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"No business plan survives first contact with customers," Steve Blank says. What? Isn't the point of planning that you maximize the likelihood of success in the marketplace? Well yes, but perhaps not the kind of planning you might be thinking about. A business plan conceived on paper, powered by a great idea or invention, enhanced by research on the size of the market and a customer profile, has great potential. But it also has a crucial flaw.
Once you've heard the insight--that startups are different from big companies--it seems so obvious. Yet too often entrepreneurs, and those that teach them, approach the building of new companies with the same goals, staff structures and assumptions that motivate the management of large companies. Startup founders build teams to focus on engineering, and on the process of creating a product and bringing it to market.
In today's e-marketplace, allocating a larger portion of the budget to online marketing pays off for Petals, a silk floral company. The author writes about his company's commitment to using the Internet to positively impact sales.
Stephanie Tilenius is vice president and general manager for merchant services at PayPal, an eBay company. PayPal enables any individual or business with an email address to securely, easily and quickly send and receive
payments online. An eBay employee since early 2001, she is responsible for the strategy, growth, and financial performance of PayPal's merchant services group, the business unit providing payment solutions to small and large e-commerce
merchants. Before eBay, Tilenius was senior vice president of sales and marketing for PlanetRx.com, a company she co-founded and took public on the NASDAQ in 1999. Previously, she was vice president of business and product development for
Firefly, a software start-up that was sold to Microsoft Corp. in 1997. Early in her career, Tilenius spent several years as an investment banker at Deutche Bank Alex Brown, primarily focusing on software and telecom. In this capacity, she
worked on the Initial Public Offering for America Online in 1992, and she subsequently decided to join its corporate development group where she managed mergers, venture investments and strategic partnerships. Tilenius graduated with high
honors from Brandeis University where she earned both her bachelor's degree in economics and her master's degree in international finance. She also received her master's in business administration from Harvard Business School. Tilenius
also spent time as a presidential management intern through a two-year fellowship with the U.S. government where she worked for Treasury Secretary Brady and Carla Hills on Japan-U.S. trade negotiations.
John W. Thompson is chairman of the board of directors and chief executive officer of Symantec Corporation. Since joining Symantec in April 1999, Thompson has led the transformation of the company from a consumer
software publisher to the global leader in information security solutions for individuals and enterprises. With global operations in more than 35 countries, Symantec offers a broad range of software, appliances and services designed to
help customers secure and manage their IT infrastructure. Under Thompson's leadership, the company has defined a new category of information security software for consumers and has made a number of strategic acquisitions to enhance its
ability to serve the rapidly changing security and management needs of large global enterprises. In September 2002, President George W. Bush appointed Thompson to the National Infrastructure Advisory Committee (NIAC), to make
recommendations regarding the security of the critical infrastructure of the United States. In addition, Thompson has served as the chair of the Silicon Valley Blue Ribbon Task Force on Aviation Security and Technology to identify and
evaluate technology-driven solutions to improve the security and efficiency of national and local aviation. Prior to joining Symantec, Thompson had a distinguished career with the IBM Corporation where he held senior executive positions in
sales, marketing and software development. In his last assignment, he was general manager of IBM Americas and a member of the company's Worldwide Management Council. Thompson is a member of the board of directors of UPS, NiSource, Inc.,
and Seagate. He completed his undergraduate studies at Florida A&M University and holds a master's degree in management science from MIT's Sloan School of Management.
Most entrepreneurs at some point experience crises in their businesses, which require crisis communication strategies. The key is developing a crisis management strategy that is up-front about the problem at hand and also focuses on maintaining the firm's long-term viability.
Ideas for healthcare innovations abound, but will go nowhere unless entrepreneurs with defined goals and healthcare business plans bring those ideas to life.
Being in the healthcare business is getting tougher when it comes to bringing innovative products to market. A recent conference included discussions about some of the challenges that medical innovators are facing today.
Steve Strauss in his "Ask An Expert" column on USA Today discusses the pros and cons of Groupon as a marketing tool for entrepreneurs.
With a decade of experience in venture capital, Erik has been a catalyst for Cleantech in Silicon Valley and abroad. He leads MDV's Cleantech investment team and applies his expertise in areas of solar, biofuels, energy
storage, industrial biotech and clean coal. Prior to MDV Erik worked at Interval Research Corp., a technology incubator funded by Paul Allen, and at Los Alamos National Laboratory as a technical staff member. He also consulted to several
seed and early stage venture capital firms. While pursuing a PhD in engineering at Stanford, Erik led an interdisciplinary project between the electrical, mechanical, and civil engineering departments to develop a next-generation
monitoring system for critical facilities. He holds a U.S. patent from his research work. Erik serves on the advisory council of the Stanford Precourt Institute for Energy Efficiency, as well as on the advisory boards of the Stanford
Technology Ventures Program (STVP), Stanford's BASES, NVCA Cleantech Council, and Cleantech Venture Network. He is a winner of the 2006 World Technology Award for Finance, presented by the World Technology Network, in association with the
New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), Dow Chemical, Cisco, TIME magazine, Fortune magazine, Science magazine/AAAS, Red Herring, and CNN. Erik earned a bachelor's degree in engineering from Harvey Mudd College and both doctoral and master's
degrees from the Stanford University School of Engineering.
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