martes, 30 de enero de 2007

Breakthrough Ideas for 2007

Muy buen articulo del HBR, no necesariamente emprendedor pero muy útil.

The HBR List

Our annual survey of emerging ideas considers how nanotechnology will affect commerce, what role hope plays in leadership, and why, in an age that practically enshrines accountability, we need to beware of “accountabalism.”

1. The Accidental Influentials *

Duncan J. Watts

In his best seller The Tipping Point, Malcolm Gladwell argues that “social epidemics” are driven in large part by the actions of a tiny minority of special individuals. The idea seems intuitively right—we think we see it happening all the time. Nevertheless, this isn’t actually how ideas spread. It’s better to focus on getting enough plain, ordinary people to sign on.

2. Entrepreneurial Japan

Yoshito Hori

Japan’s economic rebound is generally attributed to the turnaround of corporate giants and to industry consolidation. But it is also fueled by the emergence of new companies led by entrepreneurs in their twenties and thirties. An entrepreneurial Japan—no longer an oxymoron—may ultimately overshadow the much touted start-up cultures of China and India.

3. Brand Magic: Harry Potter Marketing

Frédéric Dalsace, Coralie Damay, and David Dubois

Most brands target a specific age group. The big problem with this approach is that it positively discourages customer loyalty—and, as we all know, it’s a lot cheaper to keep customers than to find new ones. To get around this problem, companies should consider creating brands that mature with their customers.

4. Algorithms in the Attic

Michael Schrage

For a powerful perspective on future business, take a hard look at mathematics past: the old equations collecting dust on academics’ shelves. Just as big firms need the keen eye of an intellectual property curator to appreciate the value of old patents and know-how, they will need savvy mathematicians to resurrect long-forgotten equations that, because of advancing technology, can finally be applied to business.

5. The Leader from Hope

Harry Hutson and Barbara Perry

Most business leaders shy away from the word “hope.” Yet hope has been shown to be the key ingredient of resilience in survivors of traumas ranging from prison camps to natural disasters. So if you are an executive trying to lead an organization through change, know that hope can be a potent force in your favor. And it’s yours to give.

6. An Emerging Hotbed of User-Centered Innovation *

Eric von Hippel

Most countries, developing and developed alike, view innovation as a vital input to their economic growth and spend varying portions of their national budgets to support it in companies and research labs, for the ultimate benefit of essentially passive consumers. Denmark is taking a different tack: It’s making “user-centered innovation” a national priority.

7. Living with Continuous Partial Attention

Linda Stone

“Continuous partial attention”—distinct from multitasking—is an adaptive behavior that presumably allows us to keep pace with the never-ending bandwidth technology offers. Now there are signs of a backlash against the tyranny of tantalizing choices.

8. Borrowing from the PE Playbook

Michael C. Mankins

Company coffers are overflowing these days, and inevitably executives are turning to the M&A markets in their quest to put the cash to good use. If they’re to avoid repeating the disappointments of previous M&A waves, they will have to take a few leaves from the acquisition playbook of private equity firms.

9. When to Sleep on It

Ap Dijksterhuis

Use your conscious mind to acquire all the information you need to arrive at a difficult decision, but don’t try to analyze it. Instead, go on holiday and let your unconscious mind digest the information for a day or two. Whatever your intuition then tells you is almost certainly going to be the best choice.

10. Here Comes XBRL

Robert G. Eccles, Liv Watson, and Mike Willis

A new software standard for financial and business reporting, soon to be adopted by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, will make it dramatically easier to generate, validate, aggregate, and analyze business and financial information—which in turn will improve the quality of the information companies use to make decisions.


lunes, 29 de enero de 2007

The Top Ten Stupid Ways to Hinder Market Adoption

Les dejo un par de consejos de Guy Kawasaki, que pienso seguir casi al pie de la letra.

A la hora de armar paginas (como es más que conveniente seguir este tipo de consejos y leer todo lo que se pueda sobre satisfacción del cliente; sobre todo en temas de navegación y toda experiencia autoreferencial de otras personas, para conocer posibles errores. Espero que les sean de utilidad.

