Tag Archives: entrepreneurship

Venture Files

Entrepreneurship Writer Wanted

There’s an immediate opening here at Technosailor.com for a writer on entrepreneurship. Steve Fisher, who has provided a tremendous amount of insight and knowledge over the years of covering the Venture Files beat, is retiring to bigger and better things. You can keep up with him over at Network Solutions on their Solutions are Power blog.

In the meantime, I’m looking for a passionate and knowledgeable editor for the Venture Files portion of the site. The topic is entrepreneurship and includes marketing, business and the world of Venture Capital from the perspective of an entrepreneur.

This is a great opportunity to create a name for yourself, and increase your visibility using the Technosailor.com brand and platform. If you’re interested, drop me an email at aaron@technosailor.com.

Aaron Brazell

BlogHer: Women on the Move (And With Money)

There’s a wrinkle in the space-time continuum, in case you hadn’t noticed. It’s a very powerful horde (plethora, group, pack?) of women who are average bloggers like most of us, who are suddenly very present in the social media space.

To be fair, they’ve been here but many people simply didn’t realize quite how influential they were. In some cases, the oblivion stemmed from a general obliviousness in the blogosphere where bloggers and social media aficionados simply never stepped foot outside of their sphere of influence. In other cases, if rhetoric is to be believed, the oblivion has been an intentional misogynistic mentality.

I don’t quite think it’s as nefarious as the latter, but I do think that women have been taken for granted and probably not given enough credit in a world that is largely powered by geek boys of all ages and types.

In case you missed the news this morning though, this group of women under the BlogHer umbrella, made a pretty bold statement about their mainstream appeal with a $5M series B funding and content syndication deal with NBC Universal. (Press Release)

The content syndication deal would involve BlogHer content, written by over 2200 bloggers, being syndicated across three women-oriented NBC properties, iVillage, BravoTV.com and Oxygen.com.

In addition to content syndication, NBC Universal and BlogHer will collaborate on joint advertising sales, a space currently dominated by Glam Media.

And of course, BlogHer has their annual BlogHer Conference happening this weekend in San Francisco. Festivities begin tomorrow night and continue through Saturday. If you can’t be in San Francisco, the BlogHer Second Life Conference is happening in conjunction. You know… if you don’t have a first life. ;-)

If there’s one thing this deal accentuates, it’s that women are a force to be reckoned with on the internet. While I may not like the insular nature of BlogHer, and the inability to address the fact that never having any man speak at the main conference is off-putting, aggressive and offensive to some, I have a tremendous amount of respect for the hard work the women behind the site have put into organizing, instructing, and educating many women bloggers and providing a venue for their voices to be heard. And they have underscoed that by getting NBC to sign on.

So congratulations, ladies. Your hard work has paid off.

Venture Files

Identi.ca and the Art of the Launch

Ask any startup. The most difficult decision leading up to a public release is when and what? Some might argue that getting funding is the most difficult but a good startup avoids funding until later, if at all. Others might argue that the difficult part is getting the right mix of people and hitting milestones. That also is important, but not as important as the when and how.

Usually, a good launch product is the result of a perceived need. Or maybe a need not yet realized – it’s hard to say for sure. There’s some black magic involved in all that.

FriendFeed launched not long ago because there was an empty hole in Twitter – that was aggregation and conversation. FriendFeed figured out that, to be successful, it was going to target that emptiness in the highly popular Twitter experience.

Disqus and Intense Debate figured that, in order to be successful, they needed to target the missing piece in blog comments – that was reputation and reputation management across blogs. The two fight it out, post-launch, over which is going to differentiate it over the other.

In these cases, the timing of the launches was critical to the uptake. Twitter started experiencing significant problems and influential early adopters began getting itchy to be somewhere that scratched their itch.

Putting aside timing, the most important part of a launch is what. It’s feature-sets. It’s determining the balance between a fully developed roadmap of features and what is needed to “hook” early adopters and get them to stay.

Take Identi.ca, the new Twitter clone that is completely open source and is timely in that Twitter faithful are really, really close to burying the hatchet and simply abandoning it altogether. The timing could not be more perfect. Folks have been talking about distributing Twitter and relieving the strain of a centralized service at one time. Open sourcing the product does this, to a degree.

