Test: the key

the key

THE TEST

Here the solution….

THE CHEST– FIRM’S IDENTITY

the chest

 

The chest represents your own company or better, the perception that you have of it. If it is small, it may indicate an identity that is not yet well defined. A chest well located and grounded in the landscape, on the contrary, indicates confidence in your own means. A very large and heavy chest, like a metal chest  or a chest closed with a padlock, could indicate excessive rigidity and lack of readiness for change. An open chest, damaged or suspended in the air could indicate doubts or uncertainties about the business idea.

THE BOAT – THE VISION AND THE PLAN

the boat

 

The boat represents the business objective to be achieved, the related vision and planning. It also represents entrepreneurial inspiration. A boat of a light colour can represent the search for an ideal perfection of the business model, that in your perception remains somehow still partially unexpressed. A boat that shakes a lot in the waves can denote your impatience. A blue boat can denote confidence in the technical and operational potential of your company. A black boat may indicate a desire to make one’s own business plan more serious and complete. Is the boat very far? If it is far from the chest or offshore, then it means that maybe you are experiencing or perceiving difficulties with regard to the realization of your project or that it is actually perceived as stressful. If the boat is already at sea near the chest, you are ready to embark on your entrepreneurial journey. However, if it is in bad condition or even out of the water, it may indicate that you have some doubts about the realization of your project. If there is someone on the boat ready to steer the boat for you, it may indicate some doubts or a lack of  leadership skills.

THE QUAY – STAKEHOLDERS AND RELATIONSHIP

the quay

 

The quay represents your chance of crafting business relationships and collaborations in general. If it is small or damaged, you probably cannot rely on many partners who can help you realize your business idea: either you are not surrounded by the right people or you are too suspicious and not able or interested in working in a team or in a network

THE STORM – THE TROUBLES

the storm

 

The storm represents the difficulties encountered in realizing one’s business idea. After the storm passes you should review all the positions and changes caused in your scenario. After the storm you can evaluate your assertiveness and resilience, your ability to react to everyday problems.

 

Annunci

A small entreprenurial test?

This is definitely not the usual quiz about entrepreneurship. Try it !!!!

the beach

Imagine a deserted beach and enter these elements

 

A CHEST : in this landscape try to visualize a chest … In particular, you can make clear: the position of the chest in the landscape, its color, shape, material and all that your mind has immediately visualized.

the chest

A BOAT:  now, without removing the chest, imagine a boat, its position (at sea, aground/outside the water, its conditions, its colour, particular signs….

the boat

A QUAY:  now in your landscape enter a quay. Where it is, what kind and material it is, which position occupies relatively to the chest and the boat….

the quay

THE STORM: at this point you have placed all the objects; keep these three objects well in mind exactly as you placed them in this desert landscape. Suddenly there is a storm … what happens? has something changed? What happened to the three objects?

 

the storm

…and then?

Try to figure out, a possible key will be provided in the next article!!!

Who,exactly, are your stakeholders?

STAKEHOLDER

We insisted on this subject so many times. Startupping for us is the art of involving someone with the development of an idea able to create value.

But exactly with who are you supposed to communicate?

With stakeholders, obviously, one may say. A stakeholder is anyone with an interest in your business.

But sometimes this area of business planning is neglected and even the word “stakeholder” is so generic and hazy.

A more common and widespread way to consider the problem is: a stakeholder is anyone we could meet along our entrepreneurial journey and that shows, proves or somehow pretends to have something to say about us and the way me manage our business. Or maybe, someone we would like (in our dreams) to have as stakeholder.

We believe that in reality stakeholder engagement is a value creating/mandatory activity to be performed on a regular basis since the very first moment in your startup development.  At least for two very good reasons:

corporate identity: you can engage with third parties only if you know who you are. Any entity willing to communicate with another one should beforehand define its identity. There is no communication if there is not a well defined “me” area and and therefore an external environment to relate with (“the others” area) So is in business too.

risk management: excluding some specific and internal risk factors, strictly connected with technical aspects related to the supplied service/product, all the rest is somehow originated by the nature of the relationship with stakeholders. Probably, the same concept of risk is deeply linked with stakeholders. If risk is defined by the likelihood of an event and the caused damage, is clear that the concept of damage is bonded (and it changes accordingly) with stakeholder’s perspective. Damage for customers (not getting what they paid for)  damage caused to investors (not getting their reward),damage caused to community (f.i   the environmental impacts). So is important to involve them in their risk management approach: the sooner, the better.

