Archive for the ‘Startup’ Category

From Big Job to Your Own Job

Posted: May 10, 2015 by Mark Matthews in Culture, Leadership, Startup

MarkMatthews-Blog-badgeYou worked hard in your career. You put in the long hours, missed family events, changed cities, and made sacrifices so that you could move up the corporate ladder. And it worked. You took on roles of increasing responsibility and achieved a lofty position with a Fortune 500 firm.

Man, you were somebody who had it all. Then one day, it was all gone. Perhaps you got “downsized”. Perhaps you were tired of all the sacrifices and then decided to chuck it all and not “work for the man anymore”. OK, so now what?

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Accountability: The New Body Odor

Posted: April 26, 2015 by Tom Heuer in Culture, Leadership, Operations, People, Startup

Tom Heuer, Miami University Center for Entrepreneurship

During my college days, I remember that hygiene often became an afterthought. Showering, washing clothes, having clean sheets and towels were not on the priority list. It just wasn’t that important to us. Rolling on the ban deodorant took care of everything. This one daily activity allowed us to attend classes without being repulsive. Working together was not inhibited by a foul, distracting odor. Our interests were not derailed by anything that distracted us or tempered our thoughts about the situation or individual. Ban deodorant always did its work.

In today’s business community, accountability seems to have become the new “body odor.” Whisper the word “accountability” and people run away and hide. Obviously, it isn’t the smell that turns people away – it is the personal commitment that is required. (more…)

Why I Hate Brainstorming

Posted: April 19, 2015 by Jim Friedman in Culture, People, Startup

JimFriedmanI hate to say hate, but … how else do you describe that nails-on-chalkboard spine shivering shrill chill reaction? I’ve stopped ignoring it. I vow to stand alone, if necessary, to right this creative wrong: I hate brainstorming.

It’s a daily occurrence. We have a problem to solve. The challenge has been identified. The project begins.

“Where do we start?” Someone always suggests brainstorming.

“Great, who has an idea?”

“How about this….” A couple of ideas are suggested… or, as is often the case, one idea is suggested.

“Good… let’s do that.”

Brainstorm completed. Meeting adjourned. Team moves forward ready to make an un-creative idea happen.

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jerry-malsh-2015It’s 6:00 AM and 7 below zero as my wife and I get into a cab headed for CVG on our way to some Southern warmth.   At least once every winter we stay at a Northern Kentucky hotel to avoid the ‘wintry mix’ of chaos guaranteed to occur the night before and the morning we’re scheduled to leave.

Our cab is a late-model Audi. Since we’ve both owned Audis for years, I’m already feeling comfortable as our driver asks us which airline we’re flying.

I notice his accent but can’t quite place it and ask him where he’s from.

Serbia.

Serbia. That bombshell of a word explodes in my mind, spewing out its shrapnel of hellacious images: Civil war, ethnic cleansing, mass graves and countless other unspeakable atrocities committed by man against his fellow man.

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What Great Companies Excel At

Posted: March 29, 2015 by Tim Metzner in Innovation, Leadership, Startup

Tim-MetznerWhile companies are incredibly diverse, it occurs to me that successful ones tend to have (at least) three things in common; clear vision, great culture and exceptional execution. I believe the more consistently a company excels in these areas, the more likely it is to become a lasting company that will thrive.

Vision

Your vision must be clear, focused, meaningful and well communicated to the team. Everyone from CEO to interns understand where the company is going and how they are to help.

Culture

Employees spend more time at work than they do with their families. People need to genuinely believe the company is working on things that matter, feel challenged and appreciated and enjoy the people they work with.

Execution (more…)

Rapid Innovation

Posted: February 21, 2015 by Bill Cunningham in Innovation, People, Startup, Technology

bill-cunningham-sc“You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something – your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.”  – Steve Jobs – founder of Apple Computer

In my office I have a picture of Steve Jobs on one wall and Steve Blank facing him on the other. Mr. Jobs certainly needs no introduction, but Mr. Blank is not a household word around the Midwest as he is a veteran of 8 Silicon Valley tech companies and teaches at Stanford and Berkeley.  Steve Jobs believes customers can’t know what they want — we have to invent it for them.  Steve Blank, however, believes that you must find out what your customers need, and solve their problems. Which Steve do you follow?

