The Fetch Blog

Curated reads and events for professionals

16 revealing signs you’re going to fail — January 19, 2014

16 revealing signs you’re going to fail

This is a sponsored post from our friends at Key Person of Influence.

failure

Daniel Priestley has interviewed over 2500 entrepreneurs over the last three years about their business ambitions. As he listened, he sometimes had a sinking feeling that he already knew the business was off track and would probably fail.

Here’s the top 16 things that gave him that feeling:

1. You’re only doing it for the money

The business idea is based on some trend you’ve noticed that is making lot’s of money right now. It’s been written up as a big thing, you’ve noticed it and now you’re after it. This is almost like trying to catch a bus that you can see traveling in the right direction… it’s too late. The people who make money from industries that are making money are the ones who got into the industry before it was making money (I hope that made sense).

2. You sell a low cost product and you’re not funded

As soon as someone tells me that their main products sell for $10-$800, I already know the business will be in a “J-curve” and unless the entrepreneur is funded they are unlikely to make it out the other side. The business will often show promising signs in the beginning with people saying they like the product and a few even buying. Later the realization sets in that the $30k a year PA you want to hire requires you to make 57 sales per month just to cover their wage.

3. You’ve never worked in the industry as a fully paid employee

One of the surefire ways to make a successful business is to have worked in an almost identical business to the one you want to start. In addition to all the thing’s you learn, you also spot the key aspects that need to be improved and you develop an understanding of the suppliers and contacts you’ll need. I’ve often said to people who are considering starting a business to go and get a job for 90 days in a similar business (even a menial job); It improves the odds out of sight.

4. You expect people to buy your product

Google relies on sales teams, so does BMW, so does, Rolex and so will your business. Occasionally someone might buy from you, most of the time you will need to go out and make a sale (especially in the beginning). Additionally, if you can’t or won’t go out and sell your product it’s unlikely you will be able to attract, train or retain a salesperson who will do it for you. For your business to work, you will need to go out and do face to face or telephone selling… and it will probably be that way for a while.

5. You’re risk averse

Every business requires you to take risks. A lot of entrepreneurs go backwards before they go forwards. If the idea of putting an untested advertisement on your credit card in order to see what happens, makes you feel uneasy, starting a business is probably not for you.

6. You’re delusional

If your business revolves around “Improving upon what Facebook is doing wrong” or “Taking Google to the next level” or “Being the next Richard Branson” – there’s a very good chance you won’t. More to the point, there’s a very good chance that you won’t be taken seriously. Before you give me the Colonel Saunders Story or the Disney Story, try starting small and getting one thing right, like Facebook, Google and Branson did.

7. You’re bland, boring, same and predictable

If you’re unique selling proposition is based on being slightly better, faster, cheaper or friendlier it probably won’t be enough to make an impact. If you get the feeling that your business is boring, you need to figure out how to make it interesting.

8. You’re working alone

My belief is that the minimum team is two people if you’re pre-revenue and three if you’re post-revenue. Then, ASAP you should get to 4-12 people with $160k+ per person. Business is a team sport and being a solo-preneur is a recipe for unnecessary struggle.

9. You’re not crunching your numbers over and over and over again

Business owners that do well constantly crunch their numbers in their spare time. They construct spreadsheets that allow them to play with price points, costs and margins. When asked, they have a good grip on their actuals and their projections. Those who struggle often can’t tell you things like their break-even point, their gross margin or their cost per lead.

10. You aren’t willing to front your brand

If you say “I don’t want to be known as the face of this business” for any reason, it’s probably not going to take off. Not unless you have a lot of money behind the business. When a new business enters the market, people want to know who’s behind it. If you won’t front your business, you’ll be beaten by the person who will.

11. You can’t generate 1000s of hot leads

Getting one customer is great at first but in reality if the business has a future you’ll need to get 100s of clients. To get 100 clients you’ll need about 300 appointments from about 1000 warm leads. It’s important to know how you’re going to get the leads flowing and keep them flowing.

