Monday, January 22, 2018

"Shoot for success with the hockey stick principle"/ Maryse Belanger

Oct. 2, 2017 "Shoot for success with the hockey stick principle": Today I found this article by Harvey Schachter in the Globe and Mail:

Many Canadians know how to wield a hockey stick from an early age.

Hockey stick growth is more elusive – the path for new businesses, starting with slow growth, as if along the blade of a stick on the ice, and then, if they are lucky, the exponential development that shoots up, as if along the handle.

Bobby Martin, a Raleigh, N.C., entrepreneur who has co-founded two startups dealing with industry research, sets out four stages to be prepared for when starting a business.

First is tinkering, which the illustration in his book The Hockey Stick Principles shows as coming even before the actual blade.

You don't want to leave your regular job while playing with the startup concept; indeed, for 173 successful startups he studied, this period took 10.6 months.

Next is the all-important blade years, when you set the foundation for the growth you hope to see by learning about your product and, more importantly, the market you may serve.

This will take longer than you expect, usually three or four years, and often the big problem becomes the founder's salary: There is not enough money to pay adequate compensation and after a long period of little remuneration he or she throws in the towel.

In better situations, a growth inflection point is hit, the curve of the stick, the critical time just before the business takes off, and you can shoot up the handle with the final stage: surging growth.

Along the way, he has delineated 90 principles – mostly counterintuitive – you should heed. They include:
  • You don’t need a good idea: There is far too much emphasis on concocting a brilliant idea but he says good entrepreneurs often have many ideas that could work. The key is whether you have the skill and determination to help one find the right market.
  • He notes that billionaire Wayne Huizenga had three arguably bad ideas: Go up against governments with his waste-management business, move into fast-growing video rentals with Blockbuster, and try a chain of used-car dealerships when the market seemed saturated. But he attained surging growth for each.
  • Starting with a business plan is self-deception: The bank may require a formal business plan, forcing you to write one. But don’t believe it yourself. The key is finding your market, which will always be unexpected – not what you had originally thought.
  • The plan for his first business, he says in an interview, “wasn’t close to accurate. You should research. But don’t put time and money into making it pretty or supposedly accurate.”
  • It’s not what you know that matters; it’s what you learn: In his study the average age of the entrepreneurs was 29. Those under age 30 tended to be more successful as they were more open-minded than the older entrepreneurs, who knew too much and weren’t as willing to learn, he believes.
  • Accurate predictions of costs and revenue are not possible; plan to spend more than you think you’ll need and to earn little to nothing: You need to cut your personal and family expenses for about four years with a startup. Don’t expect money to come quicker than that. Too often people can’t hold out for a sufficient length of time.
  • Don’t invest any money you aren’t prepared to lose: Entrepreneurs get deep into their effort, are sure success is around the corner, and start investing their retirement funds in the business. Fine, if you can afford to lose it. Otherwise, don’t.
  • Raise the minimum amount you need to get to launch: The myth is that you should raise as much as you can up front. But he says “the most successful entrepreneurs in the blade years are scrappy entrepreneurs that keep a low cost structure. Instead of spending rainy day money, they are trying to figure out the business model.” They don’t need massive production runs and big investments in facilities; they need to test the market – find the market, as he puts it.
  • Equity is worth incalculably more than its current value: Bill Gates and Paul Allen knew this when they founded Microsoft, not giving up equity at the start for investment, but saving it for themselves.
  • You can’t build it and expect a market to come; you have to build your market as you build your product: Identifying a market that will be enthusiastic about your business offering is far harder than identifying a product. “To do that you need to sell face-to-face, talk to people, and learn what they think and if it’s the right product,” he says.
Try it. You might score.

21 hours ago

How to succeed when starting your own business? Don't open it in Canada...

My opinion: I'm rereading this article before I post it, and these are all really good tips to open a business.