Here’s a compilation of silly and stupid ways companies are hindering adoption of their products and services. I must admit, some of the companies that I’ve invested in have made these mistakes—in fact, that’s why I know these mistakes are (a) silly; (b) stupid; and (c) hinder adoption.

  1. Enforced immediate registration. Requiring a new user to register and provide a modicum of information is a reasonable request—I just think you should do it after you’ve sucked the person in. Most sites require that registration is the first step, and this puts a barrier in front of adoption. At the very least, companies could ask for name and email address but not require it until a later time.

    A good example of a site that does the right thing is Netvibes. It allows you to do a high level of customization without registering. (Thanks to Glenn Kelman)

  2. The long URL. When you want to send people an URL the site generates an URL that’s seventy characters long—or more! When you copy, paste, and email this URL, a line break is added, so people cannot click on it to go to the intended location.

    Here’s an URL for a billiard table copied and pasted from the CostCo site:|1||P_SignDesc1&N=0&whse=BC&Dx=mode+matchallpartial&Ntk=All&Dr=P_CatalogName:BC&Ne=4000000&D=billiard%20table&Ntt=billiard%20table&No=0&Ntx=mode+matchallpartial&Nty=1&topnav=&s=1

    The justification often goes like this: “We create a long URL because people with Crays might break our code and see private pages. Seventy characters that can be twenty-six lower case letters, twenty-six upper case letters, or ten numbers ensures that no one can break our code since the possible combinations outnumber the quantity of atoms in the universe.” This is what keeps sites like TinyUrl and SnipURL in business.

    Also, speaking of URLs, it’s good to have an easy naming convention for URLs. MySpace, for example, creates easy-to-remember URLs like

    Test: Can people communicate your site’s URLs to others over the phone?

    Extra credit: You are using Verizon and can do this despite its coverage.

  3. Windows that don’t generate URLs. Have you ever wanted to point people to a page, but the page has no URL? You’ve got a window open that you want to tell someone about, but you’d have to write an essay to explain how to get that window open again. Did someone at the company decide that it didn’t want referrals, links, and additional traffic? This is the best argument I can think of for not using frames.

  4. The unsearchable web site. Some sites that don’t allow people to search. This is okay for simple sites where a site map suffices, but that’s seldom the case. If your site has a site map that goes deeper than one level, it probably needs needs a search box.

  5. Sites without Digg,, and Fark bookmarks. There’s no logic that I can think of why a company would not want its fans to bookmark its pages. And yet many companies don’t make this possible. When my blog hits the front page of Digg, page views typically increase by a factor of six or seven times. It’s true that the Digg effect wears off quickly, but some new readers stick around and that’s a good thing.

  6. Limiting contact to email. Don’t get me wrong: I love email. I live and die by email, but there are times I want to call the company. Or maybe even snail mail something to it. I’ve found many companies only allow you to send an email via a web form in the “Contact Us” page. Why don’t companies call this page “Don’t Contact Us” and at least be honest?

  7. Lack of feeds and email lists. When people are interested in your company, they will want to receive information about your products and services. This should be as easy as possible—meaning that you provide both email and RSS feeds for content and PR newsletters.

  8. Requirement to re-type email addresses. How about the patent-pending, curve-jumping, VC-funded Web 2.0 company that wants to you to share content but requires you to re-type the email addresses of your friends?

    I have 7,703 email addresses in Entourage. I am not going to re-type them into the piece-of-shiitake, done-as-an-afterthought address book that companies build into their products. If nothing else, companies can use this cool tool from Plaxo or allow text imports into the aforementioned crappy address book. When do you suppose a standard format will emerge for transferring contacts?

  9. User names cannot contain the “@” character. In other words, a user name cannot be your email address. I am a member of hundreds of sites. I can’t remember if my user name is kawasaki, gkawasaki, guykawasaki, or kawasaki3487. I do know what my email address is, so just let me use that as my user name.