12. People aren’t clear about what you do and why it’s for them

“Every great business begins as a great pitch” was what Mike Harris told me. He’s built three multi-billion dollar brands, so he should know. If you can’t pitch your business, it’s like having a suitcase full of cash but you can’t open the case; no one know’s or cares what’s inside.

13. People can’t learn about you

These days people learn about you before they buy. They want to know your philosophy, your methods, your story, your case-studies and your ideas for the future. If they can’t learn these things they will go elsewhere. For the learning to happen, people need articles, blogs, videos, podcasts, reports or even a book that you’ve written.

14. You are the product

If this business is all about you, then it’s hard to scale and eventually you will get burned out.

15. People don’t know you exist

My belief is “you are who Google says you are” so at a very basic level people who are searching for you should get consistent, accurate and credible information about you. Beyond that, you must reach out to people and let them know you are there. Ads, cold calls, PR, events, etc. are all part of a healthy business strategy for getting known; spend the money or go broke waiting for the phone to ring.

16. You’re trying to do too many things

Your business can probably get one to three things right over the course of the next five years. Google for all of its hundreds of experiments over 15 years gets very few to become successful money makers – search advertising still represents 96% of its income. If you aren’t focused on one key thing, you’ll probably be average at quite a few things; which is dangerous. Look at the success of Twitter who focussed on a fairly minute and featureless broadcasting tool but dominated that little segment; they are now worth 4x the value of the Royal Mail (UK).

The purpose of this blog is not to be negative, it’s to point out some clear issues that I’ve seen after interviewing thousands of entrepreneurs. I hope that you’re able to look at these 16 potential issues and avoid them before they cause real strife.

About our contributor // Daniel Priestley is a successful entrepreneur, event producer and author of ‘Become a Key Person of Influence’:
www.keypersonofinfluence.com.au.

Want to learn more?

KPI are running their accredited 8-hour Brand Accelerator event in February 2014 with some of Australia’s most well respected entrepreneurs and industry leaders.

  • Melbourne | 7th February
  • Sydney | 13th February
  • Brisbane | 28th February

As one of their event partners, KPI has offered readers a 40% discount on the retail ticket price, with sale ticket prices starting from $39 for general admission.

Book your ticket for the KPI 8 hour Brand Accelerator | Business Strategy Day.

Image credit: Magoz.is

Interview: Sydney local, Andrew Rogers, web entrepreneur and founder of Anchor — November 25, 2013

Interview: Sydney local, Andrew Rogers, web entrepreneur and founder of Anchor

andrew

Andrew Rogers is a Sydney-based entrepreneur that has lived to tell the tale of the dot-com era. His startup, Anchor, is one of Australia’s top web host service providers and now they’re going global. Here’s a snap of Andrew literally knocking down office walls to increase team collaboration.

You started your host company Anchor Systems in 2000, what was the web industry like then? Any shareable memories from the dot-com days?

We planned to get into hosting whilst the dot-com was going crazy and then it all fell over about the time we started. There weren’t really any hosting companies to speak of so we looked at the ISPs who were being valued at thousands per customer and decided we’d have a million dollar business in no time.

I hear stories from other people that worked in big companies in the dot-com era about the parties – we missed all that because we were chained to our desks 18 hours a day getting a bootstrapped startup off the ground. I remember eating pizza six nights a week at my desk for way too long.

You announced green web hosting services in 2011 – what’s the response been like? What do you envision data centers of the future to be like?

We actually launched it as a paid option a couple of years prior and the response was pretty much non existent. We probably didn’t market it heavily enough but yeah – a few passionate customers bought but that was it. Our industry uses a huge amount of power – we constantly use the equivalent of well over 100 households and we represent less than 1% of the space in one of the data centers we operate from.

In 2011 we decided we’d just pay for the green power ourselves and give all of our clients green hosting automatically. It was important to us so it was just something we decided to do ourselves in the end.