But who these stakeholders might be?

  • Investors – owners, bank, VC or investor
  • Business consultants – someone providing specific and valued knowledge
  • HR – management/owners and staff; the interest of human resources in the business’ performance is therefore obvious; addictionally, management may have extra concerns concerning risk and liability (depending on startup’s liability status, the owners might have risk to their personal wealth)
  • Customers – increasingly looking forward to know everything not just about your product/service but instead about the firm itself, and moreover about you as a founder. This means that nowadays there are increasingly more ways a customer may assume to be affected/influenced by your company’s behaviour. Take into the due account this aspect!
  • Suppliers – and moreover outsourcers, controlling specific and value-adding processes of your value chain
  • Government, authorities and certification bodies– concerned about business health, business compliance and reputation, impacts on society, local community , public health and on environment and of course in having firms able to pay taxes.
  • Media

And, once you started with this stakeholder management process, what about your goals?

They should be at least some of the following:

increase their risk tolerance towards having a relationship/investing/collaborating with your firm

increase their trust, not just in your product/service nor in the firm, but in you as a manager and/or as a founder

increase their commitment, for instance with your vision, your business model or just your value proposal

making them always willing to tell you the truth about you and your company: this topic is of course strictly related with the concept of trust and with your ability of making them feeling comfortable when communicating with your firm’s representatives.

Startups: ADOPT-ADAPT-IMPROVE

adopt adapt improve

The Round Table Motto is ‘ADOPT-ADAPT-IMPROVE’. This motto was taken from a speech delivered by the Duke of Windsor in 1927 in which he stated: “The young business and professional men of this country must get together around a table, adopt methods that have proved so sound in the past, adapt them to changing needs of the times and, whenever possible, improve them.

What these words do actually mean nowadays for startups and firms in general?  

Adopt means to take on as one’s own, like an idea, a process, an attitude, or a behaviour

Adapt means basically to modify something, to adjust it to a somehow new situation.

Improve is strictly related with the well-known ISO Standards concept of learning by doing, checking continuously the possibility for taking a quality assurance system (processes of whatever kind), a step further.

Small and medium sized firms are naturally adaptive, but sometimes they miss some opportunities in the other two areas. Or better, they miss the big picture, the reason why “’ADOPT-ADAPT-IMPROVE’ motto should be written of every firm’s office wall.

Adopting in facts is the first act: every firm is at its very beginning busy analysing the external environment, try to adopt some or all the following aspects:

  • Best practices
  • Standards
  • Technical requirements
  • Business models
  • Rituals

But what next? This is the point. The most complicated thing to do is then

Adapting all this stuff to firm’s present situation. A best practice could be inspiring, but is born for another firm, a standard need to be contextualised if you don’t want to cause damages to your own firm, a business model need a personalisation to work properly, etc. and this is hard work.  Sometimes entrepreneurs refuse to think this way because the fall in love with some previous and off-the-peg approach: damages are there to be noticed for many years to come.

Improving is then the last (continuous) step: is where the previously adapted models/practices/standards/rituals produce a real added value for the firm. Sometimes an adapted and optimized business model is exactly what makes the firm unique and successful.

Does your firm have rituals? (but not just for rituals’ sake)

rituals

 

If nowadays newborn companies have to invest not simply in being the best but in being unique, their identity is everything.

But developing a true identity is extremely difficult.

Company culture has a lot of different ingredients, it is somehow like a structure made of various materials. Clearly:

  • Values/beliefs
  • Stories/myths

are part of the game. Values are extremely important, both for outlining and guiding company’s strategy.

But, what about rituals? Are they part of the strategic scenario?

If values are often defined as “what the company stands for” rituals are instead commonly addressed as “what and how does a company celebrate”.

Is this everything?  If you look at the definition of “ritual”, every dictionary reports at least the concepts of:

  • A ceremony
  • A prescribed order for performing a ritual ceremony
  • A series of actions or type of behaviour regularly and invariably followed by someone.

