Start From Nothing 2011

Start Line

In November, 2008, I wrote if I started today. This post is partially an update to that, and partially a new view based on what I’ve learned over the last few years. It presumes that you have control of most of the elements. (And you do).

My Goal – Build a Sustainable, Relationship-Minded Business Platform With Growth/Reach In Mind

If you don’t start with a goal, you have nothing. If I started from nothing, goal is always first. No matter what business I wanted to start, this would be the model: sustainable (I make money), relationship-minded (I grow partnerships and empower those who touch my business), platform (it’s never going to be a one-trick pony), with growth/reach in mind (media and networking matters).

With me?

The Base of My Platform

No matter what business I’d start, there would be three baseline elements:

  • Site
  • List
  • Media

My site could be a blog, could be an ecommerce site, could be whatever, but if I have no web presence, I have no business. If the business is local, then I’d enact all the local technologies to put my site on Google Local and Facebook Places and into the geoweb. The site is first on my mind and it has to be useful to my community, full of ideas with handles (ideas that people can use for themselves with or without a purchase), and something that others will want to reference.

My list is simply a database and email reach so that I can keep specific relationships in mind. I can touch people and deliver to them that which is of value to both of us. I can be as specific as social client relationship management (SCRM) tools can inform me. The list is everything. Jeff Pulver told me in September 2006, “You live or die by your database.” I wrote about it in Trust Agents. I talk about it as often as people will let me. Without a list, there’s no business for me, no matter what the end goal of the business ends up being.

Media is a fancy way of saying stories and connections. I want networking. I want coverage. I want stories. If I were building something to sell products into a lakefront community, then I’d have a news source that gave those people useful information, that shared each others’ stories, and that promoted the community who would use those products. I build media in lots of ways, from direct human connections, from telling stories digitally, from video and what-not. You’ve caught on that the technology specifics don’t matter as much, right? In fact, I’d want a mix no matter what. I’d want print sometimes, or geo-media sometimes, or heavy video other times. That’s not the point. It just has to be part of the mix.

Homebases and Outposts

This hasn’t changed from my earlier planning. My site and my list are my home base. Things like Twitter and Facebook and LinkedIn are outposts online. Things like local associations are outposts offline. Outposts are where you go to stimulate communications and to promote growth/reach. Outposts are “fishing where the fish are” instead of putting the line in the water where you happen to be. I want people to have my home base in their mind but I will do my first few transactions out in the outposts.

Does that make sense? I don’t “live” on these social networks, but I also don’t “live” on my home bases. I put the VALUE at the home base, and I put the INTERACTION on the outposts.

Value Feeding

If I want a relationship-minded network to work for my community, I have to deliver all the constituents of this community some kind of value. If you’re not finding reasons to show up, then why would you stay a part of my community? That’s the big goal behind value feeding.

Another way of thinking of this is as business karma. Every business I create from here on out has some version of “business karma” built into it. I started Escape Velocity because I wanted a place where I could showcase some brilliant minds doing excellent stuff (and I wanted to pretend I was one of them). My goal is to help develop those people’s business all while growing everything else that I’m doing.

Other ways I feed value are to throw events and projects that will help others. I did a job search webinar that people who subscribe to my free newsletter were invited to attend. The more I think of ways to feed value into my network, the more yield that network will have overall. The health of one’s network ties back to how much value you feed it.

Sustainability

In this case, I’m not talking about replantable crops when I talk about sustainability. I want business practices that sustain everyone involved. I want to put money in people’s pockets. I want to deliver value for the money I take from your pockets. I want the model not to be a transaction-and-leave, but a transaction-and-relationship. Every project I work on has an element of sustainability.

For your own projects, I implore you to think about those elements before you launch. Sometimes, just doing something for fun is a great thing. It’s always more creative to launch from a “we don’t really know what’s going to come of this” mindset. But if you have absolutely no view towards what the project is going to do to grow your efforts, then in my opinion, it’s a hobby. That’s not a bad thing, but you just have to accept that hobbies don’t pay the mortgage and go from there. (I have a few hobby projects.)

Network Extension

I grow projects by leveraging my awareness and ability in one aspect and shine what light I’ve collected to the new project. I extend the platform and the growth potential of my projects that way. This network extension is tricky, but is the core of any successful effort I’ve made. Any time I fail, it’s when I don’t do that part right.