We’ve done a fair bit of work to reduce power consumption and over a period in which we’ve more than doubled the size of the business we’ve reduced our total power consumption. Unlike the green power we did this at a net cost benefit to the business, it has saved us a lot of money. Data centers are full of computers – these are the bits that change rapidly and have short lives so in the near future this is where I think all the change will occur. Surprisingly the industry feels like it’s been slow to move in this direction so there’s a lot of opportunity.

The buildings take a long time to build and recover costs and are very hard to change so I think the evolution will be much slower in this area.

We used to spend a lot of time in the data center upgrading and tweaking machines. These days we spec them up, turn them on and then everything happens remotely – mostly due to virtualization.

You’ve been working on a new tool called BuiltWith – what is it?

BuiltWith is very exciting. We track the technologies (think content management systems, advertising platforms, shopping cards, analytic tools) on 100 million of the busiest sites on the internet. When then turn this into a big data set and make it useful. For any website we can instantly tell you what it uses – at Anchor we’re often asking our clients if they use WordPress or do they have Google Analytics and a lot of the time the businesses just don’t know – with BuiltWith we don’t need to ask the question. The other thing we do is sell lists. We can compile lists of all the sites using say Magento – or any technology a company is interested in – such a list of their competitors customers. This has been the exciting bit because it’s helped some great startups like Optimizely grow and has brought on big clients like Google, Microsoft, eBay and Twitter.

What’s your ethos around building a cool company culture at Anchor?

There’s one really simple premise – recognize that there are things that make work fun for me and then try and ensure everyone has similar such things in their job. It’s just about looking after people. The environment is one part of it – flexible hours, an open account at the coffee shop, everyone chooses their workstation setup, comfy chairs. But the work and skills development probably more important – providing interesting projects to work on, employing and developing great managers, giving people the chance to move around and develop new skills.

You’re a mentor at Startmate and have supported community conferences like SydStart – do you feel you had the same level of assistance when starting your company?

I had a few relatives with businesses that I’d call for advice – they worked with wardrobes, airports and export grants. So it was a bit different but we still had help, advice and mentors – people who had started business and most importantly would listen to our challenges. I’m really excited about things like Sydstart, Startmate and Pushstart as they’re all great opportunities to repay that debt that I owe other people who helped us get started.

What Australia startups are you keeping your eye on?

It’s hard because it’s easy to be biased towards the ones you know more about. I’ve seen BugCrowd executing amazingly from the start of this year and I think Kinderloop have a chance of owning their space. I really love the Airtasker service so I’m super keen to see them succeed so I can keep using it.

What community meetups and industry events do you recommend our readers check out?

It’s not one regular thing anymore for me, just keep hunting out the quality events and people, be prepared to take timeout from work to discover something new – set aside time for an event each week – it’s the only way to stumble on the good experiences.

What are you favorite suburbs in Sydney?

Not quite suburbs but the amazing parks that always feel so empty considering we have millions of people in our city. The headlands around Balmoral/Mosman, Botanic Gardens, the Spit to Manly walk and Centennial Park.

About our contributor // Kate Kendall is the founder and CEO of The Fetch. She regularly blogs about startup life and advises businesses on the role of marketing and community. Follow her on Twitter via @katekendall

Image credit: Anchor HQ

Disclosure: Anchor has been a financial supporter of The Fetch throughout 2014, which increases

Hello Fleur – our new Sydney curator — October 5, 2013

Hello Fleur – our new Sydney curator

fleur

“When you hear how other people think about things you discover new ways of solving problems. You never know how you might be able to apply that thinking to your own world/industry.”

I’m very excited to announce Fleur Fletcher as the new curator in our major city of Sydney. With that name, she was born for The Fetch! Fleur has been a long-time subscriber and has previously been involved in our City Ambassador Program for over a year so it’s great to have her step-up to our curatorial team. Fleur has a background in publishing, startups and marketing – and knows Sydney very well. Welcome Fleur!

Thanks also to our beloved outgoing curator Hannah DeMilta for an amazing two years in Sydney – you completely rocked it and have been a pleasure to collaborate with!

