What Everybody Ought to Know About “Social Entrepreneurship”

From Entrepreneurship by Meltwater founder and CEO Jørn Lyseggen:

Entrepreneurship is in my opinion actually a way to express oneself. Much in the same way artists express themselves in making paintings or other pieces of art, entrepreneurs express themselves by building companies producing new and improved solutions.

At the core is a desire to contribute and essentially make the world a tiny bit better.

For this reason I am not so fond of the term “social entrepreneurship”. I believe any or at least the vast majority of companies aspire to impact the world positively. At least they did so when starting out. Pharmaceutical companies are obvious examples, but if you think about it companies in any industry are trying to make the world better by improving the status quo in their way. Better communications, better solutions, better something.

I think the term “social entrepreneurship” is misleading. It is belittling the contributions to most entrepreneurs out there while singling out others in an awkward way.

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The Distorted Perception About Startups

From The myth of the overnight success by Chris Dixon:

Angry Birds was Rovio’s 52nd game. They spent eight years and almost went bankrupt before finally creating their massive hit. [..]

You tend to hear about startups when they are successful but not when they are struggling. This creates a systematically distorted perception that companies succeed overnight. Almost always, when you learn the backstory, you find that behind every “overnight success” is a story of entrepreneurs toiling away for years, with very few people except themselves and perhaps a few friends, users, and investors supporting them.

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God Rewards Fools, Founders

From The Code Book by Simon Singh, quoting Martin Hellman, one of the founders of public key cryptography:

You have idea number 1, you get excited, and it flops. Then you have idea number 2, you get excited, and it flops. Then you have idea number 99, you get excited, and it flops. Only a fool would be excited by the 100th idea, but it might take 100 ideas before one really pays off. Unless you’re foolish enough to be continually excited, you won’t have the motivation, you won’t have the energy to carry it through. God rewards fools.

Does the Lean Startup comes to mind? Remember “Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish” from Steve Jobs’ commencement speech at Stanford University?

Diffie [co-inventor] and Hellman spent month after month attempting to find a solution. Although every idea ended in failure, they supported each other and persevered. Diffie often went through long periods of barren contemplation, and on one occasion in 1975 he became so frustrated that he told his wife Mary that he was just a failed scientist who would never amount to anything. He told her that she ought to find someone else. Mary told him that she had absolute faith in him, and just two weeks later Diffie came up with his truly brilliant idea.

In other words, entrepreneurship–invention as well as innovation–is very much about learning by failure and keep going until you connect the dots.

How Nordic Leadership Is Different From Silicon Valley-style Leadership

Mårten Mickos, former CEO of MySQL, now CEO of Eucalyptus, here answers to What makes Scandinavian leadership different from say “Silicon Valley” style leadership?

I talk about Scandinavian-inspired leadership, but I must start by noting that it is nothing uniquely Scandinavian. You find it all over the world.

There is a notion of “people first” and a principle of egalitarianism. We are all human beings, we should be respected for our opinions, and we all have something valuable to contribute. For practical purposes, we specialize and we are given various job titles such as “assistant”, “developer” and “CEO”. We also have different salary and bonus levels. But we are still just a bunch of people who are trying to accomplish something together.

We speak up. It’s OK for one in a senior role to be wrong, and one in a junior role to be right. It’s OK to contradict someone and it’s OK to challenge an authority. At the end of the debate, we all need to align behind a decision. But before such a decision, dissent is welcome.

What’s not specifically defined as closed will be open. There are always pieces of information that need to be kept secret. But there is a ton of things that can be shared. We need to be as open as we possibly can. We must share the true state of affairs with our employees. We must have a fully open dialog with our customers, not hiding or obscuring facts.

We are not victims and we don’t put blame on others. We know that success is up to ourselves. We know that we may live in a harsh climate and that we may have to work a little harder than the rest. If we fail, we pick up ourselves, learn from the experience, and have a new go at it.