However, Identi.ca gets a big “FAIL” for its launch for a few very important reasons.

  1. There is no coherent way to deal with “replies”. Folks used to Twitter realize that when there is a river of content, and that’s what Twitter is, there must be a way to manage conversations. There must be a way to keep up with followers who are talking to you. In my working with Identi.ca, there is no way to do that and, while that might be coming, it wasn’t there at launch. Very conceivably, I’ve been lost forever and I generally have tons of followers as an early adopter. FAIL.
  2. XMPP doesn’t work. The one reliable way to reply that folks on Identi.ca were talking about last night was with XMPP, the protocol used for various IM clients including Google Talk. I could deal with replies that way if it worked but at some point, XMPP stopped working. I could receive, but I could not send. A one way conversation is a monologue. FAIL.
  3. OpenID integration must be seamless. I was pleased to see OpenID supported when I signed up. Unfortunately, today, I could not login with my OpenID account. If I can’t get in, I can’t use it. FAIL.

Some would say I’m being too hard on this startup. Screw that. Perform or get off the stage. There are very obvious and defined features that must be included in a microcontent site at launch. I’m not saying an entire roadmap needs to be worked out. No, get a working beta up and get testers in there. However, without replies, without reliable “offline” access (i.e. IM, SMS or client integration) I’m not going to stick around. Finally, direct messages would be a nice feature.

While I have high hopes for Identi.ca, I will remain there only to squat on the name “technosailor”. Bye, guys.

Venture Files

Marketing Plan Series: Part 4 – Objectives

In Part 4, we continue building out the goals that must be accomplished through the marketing plan. This section, called “Objectives” is usually only a page in length and are the milestones that you will achieve as you execute your business on a daily basis.

The KnowThis web site has a great explanation of the Marketing Objectives section:

“Marketing success is quantifiable using several non-financial market metrics. You want to show the underlying conditions and circumstances facing the company that are not easily seen within financial measures. The marketing objectives section should indicate targets to be achieved across several marketing decision areas. To add additional strength to this section include marketing metrics where possible.”

The Chamber of Commerce web site identifies three major areas for your objectives:

  • company definition (e.g., “to be a manufacturer of 100 percent all-natural snack food products”)
  • market definition (e.g., “to attain leadership in dollar market share and volume for the healthy, all-natural snacks segment of the salty snacks category”)
  • technology (e.g., “to become known in the industry as the leading developer of new vegetable protein products”)

KnowThis web site has a great breakdown and outline of how you should structure the objectives section:

1. Target market objectives

  • market share
    • total
    • by segments
    • by channel
  • customers
    • total
    • number/percentage new
    • number/percentage retained
  • purchases
    • rate of purchases
    • size/volume of purchases

2. Promotional objectives

  • level of brand/company awareness
  • traffic building
    • (e.g., store traffic, website traffic
  • product trials
    • (e.g. sales promotions, product demonstrations)
  • sales force
    • (e.g. cycle time, cost per call, closing rate, customer visits, etc.)

3. Channel objectives

  • dealers
    • total
    • number/percentage new
    • number/percentage retained
  • order processing and delivery
    • on-time rate
    • shrinkage rate
    • correct order rate

4. Market research objectives

  • studies initiated
  • studies completed

5. R&D objectives

  • product development

6. Other objectives

  • partnerships developed

Next time in the Marketing Plan Series, in Part 5 – Strategy we discuss how having a well written guideline that sets forth the business’s marketing strategy is critical to the success of your business.

Next time in Part 5, we will discuss the strategy section which lays out a plan for the situational analysis and the problems and opportunities must be addressed by the marketing plan.

Venture Files

Doers and Talkers

An impromptu conversation happened last night over on Twitter. The topic began as a discussion over a hypothetical show (video, podcast, whatever) that would reflect the community and not just have the same people. The conversation began because of a discussion over perceived sexism in the social media community where men could do anything, but women could only be “consumed” (hey, it’s a legitimate use and context for the word!) if they were “sexy”.

To pop this proverbial bubble, the idea was presented that a community-driven show should be created where “panel members” would include an equal cross-section of the community, regardless of sex or race.At one point, a panel was suggested that I noted were all “talkers” and not “doers”.