That’s the Basics

If I started from nothing (and I start from nothing every few weeks), that’s what I do. You might have different goals. Some of this might not apply. That’s all okay. The point is that this is a starting point for your own ideas, not a recipe. In fact, I’ll cover a few more details inside Third Tribe for the members, but what you have here should/could be enough to get your juices flowing.

Thoughts? Questions? Disagreements? Ideas to extrapolate? Where do you want to take this?

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  • http://twitter.com/SheilaAtwood SheilaAtwood

    “I grow projects by leveraging my awareness and ability in one aspect and shine what light I’ve collected to the new project.”

    This statement is perfect for me. I have started a couple of projects I just can’t get pushed trough. The problem is they are projects that do not leverage my ability and awareness. It is hard to shine in that state.

  • Terry

    i like

  • Bkjrecruiter

    Site + List + Media + Care = Success…. Best to ALL, Brian-

  • Bkjrecruiter

    Site + List + Media + Care = Success…. Best to ALL, Brian-

  • http://leslie@justasmalltowngirl.us Leslie McLellan

    “I put the VALUE at the home base, and I put the INTERACTION on the outposts.” Love that and will use it constantly. Thank you so much!!

  • http://peterpaluska.com Peter Paluska

    Chris,
    Excellent straight-to-the-heart look at the fundamentals of building a business, whether online or off. The value is in the value, and there’s a lot here!
    I loved it. Thank you very much!

    Peter

  • Gt Theriault

    Ok, I don’t know for sure but reading this post makes me think that it was written for me! Because of my previous comment the other day. Also, because as you mention before, some post ideas comes from comments!

    No, seriouly this makes me take my notebook and pencil out! I will re-read this many more times.

    Also, your tweet yesterday about business and maybe just a hobby got me thinking even more! You are what you say, relationship and many more things.

    Thanks for answering my comment with a great post like this one. I sure hope to see more to come!

  • http://www.extrovert.de/Accessoires/Geldboersen Leder Geldbörse

    You have have stammina. Without this attitude it is very difficult to start from scratch.

  • http://MyBrooklynReport.com Michael Corley

    Hi Chris,

    While I’m familiar with your work I’m new here to your blog commenting.

    And I must say, if there’s anyone who understands the points conveyed in your post, it’s me. I value the “start from nothing” approach as a way to evaluate the progress I’ve made in the business I’m in.

    Too often, entrepreneurs rely upon a process of evaluation that builds on the noise from the echo chamber of guru’s, experts and thought leaders.

    This will often focus their attention of aspects of their business without concern for the impact on other areas. I’ve seen lots of smart people fall straight into minutiae because they don’t evaluate their business as if their starting from nothing.

    I often take this approach in the 4th quarter of each year and evaluate top down with the points you’ve mentioned. This allows me to stress test my systems, operations and personnel and make adjustments where necessary….so long as the mission/objective can be carried out without any harm.

    Grateful for the post and I think you have an new subscriber to here ;-).

  • http://twitter.com/mitchfanning Mitch Fanning

    love the way you’ve phrased your goal. Cheers. Mitch

  • http://Www.blistmarketing.com Brandon

    Love it,especially the idea of extending your core competencies into new projects. My last project,I started learning about seo, and know a lot about it now. So I’ve started an seo firm as my new project.

    Thinking of business this way is great.

    And thanks for the awesome speech at Oakley.

  • http://Www.blistmarketing.com Brandon

    Love it,especially the idea of extending your core competencies into new projects. My last project,I started learning about seo, and know a lot about it now. So I’ve started an seo firm as my new project.

    Thinking of business this way is great.

    And thanks for the awesome speech at Oakley.

  • http://Www.blistmarketing.com Brandon

    Love it,especially the idea of extending your core competencies into new projects. My last project,I started learning about seo, and know a lot about it now. So I’ve started an seo firm as my new project.

    Thinking of business this way is great.

    And thanks for the awesome speech at Oakley.

  • http://Www.blistmarketing.com Brandon

    Love it,especially the idea of extending your core competencies into new projects. My last project,I started learning about seo, and know a lot about it now. So I’ve started an seo firm as my new project.

    Thinking of business this way is great.

    And thanks for the awesome speech at Oakley.