  10. Case sensitive user names and passwords. I know: user names and passwords that are case sensitive are more secure, but I’m more likely to type in my user name and password incorrectly. One of the funniest moments of a demo is when a company’s CEO can’t sign into her own account because she didn’t put in the proper case of her user name or password. I’ve seen it happen.

  11. Friction-full commenting. “Moderated comments” is an oxymoron. If your company is trying to be a hip, myth-busting, hypocrisy-outing joint, then it should let anyone comment. Here’s an example of one such policy:

    Q. Who can leave comments on GullyHag

    A. Anyone who has been invited, either by us or by a friend. The invite system works like Gmail. We’ve invited a bunch of our favorite execs, bloggers, and friends to comment, then given them invitations to share with their friends and colleagues. That way, the burden of inclusion, and exclusion, is shared.

    The concept that people have to be invited to post comments is pathetic—if you hold yourself out as a big cojones company, then act like it. Even the concept that one has to register to post a comment is lousy. There have been many times that I started to leave a comment on a blog but stopped when I realized that I’d have to register.

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  13. Unreadable confirmation codes. Don’t get me wrong: I don’t support spam or robots creating accounts. A visual confirmation graphic system is a good thing, but many are too difficult to read. For example, this is what I got when trying to create a Yahoo! account. Is that an uppercase “X”? Is the last character an “s,” “5,” or “S”? Maybe this only affects old people like me, but it seems that all one merely has to prove is that you’re not a robot so a little bit of fuzziness should be good enough. For example, if the code is “ghj1lK” and someone who enters “ghj11K” is close enough.

  14. Emails without signatures. There have been many times that I wanted to immediately call the sender or send him something, but there’s no signature. Also, when I book an appointment with a person, I like to put in his contact information in case I need to change it. Communication would be so much easier if everyone put a complete signature in their email that contains their name, company, address, phone, and email address.

    On a corporate level, communication would be so much easier if companies stop sending emails with a warning not to respond because the sender’s address is not monitored. I don’t mean they should not include the warning. I mean they should monitor the address.

  15. Supporting only Windows Internet Explorer. Actually, I’m not nearly as vehement about this as you might think. Supporting Macintosh, Safari, and other Windows browsers is a lot of work, so this is your call. If you define your market as only the people who use Windows Internet Explorer, so be it. You may have to really invest some effort into this one, but all the other items in this list are stupidly simple.

viernes, 26 de enero de 2007

¿Definir los hitos del proyecto, es importante?

Les dejo una buena idea para implementar en sus emprendimientos. Esta sirve para lograr marcar el rumbo, dejar en claro el hacia donde vamos, traer ideas a la realidad, generar puntos en el tiempo y espacio, entre otras.

¿Que es un hito?

Un hito es una tarea de duración cero que simboliza el haber conseguido un logro importante en el proyecto. Los hitos son una forma de conocer el avance del proyecto sin estar familiarizado con el proyecto y constituyen un trabajo de duración cero porque simbolizan un logro, un punto, un momento en el proyecto.

¿Por qué son importantes?

En el cronograma de cada proyecto deberían existir varios hitos que informen la fecha estimada en que pensamos cumplirlos, y que luego en la ejecución compararemos con la fecha real.

En muchos proyectos, se hace mención solamente de los hitos y es muy común que sólo los hitos le interesen a un comité de directores que revisa proyectos en una gran organización. En tal sentido, los hitos son la forma más abarcativa de monitorear la ejecución de un proyecto.

Si alguien se está construyendo una casa, inmediatamente toda la familia habla de los hitos y no del cronograma: “el lunes completaron los cimentos”, “la semana que viene terminan de colocar los pisos”, “ese día estará finalizada la instalación de gas”, etc.

