Planning & Strategy A Must Read this week is the paper from Balaji S. Srinivasan’s Stanford University class on Entrepreneurship, Market Research, Wireframing, and Design, where he frames the evolution of a startup along the initial critical steps. “An idea is not a mockup, A mockup is not a prototype, A prototype is not a program, A program is not a product, A product is not a business, And a business is not profits.” Both Chris Dixon and Brad Feld have a take on it, with slightly differing views, respectively with The Idea Maze, and A Startup is a Continuum of Ideas. Customer Feedback Albert Wenger discusses the dilemma facing entrepreneurs on how to handle customer feedback, in Listening Too Much / Too Little. On that topic, I suggested that how you treat customer feedback before or after product/market fit is very different in The Leaping Startup. Listening too closely to feedback might lead you to the wrong places. Albert added in his comments, “Customer feedback…is best received by observing what customers do rather than what they say.” Business Models Classic quote from Spotify’s CEO: “We have actually now proved our business model”. Despite losses, Daniel Ek knows that they are keeping more than they are in paying in royalties. Lesson for entrepreneurs is to know when your business model has been validated. Growth In Embracing the Incrementality Mentality, Danielle Morrill re-hashes Paul Graham’s growth imperative, but reminds us that even if you’re growing at 4% week-to-week, you’re on the right track because of the compounded effects. And Steve Blank warns that once you get new funding, beware not to over-spend on a lavish new office that could end-up breaking your culture, because you would have “lost sight of the values that got you there”, in The Curse of a New Building. User Experience Jamie Tolentino covers the basics in 13 Ways to Master UX Testing for your Startup. And the Twin Engine Labs blog has an excellent post on how a design team works in a lean startup environment, The Lean UX Team: Cross-Functional, Problem-Focused, and Experimental. Founder to CEO Martin Zwilling has 10 Clues That Managing a Startup May Not Be For You. Bottom-line is to have some self-awareness about managing yourself. SEO & Content Marketing Rand Fishkin says you have to think holistically and do both link building and content marketing, because they go hand in hand, in SEO’s Dilemma – Link Building vs. Content Marketing. And the Influitive blog has a good reminder that your advocates can also write content for you, in Advocates Can Do More Than Share Your Content – They Can Create it for You. Branding Giving a Voice to Your Brand, from the Moz blog is a long winded post that makes the simple point that you need a brand voice that appeals to the emotions of your customers, instead of being driven by the structure of your product. Good point, but you need to first start with positioning and extend it into branding. Customer Acquisition Jason Cohen points that the cost of cancellations (COC) doesn’t equal the cost of acquisitions, so you can’t go by percentages, and must look at the absolute numbers and at the % of revenue to recover the cancellations, in COC: A new metric for thinking about cancellations in SaaS business models. Conversions From leaky conversions to testing one thing at a time, Matthew Berman from 500 Startups covers some basics in Get More Conversions Now- Funnel Optimization 101. And the KISSmetrics blog has 7 mini case studies in How These 7 Companies Increased Revenue by an Average of 425%. Some of the tweaks include changing pricing, removing a menu, or adding responsive design. Entrepreneurship Rand Fishkin tells young entrepreneurs to start blogging before coding, in 7 Unlikely Recommendations for Startups & Entrepreneurs. I riffed with him that he might be a bit too inbound marketing-centric in this viewpoint. Sum of it, it can work but it’s not for everybody, although if you have an attentive community, they can help you fine-tune your product, if they are your targeted audience.]]>