Art of the Start

Guy Kawasaki of Garage Technology Ventures has just published a great new book, The Art of the Start, that can help entrepreneurs skip all the time-wasting steps that most people tell you to take (like how many days and weeks do you and your staff need to agonize over getting your mission statement just perfect?) and get right into creating products and selling them to customers.

It’s the perfect approach to starting a web company or a software company. It’s Extreme Entrepreneuring. Just do it. Skip all the unnecessary steps and start serving customers. Over time you can perfect your products with feedback from your early adopters.

I’m only into it three chapters so far, but I’m going to recommend this to all first time entrepreneurs. I heard Guy speak in Salt Lake City about 10 years ago, and then I heard him again at Harvard Business School’s Cyberposium a few years ago. He’s one of my favorite speakers.

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iPowerweb

iPowerweb claims 240,000 professional accounts for it’s $7.95 per month web hosting service. One of our companies, Utah Angel Network, hired a developer to build our web site and he prefers iPowerweb. So we’re going to give it a try. Here’s a link:

iPowerWeb Hosting / $7.95/Mo / 500 Megs of Space, 30 Gigs of Transfer, 300 Emails + Free Setup & Free Domain – CLICK HERE!

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IE Blocks Download of Google Desktop Search

I’m trying to download the new Google Desktop search and got this message from Internet Explorer:

“To help protect your security, Internet Explorer blocked this site from downloading files to your computer. Click here for options.”

I’m sure they aren’t targeting Google specifically. I think I got an update recently from Microsoft that makes me approve any site that tries to download software. I can add them to a list of approved sites.

I just thought this was funny.

What wasn’t funny was getting 2 errors from Google (page not found) when I first clicked on desktop.google.com and then again when I clicked on Download. Backtracking and trying again solved the problem, but I’m not accustomed to getting web server errors from Google.

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Kanoodle Responds to My Concerns

I recently complained about being overcharged by Kanoodle, since when I signed up for their contextual advertising service I didn’t know what the per click charge was going to be. I was contacted by Kanoodle and they treated me well and resolved my concerns. They told me if I had logged in earlier I would have seen the higher per-click charges. They were right. I should have been tracking my campaign every day. I appreciate the way they resolved my issue, however, and plan to continue using Kanoodle.

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Press Releases and Strategy

I advise CEOs to personally craft their company strategy. My favorite way to do this is not to write a 20 page document that no one will ever read, but simply to make a list of all the press release headlines they hope to issue during the next two years. What key announcements do they hope to make? Partnerships? Key Hires? Revenue Growth Announcements? Funding Events?

You can do this in a few hours.

One exercise Stephen Covey uses is to have you write your own obituary–what do you hope is said about you when you pass on?–and then you try to live your life accordingly.

For a CEO, mentally creating the plans of the company they are building is critical. But I find it very difficult to get CEOs to take the time to do this. I did this for Ancestry.com in 1998 and it is absolutely amazing six years later to see how many of the announcements that I envisioned actually happened. Most happened a few years later than I predicted (and the IPO still hasn’t happened!), but having the strategy on paper really helped me make significant contributions to the company.

Many startup CEOs do not have a well thought-out strategic plan. (It takes a ton of competitive and market research to know with certainty how you should proceed.) And many startup companies are very, very poor at telling their story through press releases.

In the internet era, you can consistently tell your story through press releases on your web site, without paying fees to PR agencies. As a startup you don’t need to pay $10,000 per month to have an agency write press releases and use their media contacts to get story placements. Unless of course you can afford this.

But for a few hundred dollars per month you can have releases written for your web site and for distribution on free press release services, including PRweb.com which gets indexed by Google News every day.

Press releases are useful for informing potential employees, business partners, customers, and investors about your company’s story. Usually when I want to learn about a company, I go to their web site and check their press releases. In a few minutes I can learn a great deal about them. If they don’t have any press releases, I assume they are a tiny player. Is that what you want people to think of your company?

I’m working on a new company that will help startups create their PR-based strategic plan and then issue regular releases for a very low monthly fee. I’d like every Infobase Ventures company to sign up for this service. I know dozens of other small businesses that need this. Then, when companies grow big enough, they can graduate to a real PR agency and tell the story widely through the press in addition to the direct PR on their own site.

Please contact me if you’d like to learn more about this new low-cost PR service. (One good way to reach me is paulballen “at” yahoo.com)

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PRGuy.com

I think SearchGuy.com should rename itself PRGuy.com. These guys went public in May through a reverse merger and have a decent

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When Will Google Pass Microsoft?

I blogged an outrageous prediction a few months ago (it ended up being my most popular blog ever) that Google would pass Microsoft in market cap within 10-15 years. Yesterday I saw a CSFB report showing Google’s revenue will grow from $2.9 billion in 2004 to $4.3 billion in 2005. Meanwhile, Yahoo Finance shows Microsoft with revenues of $32 billion in 2003 and $36 billion in 2004.

So I had to do a little spreadsheet exercise. If Microsoft’s revenue continues to grow at 12.5% and Google’s at 48.28% then when will Google pass Microsoft in revenue?

Answer. In 2013

Google would have revenue of $100 billion compared to Microsoft’s $92 billion.

But this is silly, because we all know Google’s revenue won’t keep growing by about 50% per year. But I would also project that with all the competition from Open Source and elsewhere, that Microsoft may not maintain a 12.5% growth rate. In fact, is it possible that their revenues may some day actually decline!

I’m working on a paper that documents all the business model advantages that Google has over Microsoft and others for that matter. I’m extremely bullish on Google. Someone speculated recently that Hotmail is dying and someone else calculated that Google’s revenue from embedded email ads could pass its revenue from search ads.

Some of my own Google ad campaigns show a lower “cost per sale” from Google’s contextual ads than from their search results ads, which has surprised me.

I’m a huge fan of the way Google’s founders control voting rights over all other share holders, because I think it will allow them to run the company more smartly than other publicly traded companies, including Microsoft. They can always make decisions that are best for the long term.

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