Posts Tagged "free project report"

The idea of product-market fit needs to be flipped on its head entirely.

5 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Product-market fit is the holy grail of any nascent startup. When developers design without it, they are often left in pre-launch coding purgatory, and when investors push for rampant growth without it, startups often fail. In a recent piece for FirstRound, Superhuman founder Rahul Vohra he notes that getting product-market fit right requires you to dig deep as a founder by surveying your clients on their user experience. When a 40 percent threshold of satisfied users is reached, those users’ feedback should be further segmented and analyzed into the most important SaaS features to build out.

Related: How to Find the Holy Grail of Product-Market Fit

While I agree with Vohra that client feedback is invaluable, I would argue that the idea of product-market fit needs to be flipped on its head entirely. The best way to not waste years incubating or waste money growing a business with no market is to think in the reverse — find your market, then build your product.

The reverse — “market-product fit” — may sound counterintuitive, but its the most efficient and cost-effective way to build a successful startup. In the case of Superhuman, Vohra admits that he had to keep tweaking his product based on user data until his company began to build momentum with a loyal customer base. However, I would argue that if you’re measuring product-market fit after you built a product, it’s already too late — in fact, it’s your only option to collect customer data, pivot and hope that you find your customer. In other words, that approach forces you to iterate until you reach the ethereal magic moment in the market.

You can not only increase but guarantee sales if you nail your market before you build out your product. Don’t just create a feedback loop between your UX team and your small pool of customers when you are in the development stage. You need to flip the concept of product-market and think of it as a journey from Point A to Point B, with Point A being the most painful point for your user and Point B as the ideal solution. But, how do you save yourself time, energy and money to get there? You have to work backwards from your ideal solution in order to ensure that you are addressing a painful problem in the market. Point A is an urgent need that people are willing to pay money to fix. Point A can even be so painful that the customer is numbed to it. But, by working backwards from ideal solutions, you won’t need to try a million ways to get from there to your product.

Related: VCs Want to See Product-Market Fit: Here’s How to Prove It

Tony Xu, the founder of DoorDash, understood this approach when he founded his company, which has delivered over 100 million orders to date. Xu began consulting restaurants to help them grow their customer base but quickly realized that many restaurant owners did not have the manpower or money to manage a delivery service in addition to their in-house operations. He dug deeper into the problem and found that not only were his clients not delivering to hypothetical customers — they were turning down business to existing ones solely because they lacked the ability to deliver. The pain point here was specific and quantifiable and Xu got to work to create an optimized solution that would work for any business with a physical product.

You might be asking, how do I know the painful problems before I build when I don’t even have a customer base? The answer is to get people to pay you to fix the problem before you build. For example, if you have credibility in a particular market, start consulting businesses in that specific market who need your expertise. Soon, you will see that many of these clients share painful problems that they may or may not realize (or want to openly admit) but that you can address for them. Once you’ve worked with several of them, you can organize the pain points into a rubric for developing your product. Then, when you hire your UX team, you’ll have a clear vision as to what and for whom you’re creating the product. To return to the DoorDash example, Xu built the technology after he validated the demand for it with his existing customer base.

Related: How to Launch a Product That Sells

To think of it another way, if you’re getting paid for your expertise up front, you’re providing clear value to your market. Besides consulting, you can also get paid to speak, teach, coach, train people, etc. People will also pay for valuable information delivered in many different formats — membership sites, including Facebook or Slack groups that people pay to join. No matter how you deliver services to your customer, you must focus on a specific market and on specific and painful problems that you can solve.

While you fix problems manually for customers, focus on their success, and on learning everything you will need to know to develop the automated technology that will help you scale big. Your success with this initial group of customers will help you reach your next wave of customers, and so forth.

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Stock prices fell sharply on Tuesday, and it’s not hard to see why.

4 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Investor optimism sparked by a truce in the trade war between China and the U.S. proved short-lived.

A day after the market rallied on news of a 90-day delay in further tariff increases by the U.S. against China, President Trump reminded people on Twitter this morning that he was a “tariff man.”

Stock prices fell sharply with the Dow Industrials index falling 799 points and all three major indexes down more than three percent. The Entrepreneur Index™ declined 3.76 percent and only two of 60 stocks in the index posted gains on the day.

Trade worries weren’t the only thing rattling the markets. Bond yields fell dramatically, as investors anticipate a slowing economy. The yield on the 5-year Treasury bond fell more than five basis points to 2.78 percent and is now below the 2-year bond yield. Meanwhile, the 10-year Treasury yield fell a staggering eight points to 2.91 percent and is just 12 basis points above the 2-year yield. Such yield curve inversions — when long-term interest rates fall below short-term — usually portend an economic slowdown, if not recession.

Cyclical and financial stocks were particularly hard hit today. The Dow Jones U.S. Banks index was down nearly five percent, and financial services firms were weak across the board. Banks, which typically borrow short-term to lend long-term, are hurt by yield curve inversions.

Capital One Financial was down 6.12 percent and investment bank Jefferies Financial Group fell 7.01 percent. Asset manager BlackRock Inc. was down 5.99 percent while competitor Franklin Resources was down 2.89 percent.

