Archive for January, 2012

An economist’s guess is liable to be as good as anybody else’s. Will Rogers

Are there entrepreneurial opportunities in the manufacturing sector?  Given the relatively rough treatment that U.S. manufacturing tends to take these days, it is an interesting and timely question.

I often ask my students in class and audiences during talks the following two questions: 1) What percentage of the world’s manufactured goods are produced in the United States? and 2) What percentage of the world’s manufactured goods are produced in China?  Overwhelmingly, the response I get both from my students as well as the general public is less than ten percent for the U.S. and sixty to eighty percent for China.

Three persistent myths.  The answers are emblematic of the first persistent myth that U.S. manufacturing is dead at worst or on life-support at best.  The reality is that the U.S. is the world’s largest manufacturing economy consistently producing 21-23% of global manufactured products.  There is no denying that China has made a remarkable advancement in the manufacturing sector, today producing upwards of 15% of the world’s manufactured goods, but U.S. manufacturing is estimated to produce over $1.5 trillion of value or over 11% of the U.S. Gross Domestic Product.

That brings us to the second persistent myth – there are no entrepreneurial opportunities in U.S. manufacturing.  There are.


Creating an Enchanting Business Plan

Posted: January 22, 2012 by John Clarkin in Money, Planning, Startup

This is an exciting week for Cincinnati. Four universities will compete in the NKU “Reality Check” Undergraduate Business Plan Competition. Ten teams have submitted entries and will present on Friday, January 27, 2012 in the NKU Ballroom. Guy Kawasaki, founder of and author of many books will give a SkypeNote address live from Palo Alto, California at noontime.  Guy is the master mentor of helping startups communicate their ideas to investors. Here’s a blog from Guy Kawasaki about building a plan that enchants readers.

Creating an Enchanting Business Plan

By Guy Kawasaki

Think of your pitch as an outline, and a business plan as the full text. (How many people write the full text and then write the outline?) The more you pitch, the better your outline and the better your outline, the better the plan. After you perfect your pitch, then start writing the business plan. At a high level, here are some tips for writing an enchanting business plan:

  1. Write for all the right reasons. Most people write business plans to attract investors, but most venture capitalists have made a “gut level” go/no go decision during the PowerPoint pitch. Receiving (and possibly reading) the business plan is mostly a mechanical step in due diligence. The more important reason to write a business plan, whether you are raising money or not, is to force the management team to solidify its objectives (what), strategies (how), and tactics (when, where, who). Even if you have all the capital in the world, you should still write a business plan. Indeed, this may be especially true because too much money usually causes sloppy and lazy thinking. (more…)

Start Me Up

Posted: January 15, 2012 by Bill Cunningham in Innovation, Planning, Social Media, Startup

In 1995 Bill Gates personally asked Mick Jagger of the Rolling Stones what it cost to license their 1981 hit, “Start Me Up” to launch Windows 95. Jagger suggested a ridiculous number, but Gates agreed to it on the spot – and a historic marketing campaign was born. Like Bill Gates, entrepreneurs need to start it up – take action – go on the offensive. Thousands of great ideas never see the light of day because no effort or action happened to turn it into reality.

Why Ideas Never See the Light of Day

Fear of failure, fear of success, fear of hard work, fear that someone will steal the idea and on and on. Fear prevents us from giving up the day job and take the risk. So how do you overcome this fear? Break it up into small bites – don’t try to eat the elephant all at once.

Experience a Startup

As you read this, the NKU Startup Weekend journeys into day three, where companies get designed and launched. Like the InOneWeekend events in 2008-2010, startup weekends give participants the chance to experience a start in fast-forward. While the participants believe they will create the next Google by Sunday night, they may not realize how much experience they build by going through the startup process. Take advantage of these events that give hands-on experience with other entrepreneurs. You’ll receive more benefits by doing than by reading a book, watching a podcast or attending a presentation (although these are good, too.) (more…)

It is never too late to create…

Posted: January 9, 2012 by Chuck Matthews in Innovation, People, Startup

“When you get a good idea, run with it!” Snoopy (aka, Charles Schultz)

Data from the Kauffman Foundation’s Index of Entrepreneurial Activity suggests that in the U.S., individuals between the ages of 55-64 have a higher rate of entrepreneurial activity than those folks ages 20-34.  Some estimates put it as high as 33% greater than the younger entrepreneurs.  Even the SBA has recognized that the conventional wisdom that entrepreneurship is only the playground of the young is not so much anymore, showcasing a web site with information for 50+ Entrepreneurs.  SCORE (the Service Corps of Retired Executives) has joined in the recognition that the over 50 set can not only bring their considerable experience and expertise to the consulting table (a talent SCORE has perfected over the years) to help others, but quite simply the 50+ crowd has the knowledge, skills, and networks that are the perfect recipe for new venture start-up success.

What has contributed to this phenomenon?

Demographics.  Obviously, the demographics of an aging population make this a very interesting topic.  50+ workers make up a large part of the workforce and while many are looking forward to “retirement” it isn’t necessarily the “rocking chair on the porch” style of retirement (unless it’s a rocking chair with wi-fi access so they can monitor their new venture start-up activities).

Healthier and more fit.

Also, more “retirements” are among the 50-60 age group.  It is a group that is staying healthier, more fit, and active than at any time in history.  Advances in healthcare contribute to living longer and stronger.  While pensions have been taking a beating in the recent recession, many “goldenpreneurs” see their retirement nest egg not just as savings, but as investment capital.  More mature entrepreneurs, much like their younger counterparts, focus more on the consequences of success rather than the consequences of failure.

Talent + Energy + Investment = New Venture Start-Up.  

Let’s face it, senior entrepreneurs have experience on their side, established networks (both physical and virtual), and the human, social, and financial capital to make it all work for them as entrepreneurs.  The usual caveats apply.  At any age it is best to develop a business plan, clearly identify underserved and/or unserved market opportunities, focus on product/service offerings, stay customer centric, be aware of the competition, provide unparalleled creativity, leadership, and communication, and deliver a killer value proposition for the buyer.  The good news is that this is pretty much what the 50+ set has been doing all their lives – often for someone else!  Bottom line, the 50+ generation has the time, talent, and resources to work for themselves and the customer directly.

Hackers and Hustlers Essential for Startups

Posted: January 1, 2012 by Micah Baldwin in People, Startup, Technology

This week “THE ENTREPRENEUR” team is taking a holiday break.  We have invited  Micah (pronounced Me-Ha) Baldwin, a Silicon Valley startup veteran and author of the blog, “Learn to Duck: Sometimes the Best Way to Learn is to Get Punched in the Face.” to share wisdom of essential talent for tech startups.

JULY 6, 2010 BY 

Every year when people start applying to Techstars (now in 3 cities!), I get emails and phone calls asking for my advice.

I always ask the same question, “Do you have a Hacker and a Hustler?”

Sometimes, I get the response, “I’m both.”

To which I suggest that they rethink their application. It’s nearly impossible for a single founder to have much success building his startup, let alone getting through a program like Techstars (or Y-Combinatoror any of the dozens of others). One person can not do it all. It’s really that simple.

What do I mean by a Hacker and a Hustler?

A Hacker is more than a code monkey, who can quickly build software and find interesting ways to hack together code. That’s a developer. That’s someone who is definitely an important part of a startup, but not critical to its success. A Hacker is someone who looks the problem, and solves it in a unique and special way. A Hacker finds the process of problem solving exciting and interesting, and spends the majority of their time looking at the problem in multiple ways, finding many potential solutions.