How did you end up where you are today? 

After starting in print publishing, I moved online to edit an online magazine. The marketing side also intrigued me, so interned at an agency to get some experience. By chance I heard about an entrepreneurial boot camp, and thankfully I had flexibility at the time to give it a go. There I met the guys from Pollenizer. I loved what they were doing, and I ended up working there for three years as a customer development manager. I’m now the Acquisition and Retention Manager at 12wbt.com.

Why did you want to get involved with The Fetch? 

I’m am forever sending friends and family articles that I think they will be interested in. The Fetch is one of my favourite resources, and being a Curator means I’ll get the same thrill of finding an awesome article/event/job for someone, but on a community scale (it will also give my family and friends a break for a while!). I also love hearing about and sharing other people’s cool stories – there’s so much to learn from the way others go about their business. I can’t wait to meet lots of people and hear what they’re up to!

What things excite you about our community right now? 

There are so many people with big dreams. It’s so exciting that people feel they are in charge and have the power to create the life they want.

What events do you recommend in Sydney?

There are so many types of events going on in Sydney. I recommend getting to as many types as possible. When you hear how other people think about things you discover new ways of solving problems. You never know how you might be able to apply that thinking to your own world/industry.

I always keep an eye out on The Opera House to see what talks they have going on. Creative MorningsWeb Directions, and Ignite. I look for anything around service design, and Brainmates also do good events. Because I’m interested in food and sustainability, I keep in touch with those areas through Feather and Bone and Real Food Projects.

What’s your favourite thing about your city? 

The food, the ocean and the space.

What’s unique about Sydney?

Sydney is a great combination of fast and slow. It can be as wild and fun, or as chilled and relaxed as you want it to be.

Where can we find you in Sydney? 

You’ll find me working in Surry Hills, cooking in my kitchen, swimming up at the northern beaches or breathing in the fresh air in the Blue Mountains.

How can we connect with you?

Connect through pictures on Instagram via @fleur29, or in text on Twitter via @fleurfletcher!

If you didn’t live in Sydney, where would you be? 

Copenhagen or California. Or anywhere close to the ocean, the snow and good local food.

You can also follow Fleur and The Fetch Sydney via @thefetchSYD and on Facebook. Sign-up to receive our events-packed digest via theFetch.com and get your work life covered!

Event Review: the future of advertising at Ignite Sydney — August 11, 2013

Event Review: the future of advertising at Ignite Sydney

lightbulb

What do you think the future of advertising will look like? Big data and geotargeting are already part of our present so what can be next?

Delphine Vuagnoux from The Fetch Sydney ambassador crew recently attended to the first Ignite Sydney [Marketing] event to listen to people talk about the future of advertising and brand management.

New to the Ignite format? It’s a fast-paced evening where community leaders, thinkers and curious minds shared their top insights with 20 slides in less than five minutes. Sharp and short presentations entertain and enlighten the audience.

Here are our five takeaways from the night:

1. Advertising (and marketing) starts with a good story: be it about your brand, your product or your service, no matter what, you have to make it noticeable. Storytelling as a concept is quite new but not so new explained Sarah Morton. The ingredients of storytelling (creating a hero that your audience can relate to) have always existed since the writing of the first fairy tales and myths. So re-read your classics and adapt them to our modern marketing.

2. Social media is a key part of  brand management. But unlike the celebs (Bieber, Kardashian and co) we cannot use sex, drugs and rock’n roll. Marie Sornin, from Twitter Australia, gave three words that lead to successful social brands: entertainment (funny and unusual work really well to make your content shareable); value (make it so great that people want to share it) and utility (make it easy and accessible).

“Make your audience’s life easy, and they will thank you for it.”

3. If you’re looking for a great example of content marketing, take a look at nightclubs and DJs. Their business model is based on selling drinks but people don’t come for the beer on sale but for the type of music that’s being played, the atmosphere and everything else but the drinks. As expressed by Jonathan Crossfield, “Night clubs have invented content marketing!”. As you’d do for your club, have some content to guide people from the dance floor to the bar and build a community around your content.

