and motivation, whose gains can be compounded
by adding new healthy eating and exercising habits.

 

Ignorance is then to our minds what smoking
and drinking is to our health. You can add new knowledge everyday, but as long
as you retain ignorance the benefits of the added knowledge will either be
limited, or nullified. This comes from the idea that if you have ignorance in
your mind, some knowledge might not be internalized no matter how powerful it
is. Think of growth mindset for example. People with this kind of mindset are
predisposed to see life as a playground for skill acquisition, where the
weaknesses one has today don’t represent written in stone limitations, but
parts of one that require some work. With effort, one is able to become a
better self, be that through new knowledge acquisition, or through the practice
of some skill. The ones who don’t possess a growth mindset are more likely to
take their inability to perform a task as something inherent in their genes
which can never be modified no matter how they try. So, it follows that if one
reads a book whose advice is likely to make one become a better version of
itself let’s say in dating or any other kind of social skills, if you’re
socially awkward, and your mindset is limited, this kind of advice is more
likely to be ignored.

 

This is one kind of ignorance that can hold
you back on your self-improvement journey, and it’s by no means the only one.
The easiest part in the improvement of one’s mind is in learning new material,
but the hardest and the most underrated in terms of importance and difficulty
is in the identification and removal of inaccurate beliefs. One reason for this
is that in order to do such thing we need to first be able to get over our own
egos, which overreact when we attempt to force ourselves to admit we were wrong
in believing in something.   

 

Summary

Self- improvement can just like exercising be
done in many different ways, which means that a part of it apart from learning
what other people teaches you is devising your own self-improvement strategies
over time. Take this post as a start, and start considering your own personal
methods tailored to your life goals and dreams.

It is all about knowledge and experience 😉

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How to know if your idea can be a business​

In this post you’ll find a few questions you have to answer
to know if your idea can become a business or not.

The first thing that comes before the beginning of any
business is an idea. We get tired of the current state of affairs, and decide
to get things done the way we think they should be done, or we are hit by a surge
of creativity, and for a moment we are able to see the future with the level of
clarity we are not able to tap into in our day to day lives. Whatever the
source of the idea, after we experience it in our minds, we are no longer the
same. If the idea succeeds and it becomes widely implemented, the world then,
just like us changes into a better version of itself.

The thing about business ideas is that not all of them go
through the second phase. Meaning that most of them are only good enough to
change their creators, and as far as the world is concerned, they are just
another idea which is just not good enough. So, for any aspiring entrepreneurs
as well as the most experienced ones, the million dollar question then becomes:
“can we make this idea a business?”

 

How to know if your idea can be a business?

I heard this question for the first time from a business
mentor a while ago, who after hearing about a new business idea my team had to
propose asked the question:  “can this
become a business”? Luckily or unluckily for the group at the end of the
meeting we all agreed that the answer was “no”, and below are a few of the
questions and tests we’ve made to come up with the final answer.

1. Did you do your math?

The first thing we think about when a
business idea comes to mind tends to be the amazing future it might bring for
us, our loved ones and the world. We picture a world in which we make more
money because of it, as well as a place in which the state of affairs is better
than it used to be in the past. So with the hopes and dreams, we judge the
value of an idea by the level with which we and the people around us become
emotionally supportive when we think about it, and when they first hear about
it.

 

What we forget to think/do is the math
behind the whole business idea, starting with the business model. The questions
at this point are: “who’s going to pay for it? How will that person pay for it?
And would they pay for it?”

 

The thing to remember is that as
counterintuitive as it might sound, there is such a thing as an amazing idea
that despite its amazingness doesn’t have the requisites to become a business.
One example is the kind of idea everybody thinks it’s great, but that
realistically most or nobody would be willing to open the wallet for.

 

Another question we can make in the same
breath is: “Are there enough paying customers?”. In theory having some paying customers
is always better than having no costumers, but put that in practice, and sometimes
that “some” is not good enough. Depending on the number of paying customers an
idea can easily be downgraded from a potential real business idea, to nothing
more than a great idea for a new side income stream. Assuming you manage to get
a good enough portion of the market share, the idea could be the difference
between a complete life change for you which trickles down to your children and
grandchildren, and a mere stepping stone to your financial comfort goal.