Photo Credit foolfillment. Used under Creative Commons

Naturally, some took offense to this characterization, but my question is why? There is an equal need for both and is non-hierachal. In fact, it may be too simplistic of a thought considering the diversity that exists across sectors, bloggers and industries.

I think it’s important to establish a premise for talkers and doers. What are they, why do they exist and what do they contribute to the ecosystem?


Talkers are visionaries, by and large. Not always. Sometimes they are just pundits. They are the idea people, often challenging the status quo and causing people to think based on data, research and innovative thinking. They share their ideas readily and often bring a different level of communication to the fray.

Talkers are often CEOs, PR, Marketing, or members of management teams and they frequent the conference speaking circuit.


Doers are often mistaken for developers. Though developers generally fall into the category of “doer”, the definition is far wider than just physical “doers”. Doers are usually the ones that have ideas and instead of talking about them, they gather the resources (financial and human) and set about putting plans into actions.

Entrepreneurs are often doers. They are the ones with the ideas that have the guts or experience to run with them. Though they may sometimes be talkers too (small business CEOs for instance), their bread and butter is in the action. Smart doers listen to talkers ideas and filter them for actionable items that make sense for the ecosystem.

These are my definitions. They may be simplistic, but I think they provide a great framework for this conversation.

I think there is a symbiotic relationship between doers and talkers. One cannot exist without the other and gets its lifeblood from the other.

For instance, Jeremiah Owyang of Forrester is largely a talker. Though he comes from Hitachi where he was largely a doer, by his own admission he’s more of a talker now.

I think there’s a negative connotation to talkers. That they are just windbags excelling in the art of punditry. But talkers bring ideas to the table that often shape the course of what is going on in the ecosystem. Talkers need doers who will take their ideas and run with them.

Doers, of whom I would classify Dave Troy of Twittervision have ideas but instead chooses to innovate on ideas and create new things. In this case, David (whom in disclosure, I realized a few weeks ago I interviewed with back in the 2002-2003 timeframe when he was the CEO of Toad) has taken ideas surrounding Twitter and made a visualization for them. He also recognized that there was a need for something like SocialDevCamp East and created it (with help).

Others like Jason Calacanis straddle the line between talkers and doers by challenging the status quo of spammy search engines and proposing a concept of human-powered search and running with it. People who can straddle the gap, place themselves in the most valuable position of seeing the cloud, recognizing it’s potential and doing something about it (pardon the reference).

Venture Files

Marketing Plan Series: Part 3 – Problems and Opportunities

As we discussed in Part 2 – Situational Analysis, there is room for the SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) Analysis. However, what I like to do is take a separate section that really dives into the opportunities and problems deeper so that they can be addressed by specific marketing strategies.

Identifying and Maximizing Opportunities

This is where you look externally for areas your competitors are not fully covering, then go a step further and think how to match these to your internal strengths. Try to uncover areas where your strengths are not being fully utilized. Are there emerging trends that fit with your company’s strengths? Is there a product/service area that others have not yet covered?

Once you have uncovered these opportunities take each one and discuss how you will market them. Will it be a mixed marketing campaign? A targeted sales effort? What resources will you need (e.g. new collateral, selling guides, web site content, e-mail marketing)?

Addressing and Overcoming Problems

Problems are not necessarily a bad thing. They are just issues that need to be overcome. It is better to get out front of problems that may exist than have them rear their ugly head when you are selling or raising money. Problems could be strong competitors, your product lacking critical features that you are not able to roll out yet or a long sales cycle.

You should list each problem and discuss an approach to overcome them in a sales situation and with specific marketing messages that counter what a customer might be thinking.

Next time in Part 4 – Strategy

In our next part, we will discuss the strategy section which lays out a plan for the situational analysis and the problems and opportunities must be addressed by the marketing plan.

Aaron Brazell

It's 5 O'clock Somewhere. In Case You're on a Deadline

For all the times I rant about PR pitches around here, I actually do get some good ones. Generally, these pitches are timely to me or my audience and are respectful in how they ask for press.

Thus was the case today when a guy named Sergei [last name withheld for privacy] emailed me about a web based project management tool called 5pm. His hook for this pitch (at least what caught my attention) was:

It’s a new web 2.0 tool that we launched recently. 5pm is an online
project management application that looks different from anything else
on the web in this category, but still feels familiar.

