Startup Venture Toolbox

A great resource is the Startup Venture Toolbox,created by David Rex.

"The goal of the Toolbox is to provide entrepreneurs with the tools and assistance necessary to help achieve their desired goals as well as to provide a forum for the exploration of entrepreneurial ideas and issues.

The Toolbox is organized in the order that most entrepreneurs follow in taking their ventures from idea to exit.

First, test out the validity of your idea from the investor's point-of-view with the Business Proof of Concept Test.

Then, check out your idea against the world's public databases of intellectual property filings with the Intellectual Property Advisor.

If your idea passes these two tests then create a Business Plan and financial statements with the Business Plan Advisor and the Financial Statement Advisor.

Informational and educational assistance can be found in the Process of Forming a Company, Venture Life Cycle, Articles & Information and Suggested Readings sections.

The Basic Legal Information & Documents section contains certain legal documents and information necessary to get your venture organized, protected and operating..."

Resistance is...Automatic

Nagging spouse? You may have an excuse for not responding

New research findings now appearing online in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology began with a professor’s desire to understand why her husband often seemed to ignore her requests for help around the house.”My husband, [Gavin Fitzsimmons] while very charming in many ways, has an annoying tendency of doing exactly the opposite of what I would like him to do in many situations,” said Tanya L. Chartrand, an associate professor of marketing and psychology at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business...

Working with Duke Ph.D. student Amy Dalton, Chartrand and Fitzsimons have demonstrated that some people will act in ways that are not to their own benefit simply because they wish to avoid doing what other people want them to. Psychologists call this reactance: a person’s tendency to resist social influences that they perceive as threats to their autonomy.

The team found that people do not necessarily oppose others’ wishes intentionally. Instead, even the slightest nonconscious exposure to the name of a significant person in their life is enough to bring about reactance and cause them to rebel against that person’s wishes...

Read more in this post from Press Esc.


Keys to Transformational Leadership

"Four key functions collectively define a successful role for the CEO in a transformation:

Making the transformation meaningful. People will go to extraordinary lengths for causes they believe in, and a powerful transformation story will create and reinforce their commitment. The ultimate impact of the story depends on the CEO’s willingness to make the transformation personal, to engage others openly, and to spot- light successes as they emerge.

Role-modeling desired mind-sets and behavior. Successful CEOs typically embark on their own personal transformation journey. Their actions encourage employees to support and practice the new types of behavior.

Building a strong and committed top team. To harness the transformative power of the top team, CEOs must make tough decisions about who has the ability and motivation to make the journey.

Relentlessly pursuing impact. There is no substitute for CEOs rolling up their sleeves and getting personally involved when significant financial and symbolic value is at stake."

Read more in The McKinsey Quarterly: The CEO's role in leading transformation.

Information Technology Audit Checklist

This Audit Checklist from the IT Compliance Institute offers:

"228 specific checklist items to help assess your audit-readiness
A breakdown of suggested management, operational, and technical controls
Clarification on what auditors want to see
Pointers on audit preparation, testing, and reporting

The paper supports an internal audit of the organization’s information security program with guidance on improving information security programs and processes, as well as information on assessing the robustness of your organization’s security efforts. The paper is intended to help IT, compliance, audit, and business managers prepare for an audit of information security and, ultimately, to ensure that the audit experience and results are as productive as possible."


Why Should Anyone Want to Be Led by You?

"We've yet to hear advice that tells the whole truth about leadership. Yes, everyone agrees that leaders need vision, energy, authority, and strategic direction. That goes without saying. But we've discovered that inspirational leaders also share four unexpected qualities:

They selectively show their weaknesses. By exposing some vulnerability, they reveal their approachability and humanity.

They rely heavily on intuition to gauge the appropriate timing and course of their actions. Their ability to collect and interpret soft data helps them know just when and how to act.

They manage employees with something we call tough empathy. Inspirational leaders empathize passionately—and realistically—with people, and they care intensely about the work employees do.

They reveal their differences. They capitalize on what's unique about themselves.
You may find yourself in a top position without these qualities, but few people will want to be led by you."

Read more in this article excerpt from HBS Working Knowledge.


Small Business Resources from Dell

"Dell launched a couple nice small business focused resources recently. The first, called Studio Dell, features well made videos of folks talking about small business and tech solutions as well as case studies and small business stories...In addition, they launched another nice resource for small business called Dell Small Business 360. They bill it as a comprehensive website designed to help you build your business.

