Start of a New Year: From Zero-to-One

The start of the new year always comes with such optimism. This is our year! This is the year we are going to nail all our goals! I like to start the new year by reading a motivational book and this year it was Zero-to-One by Thiel & Masters.  Thiel is known as the co-founder of PayPal. So to kick off the new year, I'll start with this kernel from Zero-to-One (which BTW is too binary an approach to business for me - I don't see it as black & white as does Thiel).  Thiel and Masters remind businesses that 7 questions should be asked of your strategy.  If these 7 questions aren't addressed in a strategic manner, then odds are you company will fail.

  1. The Engineering Question: Can you create breakthrough technology instead of incremental improvements? (for more on what this means, read my academic paper on innovation types - its been cited more than 2200 times so far - just a little self-promotion there.)
  2. The Timing Question:  Is now the right time to start your particular business?
  3. The Monopoly Question: Are you starting with a big share of a small market? (for more on this read up on the bowling alley approach as introduced by Moore in his book Crossing the Chasm.  Schwedelson has a short summary here. Thiel doesn't call it this, but it's the same concept.)
  4. The People Question: Do you have the right team?
  5. The Distribution Question: Do you have a way to not just create but deliver your product?
  6. The Durability Question: Will your market position be defensible 10 and 20 years into the future?
  7. The Secret Question: Have you identified a unique opportunity that others don't see?

2016 is all about nailing item (1.) for us. Because we are working on breakthrough technology we're still experiencing a few glitches. But if we didn't have those glitches, then it would mean we are working on incremental improvements and that's not good enough to make a difference. So let's give a toast to the new year and making a difference in 2016.

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