Web 2.0 was not the hook, but it was interesting to see that adjective used nonetheless. What hooked me was that it was different from anything else, yet still familiar. This is good because I’ve not been a fan of all the other web based PM tools out there.

I did a little investigation and am smacking myself for not seeing VentureBeat’s “Strong Project Management” endorsement from January. Or this from my new favorite company, Mixx from last year. (Of interest to Mixx fans is that Saturday night is the opening salvo of the new official Technosailor.tv which will be aired on Saturday nights at 9pm Eastern. As part of the format, I’m including a Mixx hour – which may or may not be an hour. ;-))

The Mixx story had a fantasticly engaging comment from one of the 5pmers which explains some of the thinking behind the product:

In terms of features – we implemented what worked for us and skipped what we thought is redundant. It’s difficult to find the right mix, as there is no such a thing, since each team works in their own way. That’s why we were developing our own project manager for about four years now (we had an old version called PTManager). And that’s why there are so many PM applications out there. It’s about finding the right balance, as the core features are common.

To mention new features, I would point to two things. Firstly – the interface. We spent a lot of time designing an interface which is very fast to navigate. Everything is within a click or two. We consider the UI being very important, since any pm application is just a tool. Less time navigating and clicking around, means more time for actual work. For example, coders usually hate to spend time on reporting, so our model for them was “get in. get out. fast”.

Second, I would like to mention our Flash timeline. It gives an alternative view to the projects and tasks and helps visualizing the durations and deadlines (kind of simplified Gantt). In time we plan to make it fully editable, which means you will be able to drag the tasks around the timeline. We think it will be pretty cool.

So this is just version one of our new tool. There is more to come – the feedback from our users will dictate that.

Hardcore. In fact, I may use this because, honestly I can’t stand using Basecamp and desktop-based apps are really no-go when it comes to client work. The one thing that I would really like to see before committing, is Freshbooks integration. I use Freshbooks for all my quotes, estimates, invoicing, time tracking etc. And all my clients have the ability to check in and see whats been done. Integration with Freshbooks is an absolute must for me.

I registered my 14-day free trial, poked around at it for a bit, and I can see how it is different.

Venture Files

Marketing Plan Series: Part 2 – Situational Analysis

The Situational Analysis is probably one of the hardest sections you will right because you are essentially laying out how the product will function in various environments and how it will be perceived in the marketplace.

Current Product Analysis (if you have an existing product)

If you already have existing products/services you should start with this so that you provide a “lay of the land” for readers not familiar with where you are at with your current product(s) and/or service(s). You should cover the product attributes, current pricing, current distribution and services offered. This should be about a page or two in length. If you are a new company, you can skip this part and dive straight into defining the market.

The Market

The market is a description of your total potential market (your potential customers). You should include the needs of this market. You will also need to describe the particular customers that you will target. This includes the size of (1) total potential market (number of potential customers), and (2) your target market.

This subsection of the situation analysis section provides actionable information on selling to target buyers and stimulating purchases or usage by the ultimate end users. Key questions answered in this subsection include: description of target buyers or end users in demographic, psychographic, and lifestyle terms target buyer/end user wants, needs, attitudes, and perceptions of category products and services where target buyers/end users are located and how to reach them which segments of the total market or category are growing or declining and why.

Demographics: Consumer wants; preferences and the frequency of their purchases are mostly associated with demographic information. Demographics help you determine the market’s age, gender, nationality, education, household composition, occupation and income.

Market Geographies : This section addresses where your customers are physically located. If you are marketing your services over the Internet, your client’s physical location may be irrelevant. However, if your job is to promote a local fundraising or store, having an internet as marketing tool is a fast and cheap way to advertise your products.

Market Psychographics: This category describes the personality of a person and how they might buy your product/service. It is less tangible to quantify, but still important that you address this area to demonstrate what motivates people to buy. For example, the lifestyle of a single person is significantly different with a two-income family.

Market Behaviors: Buyers can be analyzed based on their knowledge, use or response to a product or service. These behavioral variables may include the occasions that stimulate a purchase, the benefits realized when reading a testimony, the rate of possible usage, their loyalty, the buyer-readiness stage, and their attitude toward the service you offer.