Fedex Corp, considered a good barometer of the U.S. economy, fell 6.3 percent. Investors may also have been spooked by a research note from Morgan Stanley analyst Ravi Shanker, who warned about the potential impact of on the delivery industry. Amazon continues to add planes to its own personal delivery fleet and has an air cargo hub in Kentucky that may eventually handle up to 100 planes.

Business services provider Cintas Corp. and homebuilder D.R. Horton were down 5.18 and 4.5 percent respectively. Retail stocks were also rocked by fears about the economy. Bed Bath & Beyond was down 6.97 percent percent, bringing its drop for the year to 44 percent. Walmart (-2.97 percent) and Costco Wholesale Group (-2.5 percent) had smaller declines.

The clothing retailers also gave back their gains and more from yesterday. Gap Inc. was down 4.44 percent, while Ralph Lauren fell 4.42 percent and L Brands was off 3.9 percent. Under Armour Inc. was down 2.73 percent.

Wynn Resorts and Estee Lauder Companies, two stocks that rose sharply yesterday on the trade news, also gave back their gains today. Wynn was down 7.83 percent — the biggest decline on the Entrepreneur Index™ today, while Estee Lauder fell 5.61 percent.

Technology stocks were weak across the board. The volatile shares of graphics chipmaker NVIDIA Corp. fell 7.6 percent. Other big losses in the tech sector included percent), Netflix (-5.16 percent) and Alphabet Inc. (-4.96 percent). Akamai Technologies had the smallest loss of the thirteen tech stocks on the index, falling 2.18 percent.

Other notable declines on the index included medical device manufacturer Boston Scientific Corp.(-5.17 percent) and liquor producer Brown-Forman Corp. (-4.71).

Only two stocks on the index had gains today. Tesla was up 0.34 percent and O’Reilly Auto Parts rose 0.03 percent.

The Entrepreneur Index™ collects the top 60 publicly traded companies founded and run by entrepreneurs. The entrepreneurial spirit is a valuable asset for any business, and this index recognizes its importance, no matter how much a company has grown. These inspirational businesses can be tracked in real time on

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Do the unexpected.

1 min read

This story originally appeared on Lewis Howes

Do you go the easy route? The expected route? Or do you find your own path that complements your unique passions?

Finding your own way takes inner strength. You won’t be able to do it without believing in yourself. It takes a special person to defy expectations and break into a new field. People will doubt you when you do something unexpected. That’s a given.

It’s how you respond when people try to dissuade you will determine if you’re successful or not.

On today’s episode of The School of Greatness, I talk with an unlikely zookeeper who is known online as The Real Tarzann: Mike Holston.

Holsten is a 24-year-old zookeeper at Mario Tabrue’s Zoological Wildlife Foundation. He recently did a collaboration with Will Smith and has over 4 million followers on Instagram.

Holsten says that working hard, believing in yourself and prayer will help you be successful against any odds.

So, get ready to learn how The Real Tarzann came to be on Episode 724.

Subscribe on iTunesStitcher RadioGoogle Play or TuneIn.

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How this traditionally soft skill yields hard, bottom-line results for organizations big and small

8 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

It’s easy to be cynical these days. The 24/7 news cycle brings us images and extreme headlines about tragedies almost as soon as they occur. If you listen to the rhetoric, it’s easy to believe violence, sexism, ageism, xenophobia and prejudice are winning the day. 

However, there is another — more positive — way to look at this. Access to information from around the globe gives us opportunities to consider the needs of others and to respond with compassionate action. Yes, playing to our emotions is the cable news and social media business model. But what we choose to do with our emotions is up to us. So, why not choose empathy? 

We all know empathy is the right thing to do, but empathy is not just good for the world (and our own sanity). It can also bring a competitive advantage in business. Our ability to see the world from the perspective of others is one of the most crucial tools in our business toolbox. So, let’s walk through the business benefits of empathy and acting with compassion.

Related: The Dangers of Being an Empathetic Leader

1. Increased sales, loyalty and referrals.

Every skilled salesperson knows that the key to closing sales is anticipating your customers’ needs and demonstrating how your product or service will suit their needs best. Truly understanding your customers’ needs means reflecting on their fears, desires, pain points and whatever keeps them up at night. If your sales team doesn’t intimately understand your customers’ lives, how can you expect them to explain how your products or services fit their lives? This is the power of empathy in business.

Going beyond increased sales though, what’s even more valuable are loyal customers and strong referrals. To see repeat customers and customers transformed into super fans, make sure this empathy mindset enlivens the culture of your entire organization from customer service to the accounting department. 

One industry where empathy clearly counts is in the ultra-competitive airline industry. Any company that can make flying more convenient and pleasant scores points with perpetually frustrated passengers. By now, we’re all familiar with this string of PR blunders from United Airlines demonstrating the failure of empathy on a corporate level. But you may be less familiar with Ryanair’s empathy success. After implementing their “Always Getting Better” program, which many customer annoyances like hidden charges,un-allocated seating and carry-on baggage restrictions, Ryanair saw a net profit increase from €867 million to €1.24 billion (US$1.39 billion). CEO Michael O’Leary famously remarked, “If I’d only known being nice to customers was going to work so well, I’d have started many years ago.”