Dentro de los consejos típicos, se recomienda colocar algunos hitos dentro del plan solamente como señal de que llegamos a un punto importante en el proyecto. Estos hitos servirán como herramientas de comunicación para los patrocinadores y demás involucrados. De esa manera se define un tablero de control para todos los proyectos, en el cual se indican, por ejemplo, los hitos que hemos atravesado, cuál se encuentra cerca, cuál está atrasado, etc.

jueves, 25 de enero de 2007

10 Web tips for entrepreneurs

Les adjunto una nota de Fortune Small Business, que tal vez les sea util.

NEW YORK ( -- Web sites seem the way of the world these days, but many small-business owners still don't have an Internet presence.

Hal Hance, a practice manager at a small doctor's office in New York, says having a Web site would be unnecessary at the office he runs. "In medicine, especially in private practice... there really is no point," he said, "except maybe to provide demographic or biographic information."

Hance isn't alone. Indeed, of the nearly 25 million U.S. small businesses, 46 percent do not have a Web site, according to the Kelsey Group, a research firm in Princeton, N.J.

But Web sites are not only powerful tools for e-commerce, they also can boost almost any business, as consumers look into products they might buy.

"When customers are doing research for purchases, they are going to the Web," said Jed Alpert, vice president of marketing for WebCollage, a provider of online media technology based in New York City. "Sales that happen in the store are influenced by online research."

Websites can level the playing field, too, allowing even the smallest business to compete more effectively with larger companies.

And while some entrepreneurs fear that going tech will be expensive, companies like, a provider of do-it-yourself Web sites and web services, allow business owners to build their own Web site for $10 to $60 a month. The price includes a domain name, e-mail, Web statistics and technical support.

Which means that if your business is not online already, then it should be.

To that end, Jeff Stibel, CEO of, offers these 10 tips for small-business owners.

1. Stand out from the competition. Online you can be compared side by side with your biggest competitor. That means there is a tremendous opportunity to identify what your business does better than the rest. "A Web site is the great equalizer," Stibel says.

2. Establish credibility. This is particularly important for small, relatively unknown firms, he says. For example, a family-run restaurant may want to highlight how long they've been in business so new customers feel they're discovering a hidden gem.

3. Provide in-depth information. Use the Web site to provide background, testimonials, directions, demonstrations or other content that speaks to your target audience.

4. Make shopping easy. Every small-business owner is trying to sell something, whether it is a product, service or idea. Even a doctor's office, which may not have anything tangible to sell online, could provide users with an estimation of the wait time so patients don't have to sit in the lobby all day.

5. Enhance customer relations. E-mailing the company, placing an order or securing a reservation can all be done easily online. "Figure out what your customers need, and then build your customer relations based on that," Stibel says.

6. Increase customer spending. Ultimately you are trying to build a businesses, not just boost online sales, which means using the site to keep customers informed and make them feel happy about spending more money. This is the end goal, Stibel says.

7. Expand nationally or worldwide. When a business goes online, the dynamics change significantly because Web sites can be viewed by many more potential customers anywhere in the world. That also means that business owners may have to consider enhancing their inventory management, shipping and distribution.

8. Gather customer data. Everything you do as a small business is based on understanding who your customer is. Data from Web traffic can tell you where your customer is coming from and where they are going after visiting your site. Incorporating analytics is invaluable.

9. Brand extension. Offline, your store front is limited by your real estate. Online, your business is unlimited. You can even offer other products and services online that would be difficult to carry in a store due to size and space constraints. For example, a pizza stand could sell slices in the shop but also have t-shirts, hats and other souvenirs available online.

10. Drive traffic either to an online or offline location. Regardless of what type of business you operate, traffic to your site can translate into "qualified" traffic to your store. "Leverage the Web presence to build the business," Stibel says.

lunes, 22 de enero de 2007

Es necesario un plan de negocio?

Este texto fue tomado del blog de Guy Kawasaki, creo que vale la pena leerlo.

Before you dedicate your life to crafting a business plan the length of a book, read these two paragraphs from the 1/9/07 edition of the Wall Street Journal in an article called "Enterprise: Do Start-ups Really Need Formal Business Plans"

A study recently released by Babson College analyzed 116 businesses started by alumni who graduated between 1985 and 2003. Comparing success measures such as annual revenue, employee numbers and net income, the study found no statistical difference in success between those businesses started with formal written plans and those without them...

