Published by Startupcoach on 05 Dec 2011

Business plans realities and the “needs”

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Business Plans…

Some food for thought

AS the GM of a big Entrepreneurship Center and as a University lecturer on the topics, the last few years have been very interesting as far “how to start  a business” has evolved. For a long period of time I kept saying that the “process” of doing a business plan was more important than the result of the “work” on paper.

Much too often, as someone who evaluates business plans for contests, I have seen “good” business plans for which I was sure it wouldn’t make it. Even tough I missed a few my batting average is pretty high. Too many “champions” of the writing process become huge fails in the execution process . Sadly, I’ve seen young entrepreneur spend too much time on the writing g of the “perfect” plan, too much time going from contest to contest to win some kind of  “cash” prize or grant instead of focusing on getting real clients. Getting real client is like getting oxygen, grants is like a life-support system, it works but it’s limiting…

A tipping point

The more emphasis I put on turning “the rules of the game” into “The rules of success” , on being ruthless on the expenses of year 1 and by kicking butt so the entrepreneurs go out there and talk to people instead of being behind their computer looking for answers (or so they thought),  I noticed a shift.

There are no best planning tool out there but it came to a point where I was wondering if doing a traditional business plan wasn’t counter-productive for a small business.

In the last few years voices started to be heard about the ability of the business plan to really “deliver” on startups. Guy Kawasaki, William Bygrave of Babson College, and John Mullins from the London business School of Economics among many more

There are many point to discuss and business plans lack in short term actions as far as I am concerned. And let’s not forget that doing a formal business plan is very time consuming and time is a very precious resource when you are starting. That is one aspect that I like about the “Lean Startup” approach (more on that in later posts); Small steps of action, put the feedback in the “machine” as soon as possible and Iterate…measuring as you go along…

Getting as fast as possible the Criterias by which your clients choose to buy your product and services is paramount. Don’t ASSUME, ask…

What is the Unique Client Experience felt by your client when using your product or buying your service ? Notice I didn’t say the UCE that they WILL feel…it’s the UCE they got WHILE using your product or services.

Kawasaki said at one point that “a business plan should be the elaboration of a good pitch

I think elements of a good pitch are what you gather from the field, the “war stories” of your startup. I came to the point where understanding the need behind the decision to buy was the point where most mistakes were made. Like a false premiss on which everything is built. The house is good but the foundations are rotten, so after a while everything falls…So everything starts there…Too many entrepreneurs (and business owners will say, “let me tell you about our solution and you’ll get what the need is” …WRONG!

Convince me there is a need then I will listen to your solution, the other way around is a waste of time. Describe the need in details, make me “want” to hear your solution…Make me go “WOW” at the hole you are filling in the market then I’ll “want” to know what to solution is…and then we can go on with other parts of the plan; competitive advantage (unfair is even better but it better be real, stating an unfair advantage that I see a mere differentiation will piss me off), your tolerance to risk, your business model and how you’re going to make this turkey fly…..

 

Published by Startupcoach on 02 Dec 2011

The Master Question-Asker

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The MQA (time to read: 2min)

We all had this happen to us…

You meet someone, at a friend’s party or in a networking event. You have a lengthy conversation. You liked the guy a lot. You exchanged business cards and Social Media profiles. You leave each other after a warm handshake

A few days later, you talk about this guy with enthusiasm and then it hits you…you really don’t know much about him! You even start wondering how you were so “open” with this person…

Yes, you’ve encountered the MQA, the Master question-asker…

What bugs you is that you consider yourself a pretty good marketer and sales person. You ask open questions, you know how to use the When, What, how ,who and why’s

The piece of the puzzle most of us are missing is how to ASK a question TO a question!!!

That’s where the MQA is the most efficient. You ask one of your question but it boomerangs back to you in  a flash. The tone is compassionate so you go along…And you keep talking, and most of the people like to talk about themselves professionally.

To be able to do that, can you imagine the level of listening that is required ? One has to be totally there, no hidden agenda, fully present in the moment. When is the last time you were in that “zone” in  a conversation ?