The plans are to grow this new portal with content and resources from small business experts and add a community and advice section. At the moment the site is pretty tech heavy as you might expect..."

See this Duct Tape Marketing Blog post from which the foregoing was quoted for live links to the Dell sites.

Go For It - Make It Happen

There are times in our lives when all the signs seem to be pointing us in a particular direction. Our thoughts and dreams are echoed in the songs and stories we hear and the media we see. Maybe the message we are getting from the universe doesn’t even make sense in the “real” world, but somewhere inside, these urges feel right. Maybe you feel you are being told to move to a new city although your life where you are is just fine. Or maybe you feel the desire to pursue a new direction in your career when it never really interested you before. When we spend time getting in touch with our higher selves, our intuition sends us directives to lead us to become our best and most fulfilled selves. And when we are open and listening, the next step is to take action and go for it.

Once we make the decision to pursue our inner urgings, the universe sets into motion the means for all sorts of details to fall into place. A sense of peace will come over us, because we know that any questions will no longer make us wonder if our dreams are possible, but how to make them happen. Instead of deterring us from our goal, these questions only serve to clarify our focus to move us forward. We need not throw caution to the wind to follow our dream. The positive shift in our energy affects everything around us. Like a rush of water, it goes ahead to clear debris from our path so that we can go forward. Our new attitude also attracts likeminded people. Sometimes even the most unlikely angels arrive to help us along our way with the information and support we need.

Wherever your dreams are pointing you today, take a step. Take action and manifest your inner urges and soul whisperings.

From DailyOM - Nurturing Mind Body & Spirit


Anthony Cerminaro 2006 Movie List

I love movies. Set forth below is my ranking of the films I caught that were released in 2006.

The Best for My Money - Remarkable - Four Stars

Pan's Labyrinth - A Magical Mystical Tourdeforce
Volver - Amazing Almodovar with enchanting Cruz in control
Babel - Cultural crossroads and tragic intersections
Blood Diamond -"amazingly orchestrated chaos" --Richard Roeper
United 93 -"masterful and heartbreaking" --Rogert Ebert
The Departed - Stunning performances, over the top violence
Letters from Iwo Jima -"fascinating, existential tale of heroism." -- Rick Honeycutt
Dreamgirls -"this slick flick sizzles" --Matt Stevens
The Queen - Helen Mirren is marvelous
The Last King of Scotland - Ditto for Forest Whitaker

Great Flicks - Memorable - Three and a Half Stars

Flags of Our Fathers
Superman Returns
Little Miss Sunshine
Casino Royale
Borat - Cultural Learnings...
Pirates of the Caribbean - Dead Man's Chest
The Prestige

More Favorites - Special - Uplifting - Three Stars

Facing the Giants
Flushed Away
A Prairie Home Companion
Akeelah and the Bee
For Your Consideration
The Nativity Story
Stranger Than Fiction
Rocky Balboa
Glory Road
We Are Marshall

Movies I enjoyed surprisingly - nearly Three Stars

V for Vendetta
The Descent
Underworld - Evolution
X-Men - The Last Stand
16 Blocks
Last Holiday
The Lake House
All the King's Men
Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby
Nanny McPhee
Garfield - A Tail of Two Kitties
The Omen

Movies I liked less than the critics - nearly Three Stars

The Illusionist
Notes on a Scandal
Children of Men
World Trade Center
The Devil Wears Prada
Thank You for Smoking

Disappointments - Mixed Bag - Two Stars at best

Happy Feet
A Scanner Darkly
Over the Hedge
Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story
The Da Vinci Code
Snakes on a Plane
Open Season


Wisdom from Warren Buffett

Darren D. Johnson shares five things he learned from spending 6 hours in Omaha with Warren Buffett:

1. Be Grateful
2. Be Ethical & Fair
3. Be Trustworthy
4. Invest in your Circle of Competence
5. Do What You Love,

Found via Warren Buffet Gets It and evelynr's favorites on del.icio.us


There Must Be 50 Ways to Go Global

Thinking about expanding your business internationally? Then check out this post from The Global Small Business Blog that provides links to fifty resources that may aid in the effort


Preparing a Business for Sale

This article from entrepreneur.com offers the following tips for someone reaching retirement age who will likely be selling her business within the next five years:

"1. Get a business valuation...
2. Get your books in order...
3. Understand the true profitability of your business...
4. Consult your financial advisor...
5. Make a good first impression...
6. Organize your legal paperwork...
7. Consider management succession...
8. Know your reason for selling...
9. Get your advisory team in place...
10. Keep your eye on the ball..."

