#57/111: The New Business Road Test

What is it about?

How can you increase your probably of success? John Mullins takes a scientific-like way to explore why startups fail and how it can be fixed. Each major point is illustrated by case studies and a short section “what investors want to know”.

What can I learn?

What are your goals? Before starting you should define your goals. Do you want to build a multi million dollars company or a lifestyle business? Do you want to work 80h/w or rather 25? This is the general framework to later decisions.

Market and Industry: Often these two things are not really understood. Your market exists of your customers. Your Industries are your competitors. Often there are great markets but the industry sucks. A example are restaurants. There are a mass of people who have to eat every day but the industry is gigantic and competitive. There are lots of restaurants or people could cook for themselves. That is, you market should be acceptable and your industry.

Obey the Critical Success Factors: If you have chosen your market and industry, you have to identify the industry’s Critical Success Factors (CSF). What is really important in your industry? For example, you can’t build a successful news site if you don’t have topical and good content.

Choose a great management team: Your management team should be complementary to you. Firstly, you have to know your strengths and weaknesses. If you suck at finance look for a smart CFO. If you suck at managing people, look for a smart COO/CEO. You don’t have to do anything for yourself and probably better don’t.


This is a pretty good book. The New Business Road Test is well structured and each chapter includes case studies which support Mullins’ assumptions about starting a successful business. The book is very practical and definitely worth reading if you want to start a business. Recommendation!

Startups Lessons Not Learned or Lame Startup Thinking (via 24 Ways to Start)

What is it about?
Mike Butcher, TechCrunch Europe Editor, writes about lame startup thinking (in Europe). In my experience there is so much truth in this article, it’s a must read.

What can I learn?

Learn about money: Firstly, do you really need outside money? If you don’t want to put most of your money into the idea don’t bother asking other people. If you will need money you should know how much. Furthermore, if you look for angels, look for angels who can help you build your network. Before pitching these investors ideally you should have build some mock-ups or better a product or ideally a product with customers and revenue.

Your company is your product: Don’t outsource your core competency. Do not do it. If you aren’t a product person look for a person how is and make them CEO or learn the stuff for yourself. You should iterate your product and test it often. What do your customer think? How is the user experience?

Startups Lessons Not Learned or Lame Startup Thinking | 24 Ways To Start

How to Take your Start-Up to the Next Level What is it about? Aaron Patzer, founder of mint.com, tal

How to Take your Start-Up to the Next Level

How to Take your Start-Up to the Next Level from Carsonified on Vimeo.

What is it about?

Aaron Patzer, founder of mint.com, talks about how he got from an idea to $170 million in just three year.

What can I learn?

Don’t be secretive: Aarons first idea was a goal setting software. Instead of building it in stealth mode, he decided to talk to people. Only about one in eighty of these people found this idea appealing, so he discarded it. Later he hasn’t gone secretive. He showed mint’s UI to lots of people and optimized it over time.

Build a prototype: If you are raising money, looking for customers or hiring people, a prototype is real advantage. People can actually see your idea in action, click around and feel the experience. Would you rather listen to a 10 minutes sales pitch or playing around 10 minutes with a new software?

Leverage your success: If you are once in the news, try to stay there. Mint got a pretty clever idea. They gave away free mint mojitos at the Techcrunch 40 and were eventually elected as people’s choice. Then they talked to other journalists if they won’t want to interview the people’s choice winner. And so on.

(via Carsonified)

#51/111: Predictable Success

What is it about?

What are the ingredients for a successful business? Les McKown thinks money, people and structure. You can see a illustration of his business cycle theory below. On the x-axis is time and on the y-axis success.

(Picture from Les McKown’s Blog)

What can I learn?

Whitewater: While you are growing things get more complex. Your company slows down. To get to the next stage you have to introduce some processes and structure to manage your company.

Predictable Success: In this stage there is a equilibrium between entrepreneurial zeal and structure. This is the ideal state and theoretically you can be in this stage forever. An important key attribute in this stage is ownership and self-accountability, i.e. your employees are accountable for results. You focus on people instead on processes.

Treadmill: Your company gets into this stage if processes take over risk taking and entrepreneurial zeal. Processes become more important than people and individual gaols. To get back to predictable success you have to cultivate personal development. Focus on results rather than on compliances.


At the beginning, Les McKeown writes that he became an accountant and learned that financing are is the most important factor for a company. I was really disturbed and though: That’s why accountants don’t start companies. However, later he revised his answer. In Predictable Success, McKeown describes each stage thoughtfully and with examples. It’s a real pleasure to read this book because he tells a lot of his own experiences as a business owner and consultant. A clear recommendation for everyone who want to know how to a company transforms over time and how to achieve predictable success.