Is it really exporting if it’s done over the Internet? If you ask the law, yes it is, and you get all sorts of benefits. What if the product is digital? Again, the law that was created ages ago, doesn’t recognize the difference. The law says “it crosses the border, via the wire”. LOL
Selling a digital product like a .me domain or a an book overseas is easy like selling a lemonade on a stand in your street. So the second most exported product in a small country of Montenegro are domains. Could other countries do it as well?
Being competitive in a world’s economy is getting harder and harder, or easier and easier, depending where you sit. Will the law interfere? Will everything become so digital, that customs will have to change the way they look at things?
Will the currency become so digital that we won’t feel the impact of a strong dollar or a weak Kuna, or other currencies that are being used by only a few million people? I don’t know. What I do know is that .me is a great exporting opportunity for Montenegro that could have easily be copied in other countries, but it hasn’t.
Back in 2011 Marc Andreessen said that “Software is eating up the world”. Isn’t it about time we all jump on that wagon and focus on creating digital products? I would go further and say that it’s not software that’s eating up the world, it’s digital products! Kids these days don’t sell lemonade, they create videos and make money from ad displays. They develop simple games and software. Seniors write eBooks and sell them across the globe. As long as the digital product is providing value to the marketplace, and solving a problem, people will buy it.
So I am telling you, find a way to provide value and go digital, few people in Montenegro have, and they are creating that dent in the universe.
No matter how big your company gets, or how many projects you start or if you look at life in general. It’s always down to the basics. Have you noticed that? Let me throw a curve ball at you. If you think you can run a successful business, why don’t you try running a successful lemonade stand?
If your answer was anything except “I actually did that” or “I would have absolutely no problem in doing that, and here’s how I would do it”, you would be or are in serious trouble as an entrepreneur.
You think I am joking? There is serious money to be made in everything. Look around you. You bought the screen you are looking at now. You bought the mouse you are holding in your hand. You bought the chair you are sitting on. You bought the clothes you are wearing. And all the stuff I mentioned were just ideas at one point in time.
YKK group reported $156 million dollars profit. They are making zippers and other fastening products! So, yes I believe you can make a huge business out of anything.
I also believe you can make a huge business anywhere. Democratic republic of Congo is one of the poorest if not the poorest country on the planet. There you have George Forrest (a born Congolese) who is the country’s biggest private employer, with 15,000 people on his payroll, and is probably the biggest private taxpayer in the country. He has created a foundation that funds schools and health centers, although all of this is, according to his critics, just a distraction because there has been controversy. However, I am sure there are small and medium successful businesses in every corner of the earth (without a spot of controversy), but this is out of the scope of this article.
And I believe you can make a huge business anytime. Honda, the largest motorcycle company in the world, and one of the largest car manufacturers in the world was started in Japan in 1948.Japan in 1948, after 2 nuclear detonations, definitely not the most optimistic place to live and do business (if you think you are feeling depression or recession). It was started by a guy who didn’t have enough money to buy any motor vehicle so he combined scrap metal from old bikes, and mounted a cheap motor on it. He then sold that type of vehicle to all his neighbors, and grew his business from there. The rest is history.
There are 2 main key distinctions you have to be aware when you are starting a new business.
1. You are in the business of influencing people and maximizing resources (Tony Robbins)
2. Business has only two functions — marketing and innovation. (Peter Drucker)
3. Bonus key. The first two will only bring you massive problems so it is safe to conclude that if you don’t like problems, stay away from doing business (Goran Duskic)
The entire point of any business is to solve someone else’s problem(s). Entrepreneurs are problem solvers and therefor if people are supposed to turn to you to solve their problems how are you going to do that if you don’t like problems to begin with?
I love problems
Problems are learning opportunities. If you go to a curious state, and you are hungry for knowledge, you will face problems with a smile on your face. I see problems as air/wind that helps me get amazing heights. I just have to spread my wings. Don’t wish a better wind. Make better wings! That’s the whole point of starting a business. Making better wings, setting a better sail, so that you can use the wind that you already have. Some of the biggest companies in the world were started out of nothing during the biggest depressions and recessions.
This is really important because if I can guarantee anything is that if you start a business you will have a host of problems you never faced before, replaced only with an occasional crisis. If you have a huge problem in front of you it just means you don’t have what it takes to go to the next level. See that problem as an opportunity to go to the next level.
You are in the business of influencing people and maximizing resources
It may sound abstract compared to what you are doing, but it’s actually pure basics. If you want to have a successful business, you need to sell stuff, which is influencing people. You have to build, engineer great “stuff”, so you have to be able to influence your team. You also have to have the ability to do that without spending a fortune, which basically means maximizing resources. So for example if someone asks you if you have some fire to light up a barbecue, you wouldn’t reply with a 30 page business plan, asking for $10 million investment in order to bring a gas pipeline to the backyard, and building a massive “lighter”.
