Friday, February 26, 2010

Business Tips from Diverse Sources

Over the past few months I have gathered a number of useful business tips from entrepreneurs coming from different backgrounds and areas of business. The origins are as diverse as chalk and cheese. However, once I began to write these points down I realized that there were a number of common threads.

Let’s start with a Ukrainian media tycoon who was the subject of a Peter Day ‘World of Business’ episode. After overcoming many set-backs in getting his business up and running and receiving an award for his achievement his advice to would-be entrepreneurs is:

  • Know what you want
  • Be prepared to do whatever work is necessary to achieve it, even if that means 12 hours a day, 6 days a week for 10 years.
  • Believe that you can do it.
  • Be honest at all times with the team of people that you work with
  • Choose people for your team that are prepared to work for the same goals (and share the same dream).

The Polish company that have been a success in Poland and expanding that success worldwide to some extent echoed those feelings:

  • Work with people whom you can trust
  • Have faith in your idea
  • Have trust and faith in your customers and treat them with respect.

Next from a Social Innovations event. The discussion was about building communities and Lane Becker, the co-founder and president of Get Satisfaction advised that the first step when building a community is to find your purpose. You should know what kind of community you are creating and also know what success looks like.

Dan Schawbel, the author of Me 2.0, a book on Personal Branding describes 4 steps in personal branding:

  • Discover (what’s your brand?)
  • Create
  • Communicate
  • Maintain

Finally, I’d like to pass on to you some gems which are in a speech by Steve Jobs to the Stanford University Graduates in 2005. He gives three stories: the begining of his life; the middle and what he thought might be the end. It’s worth watching. He describes how it is necessary to follow your curiosity and intuition. Sometimes it is not clear at that time why we might be engaged in a certain activity but it’s about connecting the dots. You can only connect the dots by looking backwards not by looking forwards. Trust that the dots will connect and that will lead you to follow your heart.

Secondly, sometimes life is going to hit you in the head witha brick. Don’t lose faith. You’ve got to find what you love. Keep looking and don’t settle.

Thirdly, if you live each day as if it were the last, one day you’ll most certainly be right. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way that he knows to avoid the trap of thinking that you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart. No one wants to die – even people who want to go to heaven don’t want to die to get there. Death is very likely the single best invention of life. Finally he told the huge crowd of young people: “Your time is limited so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Future - is it mobile?

All the indications are that the future is very much in the mobile arena from what we may already read. The number of mobile users overtook desk-based in 2008 (Wikipedia). There were a lot of hopes pinned on mobile access to the web when it first became commercially available in Finland in 1996. However, performance and usability have been an issue which the industry has fought to cope with. Ruti Gafni as recently as last year developed an empirical for evaluating usability of mobile devices so that it was possible to measure this when comparing phones, PDAs, etc.

Several alternatives to accessing Internet content have been tried in the years since the Internet became more widely available. This is neatly presented chronologically by Tony Quin in his page: Digital Magazines - a history". One of the more interesting for me was the magazine "Unzip", which was a CD-Rom from IPC was based on content from titles such as New Musical Express and New Scientist in 1995. This coincidental is the year before the first mobile Internet became available. I liked the rich content and graphical interaction in Unzip as well as the fact that there were deep hyperlinks to take you further to the Internet. However, that's when the user experience suffered due to lack of band-width and on top of that multi-media sites were few and far between then.

It is possible though that we about to see the meeting of these two worlds. Gerd Leonhard who is at the forefront of the Internet debate on content and the Internet future has featured the collaboration between Wired Magazine and Adobe.
Does it look like the bridge has been crossed? Well it does depend on the model that the media is brought to the market and the ability of companies to fast track support for the technology. Gerd raises 4 If's and when we get the answers to them we will know if the bridge has been crossed.

References: Usability Issues in Mobile-Wireless Information Systems, Ruti Gafni, The Open University of Israel, Israel