We take broad responsibility. Perhaps we were hired just for one task. Perhaps we are paid a bonus just for specific accomplishments. But we all need to think about the company as something that we are collectively in charge of. For that reason, we must step up and step in whenever the situation calls for it. The CEO must be ready to answer the door bell. The accountant must be ready to answer the phone and engage with customers. We are “us”, not “me”.

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Unbundle Innovation →

This neat “tweetstorm” story from Marc Andreessen teaches us a lesson in design thinking, showing how reduction–rather than adding features–is a fruitful avenue of innovation.

P.S.
[1] Fred Wilson did a Tweetstorm about Tweetstroming. That explains it, but basically it’s about turning Twitter into a live blogging platform.
[2] Sumukh Sridhara built Tweetstorm.io to better view and create Tweetstorms. It lists all of Marc Andreessen’s Tweetstorms.
[3] Dave Winer built Little Pork Chop for Tweetstorming

Amazon: We see Nordics as one of the world’s leading innovation centers →

Amazon’s head of Web Services in CEE & Nordics, Peter Fuchs, to The Swedish Wire:

We have found that Nordic customers are among the most innovative users of cloud computing in the world and our early experiences with businesses in the region led us to make the Nordics a focal point for Amazon Web Services.

Following,

We see the Nordics as one of the world’s leading innovation centers, challenging places like London, Berlin and Tel Aviv.

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Warning: Use These 7 Value Proposition Design Experiments At Your Own Risk

Testing Value Propositions

You’ve learned how to design a stunning value proposition using the proven examples of successful entrepreneurs and inspired business thinkers.

If you’re like me, however, you’ve probably spent hour after hour inside your office, turning every little word in your value prop statement to make it shine.

Now, wouldn’t it be nice to find out what actually sticks with your audience and what doesn’t, before you invest even more into it?

One thing I’ve learned by studying them is that the bigger and more complicated you make it testing your value proposition, the less likely it is anyone will help point you in the right direction.

So to get you started, here are 7 super simple ways to quickly test your value proposition in social media.

1. LinkedIn Value Proposition

Your LinkedIn headline is visible in LinkedIn’s search results pages, in the “profiles others have watched”, in group discussions, and more.

By adding your value proposition to your headline along side a call to action in your profile summary, you could easily measure variations in number of profile views and contact requests, using LinkedIn’s built-in stats.

2. Twitter Bio Value Proposition Statement

Add your value proposition to your Twitter bio. Start engaging with prospective customers or users on Twitter. Now, did you get more followers, requests? Since the Twitter bio is limited to 160 characters, the high-level pitch template might be a good choice.

3. Tweet Your Value Proposition Statement

Simply tweet your 140-character value proposition, using a clear call to action and, of course, respect for your fellow tweeters. What are the feedback, number of clicks, conversations? Measure and adjust.

4. Blog Your Value Proposition Statement

Blog posts are excellent for testing your problem and solution hypothesis. In doing so you’d use a high-level value proposition for the headline and more detailed version for the head and copy. Further, you’d add your blog post to Hacker News, Reddit etc. or experiment with guest posts depending on where your customer segment lives.

Make sure to make the permalink generic so that you can adjust the headline based on feedback; unique visitors, page views, bounce rate, and more importantly, conversations. Use comments to get feedback from customers. See more under landing page value propositions..

5. Landing page value propositions

Worth a post on its own there is an array of advice for properly doing landing page testing. But you don’t need to make it rocket science.

Set up a simple landing page, using WordPress or Twitter bootstrap templates, or tune your existing site to make sure it clearly communicates your value proposition alongside a call to action. Look up Google Analytics or locate a split testing service such as Unbounce.com to test for different variations of your value proposition copy.

6. E-mail your Value Proposition

E-mail is not only a powerful tool for testing your value proposition, but also for actually delivering it. Here, your high-level value proposition goes in the subject field and your longer version in the body. Target your customer with validated learning in mind, and measure accordingly.

7. Pick up the phone!

Just dial up. Now.

Beware vanity metrics

The beauty of testing your value proposition in online and social media is that it allows for quick feedback, quantitative as well as qualitative.