When have you stopped and thought about the question BEHIND the question ? When have you stopped to think about the CONTEXT behind the question ? Next time don’t jump at the chance to answer. Stop and think for a moment if you couldn’t come up with a way to make that question more precise…

Doing that is a skill that requires practice. It has to become 2nd nature to you. Technique is one thing but it’s only when you’ll be doing it to “serve” better that the power of the MQA will really give you a strong ROI. Because you’ll have discovered the real “need” behind the question you’ll be able to come up with a real solution to that need. It will result in more people wanting to do business with you, more people giving you more referrals…

Practice becoming an MQA and watch your business soar…

 

 

Published by Startupcoach on 26 Sep 2011

New career or new startup ? Here’s a good book for you

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Hello;

I haven’t been writing much since last summer but I think I have what it takes so you forgive me :-)

I have just found out that a very good book can now be downloaded free of charge.
I know the author personaly. His first book (in French) really sent me on a journey exploring new ways of starting businesses. If I can talk to you about Lean Startup and Effectual Entrepreneurship it’s because this guy wrote his first book.

I invite you to discover the methodology he teaches in top business schools, which is explained in his latest book “Winning Opportunities”.

In any case this is a no-risk opportunity because readers set their own price after reading the book, according to their own assessment of its value and what they can afford.
If you do not like its content you pay nothing.
Fair enough!

I encourage you to read this book because:
·        it can really boost your career (it did for many people who had read the French version that came out 5 years ago)
·        it contains a robust guide on how to seize opportunities (this is what helps boost a career!)
·        it provides a user-friendly alternative to the painful writing of a business plan
·        it is quite entertaining (each chapter starts with a joke): easy and fun to read

You can also be generous and forward this message to your own network or share it on Facebook with your friends.

With kind regards
Alain

Published by Startupcoach on 27 Jun 2011

Ready for a Business Breakthrough ?

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Hello everyone;

So I’m off to vacations in my summer house on the Magdelen Islands.

I usually come back from there with boatlaod of energy (pun intented) ready to help as many people as I can.

So this year, I’d like to try something else, so….

If you’ve been working to
grow your business for a while
now and things aren’t happening
as fast as you want, then I’d like
to help you create a MAJOR
business BREAKTHROUGH.
Here’s the scoop…

I’ve heard from a lot of small
businesses that are having an
especially difficult time getting their
business to grow fast these days.
After hearing about so many people’s
struggles, I decided to do something
about it…

I’d like to invite you to take
advantage of a special, “Business
Breakthrough” coaching session
where we’ll work together to…

=> Create a crystal clear vision
for your ‘ultimate business success’
and the “perfect lifestyle” you’d like
your business to provide

=> Uncover hidden challenges
that may be sabotaging the
growth of your business and
keeping you working too
many hours

=> Leave this session renewed,
re-energized, and inspired to
turn your business into a
highly profitable, revenue-generating
machine that practically runs itself…

If you’d like to take advantage
of this very special, very limited,
and totally FREE 30 minutes
“Business Breakthrough” coaching
session.

To help me to be more efficient on this call please answer the following questions and send them to me
startupcoach(at)alaintheriault.com
1. How long have you had your
business?
2. What kind of product/service do
you provide?
3. What are your revenue goals for
the next 12 months?
4. What was your business revenue
over the last 12 months? (ballpark)
5. What do you see as the major
challenges holding you and your
business back from growing at the
pace you want?
6. On a scale of 0-10, how important
is it for you to overcome your challenges
and achieve your goals today?
7. Full Name
8. Email Address
9. Phone #
10. Time Zone

Pick the areas you’d most like
to work on…

__ Marketing
__ Sales Process
__ Turning Your Team Into High Performers
__ Cash Flow Strategies
__ Customer Service
__ Systemizing & Streamlining Processes
__ Leadership & Delegation
__ Other

Since I’m making this offer
for the first time right now and I
don’t know how intense the response
will be, I can’t guarantee a
coaching session for everyone.

I’ll work with a group of 20 entrepreneurs at the time
then start a waiting list.

Even if I’m on vacation you’ll get a reply from someone from my team in the next 48h.

If you made the “cut”, you can expect to get contacted
by our team to schedule your
session in the week of July 12th

Again, to take advantage of
this offer, simply send me an e-mail  and
answer the questions listed
above.

Warmest Regards,

Alain

PS: The sooner you send us your
answers, the more likely you are to
get a session.

 

 

Published by Startupcoach on 25 Mar 2011

Go, now!

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