You may also wish to review these articles I have written on this topic: Preparing a Business For Sale and Key Concepts in Selling A Business

Change Management Primer

Change Management 101 provides a detailed overview of the concept of “change management.” It was written primarily for people who are coming to grips with change management problems for the first time and for more experienced people who wish to reflect upon their experience in a structured way, stating:

"Organizations are highly specialized systems and there are many different schemes for grouping and classifying them. Some are said to be in the retail business, others are in manufacturing, and still others confine their activities to distribution. Some are profit-oriented and some are not for profit. Some are in the public sector and some are in the private sector. Some are members of the financial services industry, which encompasses banking, insurance, and brokerage houses. Others belong to the automobile industry, where they can be classified as original equipment manufacturers (OEM) or after-market providers. Some belong to the health care industry, as providers, as insureds or as insurers. Many are regulated, some are not. Some face stiff competition, some do not. Some are foreign-owned and some are foreign-based. Some are corporations, some are partnerships, and some are sole proprietorships. Some are publicly held and some are privately held. Some have been around a long time and some are newcomers. Some have been built up over the years while others have been pieced together through mergers and acquisitions. No two are exactly alike.

The preceding paragraph points out that the problems found in organizations, especially the change problems, have both a content and a process dimension. It is one thing, for instance, to introduce a new claims processing system in a functionally organized health insurer. It is quite another to introduce a similar system in a health insurer that is organized along product lines and market segments. It is yet a different thing altogether to introduce a system of equal size and significance in an educational establishment that relies on a matrix structure. The languages spoken differ. The values differ. The cultures differ. And, at a detailed level, the problems differ. However, the overall processes of change and change management remain pretty much the same, and it is this fundamental similarity of the change processes across organizations, industries, and structures that makes change management a task, a process, and an area of professional practice."


Adam Bain’s “Framework Triangle for Acquisitions”

This The Gong Show by Andrew Parker post explains Adam Bain's Framework Triangle for Acquisitions. Basically the points of the triangle are:

"Technology Advantage
New Audience or New Revenue Streams
Long Term Strategic Influence (Does it help you for the long term by enabling some larger end goal down the line? Sometimes this may also mean: an acquisition to stop the technology or product from falling into a competitor’s hands)

Once set up in the triangle, you get a framework that companies can be judged. When acq targets hit all three points on the triangle, it’s an easy decision. Usually the tough decisions come when you only have two out of the three points. So here’s what happens when you see just two points:

Tech + Long Term Strategic Value (and therefore lacking Audience) = The company is an Enabler. These are potentially undervalued by the marketplace...

Audience + Long Term Strategic Value (and therefore lacking Tech) = At best case, a Network Effect. Worst case: it’s an overvalued company...

Tech + Audience (lacking Strat) = At best Case: A Category Expander. Worst case: Non-core. Or…a sign that the acquiring company may be in trouble– because the acquiring company is looking at a business which has unique technology AND audience or revenue (thus traction) BUT it doesn’t currently fit into their world view of long-term strategy."

Mother Lode of Board of Director Resources

"A corporation, whether for-profit or nonprofit, is required to have a governing Board of Directors. To explain, a corporation can operate as a separate legal entity, much like a person in that it can own bank accounts, enter into contracts, etc. However, the laws governing corporations require that a corporation ultimately is accountable to its owners (stockholders in the case of for-profits and the public with nonprofits). That accountability is accomplished by requiring that each corporation has a Board of Directors that represents the stockholders or the public...

Governing Boards can have a variety of models (configurations and ways of working), for example, "working Boards" (hands-on, or administrative, where Board members might be fixing the fax one day and strategic planning the next), "collective" (where Board members and others in the organization usually do the same types of work -- it's often difficult to discern who the Board members actually are), "policy" (where Board members attend mostly to top-level policies), "Policy Governance" (trademark of Carver Governance Design, where there are very clear lines and areas of focus between Board and the CEO), etc. All of these models are types of governing Boards.

Boards can have a broad range of "personalities." For example, Boards of large for-profit and nonprofit corporations might be very formal in nature with strong attention to Parliamentary procedures, highly proceduralized Board operations, etc. In contrast, Boards of small nonprofit or for-profit corporations might be very informal in nature. Some people believe in life stages of Boards, including that they 1) start out as "working" Boards where members focus on day-to-day matters in addition to strategic matters, 2) evolve to "policy" Boards where members focus mostly on strategic matters, and 3) eventually become large, institutionalized Boards that often have small executive committees and maybe many members some of which are "big names" to gain credibility with funders or investors..."