The Ladder: Maryse Belanger: Today I found this article in the Globe and Mail

Maryse Belanger, 56, is a geologist and chief operating officer at Atlantic Gold Corp., responsible for strategic development, overall operational and technical management; currently managing construction and commissioning projects in Nova Scotia.

I was born in Chicoutimi, Que. When I was a teenager, I wanted to study French literature – I wanted to be a writer. A sister's boyfriend and a friend studied geology and said I should do it. So, I did a BSc in Geological Engineering at Université du Québec à Chicoutimi – loved it!

Then I went to France for postgraduate studies in geostatistics. My first real job was on Vancouver Island for Westmin Resources, then Echo Bay Mines that had great technical people. In Edmonton, I had this epiphany, "this is it – when I'm grown up and a seasoned professional I want to be a vice-president of technical services."

Young people should understand everybody needs a mentor. George Woollett was mine, but a lot of what I learned about dealing with boards, presentations and executives – professional behaviour – I learned from him. He was the biggest influence in my professional life. A few years ago, I called to see if he could meet. We had a four-hour lunch – he was shocked at the things I could quote he'd said over the years.

When the gold industry started going down, I decided I should become a copper expert and learn Spanish. Fluor Corp. sent me to Santiago, Chile. I spent a year working on some of the largest copper projects in the world. Back in Vancouver, I consulted for Echo Bay on projects in West Africa and met (my husband) on an Ivory Coast beach.

We eventually moved to South Africa. After our second daughter was born, he finished his work there, two years. I was back in Toronto with our daughters. I told my VP I needed a change, having a mid-life crisis working in Siberia. He asked what I wanted to do; I said, "go to South America." We all moved to Santiago, a great adventure. Late 2009, I was headhunted for Goldcorp to build their technical-services group – full circle from my 1988 dream.

The first time we moved to Brazil, we decided it would be good for our girls to have their dad at home – those were fun years. Our oldest daughter didn't go to an English school until Grade 9.

Wherever we are, there's an invisible line in the kitchen, I do not touch anything. I can only do three things; I make tea, coffee and reservations.

Gold was dormant, in this region mined as early as the 1840s. Everybody focused on underground mining, sampling selectively. We went to the old drill holes to sample top to bottom. The genius of Atlantic Gold is that on top of quartz veins with gold, there's also disseminated gold, mined open pit.

I like a football-field analogy, three storeys high filled with Raisin Bran cereal – single scoop – find the raisins. Our costs here are reasonable because we don't have a camp, everybody goes home that day; 98 per cent are originally from Nova Scotia. Many never had opportunities in the province.

My chief engineer, she flew into Northern Ontario for seven years. My chief metallurgist, from Waverly, worked five years in the Dominican Republic and a Surinam jungle. Everybody has a story like that; it was a pleasure to offer people great opportunities here. So far, we've invested approximately $170-million; next year, we hope to file Environmental Impact Statements on two projects. Combining our four projects, it's potentially $400-million in total investment, with 400 to 450 positions.

I've been on five boards. I'm doing the Institute of Corporate Directors course, the term "pale, male and stale" from a lawyer, about diversity. There's a business case for diversity – if you want to find the best solutions, why would you forget about 50 per cent of the brains? With cultural diversity, different ways to solve problems get better solutions.

For me, the world is divided in twomakes sense, doesn't make sense; there's no in between. More important than anything is accountability – everyone having the clarity of their responsibility and understanding their span of control.

If you want a career, be flexible and go where the work is, take risks, go on an adventure, learn new things and new languages.

I'm fluent in English, French, Spanish and Portuguese. The trick is to never stop learning. Take on new challenges. Advice I share is about professional behaviour: The standard is, be willing to stand up in front of a panel of peers and defend your work.

As told to Cynthia Martin. This interview has been edited and condensed.

19 hours ago

This interview has been edited and condensed...maybe thats why this makes no sense:
" When I was a teenager, I wanted to study French literature – I wanted to be a writer. A sister's boyfriend and a friend studied geology and said I should do it. So, I did..."
Is something missing, or was she really just that easily influenced...?

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