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Tips From A Conservative Entrepreneur

Posted: February 8, 2015 by Jerry Malsh in Culture, Leadership, People, Startup

jerry-malsh-2015I was a late bloomer.

It took me 37 years to finally become an entrepreneur!

When I graduated from college in ’69 (that’s 1969, not 1869), there was a recession going on and the only place that offered me a job was Sears, Roebuck in Chicago … writing catalogue copy for the automotive department–specializing in mufflers, tailpipes and tires.

Pretty glamorous, eh?

About 4 months of that grind was all I could take, so every night I cut out pictures from magazines, pasted them on the cardboard backing from my laundered shirts and typed in my headlines and copy for what I thought would be good ads.

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To Grow as a Leader, Stop Making Decisions

Posted: February 1, 2015 by Bob Gilbreath in Culture, Leadership, People, Startup

Bob-G-2015We often praise leaders that stand at the center of decision-making. We marvel at the technology CEO who personally chooses buttons for a new phone, the actor who also produces and directs his next film, and the pro sports coach who negotiates the power to “buy the groceries” as general manager. It makes for a good story, but often a horrible organization. Most successful leaders get there by minimizing the number of decisions they make.

For entrepreneurs, the day is filled with decisions small and large. It is a function of the habit of being the decider from day one, but also comes from the personal pressure of owning the company. For those who start a business because they think it’s good to be the king, this model is great. For the rest of us who are striving to build a sustainable, scaling business it can mean disaster.

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Getting Started with your Business

Posted: January 25, 2015 by Jessica Reading in Leadership, Startup

jessica reading miamiIt’s that time of year when New Year’s Resolutions are still on a high, and every bit of willpower is being used to do that extra ‘thing’ we’ve always wanted to do. If starting a business is one of them, willpower simply doesn’t make it happen.

This year, you don’t need to be a would-be entrepreneur.

Really, a lot of it is about removing a few assumptions, and just taking a few steps that will jump-start what it takes to call yourself an entrepreneur.

  • Get rid of the assumptions about your own skills.

Working with over 1,000 students in our entrepreneurship program, we see every bit of assumption why someone is not ‘ready’ to build a business: I don’t want to leave everything else behind to do just this. My idea isn’t perfect yet. I don’t have the skills to make it happen. It’s a lonely process. I’m not ready to be my own boss – the list goes on. Starting a business is not an outcome, it’s a process. You learn and grow the things you need for your business as you move through the process. Don’t worry about what you don’t have yet. Focus on what you do have.

  • Disregard the apparent legal and administrative complexities.

GOOGLE is your best friend. Seriously, there’s no need to worry about your background in education, or history, or engineering holding you back from being business savvy. There are millions of resources online, or in Cincinnati. It’s an ecosystem of support: from the incubator and accelerators to the investment groups in town.

  • Talk to people.

You probably told your closest friends, family and dog about your idea. That doesn’t count. Go out and actually ask your potential customers that your product would help them with a problem they face. Ask if they would actually buy your product. If they say no, then well, it’s best you didn’t spend the year focused on building that product.

  • Start with the problem, not the solution.

When you talk to people, focus on the problem. Too often, would-be entrepreneurs say, “But my solution is going to solve all of your problems with this.” The problem needs to be big enough that you can actually make a business out of it.

The most common characteristic of a successful student team in our entrepreneurship program is that they are willing to take all the preceding steps with a listening ear. What does listening look like? Being willing to accept criticism, take feedback, ask questions, adapt, and change. The change is part of improving your product and solution, and becoming a real business.

Starting a business this year doesn’t have to be as far-fetched as it may seem. With the abundant resources available and growing credibility of the region, the timing couldn’t be better to get going.

Dr. Chuck Matthews“Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The important thing is not to stop questioning.” Albert Einstein

In the last few days, have you asked yourself, “Where did 2014 go?” Time is the most precious resource that any entrepreneur possesses. Although, time can seem to possess us instead of the other way around.

While the New Year prompts reflection about time, it also raises the specter of how we create value for our customers over time. The ongoing challenge for entrepreneurs is not only creating value at the outset of the business, but continuing to add value for customers today and into the future. The transition from one year to the next also brings into focus the nearness of the future. Tomorrow begins today.

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