Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Are You Lurching from One Idea to Another? Startup Dilemma
Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Are You Lurching from One Idea to Another? Startup Dilemma

One of the most common challenges in startup, especially for the founders, is trying to figure out what's a good idea, a good logo, a good market, and even which of the paths less traveled to go on.  Do you find yourself running to the next idea that some friend, relative or VC suggests? How about all those startup mentors out there who talk to you about business models, having passion and so forth? Are you like a cat distracted by shiny keys? Shiny keys. . . shiny keys. . . and then lose focus. When you don't focus, time is your enemy. Opportunity costs abound. So what do you do? How do you find the right path for YOU?

Jibao focuses on helping teachers.
The Team at a recent introduction of Jibao Map System to teachers at a local high school.
The key is finding the RIGHT path for YOU and your team. There are so many possibilities. So many potentially correct paths. But ultimately, you have to know what's at the core of the team mission. Another way to look at it is, what are the core beliefs that speak to you? Its like going shopping without a shopping list. (By the way, an extraordinary amount of startup founders, that I've had the privilege to meet, face this challenge on a daily basis.) Without a goal in mind, they gravitate to the next interesting idea or recent success story they've read about. When you shop at a grocery store with an empty stomach and WITHOUT a list, EVERYTHING looks good!

SO. . . figure out your list.  Know what's at the core of your mission.  Figure out what your "destiny" is.  What you were meant to do.  If you've never done this before, these need not be a permanent "list" so to speak.  Just try them on for a focused period of time - a little more than a day and probably less than 3 months.  See if that'll change your perspective and let you filter out all of the noise and focus on the relevant things to keep you moving forward, rather than the lurching from one thing to another so prevalent in startups.

Jibao Team members enjoy a laugh just before they introduce Jibao to some local high school teachers.
From left to right, Suzy, Tony, Ethan and David.
For more on their visit to a local high school please see Jibao Blog
A great example of a team with some focus and getting some good feedback despite all of the challenges is the Jibao team.  What initially started some 3 years ago as an amorphous goal of solving Taiwan's continuing education challenges, has now turned into a very specific goal of enabling teachers in the classroom.

Jibao's 3 core beliefs are: 1. Teachers:  Teachers are the stars.  Let's stop trying to "fix" teachers and instead provide them more support so they can get back to teaching.  Teaching is a profession.  (Just because you know the subject doesn't mean you can teach it) 2. Its about content.  A platform or new software without content is fairly useless and only further burdens a teacher with having to create that content to teach with. 3. Its about editable content. Fixed content such commonly found in e-textbooks and large encyclopaedia-like databases do NOT allow for customization by a teacher looking to teach a variety of students of different backgrounds and levels of knowledge.

With this focus in mind, when others suggest ideas of turning Jibao into an HR training tool or empowering housewives to learn how to cook. . . these may be great ideas, but ultimately not what compatible to core of Jibao's 3 beliefs.  Therefore, Jibao will currently spend time pursuing these avenues.  For a small startup team, focus is key and time is precious.

So get starting on your own core belief system and see if that won't help you make choices.  Even when its down to what type of logo to have.