That’s way it’s not just a matter of celebrating something. Team lunches, events, shared activities and different ways of sharing success and company’s achievements are certainly very important, but this is not everything about rituals.

Rituals are also ceremonies, clusters of prescriptions and, even more important, a series of actions not just described, but, somehow, actively played, which means explained by simulating a situation or an action. And that’s a powerful way of explain something, as we know that quite a few persons after a while recall what they hear, more can remember what they hear and read, but everybody remembers for a long time what he/she can directly practise. Therefore, when we are talking about rituals we are mainly talking about a particular kind of processes.

In this way rituals may play a very important role in crafting and implementing company’s strategy. They can prove to be even more effective than processes in inspiring company’s people because they include in their structure not just a series of actions but a series of prescribed actions. Therefore they directly involve the principles of leadership. Only leaders in facts can craft and spread rituals, giving sense and importance to them: exactly like it should happen when implementing a strategy.

Rituals are important because they always tell a story by giving an example, a positive behaviour that can be immediately followed by other people within the company.

So rituals can help company to grow both in identity and self-awareness in many areas:

-managing customers

-communicating with stakeholders

– involving new resources within the company

-getting people familiar with company’s values and workflow

-getting managers to know top managers/founders priorities and vision

We can therefore assume that, concerning company culture, rituals occupy a central role, connecting company’s values and beliefs with stories/myths by giving to everyone in the firm the possibility of learning about company’s identity and values not just hearing of it but instead by diving into this stuff, impersonating the founders.

10.000!!! Thanks to our supporters, readers and contributors

10mila

 

Thanks for this important achievement!!!!

In less than 6 months we reached many entrepreneurs, stutents and professionals across the world. This is definitely more than we expected in such a short time.

The Naked Pitcher book is now a reality, and many other projects are on their way to be realized.

Take a look at our online tools and to the articles published about entrepreneurship across the world

We were and we are open to every contribution and idea about approaching strategy and supporting entrepreneurship for startups across the world and especially in MENA region.

All the best and thanks again!!

 

On failure and innovation

Failure and Innovaton by William J. Rossi

 

sisifo

Fail Early, Fail Fast; Failure is OK; Learn from Failure; Failure is the Successful Entrepreneur’s Right of Passage.  These phrases, like thinking out of the box, have become commonplace, even trite.  They are a part of every academic entrepreneurship program that I know.  They are used by most speakers in speeches to young entrepreneurs throughout the world.

People have known for at least several hundred years that one learns from failure.  You tell a child to not touch a stove because it’s hot.  So, what is hot to a child?  Some things simply have to be experienced, and failure allowed to happen for the learning to take place.  But it’s only recently that we have begun talking so much about it, and integrating it into entrepreneurship education.

I began teaching Creativity to entrepreneurship students about 15 years ago, and wondered at the time whether creativity could actually be taught.  After developing the course and teaching it the first time, my skepticism was put to rest.  Due in part to an initiative by a colleague at Stanford, Tina Seelig, who put forward the notion that there was value in teaching creativity by having students write down their failures, I asked my students in that first class to create a Failure Resume.  Of course, initially my students thought that was stupid and I was crazy, but subsequently it became a favorite part of the course.  My objectives in this assignment were three-fold.  First, I wanted students to acknowledge that they had experienced failures.  (Their failures were acknowledged by writing them down.)  Second, I wanted them to learn from their failures by examining the specific changes made in the conduct of their lives to prevent reoccurrence of those same failures.  (If changes aren’t made, one is destined to repeat the same failure.  Learning occurs.)

The third objective was therapeutic: I wanted them to realize that despite all those failures they had acknowledged, things came out pretty well for them.  (They all were students in a premier program at a premier institution.)

Today everyone seems to be talking about learning from failure, and the Failure Resume now is a pretty common tool used at a number of institutions.  At the end of April a professor at Princeton University, Johannes Haushofer, published his Failure CV on Twitter…to encourage others to keep trying in the face of disappointment… and had an almost instantaneous 33,500+ shares and 473 comments.