Who knew being nice could be so profitable?

Related: United Airlines Passenger Dragged Off Plane by Airport Employees

2. Accelerated productivity and innovation

When customers perceive your company as empathetic, you will see sales increase, but wait…there’s more. Employees with strong empathy skills are also more productive and innovative. This means if you want to increase efficiency and expand the number of problems you can solve for customers, you want to hire employees with strong “soft skills.”

Google knows this well. Since the company began in 1998, Google focused on hiring the best computer scientists, software engineers, analysts and highly skilled STEM professionals. But when it comes to putting together successful teams, it turns out that soft skills rule. Project Aristotle, a study released by Google in 2017, showed that the company’s most important new ideas came from B-teams comprised of employees exhibiting a wide range of skills including: equality, generosity, curiosity toward others’ ideas, empathy and emotional intelligence. These teams may not have had the top scientists, but when team members feel confident speaking up and know they are being heard, great ideas are born.

Related: United Airlines Passenger Dragged Off Plane by Airport Employees

3. Greater competitive advantage and market value.

The highest performing companies also top the list of the Most Empathetic Companies. This might seem surprising at first: Don’t you have to be cutthroat and willing to win at any cost to be competitive in this global, capitalist economy? Well, if you’ve been paying attention, the answer will be obvious. In fact, statistics show that empathy is more important to business success than it has ever been.

According to the 2016 Empathy Index, a report published by UK consulting firm The Empathy Business that seeks to analyze the internal culture of 170 companies on major financial indexes, “The top 10 companies (on the 2015 list)…increased in value more than twice as much as the bottom 10 and generated 50 percent more earnings (defined by market capitalization).”

How’s that for competitive advantage?

Related: 4 Ways to Turn Happiness into a Competitive Advantage

4. Expanded engagement and collaboration.

So if the best managers and team members express empathy and a willingness to act compassionately toward others, it stands to reason that companies with cultures that encourage empathy would attract highly engaged individuals. And that’s just what the data show. Empathetic companies also have better retention and higher morale among employees.

This makes a lot of sense when you consider what today’s workers value. Good, high-performing individuals have lots of employment choices. Among other things, the gig economy and access to technology have created opportunities beyond traditional corporate work. So, it’s time to think beyond traditional corporate benefits.

Additionally, according to a Gallup poll, 60 percent of Millennials are open to new job opportunities, while only 29 percent of them report feeling engaged at work. This means less than a third of workers born between 1980 and 1996 feel connected to their companies. Studies by the Queens School of Business and by the Gallup Organization show that this lack of connection can result in higher absenteeism, lower productivity…and lower profitability and share price for the company over time.

What skilled workers are demanding is a different kind of working experience: they want their voices — and their workplace requirements — to be heard. That’s bad news for companies that aren’t considering company culture as they look toward future growth. Fortunately, making small, subtle shifts toward improving empathy in the culture can make a big difference.

Related: Take Responsibility for Your Company’s Culture to Boost Productivity

Small changes can yield big results.

All of these business benefits sound great, but none of them are likely to make any company empathetic. To really make a change, the first step is to WANT to understand where others are coming from. When you focus on wanting to understand your colleagues, you can cultivate empathy in your own sphere of influence, which can have a big impact on your team, brand and the world.

Here are some key areas to consider as you plan ahead for 2019:

“Employee of the month” awards do not constitute an empathetic environment. When we feel that others value our contributions, we feel respected. While trying to create an empathetic environment from the top down is unlikely to work, letting workers know, through word and deed, their work is valuable should be a daily focus.

Respect makes workers more engaged. There is an intangible value to feeling respected by one’s colleagues and superiors. We’re more likely to take personal responsibility and our desire not to lose the respect of others means we’ll be more engaged. Listen closely to how employees talk about their work. Ask them what would make their jobs easier and make them feel heard.

Motivate based on individual needs. In Daniel Pink’s bestselling book, Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, he points out that financial rewards are not universally enticing. Consider how your company rewards colleagues. How much better would things be if we asked our team members what they would like? Use empathy to see things from their point of view and act accordingly.

Consider ways to flip the Golden Rule: “Do unto others as they want done unto them.” This rule goes for every stakeholder involved in your organization from investors to board members to customer service representatives to clients. This is the mantra of the empathy mindset. Get out of your own head. Engage in more active listening and curious conversation to unlock what matters most to them.

As you reflect on the business benefits of creating a more empathetic company, you may have noticed the irony of compelling you to set aside your interests by showing that it’s actually in your interest to do so. Of course, in an ideal world, the drive to do the right thing would be motivation enough. But because motivation is unique to each individual — and organization — presenting a menu of reasons to embrace empathy is a good idea. In my own career, I have personally witnessed leaders and marketers who have embraced empathy purely for PR motives, but found themselves personally transformed — and left with a desire to do more good for the right reasons. Sometimes, initially speaking to selfish motives can help people and organizations transform “from the outside in,” and end up making the world a more empathetic place.

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