“What we really don’t want to do is literally spend a year or more essentially writing a business plan without knowing we have actual customers,” says William Bygrave, an entrepreneurship professor at Babson College in Wellesley, Mass., who says he generally advocates “just do it.” Entrepreneurs must be nimble, and will be more apt to stick with a flawed concept they spent months drafting, he adds.

I think that Prof. Musgrave’s study is so right. Here is the entire study if you’d like to read it. This is the plan’s abstract:

This study examined whether writing a business plan before launching a new venture affects the subsequent performance of the venture. The data set comprised new ventures started by Babson College alums who graduated between 1985 and 2003. The analysis revealed that there was no difference between the performance of new businesses launched with or without written business plans. The findings suggest that unless a would-be entrepreneur needs to raise substantial startup capital from institutional investors or business angels, there is no compelling reason to write a detailed business plan before opening a new business.

The phrase “unless a would-be entrepreneur needs to raise substantial startup capital from institutional investors or business angels, there is no compelling reason to write a detailed business plan” merits discussion. Most venture capitalists require a business plan as part of due diligence. This doesn’t mean they spend more than ten minutes reading the plan, and it certainly doesn’t mean that they believe it. :-) A great plan won’t make a lousy idea successful, and a lousy plan won’t necessarily stop a great idea.

Most of the plans that we see at Garage are too long and too detailed—to the point of reducing credibility. Here is my prior blog posting about business plans that you might find helpful. The gist of it is:

  • Perfect your pitch, then write your plan.

  • Use the business-plan exercise as a way to get your team on the same page.

  • Keep it short: ten to twenty pages.

  • Spend no more than two weeks writing it.

  • Don’t get obsessed with with details in your financial forecast because it should be one page long.

However, don’t draw the wrong conclusion from this study: “Analysis, planning, vision, and communication are unnecessary.” This isn’t true. What is true is that a business plan should not take on a life of its own. It is a tool—one of many that may help you get funded (or, more accurately, hinder you from getting funded if you don’t have one) and may help you get your team working as a team. But it is not an end in itself.

domingo, 21 de enero de 2007

5 herramientas para convencer a un Inversor Angel

Este texto fue tomado del blog de Mariano Ruani, creo que vale la pena leerlo.

Para presentar adecuadamente un proyecto a un inversor se requieren, al menos, 5 herramientas: el Elevator Pitch, el Resumen Ejecutivo, la Presentación, el Plan de Negocios y las Proyecciones Financieras.

¿Hacen falta las 5?
SI. Todas cumplen distintas funciones...

1. Elevator Pitch (o Elevator Speech)
Comunicar el proyecto en pocas palabras. Cual es el problema que atacamos u oportunidad que detectamos. Cual es nuestra propuesta para dar una solución.
Función: comunicar rápidamente lo grandioso de nuestra idea al inversor que estaba buscando y me encuentro en un ascensor, en una conferencia, en una cena. Empezar a correr la voz entre conocidos, abogados, relaciones, para que ellos lo comenten a sus conocidos. Si no es claro, corto y jugoso nadie lo repetirá.

2. Resumen Ejecutivo
Debería ser entre 1 y 3 páginas (máximo y para casos especiales). Debe explicar todo el proyecto, los puntos fundamentales, las ideas fuerza, debe incluir el capital necesario, como se utilizará (a grandes rasgos), cual será el beneficio.
Función: Cuando tengo detectado alguien que puede estar interesado. Es el primer aproach. Es difícil que alguien que se dedique a invertir lea todos los planes de negocios que recibe. No tiene tiempo. Lee el resumen, si le interesa seguirá indagando.