While I’m glad to see that many are talking about learning from failure, my concern is that it’ll be relegated to obscurity by becoming as commonplace as thinking out of the box, simply by too many people taking about it without thinking about it.  The reality in business today is that firms that do not continually innovate will die.  Innovation and failure go hand-in-hand.  Innovation requires taking risk, and when you take risk, you will sometimes fail.  It simply is not possible that one can continually succeed when taking risk.  Failure is inevitable.  The key is to examine each failure when it occurs to understand its causes, and make specific changes to prevent reoccurrence of that same failure.  Then try again.  Failure is OK; it’s part of the innovation process.

Remember though that if you fail nine times at some initiative, it doesn’t follow that you’ll be successful on the tenth try.  Success depends on you having learned nine lessons from those failures.  Ultimate success after failure is not a numbers game; it’s a lesson learning game.

William Rossi is Professor Emeritus of Entrepreneurship at the University of Florida, having taught at both in the undergraduate and graduate Entrepreneurship Program there for 15 years.  Prior to teaching, Professor Rossi initially held several senior level positions with Ford, Goodrich and Picker International.  After relocating to Florida in 1986, Rossi worked in executive management positions in smaller entrepreneurial companies and was a principal in several.  Rossi holds a Master of Science degree in Operations Research from the University of Massachusetts and an undergraduate degree in mechanical and industrial engineering from Ohio University.

 

EMUNI University and the Naked Pitcher: supporting entrepreneurship

EMUNI FIRST PAGE

The primary mission of EMUNI University is “to contribute through its activities in the area of higher education  and  research  to Fostering intercultural  dialogue  and  science  diplomacy in  the  Euro Mediterranean  and  Middle  East  and consequently to  the realisation of  the Union  for  the  Mediterranean’s purpose and objectives, and in particular  advancing cultural understanding, peace  and prosperity in the Mediterranean region

With a view to achieving the aforementioned mission, the Euro Mediterranean University, through contributing  to  joint  academic  programmes, educational and  research  activities and  staff  and  students   exchange   across   the   Mediterranean,  endeavours  to   achieve   a   common   Euro Mediterranean Higher Education and Research Area” (cfr EMUNI Statute)

EMUNI was inaugurated in June 2008, in a prominent celebration attended by the President of the European Commission and numerous Ministers and dignitaries from Slovenia and around the world. Shortly thereafter, EMUNI was endorsed by the Heads of States at the Paris Summit for the Mediterranean, identifying EMUNI in their declaration as one of the priority areas of the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM). EMUNI was entrusted with the mission of contributing to the understanding among people in the region by establishing and fostering a Euro-Mediterranean higher education and research area.

As it celebrates its first decade of existence, its mission remains all the more relevant today. The inclusive growth and development is increasingly contingent upon advancement of knowledge and innovation. Peace, security and prosperity in the Euro-Mediterranean region continue to be at the highest priority for the participating states.”

I’d like to thank EMUNI’s management to support the Naked Pitcher initiative.

EMUNI PAGE

Personally, I think that the  Euro-Mediterranean Entrepreneurship Diploma is defininitely a great and innovative idea and a huge help for students and young entrepreneurs.

In this Program  “Innovation and entrepreneurship are considered as a fruitful pursuit for creative and productive individuals” It aims  to enhance entrepreneurial thinking and implement entrepreneurial ambition in the context of the Euro-Mediterranean region.

I’ve had the privilege to teach in the “Entrepreneurial Business and Governance Models” and “Business Plan” Module and many ideas about the Naked Pitcher are coming directly from the requests and the interests of the students and startuppers I met.

Is every entrepreneur a storyteller?

CANTASTORIE

Is startupping a mission or a call?

For some aspect, is probably both.

Whatever are your company’s values and vision/mission and your point of view about entrepreneurship there’s  little doubt about the fact that being an entrepreneur has some relevant impact on society and not just within the business world and that an entrepreneur can create many different startups keeping for all his carrier distinguishing characteristics related to his personality, approach, personal values and so on.

So probably, being an entrepreneur is a call that may be characterised from time to time by different, sometimes highly connected missions.

In my personal experience, there is something that connects all startuppers I’ve ever met.

Is not necessarily the attitude to take a risk, because not all entrepreneurs know how to handle risk or have a clear perception of it; but is not necessarily dynamism, or the leadership, because sometimes entrepreneurs do not display excellent qualities in this field.

