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Looking for a Business Opportunity? Read these words. December 4, 2013

Posted by David Dirks in business strategy, Entrepreneurship, Strategy.
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David Dirks

David Dirks

Every once in a while, someone drills out a few words that just hit you like a ton a bricks.  They are often a string of words that are simple as they are powerful and true.  For those who are looking for ways to create a business and – more importantly – a strong business model – then take in these words by Box CEO Aaron Levie:

“Take the stodgiest, oldest, slowest moving industry you can find and build amazing software for it”

That’s it.  Ok, so maybe your not into software but the advice still applies to anyone else.  Take a stodgy industry that no one pays much attention too…isn’t the latest hot business platform…and find ways to innovate the heck out of it.  Turn it into something that people will say, “why didn’t we think of that?”.

Today they call it “disruptive innovation”.  Whatever you call it, it’s an age old way to develop a business concept that has the best chance for survival and growth.  That isn’t to say that it’s easy.  Not a chance on easy but Levie’s point at least gives you a way to channel your enterprise desires and try to avoid doing what everyone else is doing.

The Quick and the Dead. September 3, 2013

Posted by David Dirks in business strategy.
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David Dirks

David Dirks

When it comes to entreprenuers, in my eyes there are only two kinds:  The Quick and the Dead.  The Quick are those that survive and grow as entreprenuers even though they too can hit dangerous bumps in the road.  The Dead are…just dead.  They are the ones who try, fail and never come back again.

Let’s take a look at the The Quick to understand what The Dead didn’t do.

The Quick are

  • Quick to act when action is needed.
  • Quick to counter competitors when the competition gets tough.
  • Quick to ask questions – and question everything.
  • Quick to make incremental changes to reflect the real world.
  • Quick to listen – and then listen more.
  • Quick to adjust their business models.
  • Quick to cut their losses on losing propositions and move on.
  • Quick to completely change their business models if that’s what it takes.
  • Quick to fix customers problems.
  • Quick to get back up when they get knocked down.
  • Quick to recognize & correct a bad hire.
  • Quick to start over and begin again.
  • Quick to recognize their own weaknesses.
  • Quick to allow others to help identify solutions to key challenges.
  • Quick to learn from competitors.
  • Quick to know when they are too in love with their business.
  • Quick to take things slowly when that makes the most sense.
  • Quick to not think they know it all.
  • Quick to know that being quick is better than being dead.

The Dead are

  • Dead.

Being “The Quick” doesn’t mean they are always fast.  It really means that the best entreprenuers – the ones that stand the test of time – are those that take action when action is called for.

Online Forums Give Small Businesses Leverage February 20, 2010

Posted by David Dirks in business strategy, e-Small Business Resources, marketing.
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Consumer research from the web gives small businesses leverage they’ve never had before.  You name the area of interest, and I’ll be you’ll find any number of places online where people can ‘chat’ about it.  Savvy marketers and business owners have found chat rooms and public forums to be great places to sift though and find  information than can be of significant benefit to their businesses.  Investing some time each week or at least on a monthly basis researching what people are saying in your community of interest is well worth it.  Sure, there’s a good amount of mundane drivel coming out of chat rooms but you can eliminate those fairly quickly during the scanning process.

Online chat rooms are for the most part, unedited conversations of those who have some level of interest (usually deep) in subject at hand.  In between the unvarnished and silly things that people will say, you’ll find a healthy percentage of people who have substantial points or information to impart to others with the same interests.  If you’re in business (and I don’t really care what business it is), you should find enough online chat rooms or forums to keep your interest.

This is especially true if you are a small business owner.  Most small businesses don’t have the resources or capacity to undertake market and consumer research.  The advent of online forums and chat rooms has offered the small business owner the ability to tap into consumer thoughts without having to spend very much money.  In most cases, you only need an investment of time and web access.

What kinds of things can you learn from chat rooms?  First, you can get a sense of what the key ‘hot topics’ of that time are.  What are people talking mostly about?  What seems to make them mad or excitedly happy?  Are they focusing on a specific competitor?  Are they discussing specific products or services?  Are they talking about challenges they face and looking for input?  What are they not talking about?

How can you make this kind of information work for your business?  Here’s how:

1.  Given the large number of online forums where people can discuss any manner of things on any specific topic these days, narrow your scope.  In most cases, the best forums (with the most amount of participation) are the larger ones.  How to find these forums?  Easy.  Just Bing or Google the specific type of forum you are looking for.

For example, if I’m in the fly fishing business, I’d search under “fly fishing forums”.  When I do that, I can find 4,860,000 results.  Stick to the first 20 results and scan those to see which ones have regular participation and have some quality in the depth of the online conversations you see.

2. Social media sites have a tremendous amount of information.  On Facebook, do a search for fan pages that are in your area of interest.  On LinkedIn it’s easy to search for groups and join them to get regular updates on online discussions.

3. Scanning forums becomes easier and faster with practice.  No one wants to sit for hours reading sometimes eye-poking drivel.  Scan each comment looking for key words that you might be interested in.

4. When you find a comments that you feel are worthy of further thought, copy and paste them onto a document and save them.  In one sitting, you might accumulate several pages of commentary.  Copy and paste at will!  In a day or two, go back and review the comments to see if you can spot trends or information that you could incorporate into your business directly or indirectly.

5.  “So might all this information I’m accumulating mean to me and my business?”  Fair question.  Like any other research, you never know what you are going to find exactly.  Surely, you are trying to find information that could lead you to perhaps product or service innovations; new processes for running your business; and who knows what else.  You have to get in the habit of scanning on a regular and disciplined basis and over time, you will see trends.  You will get kernels of ideas that can have an impact on how you manage yourself and/or your business.

Investing time in researching and scanning commentary generated in public forums gives you the opportunity for those “Aha” moments.  “Aha” moments are moments of discovery and confirmation.  Just stick with it and sooner than you think, you’ll be both inspired and challenged by the feedback you’ll see on forums.  It’s time well spent and time that most of your competitors are leaving on the table.