Market needs: People have three buying modes. They buy what they want, what they need and what the can’t live without. Where does your product/service fit into these buying modes? Your product/service value and worth is determined by the user or client. Whether it is in tangible or intangible forms, the question is what is needed? Are you providing the right solution to the right problem? Are you making the users or clients overall value as a company increase or satisfy the needs? These questions would be compiled in this section.

All of your marketing activities should be based in meeting the needs of your customers. For each market segment a strategy should be included that outlines the market needs that would lead this market segment group to want to buy your products or use your service.

The Competitive Environment

The competitive environment is essentially a SWOT analysis. You may have never heard this term but it stands for “Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats”. Start with posing these sessions to your brainstorming team: Are your competitors becoming stronger? Are there emerging trends that amplify one of your weaknesses? Do you see other external threats to your company’s success? Internally, do you have financial, development, or other problems?

Strengths: Here is where you must capture the positive aspects internal to your business that add value or offer you a competitive advantage. This is an opportunity to remind yourself of the value existing within your business. Think about what your company does well. You should address the strengths within your business that add value to your product or your marketing efforts. You should also describe your positive tangible and intangible attributes.

Weaknesses: These are factors that detract from your ability to have a competitive edge. It includes the negative aspects internal to your business that distracting customers from seeing the value you offer or place you at a competitive disadvantage. These are areas you need to enhance in order to compete with your best competitor. The more accurately you identify your weaknesses, the more valuable the SWOT Analysis is to your readers. Some questions to help you get started are: What do your customers complain about? What are the unmet needs of your sales force?

Opportunities: Traditionally, a SWOT looks only at the external environment for opportunities. I suggest you look externally for areas your competitors are not fully covering, then go a step further and think how to match these to your internal strengths. Remember, these are opportunities external to your business. If you have identified “opportunities” that are internal to the organization and within your control, you will want to classify them as “strengths”. Try to uncover areas where your strengths are not being fully utilized. Are there emerging trends that fit with your company’s strengths? Is there a product/service area that others have not yet covered?

Threats: A threat is a challenge created by an unfavorable trend or development that may lead to deteriorating revenues or profits. As with opportunities, threats in a traditional SWOT analysis are considered an external force. By looking both inside and outside of your company for things that could damage your business, however, you may be better able to see the big picture. Competition — existing or potential — is always a threat. Other threats may include intolerable price increased by suppliers, government regulation, economic downturns, devastating media or press coverage, a shift in consumer behavior that reduces your sales, or the introduction of a “leap-frog” technology that may make your products, equipment, or services obsolete. What situations might threaten your marketing efforts? Get your worst fears on the table. A part of this list may be speculative in nature and still add value to your SWOT analysis.

The Technological Environment

The technological environment is creating new ways of satisfying needs (i.e. using technology to enhance the demand for existing products). Innovation can create or wipe out industries and businesses in less than a year. One example is the popularity and convenience of DVD players all but eliminated the sale of VCRs and seriously depressed the manufacture and sale of video tapes. This is especially important for you if your product is technology based.

The Socio-Political Environment

These are governmental policies and regulations that affect the market. It is also the economic environment around your company; which is the business cycle, inflation rate, interest rates, and other macroeconomic issues. For example, here in America there is a sweeping trend to dress more casually, with function and comfort driving new clothing and shoe trends. People are cooking less and are more concerned about nutrition and fat in their diets. And today, American business people are less willing to sacrifice family life for business careers. These types of factors can impact the marketability of your product or service.


This section is open for other situational factors that will affect your marketing plan. It could include additional environments that the product/service must address. It could also expand on aspects of the market or product analysis as well as alternative distribution and promotion ideas that are not part of the core sections of the plan. I guess the bottom line of the this section is that anything is game as long as it relates to the situational analysis of the marketing plan.

Next Time….Problems and Opportunities

In the next part of our marketing plan series we will take the SWOT analysis and the problems you uncovered in your situation analysis and really dive deeper. This is so your readers, some might be investors and will definitely be your upper management will see the potential issues ahead, the fact that you know them, know how to address them and have plan to overcome them. It goes a long way and much farther than you may think.

