Michael Masterson on entrepreneurship + some thoughts ~ Sounds + Food 'n' Retail

sell entrepreneurship tips strategy.jpgTen tips, taken from an essay written by Masterson, entitled "The Winner's Rule", from the book "Just One Thing

Advice is a funny thing. I don't think it's advice at all; rather it's a set of criteria or truths, and fairly shallow ones at that. They ignore the context a person, a reader, a student, a business goes through. And what if we all met these same criteria? Wouldn't the world be a much more boring place? As such, treat all "advice" with care.

I can classify Masterson's points into two categories: Business-related & person-related.

1. It's not a business until you make the first sale.

2. The most effective way to enter a new market, is to offer a popular product at a drastically reduced price.

3. Sell, sell, sell: keep on increasing the perceived value, allowing you to ramp up the price, and increase profit margins.

All of these are sort of straight-forward, I think, though certain terms should be qualified. For instance, what does a 'sale' mean? It's easy to understand it within the context of a product going over the counter, but what about service-companies or the many web-businesses that fund themselves through advertising (if that)? I would nominate the first "rule" to be: It's not a business until you make money.

The second and third points, to me, seem like a typical VC-thing to say. Scale, scale, scale. Sell cheap and sell much. And worry about increasing the profit-margins later on. Again, it should be qualified, depending on the type of business. For instance, the internet is a market-place for countless cheap (or free) and mass-products; but as a result many products/services have become simple commodities, with no one willing to pay for them, and businesses having to look towards advertising as a funding-source (shudder).

4. When choosing a business, pick the one that can be grown without your personal involvement.

5. Before investing, know exactly how much you're willing to lose, and get out before you hit that point.

6. First, improve your strengths. Then, eliminate your weaknesses.

7. Focussing is more effective, than a diversified approach.

8. Let your winners run, and cut your losers off… quickly.

9. 80% of success comes from 20% of your resources.

10. Try to always focus on the good of the whole, vs. the good of the one (applies to any relationship).

Lot's more to say here.

Completely agreed with point four, as entrepreneurship should not be about enslaving yourself to another organisation, at least not for life. Many entrepreneurs seem to ignore that rule, however. Also, VCs often prefer to replace the founders with more qualified executives to "grow the pie."

Point five is spoken like an investor and is very much dependant on the perception of risk you have. Entrepreneurs are reputed to be risk-taking people, however the smart entrepreneur takes a calculated risk, and understanding how much you're willing to lose is part of that.

Point six and seven are a personal weakness of mine, I'm too damn curious for my own good sometimes, more interested in exploring areas (of myself or in life) that are unknown to me, rather than that which is known. That may change, but is certainly not a criteria that I personally meet. I wrote about focus before, btw. Differs from person to person.

Point eight comes with experience, I think. On the one hand, you need to have perseverance, even when things are hard or going badly, especially during the early stages of a start-up. On the other hand, a reality-check is price-less. I suggest bouncing your ideas off as many people as possible.

Point nine is true, nothing to add.

Point ten is about understanding the core-principles of business and, even as an employee, doing all you can to make that business (instead of yourself) profitable. Ram Charan is a good man to read on that.

Good essay, made me think about my place in the world.

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