Think like a Startup. Visualize Your Business Model.. in 15 Minutes

“Ordinary people believe only in the possible. Extraordinary people visualize not what is possible or probable, but rather what is impossible. And by visualizing the impossible, they begin to see it as possible.”

~ Cherie Carter-Scott

This is the challenge for most entrepreneurs is that we often get caught up so much in daily things that we failed to see the big picture, focus on that and put it to work.

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“Ordinary people believe only in the possible. Extraordinary people visualize not what is possible or probable, but rather what is impossible. And by visualizing the impossible, they begin to see it as possible.”

~ Cherie Carter-Scott

This is the challenge for most entrepreneurs is that we often get caught up so much in daily things that we failed to see the big picture, focus on that and put it to work.

The startup business framework created by Tom Hulme, IDEO’s Design Director at their London’s office, is simple enough for anyone to use. Whether you just have this idea that you think is very interesting, to large companies.

Continue reading “Think like a Startup. Visualize Your Business Model.. in 15 Minutes”

Huge Procurement Dollar for Small & Minority Biz (in Maryland): Interview with Jerry Godwin

The other week I had the opportunity to have Jerry Godwin, Business Development Specialist with Wheaton (Maryland) Business Innovation Center as guest on my program – Ecotwist. In this interview, we talked about a whole range of issues from the innovation hub that the county offers to State’s procurement dollar for small and minority businesses. (Podcast of interview is below).

Innovation Hub

There are 5 business innovation network within the county based on location and industry: Shady Grove (biotech), Silver Spring (IT and software development), Wheaton (professional services), Rockville (international and tech companies), Germantown (biotech and life cycle companies).

There are two reasons why you’d be interested in participating in some sort of incubation: 1) Typically you pay below market rate for space provided. 2) The county provides broad technical assistance for CEOs and their staffs with close to 60 seminars a year. Some are 1 hour long, some are 2-3 hours long.

Currently there are over 180 companies in the county’s incubators network. The objective is, within about 3 years with the kind of environment created, Jerry says “with the technical training and synergies,” they expect that these companies will outgrow its space.

More than 90 companies have outgrown their spaces and move into commercial space. About 94 of these companies still in business, considering the failure rate of business the first year is about north of 85%. So that’s a pretty darn good success ratio. About 100 of companies under their portfolio have graduated from the program. They created 2500 jobs. Use 500,000 sf of commercial space. And bring $500 million of capital infusion back into the county.

The county provides financial and tax incentives for small businesses from new jobs tax credit, enhance new jobs tax credit to enterprise zone tax credit.

Montgomery county procurement

Jerry also said that there’s a big push in procurement dollar for small and minority businesses, which is part of the county’s Local Small Business Reserve Program.

All County departments’ is required to contract a minimum of 20 percent of annual solicitations to small businesses. The solicitations are reserved for vendors registered with the Local Small Business Reserve Program. The dollar amount is around $35 million for FY 2010.

For a business to participate in the procurement, it’s a 2 step process:

  1. Register as vendor with Montgomery County at http://mcipcc.net
  2. Register with Local Small Business Reserve Program at http://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/lsbrp

You can also visit Montgomery County Economic Development, for more details.

There’s more that we covered in our interview. Check out the podcast of “Doing Business Locally: Interview with Jerry Godwin.”

20 Sustainability Learning Resources

FOOD FOR YOUR BRAIN. These are some of the sites where you can learn and dig deeper on sustainability. Whether you’re an employee, business owner, professional, or even executive and career changer, the information available through these sites is priceless. The best part is, most of the resources it’s either available for free or for a small subscription fee.

The resources below provide you with the knowledge, the kind of information that includes things that would affect the sustainability of your business, i.e. climate change, energy efficiency, nature conservation, biodiversity, water efficiency, and more. It is by no means they are the only twenty sources out there. There are literally more than hundreds (probably thousands) sources globally! However, for the purpose of learning, we’re going to start one chunk at a time. It’s good enough to spin your head.

FOOD FOR YOUR BRAIN. These are some of the sites where you can learn and dig deeper on sustainability. Whether you’re an employee, business owner, professional, or even executive and career changer, the information available through these sites is priceless. The best part is, most of the resources it’s either available for free or for a small subscription fee.