Venture Files

Marketing Plan Series: Part 1 – Summary

Marketing is a key part of business success. You need to decide which customers to target. You need to work out how you will reach and win new customers. You need to make sure that you keep existing customers happy. And you need to keep reviewing and improving everything you do to stay ahead of the competition.

Your marketing plan should be the reference document you use as a basis to execute your marketing strategy. It sets out clear objectives and explains how you will achieve them. Perhaps most importantly it looks at how you can ensure that your plan becomes reality.

Remember that marketing in itself will not guarantee sales, but by adopting a well-researched and coherent plan, you have a much better chance of building long-term, profitable relationships.

It is funny, when you start writing a series like this you start with the Summary section because it is first in the document. However, it is usually the last thing you write.

So how can you write a summary without knowing the content you are summarizing?

The approach that you should use is that you should keep this section up as a separate document during your overall plan writing to take notes and capture important points that will be used when you submit this to your management and/or board. Everyone will read the intro and summary, some will read various parts they want to dig into more, and very few will read the whole thing

I know that might sound depressing but keep this in mind. If your intro and summary do their job, they won’t have to read further and that is a credit to you. However, for those that read the entire plan it will be a critical roadmap to help you reach your sales goals and guide your team as it builds marketing momentum.

Logically, the names intro and summary should speak for themselves as to what they should have but it is important to elaborate on what key information it should contain.

Elements of the Summary Section

Your marketing plan should start with an executive summary. The summary gives a quick overview of the main points of the plan. Writing the summary is a good opportunity to check that your plan makes sense and that you haven’t missed any important points.

Business Strategy

It’s a good idea to introduce the main body of the plan with a reminder of your overall business strategy, including:

  • what your business is about (your business mission)
  • your key business objectives
  • your broad strategy for achieving those objectives

This helps to ensure that your marketing plan, your marketing strategy and your overall business strategy all work together. For example, suppose your business strategy is based on providing premium quality products and service. Your marketing strategy and plan will need to take this into account, targeting customers who appreciate quality, promoting your product in ways that help build the right image and so on.

Strategic Focus and Plan

To connect readers with your overall business plan and strategy, you use this section to connect it with your business unit and/or company strategy, depending on your company size. You should address your vision and mission, the environment in which you are marketing, and the results you expect from a marketing plan.

The vision statement is something that you will pursue over an extended timeframe. It is not
quantitative in nature and should be one or two sentences at most. The mission statement contains the ideas attainable in a five to seven year range. This is a general statement shared in one or two sentences. You want it to be something that can define your unit/company and its purpose. The best mission statements are those that staff””and eventually constituents””use as a guide for where you are heading.

You should also include your objectives at a high level. These are general statements about what you hope to accomplish through marketing. You will provide more specific marketing strategies and quantitative goals later in the document. These will also be a guide for setting priorities as you develop strategies for reaching target audiences. You may choose to include unit objectives with general program goals listed under each.

Next you should have a summary paragraph on your competition. This should show how your awareness of the competition will make you stronger. Outline the competitive environment of your market, including both direct and indirect competition. You should describe the competition, their strengths and weaknesses, how you are alike or different, and how you plan to effectively market with the competition in mind.

The last paragraph should capture a SWOT Analysis: Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. Within this analysis provide information about current marketing efforts, programs and services, client reactions and any other details that may be helpful as you develop marketing strategies.

Marketing Focus

In this sub-section, you will describe all of the objectives you wish to attain through your marketing program. You will start with measurable marketing goals and a detailed description of how you will accomplish each one. Based on your Marketing Goals, list markets that you plan to target. Include research about target marketa and reasons that you plan to direct marketing at this area. If you do not
have valid research or information regarding the target audience/market for your goals, this is
a good time to develop focus groups to learn more about the market.

Marketing Strategies

Generally, your overall marketing plan will focus on promotion strategies, although you will want to keep an eye on the product, price and distribution. Including all four factors in the marketing plan, provides you with opportunities to reach your target market more effectively. As for promotion strategies, it is one of the most important sections of the marketing plan and is your action plan based on your goals. You need to identify your target audience, channels for reaching them (advertising, media/ public relations, events, strategic alliances, direct contact, internet, etc.) and the consistent message and other branding techniques you will use to engage your target audience. You will need to prioritize these strategies, tie them into your marketing budget, assign tasks and set deadlines.

