How steep of a price are we willing to pay for success? Startup founders or anyone trying to climb a corporate ladder know that sacrifices will have to be made. Long hours, missed family events, and close friendships that become distant are common.
We have all seen or personally experienced the signs of dysfunction when these sacrifices become too great, such as substance abuse, extramarital affairs and health problems. Sometimes family, friends and coworkers will thankfully intervene before or at the point when there is a crisis. They could see the signals that something was wrong. Fortunately, that is often the moment at which the striver, who is oblivious to the emotional and physical toll that his or her ambitions are taking, can be helped before it leads to a tragedy.
The outliers are the dramatic falls of the seemingly impervious high achievers. They are frequently the picture of perfect health, great family, large network of friends and brimming with ideas, projects and unbridled ambition. You know the type. Business challenges, economic uncertainties and controversies only fuel their ambitions while it would unnerve others.
David Bowie’s extraordinary ability to reinvent himself at different stages of his legendary five-decade career is a lesson in market savvy and branding. Known for his chameleon like behavior, this artistic and cultural icon was able to sift through the cultural chaff of the time to find original gems to create new images and music that would repeatedly propel him to stardom for multiple generations of fans.
The artist/performer who started life as David Jones and transformed himself into David Bowie, and added well-known monikers like Ziggy Stardust and Starman during his long career, could be a business case study on how to create products and brand loyalty in a world with notoriously fickle consumers.
In today’s disruptive digital age and highly competitive global economy, this is a challenge for companies large and small. But for large legacy companies that started in the 20th Century, it is an especially difficult challenge with a lot at stake.
I asked a promising entrepreneur if she had started thinking about how to brand the new high tech product her company was planning to introduce later this year. She answered: “Well kind of. I have been preoccupied with product development, raising funds and hundreds of other details.”
She like so many other startup founders are juggling multiple responsibilities and pressing deadlines to develop their products or services, and to get their companies up and running.
In reality, though, the discussion on branding should start in the early stages of product development. All new products or services are designed to meet a unique consumer need or desire. If the targeted customer audiences think this new product/service fulfills this requirement, product sales and the probability of success for this startup will rise. To realize this, brand recognition will be critical.
Will your leadership style give your startup a better than 50-50 chance of success?
While startup businesses may have highly innovative products, services and funding, the success or failure of the business will rest primarily on the ability of the founder/CEO to hire, lead, and inspire the right people.
According to Harvard Business School professor Noam Wasserman people problems, such as bad leadership and hiring the wrong people, were the main reasons for the majority of business failures among 10,000 startup companies surveyed for his book, The Founder’s Dilemma (Princeton University Press, 2012).
One of the most important pieces of advice I received as a budding small business owner was to make every business decision as if I were the head of a well-established company.
Right from the beginning a start-up entrepreneur is under pressure to make multiple decisions on a long list of priorities. How will I pay for product development, equipment and staff? The list seems endless.
A business plan and budget helps to reduce project creep and avoid burning through start-up cash faster than what you had planned. But life is full of surprises. Unexpected events can change your budget priorities.
On the last day of May, ex-Lehman CEO Richard Fuld told an audience of investors and news media that he was not to blame for the 158-year old investment bank going bankrupt and for playing a role in the financial crisis. Mr. Fuld pointed to lax U.S. regulations and oversight that allowed irresponsible consumers to qualify for high priced mortgages they could not afford when the economy tanked as the cause.
The reporting of well-regarded financial journalists like Barry Ritholtz and David Weidner took Mr. Fuld to task and poked gaping holes in his assertions and denial of responsibility.
To me, however, the golden nuggets from Mr. Fuld’s speech were not his combative style, but the leadership and decision-making issues that contributed to the demise of Lehman Brothers and led to the financial crisis that nearly brought the world to its knees.
The noisy legislative debate on patent reform in the U.S. Congress is without a doubt critical to America’s long-term economic future.
Patents are engines for economic productivity. Countries that encourage inventors and entrepreneurs to patent their innovations will be among the winners in the highly competitive global marketplace. That’s why the stakes are so high in the outcome of the current legislative deliberations on patent reform bills in the U.S. Congress.
The America Invents Act of 2011 introduced significant reforms to the patenting process, as well as controversy. The bill’s “first to file” provision replaces the “first to invent” doctrine and gives priority to the first inventor to file a patent application. It is also at the center of the ongoing debate on whether current patent laws give unfair advantage to large companies over smaller companies and inventors. Supporters, however, argue that the “first to file” provision brings U.S. laws into sync with the rest of the world and will speed up the patent examination process and reduce the backlog of patent applications.
Was yesterday’s announcement that Avago Technologies Ltd had purchased tech company Broadcom for a record $37 billion another signal that the marketplace is thriving or is it another step towards a market bubble ready to burst?
Shareholders at Avago and Broadcom are likely to be happy, as are their lawyers and investment bankers, at least in the short-term.
Cheers for Tech Market Growth But Also Concerns However, the market may not be as sanguine about this development. In a May 28, 2015 Bloomberg Business News report, Alex Gauna, an analyst at JMP Securities in San Francisco said about the largest ever acquisition of a technology company: “I’ve got my misgivings, this feels very frothy for me….This seems like a stretch”.
President Obama’s proposal to map the human brain is a bold challenge to use America’s wealth of talent, creativity and spirit of innovation to go places where few have gone before.
His call to action echoed President Kennedy’s 1961 speech to the Congress when he challenged America to put a man on the moon by the end of the decade.
From that day forward, Kennedy’s vision of America’s future in outer space was not just his but also the nation’s. The public euphoria over the space program, as well as winning the space race with the Soviets, kept an enormously expensive government program fully funded for over forty years. New industries and companies were started and hundreds of thousands of jobs created.
The May 2013 jobs report was encouraging but showed that the economy was not growing enough for employers to hire more workers. I join with millions of other Americans in giving a sigh of relief that the economic recovery is gaining steam. After being on the brink of a depression and then in a deep and stubborn recession, the U.S. economy’s small but positive economic growth is something to be happy about. The unemployment rate continues to stay below 8% and job creation numbers are up, as are consumer spending and housing sales. This is all good news.
The bad news is that while there has been a rise in the number of new jobs, the pace of job creation has not been strong enough to bring America back to full employment. Even though the economic recovery is admittedly slow, isn’t it reasonable to think that in the next few years we should be able to reach full employment? No, say a number of experts who believe that full employment may be several years away.