The quality that connects them all is the ability to tell a story. They are entrepreneurs because they are willing to tell something about their experience and concerning their vision of the future. They love to tell stories because when you tell a story to somebody else, suddenly your relationship with the audience changes forever and so does your mutual understanding of the world. That experience is not anymore just yours, ma is immediately belonging to a whole community.

Teling is sharing.They know how to tell stories because they are trained by the endless meeting they have to face with stakeholders, clients, investors.

And most of the times, they tell a story into another story: their personal story, in facts, is most of the times the necessary prologue for effectively telling their company’s story.

So if telling a story is the unifying quality, in how many ways it can help you developing a startup?

STORYTELLING

HELPS BECAUSE
YOU AS ENTREPRENEUR IT ESTABLISHES PERSONAL CREDIBILITY
YOU AS ENTREPRENEUR IT MAKES CLEAR BOTH YOUR CALL AND YOUR MISSION AS ENTREPRENEUR
YOU AS ENTREPRENEUR OFTEN A STORY REPRESENTS THE SOURCE OF THE FOUNDER’S CALL/PASSION
YOU AS ENTREPRENEUR IT TELLS TO EVERYBODY NOT JUST WHY YOUR COMPANY IS SPECIAL BUT WHY YOU ARE UNIQUE.
EXPLAINING YOUR COMPANY’S MISSION IT MAKES CLEAR ITS UNIQUENESS
DESCRIBING YOUR COMPANY’S ROOTS IT MAKES POSSIBLE FOR AUDIENCE UNDESTANDING NON JUST YOUR ORGANIZATIONAL CHART (F.I. ROLES AND RESPONSIBILITIES) BUT THE WAY YOU ARE, THE PLACE WHERE YOU WORK, THE ATMOSPHERE ETC
FULLY DESCRIBING YOUR BRANDING POLICY EVERY BRAND NEEDS/HAS A STORY BEHING, SOMETIMES A GREAT STORY TO TELL
DESCRIBING YOUR BUSINESS PLAN IN A FEW WORDS BECAUSE BY DEFINITION EVERY STORY, NO MATTER HOW SHORT, IF IT’S A GREAT STORY HAS A BEGINNING, A MIDDLE AND AN END …EXACTLY LIKE YOU BP!
CREATING COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGE IN PITCHING, IT MAY HAS THE SAME VALUE THAT A SIGNATURE SONG HAS FOR A SINGER.  EVERYBODY, RECEINVING THE PROPER TRAINING CAN TALK ABOUT ECONOMICS AND/OR TECHNICAL DETAILS…BUT NOBODY CAN TELLA YOUR STORY THE WAY YOU DO IT. IF IT HAPPENS…THE SONG NEVER SOUNDS THE SAME!
INVESTORS DECIDING A STORY IS NOT JUST DESCRIBING YOUR IDEA (LIKE EVERY GOOD BP ALREADY DOES QUITE EFFICIENTLY) BUT WHY YOU FIRST CHOSE FOR IT. BECAUSE YOU ARE, AS ENTREPRENEUR, THE VERY FIRST CUSTOMER OF YOUR OWN COMPANY!!
COMMUNICATION TELLING A STORY IS THE MOST VALUED AND LONG TERM (AND DIFFICULT!)  WAY OF COMMUNICATING WITH COMPANY’S STAKEHOLDERS
GIVING CUSTOMERS SOMETHING NICE TO PLAY WITH
IF THE STORY IS GOOD THEY WILL SPREAD IT ALL AROUND, MAKING YOUR COMPANY POPULAR FAR BEYOND YOUR WILDEST DREAMS. ABOUT THIS SPECIFIC POINT, REMEMBER THAT, WHETHER YOU WANT OR NOT, THAT WILL HAPPEN ANYWAY. WE ALL CREATE CONTINUOSLY STORIES AND RITUALS ABOUT EVERY ASPECT OF OUR DAILY LIVES. SO  CUSTOMER NEED TO CREATE A STORY AROUND YOUR COMPANY, AND THAT CAN EITHER POSITIVE OR NEGATIVE, BUT DEFINTELY NOT UNDER YOUR CONTROL, SO WHY NOT  TO USE IT TO YOUR OWN ADVANTAGE?