  • http://www.metcalf-associates.com Maureen

    Thanks so much for your definition of sustainability: I want business practices that sustain everyone involved. This is far more appropriate and real for most of us do in our organizations.

  • http://satandcable.com/manufacturers/dreambox dreambox hd

    Thanks for the you have great information with detail describe and they have every topic describe for understand to all..

  • http://www.billig-im-onlineshop-kaufen.de/buero/buero-discount/ Bürodiscount

    Great summary of skills and attitudes needed. There is nothing to add

  • L.C. Lyon

    Chris I really appreciate you starting various sites, and exploring ideas to give other people opportunities. I particularly like the idea of “transaction and relationship” and feel it is imperative to developing biz relationships on and off the web.
    I am excited about Escape Velocity – sharing ideas to grow businesses and relationships positively. .
    I just start an Film Production company, filming 30 sec to 3 minute videos of small businesses, book trailers, etc. and loading them to individuals web site, YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook if they want. I have read your book – “Trust Agents” and Steve Garfield’s “Get Seen” and have found them both really helpful in shaping how I work with clients on and off the web. Thanks for sharing and facilitating the exchange of great ideas!!

  • L.C. Lyon

    Chris I really appreciate you starting various sites, and exploring ideas to give other people opportunities. I particularly like the idea of “transaction and relationship” and feel it is imperative to developing biz relationships on and off the web.
    I am excited about Escape Velocity – sharing ideas to grow businesses and relationships positively. .
    I just start an Film Production company, filming 30 sec to 3 minute videos of small businesses, book trailers, etc. and loading them to individuals web site, YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook if they want. I have read your book – “Trust Agents” and Steve Garfield’s “Get Seen” and have found them both really helpful in shaping how I work with clients on and off the web. Thanks for sharing and facilitating the exchange of great ideas!!

  • L.C. Lyon

    Chris I really appreciate you starting various sites, and exploring ideas to give other people opportunities. I particularly like the idea of “transaction and relationship” and feel it is imperative to developing biz relationships on and off the web.
    I am excited about Escape Velocity – sharing ideas to grow businesses and relationships positively. .
    I just start an Film Production company, filming 30 sec to 3 minute videos of small businesses, book trailers, etc. and loading them to individuals web site, YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook if they want. I have read your book – “Trust Agents” and Steve Garfield’s “Get Seen” and have found them both really helpful in shaping how I work with clients on and off the web. Thanks for sharing and facilitating the exchange of great ideas!!

  • http://www.flashxml.net/ flash menu

    Chris I am getting into loving your post, your post are always encouraging who allows people to show their hidden abilities and do something in a easy way which others thinks as impossible.

  • http://leluxe.de/ leluxe

    everybody is responsible for his personal luck and success

  • http://www.d2moto.com/c-662-windscreens.aspx Motorcycle Windscreen

    If your mind is stable and strong then there are pure chances to reach to the top, it even doesn’t matter whether you have just started now. So like chris we can also start now , as it never too late to start anything good.

  • http://www.blackfridayplanet.com/ William Hushburn

    I think everyone is responsible for his / her own life. Life is what we make it.

  • http://www.blackfridayplanet.com/ William Hushburn

    I’d like to acknowledge your ability in producing good articles.

  • http://www.bagavenue.de/index.php/cat/c12_Regenschirme.html Durchsichtige Regenschirme

    great article – this is a good motivation – from time to time we need this :-)

  • http://twitter.com/FullCapacityldr cody waldroup

    I think you are spot on. Running around without a place to run to can be a tiring unless you have a place in your mind you are running to. Goals are important i know for myself i do at time operate by just doing not always having the place i want to be in mind.

  • http://twitter.com/FullCapacityldr cody waldroup

    I think you are spot on. Running around without a place to run to can be a tiring unless you have a place in your mind you are running to. Goals are important i know for myself i do at time operate by just doing not always having the place i want to be in mind.

  • http://twitter.com/FullCapacityldr cody waldroup

    I think you are spot on. Running around without a place to run to can be a tiring unless you have a place in your mind you are running to. Goals are important i know for myself i do at time operate by just doing not always having the place i want to be in mind.

  • http://twitter.com/dzungvuong Dzung Vuong

    “You live or die by your database.” Agreed.
    What database do you recommend for a startup?

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  • http://twitter.com/xoomprince Bibhor Kumar

    nice post…thanks 

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