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Posts in Entrepreneurship
On sales

Sales is like polishing turd.

At least, it feels that way from the inside.

From the outside, it must never show. From the outside, it must look professional.

The product will never live up to your internal expectation. You built it and you know the ins and outs. It will always be a turd no matter what it looks like from the outside. No matter how well you polish, you will always see the dirt under the hood. And that's fine.

As we create new products, we cherish creativity and innovation at the cost of something else. The founder has a novel idea that brings value to the market. She combines skillset with creativity and puts her own skin in the game.

The corporation used to have that, too. It was once a founder with a great idea. But today, the turd is hidden elsewhere. Today, it's someone else's problem.

No company is perfect. No product is finished. No team is perfectly organized. Yet, the promise meets the expectation with a job well done.

It always starts with polishing turd.

A dependable creative professional

A dream?

A designer who challenges global design trends?

A person that provides customer service better than an agency?

A world-class design expert with more than 10 000 hours under his belt?

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Enter Michal, one of the true freelance professionals out of Slovakia. It’s been a privilege to work with him and learn from him.

When we first met, he shared an idea that proved to be true over and over. He said it’s better to make friends with your clients than do business with your friends.

Better to make friends with your clients than having friends as clients.

His specialties are corporate identity and packaging but he doesn’t shy away from any creative challenge.

He’s a linchpin. He goes beyond what you ask for. That’s risky. It requires courage, persistence and discipline. Because most ideas won’t work. But if you’re willing to go beyond the scope, you will find the ideas that do work.

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Ideas you didn’t know you were searching for. Solutions that attract people and win awards.

In my experience with him as a client and a collaborator I’ve seen this firsthand. He has a true artistic creative process which he doesn’t put on your shoulders. You don’t see it but he’s sweating. For you.

Most ideas are bad ideas.

You don’t see it because he’s a true professional. He hits deadlines, he’s reachable and committed.

He’s working to get there even if it means most of his work will go to waste. I have personally seen him shelf multiple projects just to help the client get what they want.

There aren’t many people I can absolutely count on. This guy is one of those people. You can reach out to him here.

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The three conclusive questions

It’s either a hell yea or it’s a no.

I used to scribble that sentence on my forearm with a sharpie. It’s great advice.

Even if you’re easily confused, drawn towards multiple directions at once. Even then, you must believe that what you’re about to do, is a hell yea.

Otherwise, you’re screwed. In multiple ways.

What’s a hell yea?

It’s a definition of an opportunity, a choice you’re about to take. A kind of choice that gets you excited in the beginning. And after you think about it, it does all the below:

  • it will be fun (will I enjoy it, is it aligned with my goals?),

  • it will be a learning opportunity (will I grow?),

  • and it will make sense financially (does it support my needs?).

You already know what’s a no.

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Moving on

My blog has a new home. I’m moving my work to my own domain.

Platforms offer a lot to earn and a lot to lose. There is traffic you wouldn’t otherwise get. There is a community. And in case of Medium, there are clever ways to get discovered as a starter.

While a platform is growing, it’s precious. When it gets big, like YouTube, it gets tougher to get discovered. People figure out how to work the system and that’s a lot of trouble you need to take care of if you want to keep the level of engagement. Time that could be used otherwise.

Then there is the inability to differentiate yourself. Everyone gets a 160 character bio and a profile pic. You are one of the accounts, which sometimes feels great. More and more prolific authors sign up for Medium and it’s nice to be akin. But you are one of the accounts. Same as thousands (or millions?) of others.

Also, there is the buzzing pressure of comparing your work. Watching what everyone else is doing will creep up some point, no matter who or how big of a deal you are. Since you can’t govern the feed, a distraction that will lead you astray will come up, eventually.

So I moved. A few things to note:

  • I disallowed comments. If you have thoughts please reach out via email. I’d love to hear from you.

  • I want to stop checking social media. I’ve found it beneficial to virtually all areas of life to ignore them. I’m reachable via e-mail, and I’m using my accounts for publishing only from now on.

  • I started Letters. It’s not a newsletter because there will seldom be news. Ok, maybe someday. I’m calling it Letters because it’s personal. I want the interaction to be meaningful. As hard as that is to accomplish online, I will try to do that via e-mail. That being said, I will not send you something unless I believe I’m creating real value. Hence, the first letter is not ready yet. (smh)

E-mail is personal, (can be) thoughtful, and there is adequate space between the parties.

Most meaningful interactions I’ve had with people online were through e-mail and video. I want to focus on both of these.

Thanks for reading and I hope to see you around.

P.S. I love hearing from people, so please introduce yourself. I reply to all.

(I wrote this blog post using a simple writing tip)

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Funding failure

How stories drive faith in innovation.

The rule of thumb for disruptive innovation is — make it ten times better and cheaper than the incumbent.

That’s a lot. It’s very rare. Yet all of us secretly shoot for it. All of us secretly want to be David against Goliath.

The market wants that too. It’s still very rare, but the market wants it bad. So the market makes resources abundant. Combine that with the click bait headlines of panicking media and the loop closes.

$270 million invested in venture per day on average in the US. About 90% deals fail. More than $145 billion waiting to be invested.

We all secretly believe in disruptive innovation.

It’s still very rare. Yet, it doesn’t feel rare.

More than $ 270 million is invested daily into high potential high growth businesses in the US. Close to 90% of technology ventures flop in their first 18 months. Yet, there are new venture funds being born every month. Each one is a tiny bit different from the last. The sliver of differentiation, they will tell you, is their ticket to find and catch the unicorn.

Source:  Pitchbook

Source: Pitchbook

In mid 2017, there was more than $145 billion of “dry powder” in the market. That’s money committed into funds, waiting to be allocated into equity positions.

That’s money waiting to be invested into immature high risk businesses. Let’s reverse that. There is a deep shortage of investment opportunities. Some say too much capital is hurting venture capital. But that’s another story.

What does this enthusiasm mean? How does this affect culture?

The outliers themselves will tell you a story after the fact. And we love a good story. You will find patterns in the study of success. The virtues of the successful. But attaining those virtues doesn’t make you one of them. The odds are still against you.

They even teach at Stanford that this is not the way to get rich. 9 out of 10 startups fail.

Startups are not the road to riches. Most of the time.

Those are the odds.

Then there are conditions. Culture, environment, heritage, generation… Peculiarities in every dimension randomly affect the outcome. It’s uncommon to be a knockout success.

How do you feel? Does it feel like startup success is uncommon?

No. Because startup failure is not a story. There is no drama. Because it’s expected, we don’t pay attention. They close up, everyone cuts their losses or they find a suitor.

So why do we believe in becoming the story?

There is limited downside, and unlimited upside.

Innovation enables more innovation. Cheap servers enable access to cloud services. Widespread connection enables access to commoditized solutions. Once a privilege is now a commodity.

Commodity enables almost anyone to make almost anything. More people making anything doesn’t mean better odds. It means more stories.

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