The resources below provide you with the knowledge, the kind of information that includes things that would affect the sustainability of your business, i.e. climate change, energy efficiency, nature conservation, biodiversity, water efficiency, and more.  It is by no means they are the only twenty sources out there. There are literally more than hundreds (probably thousands) sources globally! However, for the purpose of learning, we’re going to start one chunk at a time. It’s good enough to spin your head.

Continue reading “20 Sustainability Learning Resources”

Green is the World’s Trend

I found that green is a growing trend. Saw in a number of places how green products and services (including slogans) are popping up here and there. Organic. Natural products. Recycled, biodegradeble packaging. Fair trade. And more.

Attitude and behavior not there yet. But at least products are becoming commonly available on some supermarkets’ shelves, though still selling at premium. Anyone, any business, who can come up with affordable organic products could (potentially) capture market share. Asia has almost two-thirds of world’s population.

There’s an old saying ‘a picture is worth a thousand words.’ So, below you’ll see pictures I took at random places in Jakarta, Indonesia and Bangkok, Thailand. 

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The Top 10 Clean Energy States

Clean Edge just released their first annual U.S. clean energy leadership index, that ranks the top 10 states for clean energy based on certain methodologies they use, i.e. technology, policy and investment. The company tracks more than 4,000 public and private data points across all 50 states. 

You’ll see from the map that East and West coast are dominant in this case. However, a few states outside the coastal states, also play a role. 

Top_10_clean_energy_states

Most of the top 10 states are blue states. Coincidentally, Ernst & Young came up with similar blue states conclusion. 

  1. California, 
  2. Oregon, 
  3. Massachusetts, 
  4. Washington, 
  5. Colorado, 
  6. New York, 
  7. Illinois, 
  8. Connecticut, 
  9. Minnesota and 
  10. New Jersey. 

What that means is that these states are probably the first states in the U.S. that will come out of recession. With the rest of the world venturing into low-carbon economy, these states will stay competitive. For wannabe entrepreneurs: this kind of economic environment is definitely good for business. 

Take that, Congress! Hmm, more specifically the close-mindedanti-progress group. 

 

5 Global Forces that Will Shape The Future of Your Business

Reasons for rethinking business as we go forward to 2011 and beyond. According to McKinsey Quarterly, there are five global forces that will shape the future of business and society that represents both opportunities and challenges. 

“These trends are important because each of them can create, reshape, or extinguish entire industries,” says Patrick Vigueri of McKinsey’s. (emphasis added)

1. The rise of emerging market as the center of consumerism and innovation.

2. The imperative to improve developed-market productivity.

3. Ever-expanding (and interconnected) global networks.

4. The tension between rapidly rising resource consumption and sustainability.

5. The increasingly larger role of the state as a business partner and regulator.

Watch the video. 

http://www.mckinseyquarterly.com/App_Themes/v2.0/swf/external_player.swf

For transcript, here.

10 Principles of Strong Brands

In today’s marketplace, “corporations need to be aware more than ever before of the many underlying forces that impact a brand’s ongoing strength,” according to Interbrand. The rule of relationships between business and customers is changing. In the 24/7 news cycle, business can lose their brand value in a matter of minutes. Customers are more vocal. They would let you know what they feel online via Twitter, Facebook, blog comments, etc. Responding to a crisis to maintain perceived brand image is more important than before. Ask BP about it

To stay true to your brand’s promise, business needs to humanize its customer relationships, via Interbrand. 

It is clear that the rules are changing, but in a landscape fraught with contradictions, and vocal customers scrutinizing your every move, it is difficult to know how best to proceed. Yet some brands are already adapting – embracing transparency and a higher level of customer engagement at every touchpoint, while staying true to their brand promise both internally and externally. Brands like Coca Cola, Ford and Santander are guiding the way forward, showing the world that it is possible to win in this marketplace, and build trust and loyalty that influence customer demand, despite many risks. (emphasis added)

COCA COLA: 124-year old brand still relevant in today’s market. 

FORD: using customer feedback to make a comeback.

SANTANDER: transparency, honesty and respect for its clients. 

According to Interbrand’s Brand Strength Score, here is the 10 components that make up in a brand’s ability to generate value.

  1. Commitment
  2. Protection
  3. Clarity
  4. Responsiveness
  5. Authenticity
  6. Relevance
  7. Understanding
  8. Consistency
  9. Presence
  10. Differentiation

Number 9 has something to do with how social media can elevate the presence of brands.

You can dig in deeper via the definitive guide to the most valuable global brands of 2010, here or below.