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Every day, Rob Adams helps entrepreneurs find true markets for their products, design solid business models, and hire great teams—because that’s what it takes to build a successful company. While this sounds self-evident, far too many entrepreneurs have forgotten these fundamentals. They’ve been influenced by what Adams calls “business porn,” myths lingering like a bad hangover from the easy success days of the late ’90s. These entrepreneurs believe a unique idea is the key to igniting a great business. They think their industry experience already makes them experts on customer needs. They have simplistic, self-defeating illusions about sales, marketing, financing, and more. They say things like “I have a million-dollar business idea for a new product.” Wake up, says Adams: Good ideas are not scarce—they’re a dime a dozen. Businesses are successful not because of a unique idea but because of extraordinary execution. They offer a better, faster, or cheaper product or service, or they change the way the world solves a problem. In short, these entrepreneurs need just what Adams doses out in the pages of this book: A Good Hard Kick in the Ass. Adams debunks the myths and smashes the illusions—and he knows what he’s talking about, because he stands at the hub of many new startups. His firm, AV Labs, provides entrepreneurs with early financing as well as the management expertise they need to get off the ground. A Good Hard Kick in the Ass offers detailed, hard-hitting guidance for smart, sophisticated entrepreneurs and established businesspeople alike—along with vivid, in-depth examples of companies that are walking the walk right now. Adams’s straightforward, no-nonsense approach is just what’s needed in the post-bubble economy.
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There are many myths about starting a business that are distracting and misleading for aspiring entrepreneurs, for example:
“I have a great idea for a new business. Now all I need is $10 million to get the company on its feet and going."
“I have a new idea that'll be a billion dollar business—all we need is a tiny slice of the $50 billion Internet market."
“All I need is enough money to do some good advertising, and then my business will be able to go public in a couple of years."
“This is such a great new idea that no one has ever thought of it before—we will have no competition."
Anyone who believes these myths needs a good swift kick in the pants because they have nothing to do with how successful companies are actually started and grown in the intensely competitive winner-takes-all battles of the real world. Unless a potential business builder can ignore the hype and get back to the fundamentals, they stand little chance of success.
So just what, exactly, are the fundamentals of starting and growing a business? There are nine principles:
In essence, unless you stick to and handle the fundamentals well, nothing else really matters—you'll simply end up as“roadkill”on the highway to success. Pure and simple, a business exists to make money. Unless you have a straightforward and logical way to achieve that, don't even bother starting a new company—you'd be better off working for someone else who does.
Almost every entrepreneur falls in love with their idea. Yet the world is awash with good ideas. It's the ability to execute a good idea well that's in short supply. Therefore, it's more important to assemble a team with deep reserves of“execution intelligence”than it is to come up with a knockout idea.
Most every entrepreneur feels deeply passionate about their idea, and believes they have no competitors who do things just the same way they are proposing. The tell-tale sign of someone who is in love with their idea is they ask everyone to sign a non-disclosure agreement. They also obsess about irrelevant factors—like trying to be first to market or being unique.
The problem is you actually want competition to exist to show there is an established market for what you're proposing to sell. Therefore, instead of having a“unique idea,”it's more important to have a solid business concept that:
■ Represents a new approach to business processes already well entrenched and familiar
■ Has viable alternative solutions competing—proving there is a pain in the marketplace around the problem
■ Targets a large market—at least $1 billion per year
■ Has large add-on markets as well—vertical（the same solution can be taken into other markets）or horizontal（the solution can be added to over time to appeal to several different markets）
■ Can be acted upon by a management team who have solid execution intelligence and know-how.
The make-or-break factor which most aspiring business builders lack is a management team with execution intelligence. In its purest form, execution intelligence is the ability of a group of people to make the business concept work in the marketplace.
Execution intelligence is made up of:
1. Hands-on or domain knowledge
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