4. Ever wondered on how this awful ad campaign was allowed? Rob Pyne shared some wisdom about how to not make the wrong decisions. He identified four “villains”: when people use gut feel, like doing something because it feels just right; when people play devil’s advocate; when people solve the wrong problem and when people assume data is the end-answer…

“Look for best and worst case scenarios together, take the time to listen actively and make sure there is only one person to decide.”

5. Ashley Ringrose, the founder and tech director of Soap Creative, walked us through a future where big data and geotargeting will rule the world, something like Skynet in Terminator – or Skynet Mall in this new version. Our DNA will become our cookie, the quantified self will be the norm and marketers will be able to track it down so they can sell the perfect product according to our behaviours, tax returns and what makes us laugh.

To conclude, a special mention to Andrew Clarke, at The Monkeys, whose presentation about sponsorship was one of the most hilarious of the evening, even if it remains unclear whether or not it was a presentation sponsored by Evernote. Still, he was convincing enough about the value of sponsorship as being what brings brands and consumers together where they are most engaged.

To view or review the speakers of the night, check out Ignite Sydney on YouTube:

 

About our ambassador// Delphine Vuagnoux splits her time between being an advocate against racism at All Together Now and Medianet as a communications executive. Follow her @delphinevuagnou

Interview: Kath Viner, Editor in Chief at Guardian Australia — July 19, 2013

Interview: Kath Viner, Editor in Chief at Guardian Australia

The Guardian logo

When I joined we were the seventh biggest newspaper in Britain; today we are the third biggest English language newspaper in the world.

It’s one of the  most renowned newspapers in the world with a loyal following and killer leadership in digital media. Now the publisher behind the recent Snowden-leaked NSA PRISM surveillance program, has launched the Guardian Australia. We got some questions in with Katharine Viner, the editor-in-chief, to see how the new local edition is going…

Congrats on the launch. How do you feel the reception’s gone so far?

We’re thrilled by all of it: the traffic, the way our readers are engaging with us, the sorts of stories we’ve managed to deliver, and the warmth with which Guardian Australia has been received.

What can we expect from The Guardian Australia in the coming months? Will we see a localised version of Soulmates for instance?

We’re looking at all sorts of things; for example, we’ve already launched the Guardian Masterclasses for Australia, which have proved very popular.

The Guardian has a strong reputation for data journalism – what other key elements position the masthead uniquely in the Australian media marketplace?

We are digital-only, which means we are able to exploit everything that digital has to offer and we are able to find, tell and spread stories in all sorts of new ways; and we’re truly global, with a network of correspondents around the world plus large teams in the US and UK. Also our ownership structure is unique: we are owned by a trust, with any profits going back into the journalism, which means that our journalists are free to say anything. We’re truly independent.

What’s the biggest change you’ve seen in media since joining The Guardian in 1997?

Clearly, the rise of digital; and it has been fantastic to be at the forefront of that with the Guardian. When I joined we were the seventh biggest newspaper in Britain; today we are the third biggest English language newspaper in the world.

Have you ever felt your gender has impacted on your ability to progress in journalism and your wider career?

Not yet. Probably because I’ve spent most of my career at the Guardian, where there are many women in senior roles.

You also wrote the award-winning play My Name Is Rachel Corrie – will we see any further theatre forays in the future? 

I love theatre but the day job is pretty hectic these days…

Why Sydney as your base?

It’s where most of our readers are, but we have a national focus and a particular interest in Melbourne.

How do you take time out to unwind?

I think I know the concept but I can’t quite remember what it means… Theoretically: swimming, walking and reading

Can The Fetch readers expect any Guardian Australia related events?

Hope so.

About our contributors // Kat Loughrey is the curator of The Fetch Melbourne and Kate Kendall is the founder and CEO of The Fetch.  

%d bloggers like this: