Tactics, Part 1

In the podcast series, Seth Godin’s Startup School, Seth Godin gave a guided tour to a group of highly-motivated early-stage entrepreneurs on some of the questions they will have to dig deep and ask themselves while they build up their business. Here are my takeaways from various topics discussed in the podcast episodes.

  • Starting businesses is like being an architect. We get to decide what we are going to build, what land to build it on, and what materials you will use to build it out. We also get to decide whether we are going to build it big, how to finance, and whether we are going to bootstrap our way through. It is completely up to us.
  • However, if the deck is stacked against the business in some ways, we would want to know that going in. We do not have to do the business, but it is up to us if we are going to do the project. Once we realize we have something of value to bring to the table, the way we architect it, the way we talk about it, and the way we make choices will have a dramatic impact on whether we can deliver our intended goods/services.
  • Often it is not about whether our work is worthy, it is about how do we architect it so that people who do not know you will get the point. The people who succeed at their work are those who figured out how to market their work and bringing their work to market. If we can figure out the part about shipping our work and interacting with the marketplace, everything else will take care of itself.
  • A business plan is writing down enough details to make a sales call. We do not need everything ready, just enough details to make a sales call. We can assert that our stuff is working and be ethical about not taking someone’s money until we have something to deliver. The point is that, until we figure out how to be in front of somebody and ask them for financial resources, references, or the equivalent, we do not have a business. Without a written-down business plan, we can use to make a sales call, all we have is just a dream.
  • The way that yellow pages became a multi-billion-dollar business was a great example of demonstrating value. By demonstrating value upfront, the yellow pages won store owners’ commitment. If we have our customer’s commitment to pay us, we are in great shape, and we do not even need to raise venture capital money.
  • How we price is up to us. The key thing should be that our customers are getting the value they expect. We also need to be mindful of this chasm between something is that is free and something that is not. The free vs. not-free distinction is important because paying ten dollars is not that different from paying one dollar once the customers are convinced about paying. That chasm between free and not-free is a gap we need to help our customers to get across. Our customers need a story that can tell them something that we do is worth paying for.