Business has only two functions — marketing and innovation
This one is easier to understand, and sort of explains itself so I will just provide 2 quotes from unknown sources. The fastest way to kill a bad product is great marketing. No matter how great the mousetrap is, if no one knows about it, it will not make money.
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Let’s say you are eyeballing a particular high-profile executive. Whatever you would like him to invest in your startup, become your client, business partner or if you just want to work for him. Point of the matter is, you are probably nowhere near him, and you don’t have any mutual acquaintances that can provide a quality introduction. It doesn’t matter if it’s a Richard Branson, Tony Robbins or Guy Kawasaki. At one point that person will be a speaker at a conference, and there’s your chance to start a snowball effect on him. He won’t even know what hit him, and I’ll introduce those simple steps to you.
Step 1. Q&A time
Find a conference where the high-profile executive will speak. Preferably there’s a free entrance, or you can get in as press, or if you know one of the organizers. Just be creative. I remember how once I got a free pass to a conference where I met the founder of WordPress! Anyway, prepare a question you will ask that individual during the Q&A part. You can do that before the conference, but then you have to find out what the person will speak about (the title of his presentation). Contact the organizers if you have to. Otherwise, prepare 3 questions based on the history of this individual or just listen carefully during the keynote, and prepare 3 questions. They don’t have to be great, or provocative, but I am also not saying that you ask the guy “How he is doing”. Number one thing to do is to ask the question. So, go to that conference, raise your arm during the Q&A part, introduce yourself and ask your question. If you have to stand up right away as soon as the organizer or the speaker asks if there are any questions do that! This is your only chance, and if you fail here, it gets harder later. While the speaker is replying to your question, take notes or record the speaker’s response.
Asking a question so publicly is also a great trick in beating the fear of public speaking, something I wrote about in one of the earlier posts – “3 Easy Tricks how to Beat Fear of Public Speaking“. It’s also great that your peers see you talk with such a high-profile individual publicly. It definitely helps your personal brand, your self-esteem, and it might even help with the opposite sex. One thing is for sure, during that brief moment of asking the question, you will stand out from the crowd, and that’s what it’s all about. If you have to, read the question of the paper (to ignore the crowd). Whatever you do, have in mind that even if you fail miserably the first 3 times, I am almost 100% sure, that your next 100 attempts will be great. What I am saying is, don’t worry about your first failed attempts, think about the next 100 that will be great. Exchanging 3 lousy “borrowing the spotlights” as I call them, for 100 good ones, is a good bargain, and I would take it if I were you.
Step 2. Photoshoot
After you ask the question and that entire part is over, locate the individual and follow up on his answer or your question. When you are talking with this high-profile individual, politely ask if someone may take a photo of you two for your blog post. Naturally, the superstars have no objection to that, and they are used to it. It’s a nice compliment for them, and a great tool for you. In the end of your brief conversation (less than 5 minutes), excuse yourself, and thank the superstar for their valuable time. Before you leave ask if you might get their business card so that you may further follow up on the topic you were just talking about. While you are saying that, offer your business card also. It’s important that you start leaving first because then you have the upper hand, and have the other side wanting to hear more. Even if it’s Mark Cuban on the other side. “The sale” will happen later.
If the other person says they don’t have any business cards, ask for an email or a phone number or anything really. If they don’t give you anything (which will happen only if you totally messed up the first step, and the first part of the second step) you will have two options:
1. Completely cross off this superstar in your plans (not exactly what I would recommend)
2. Try finding the address or contact info that has access to his secretary. Use Google, Whois, forums and ask your connections who has the most connections (they will probably know someone that can help you out)
Step 3. Interact on social media
Assuming you managed to get their business card, let’s proceed with step three. When you are back at the office the next day, add that individual on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. Whatever feels appropriate. If you have to unfollow / follow on Twitter, do it. If it’s a Facebook page, you don’t have to like it, because it doesn’t really matter, unless you know for sure that he is updating it himself. Then it’s a good idea to interact on that page. The point is that the other side needs to interact with you, or at least see that you are trying to interact with them, so a friend request on Facebook and/or LinkedIn connection is best because of personal interaction.
Step 4. Blog + share
About a week or 2 weeks after step three, write a blog post about that entire experience (going to a conference, asking the question, photo with the keynote speaker). Share this blog post on social media and tag that individual. You can also share the post on websites like Hacker News, Digg, Reddit, Stumble upon so that you get more hits.
Step 5. Interview
Contact the individual (using the details on the business card) even a phone call if you have to, and share the fact you blogged about the topic you talked about that day. Ask the individual if he might be interested in doing a short interview about a particular topic close to him. Have the questions ready just in case the person accepts to do the interview right away. By now this high-profile superstar will have remembered your name, and it’s a good foundation to start a sales process or whatever it is you feel would be best suited.
So there you go, a proven recipe that will get you under the skin of any high-profile rock star. The key is not to give up until you have your dream investor, partner, client, boss. Choose wisely because if it’s not worth fighting for, you will give up before you even start.
If you liked this blog post, perhaps you would like to consider buying my ebook “26 Fundraising Questions for Startups”