3. Presentación
En una primera presentación debo estar preparado para presentar todo el Plan en un máximo de 20 minutos (apoyado en un powerpoint). No hay mucho más tiempo para que un inversor preste atención en una primera reunión. Parece poco pero 20 minutos son mas que suficiente, incluso si se puede en 10 mucho mejor. Esto dejará mas tiempo para continuar la charla con el inversor profundizando en lo que realmente le interesa o le llamó la atención.
Función: Hay un inversor que se interesó en escucharme. Tengo que aprovechar el tiempo, ser claro, conciso, convincente. Mucho mas si se debe presentar ante un grupo de inversores. El objetivo no es contar hasta el último detalle sino lograr que se interese y seguir reuniendonos.

4. Plan de negocios
El plan es fundamental, es el detalle de lo que se va a hacer. Es la hoja de ruta, es difícil defender un proyecto ante un inversor si no se explica el que, el cuando, el como, el donde, el por que, el quien, el cuanto. Probablemente quede desactualizado al poco tiempo de empezar a recorrerlo y habrá que adaptarse a los desvíos pero sobre una base firme que explique a donde vamos. Por ejemplo aquí hay un formato.
Función: Estamos avanzando, ahora el inversor debe saber en mayor detalle que es lo que se planea hacer. Revisar los supuestos, discutirlos, etc.

5. Proyecciones financieras
Proyecciones financieras hechas a conciencia. Incluir metas de ventas y costos realistas. Si no son realistas se puede caer todo lo que conseguimos con el inversor. Es parte del Plan de Negocios, lo pongo por separado, no solo porque es a través del cual se hace el análisis económico financiero del proyecto, sino que también es muy útil para chequear contra los supuestos del plan de negocios y ver que tan realistas son.
Función: Lo mismo que el Plan de Negocios mas el análisis económico y financiero de la inversión, su retorno esperado, etc.

viernes, 19 de enero de 2007

The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference

Les adjunto la reseña de un libro muy interesante, sobre todo a la hora de pensar en el cómo hago para que mi emprendimiento y/o producto sea conocido.

The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference (Paperback) by Malcolm Gladwell

"The best way to understand the dramatic transformation of unknown books into bestsellers, or the rise of teenage smoking, or the phenomena of word of mouth or any number of the other mysterious changes that mark everyday life," writes Malcolm Gladwell, "is to think of them as epidemics. Ideas and products and messages and behaviors spread just like viruses do."

For example, Paul Revere was able to galvanize the forces of resistance so effectively in part because he was what Gladwell calls a "Connector": he knew just about everybody, particularly the revolutionary leaders in each of the towns that he rode through. But Revere "wasn't just the man with the biggest Rolodex in colonial Boston," he was also a "Maven" who gathered extensive information about the British. He knew what was going on and he knew exactly whom to tell.

The phenomenon continues to this day: think of how often you've received information in an e-mail message that had been forwarded at least half a dozen times before reaching you.

El autor menciona en este libro que si uno logra contactarse con estos conectores, ellos se ocuparán (sin costo alguno) de que todo el mundo conozca su producto/servicio. Mientras que si uno logra conectarse con los magos, conseguirá que estos recomienden su producto. Estos son marcadores de tendencia y personas que son tenidas muy en cuenta a la hora de tomar decisiones.
No obstante, el dilema radica (según el autor) en saber detectar estos conectores y magos, ya que mediante estos, uno puede lograr alcanzar el Tipping Point, y convertir su producto/servicio en un suceso.
Si les interesa el tema, les aconsejo leer el libro.

jueves, 18 de enero de 2007

Educator's Corner

Esto es algo que les puede resultar interesante, motivador, divertido y educativo.

Es un sitio que creo Stanford con un monton de videos, mp3 y otros recrsos donde emprendedores muy exitosos dan consejos a los estudiantes que quieren sacar un proyecto adelante. Responden muchas de las preguntas que podamos tener.

Estos son los temas que tocan:

Creativity & Innovation
Opportunity Recognition
Team and Culture
Product Development
Marketing & Sales
Finance & Venture Capital
Leadership & Adversity
Social Entrepreneurship
Career & Life Balance

Espero les sirva.