But beware vanity metrics. Unique visitors, page views, likes or followers don’t necessarily tell you if you’re on the right track or not.

Rather, use these techniques to start a conversation and drive actionable metrics that help prove the viability of your business model.

Let’s chat on Twitter.

What Innovation Tools Are The Most Popular: Lean Startup, Business Model Canvas, Disruptive Innovation ..?

innovation tools compared

Today, more than ever, companies looking to create new growth have tools at their hand to help reduce risk and increase the odds of success.

The Google Trends chart above shows a selection of “The Fantastic Four” and their relative interest over time.

Historically, Blue Ocean Strategy sees the most interest, but is slightly declining. Disruptive Innovation sees less interest among the four, but is growing. Both Lean Startup and Business Model Canvas are rapidly growing. The chart speaks for itself. But the comparison is only as good as what people search for on the web.

Although the frameworks take different angles on innovation, they are not mutually exclusive. They overlap and complement each other. And in many ways the later frameworks build upon the former, applying similar concepts in new wrapping.

In innovation there is no one-size-fits-all. So rather than looking at what are the popular tools, companies should look at what are the right tools.

Personally I find it useful taking a modular, “lego-like” approach, combining and distilling the methods into tailored frameworks, which is what I will look at in my next posts.

What methods and tools do you use? How do you combine them?

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3 More Proven Templates For Writing Value Propositions That Work

value proposition examples and templates

Your value proposition is the first, and often the only, opportunity you have to make an impression on a prospective customer, user, or investor.

Research shows that the attention span of a person may be as short as 8 seconds before their mind starts wandering. On average, 8 out of 10 people will read your headline, but only 2 out of 10 will read the rest of your copy.

Since readers seemed to find my 7 Proven Templates For Writing Value Propositions That Work useful for overcoming this hurdle and writing value propositions, I thought I’d share 3 more proven templates and examples.

#1 Clay Christensen’s Jobs-to-be-done

According to Harvard Business School Professor Clay Christensen, designing an innovative customer value proposition begins with genuinely understanding the customer’s jobs-to-be-done (JTBD).

JTBD is not a product, service, or a specific solution; it’s the higher purpose for which customers buy products, services, and solutions. Its premise is that customers don’t really buy products. They “hire” them to do a job. Instead of asking what products customers want to buy, the JTBD method asks what fundamental problems they hope to address.

The authors of The Innovator’s Toolkit suggest using a “job statement” to describe a JTBD.

Template

Action verb: _________

Object of action: _________

Contextual identifier: _________.

Sample(s)

“Manage (action verb) personal finances (object of action) at home (contextual identifier)”.

“Preserving fun memories.” (Kodak’s Funsaver)

“Listen to music while jogging.”

#2 Simon Sinek’s WHY

According to Simon Sinek, “People don’t buy what you do; people buy why you do it.” Sinek’s Golden Circle framework shows you how to turn an idea into a social movement by leading a focus on WHY.

This step-by-step process teaches you to clarify your Why, articulate your Hows, and the importance of being consistent in What you do.

Template

Why: ___________

How: ___________

What: ___________

Sample(s)

Why: In everything we do, we believe in challenging the status quo. We believe in thinking differently.

How: The way we challenge the status quo is by making our products beautifully designed, simple to use, and user friendly.

What: We just happen to make computers.

#3 The Minto Pyramid aka SCQA

SCQA – Situation, Complication, Question, and Answer – also known as The Minto Pyramid Principle, helps you organize ideas to write compelling business documents. It be memos, presentations, emails, blog posts or – key to all the former – value propositions.

Template

Situation – describe what is the current situation

Complication – describe the issue in the situation

Question – describe the question in response to the issue

Answer  - suggest answer to ease out or mitigate the issue

Sample(s)

With the rise of smartphones and online video the use of data has exploded.

As a result, however, wireless networks become congested and slow.

How can mobile operators increase their quality of service?

Our patented routing algorithm helps mobile operators radically increase throughput.

Want more? See my post on 7 Proven Templates and Examples For Writing Value Propositions That Work or subscribe to get tips and tricks in your inbox.