 

 

2. How much of the market share can you
realistically get, and is it worth the effort?

Another important question touched on the
meeting we had with the mentor was about the market share we could potentially
get. This wasn’t really one of the main questions on our efforts to know if the
business idea and business model were viable. It was in fact a part of a part
in the thought process. Since for the idea we had in mind we couldn’t at the
moment tell who the potential competitors were, we assumed a 10% market share.
Which in a moment of reflection begged the question: “how much market share
could we realistically get? And was it worth it?”

 

The thing about business ideas is that just
like the perfect romantic partner it requires a group of specially calibrated
characteristics for the whole thing to work. The percentage of the market share
you can get with your idea is one of them, and if you think about it, this is
probably the most important number of all.

 

Coming up with a good idea for a business
is not that difficult if you have even the slightest piece of creativity in
you. If you don’t, well, not everything is lost, and the easiest way to go is
to copy what you know works. From the business idea, to the business model, and
try to improve what already exists. For both, there is a high chance that for
whatever you come up with there are already businesses running and being
successful at it. Which means that there is a good chance that for any idea you
can think of you’ll be competing with other businesses,  and this intuitively takes us to the question
in this point. Just like the whole being successful in business thing, knowing
how much of the existent market share you can realistically have with what you
currently have to offer is a tricky process. Things like the kind of people
you’ll be selling to, and their loyalty to what they are already using are just
a few examples of the things you have to be aware of to answer this question.
And if the final percentage is not good enough, or at least not worth the
effort, chances are that you might have some re-thinking to do.

 

3. Are there enough of paying customers?

The next question still in the same tone is
whether there are enough paying customers in the first place. An idea can get a
thumbs up for all of the points above and still not be viable or good enough to
become a business. There might be many reasons why that might happen, and one
of them is that even if there are paying customers, and you have a big chance
that you’ll take  100% of the market, the
size of the market, in addition to the amount you’ll charge per customer makes
the whole thing not worth the effort. Going back to that idea my team rejected,
this was one of the weaknesses of it. Assuming that we had 100% of the market
the idea was bordering on the “somewhat worth the effort” realm, but when
testing it against more realistic market share percentages, the idea would
qualify as a side income at best.

 

So, according to your estimates for your
market share percentage, are there enough potential paying customers which
would make the idea worth being a business? Because as the mentor’s words said:
“we start businesses to make money”, which makes sense for most people unless
of course, that your goal is to start some sort of non-profit organization.

 

When you picture the problem of deciding
whether an idea you have is a business as a money making machine, it then
becomes easier to see why if the number of paying customers is not optimal for
your target bottom line that even if there are paying customers, that this
doesn’t necessarily mean that the idea is good enough to become a business.

 

 

4.  How much can you charge?

Another question is how much you can realistically charge
for what you have to offer. The problem with being the creator of your
product/service is that just like with everything else we create ourselves we
tend to overestimate their value. One product that we would pay a certain
amount suddenly becomes more expensive the moment we own it, and we are asked
to sell. We might not necessarily sell the product for a higher price than we
purchased, but the impulse is still there.

So, its important to be aware of this tendency when
estimating the maximum price potential customers would be willing to pay for
the product/service we have to offer. If what you’re offering is not new to the
market you’re entering it might be more difficult to delude yourself, since the
prices of your competitors tend to reflect what the costumers are willing to
pay, even though it’s still possible that they can always charge more. If what
you’re bringing is completely new then it’s much more difficult to delude
ourselves into overestimating the price potential customers would be willing to
pay.

For this kind of problem the simplest solution is to build a
prototype of the idea, and try to get a feel for the right price by openly
asking potential customers is they would be willing to pay for the
product/service at the price it is.

 

Summary

The lesson from this post is that sometimes ideas that sound
and look good in our minds don’t score as well in paper. In the end of the day the
main goal of a business is to make money, and it’s only by being willing to
abandon ideas whose numbers are not good enough that one can evolve as a
business owner.

 

 

It is all about knowledge and experience 😉

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