Marketing Evaluation

In this section, explain how you plan to gather data to show that your plan has worked. You may need to look for resources that already exist or develop surveys that can give you baseline data for comparison over a period of time. This is your proof of success, so you must work closely with your team and include key stakeholders to ensure this follow-up effort is completed.

Marketing Financial Strategy

As with all plans, the seem to hold the financial stuff for the big finale. The end of the summary is going to bring the full impact of the strategy laid out to bear in terms of costs and return on investment (ROI) for those that are the hard core numbers people. You will need to include the high level information on the various market share amounts each product and/or service line will garner over the life of this plan. You will also need to include a few sentences on break even, which is when the investment in this marketing strategy will start to pay for itself. Last should be how you will handle cash flow and when and how much you might need to dip into the well for the strategy you have laid out.

Other Summary Sections You Should Include?

Did I miss anything? Is there a critical section that you have included in your summary that is missing here and should be added to the list? Do you have a different opinion on what should go in the summary? Please let me know in the comments.

Next Time – Part 2 – Situational Analysis

Situational Analysis lays out the overall marketplace you are competing in and the various environments your business will have to address. We will discuss the market and the various types of environments that your marketing plan will need to address for your products and/or services.

Venture Files

Rules for Entrepreneurs: 5 Ways to Avoid Founderitis

What is Founderitis? It is been called “Founders Syndrome” and it is not some type of medical disease but rather a disease that can infect your business if you are not careful.

The Wikipedia definition of “Founderitis” is stated as follows:

The term “founderitis” or “founder’s syndrome” refers to the unhealthy condition that afflicts many companies whose founders maintain a stranglehold on organizational leadership. While many companies owe their success “” and in fact their very existence “” to their founders, those same individuals can create chaos that ultimately leads to the organization’s collapse. The challenge to founding CEOs and boards of directors is to take steps to change conflict and chaos into opportunities for growth.

Diagnosing Founderitis

I came across this funny diagnosis from Infoshackle.com and it comes complete with a 12 step program.

“When Founderitis strikes, the Founder’s drive, energy and vision, characteristics crucial to the startup’s initial success, become a hindrance to the company’s maturation into a self-sustaining entity. To assess yourself or a loved one for Founderitis, determine if any of the following symptoms are present:

  • Inability to delegate
  • Anger when not included in every decision
  • Paranoia derived from a sense that the venture is “œslipping out of their control”
  • Ignoring input from subject-matter experts
  • Expressing prescient knowledge, even when lacking subject-matter expertise
  • Lack of respect for formalized planning
  • Subterfuge of efforts to institute procedures, processes and controls

Founderitis is akin to an active, engaged parent who is a wonderful caregiver until the child reaches adolescence. As the child enters its teens and requires an increasing level of independence to properly mature and prosper, the Founderitis parent futilely attempts to restrict the influence of outside factors and limit the child’s ability to act autonomously. The result is usually a fractured parent / child relationship or an “adult child” that never develops the life-skills necessary to succeed on their own.

One of the most insidious aspects of Founderitis is that the more profound the case, the deeper the denial on the part of the carrier. The afflicted Founder will honestly believe that all of his actions are in the company’s best interest, though their definition of “best interest” is actually whatever is in their own “self-interest”.

Like any startup executive, the Founder must honestly separate his self-interest from the company’s interest. For instance, it might be in his self-interest to lead the sales efforts, as well as a great learning experience and a heck of a lot of fun. However, it may not be in the company’s best interest to lose precious time to market while an inexperienced sales novice attempts to learn on the job.”

5 Ways to Avoid Founderitis

I have personally experience this running my own business. I have found some ways to avoid it:

  1. Respect the need for planning activities, staff meetings, and administrative policies;
  2. Realize that as the company grows circumstances may dictate new approaches;
  3. Institute new systems with approval of your board;
  4. Seek and accept input from others in making decisions;
  5. Delegate, Delegate, Delegate

Don’t worry if you can’t over come this there is a simple solution. The route many take is to get your board to hire a professional CEO and take a long vacation.

So how many of you have had problems with founderitis? What is your story? Have a great example to share? Let the comments be the conversation.