The above gives a basic overview sketch of the role of a governing Board. The Free Complete Toolkit for Boards from Carter McNamara provides more information about the roles and responsibilities of Boards and Board members, including job descriptions for each of the common positions on a Board and much, much more.


Stop the Killing

Steven Sonsino identifies “'seven failings of really useless leaders':

Killing enthusiasm through micromanagement, coercion and disrespect;
Killing emotion by being aggressive, lacking empathy and not supporting work-life balance;
Killing explanation through incomplete or inconsistent communication;
Killing engagement with limited team goals and an insistence on managers dictating objectives;
Killing reward by rewarding the wrong things or doing it in the wrong way...;
Killing culture, for example...'punishing risk-taking' while trying to introduce a culture of innovation; and
Killing trust by making unfair decisions when hiring or rewarding staff."

Quotation from this post from thepracticeofleadership.net


Accountability is Key

"Here is the seven-step formula you can use to create accountability and achieve extraordinary results in any organization:

Step 1: Establish the organization’s top three objectives...
Step 2: Assign each team member his or her respective objectives...
Step 3: Ask each team member what he or she needs to win...
Step 4: Agree on what the leader will do to help....
Step 5: Follow up...
Step 6: Share lessons learned...
Step 7: Reward results..."

Read more in this ChangeThis manifesto from Bob Prosen.

What is Your Purpose?

Just read the first page of this ChangeThis manifesto, and you will understand exactly what it is to have purpose. Read the subsequent pages and you’ll find how to develop a sense of purpose for yourself and your organization through discovery, excellence, altruism and heroism.


The Personal Style Model

In this video from BetterManagement.com , join Dr Michael O'Connor as he talks about how the "personal style model" can be used to explore a person's:

"Goals & fears
Natural talents
Development opportunities
Performance work practices

Use this knowledge to understand a person's tendency to either "fight" or "take flight" when put under pressure or stress; and how to successfully influence others. Improve how you communicate, motivate and interact which each of the 4 DISC styles:

Dominant Directors
Interacting Socializers
Steady Relaters
Cautious Thinkers

By understanding these behaviors, managers can better coach and develop employees to perform better to positively and productively influence co-workers, customers, prospects and partners."

Tips for Entrepreneurs from Larry Page

In this Educators Corner video, Larry Page offers the following tips:

"Tip 1: Just don't settle. Especially with employees, it is very important to find great people you are compatible with.
Tip 2: There is a benefit from being real experts. Experience pays off.
Tip 3: Have a healthy disregard for the impossible. Stretch your goals.
Tip 4: It is OK to solve a hard problem. Solving hard problems is where you will get the big leverage.
Tip 5: Don't pay attention to the VC Bandwagon. Don't start a company just because you can, have a really good idea that is good regardless of the funding situation."


The Enlightened Warrior

"A new leadership style is emerging, with skills uniquely tailored for success in today's environment. One management consultant has dubbed this new leader The Enlightened Warrior... Enlightened...in the sense that a modern leader identifies opportunities...The warrior side symbolizes a passion for achieving a goal and also a willingness to go on the attack--against the competition, and against weaknesses in yourself and the organization...

Key traits that are crucial in our changing workplace.

Collaborative Skills...
Walk the walk...

Read more in this article from entrepreneur.com.

The "Big Four" Advisors

Pamela Slim writes "about the 'big four' professionals every entrepreneur needs to run an effective business:

A lawyer
An accountant
A banker
An insurance specialist

These professionals can ensure that you set up a solid foundation for your business. Often, entrepreneurs try to "bootstrap" everything and only call in an expert when they are in trouble. Investing in the right professional advice early on can save you headaches, or worse, in the long run."

Via this startupspark.com post.


Delegate Don't Abdicate

"People use many excuses for not delegating. Their reasons are usually unfounded. You'll get more done through delegation if you assume the opposite of the following statements is true:

I could do it better myself.
I don't know if I can trust her to do it.
He isn't qualified to do it.
She doesn't want any added responsibilities.
I don't have the time to show anyone how to do it.
There is no one else to delegate to.
He already has enough to do.
I don't want to give up this task because I like doing it.
I'm the only person who knows how to do this.
She messed up last time, so I'm not giving her anything else to do."

Read more in this article from getmoredone.com.