Category Archives: Management

Avoid These 6 Recipes for Business Disaster

The article was originally posted at The Wall Street Journal (

We are all looking for a recipe for business success that is easy to follow. But what if instead there was a recipe for disaster?

Why would anyone want to know the formula for failure? Because you may be blind to the fact you are already following it, at least in part. And if you know the ingredients to avoid, you’ll save your business before it’s too late.

I thought about all of the entrepreneurs I’ve known, worked with and mentored over the years, and all of the businesses I’ve studied, and I came up with six recipes for disaster. Avoid these and your odds of success will increase dramatically.
Read more »

“Think big but start small”

At the height of the dotcom bubble in 2000, almost anyone with a cheque book could put money into a hot new technology company. Few got out without losing their shirts.

But Carmen Busquets, a 46-year-old Venezuelan entrepreneur, managed to make a successful bet on an e-commerce venture, and has gone on to become one of the most important investors for fashion-related internet businesses.

An early backer of Net-A-Porter, she recently made an angel investment in, which allows fashion obsessives to order straight from (and straight after) the runway.

Ms Busquets’ investing style stands apart from more famous venture capital firms, which shower start-ups with tens of millions of dollars, bestowing young companies with colossal valuations. Instead, she doles out small investments as a company needs capital.

“Why give a million dollars to someone if they have not proved that they can make a million dollars?” she asks. “I learnt this from my father, who would never give us more money than we could make. If I maxed out a credit card, he would cut it.” Read more »

Is radical innovation a thing of the past?

It is a rash commentator who calls the end of history. Such declarations, as Francis Fukuyama discovered, tend to be made on the eve of wrenching change. Even so, despite the mass of management thinking forced between hard covers and carpet-bombed weekly on to cowering readers, it is hard to identify radical innovations from the past decade and tempting to think great breakthroughs are no longer possible.

Plenty of thinkers would beg to differ. Ten years after Good to Great was published, Jim Collins is back as co-author of a new book, Great by Choice , touted as “groundbreaking” despite its derivative-sounding title. Michael Porter believes “creating shared value” will mark a turning point in economic history, though critics claim his latest idea is corporate social responsibility under a new guise. Gary Hamel, meanwhile, is promoting the open-access Management Innovation eXchange – “the MIX”, an online clearing house for management ideas – as the vehicle for nothing less than a reinvention of the discipline.

In May, Prof Hamel blogged that “the emerging ‘social technologies’ of Web 2.0 are likely to transform the work of management root and branch”. He laid down an “e-gauntlet” to organisations to share ideas about how they were becoming “more adaptable, innovative, inspiring and accountable”. A few cynics have fallen into the MIX (though the contributor who offered a lapidary contribution headlined “innovation sucks” seems to have disappeared from the site). But the winners of the first phase of the prize mostly defy scepticism – mainly because the improvements they propose seem to be working in practice. Read more »

13 Unusual Ways Made Google Competitive

Tongfei Kou's Website / 寇同飞的个人网站

To post this article from BusinessWeek here is not aiming at letting all the companies to become successful by following 13 unusual ways. Some of those methods may only fit Google (or perhaps other Tech companies) rather than all business activities. However, I personally believe that this article may bring some ideas for business leaders.

Original Title: 13 Unusual Ways Sergey Brin And Larry Page Made Google The Company To Beat
Author: Alyson Shontell
Published on May 4, 2011

For more than a decade, Google has been the company to beat.

It’s consistently named one of the world’s best employers, it is the #1 company young professionals want to work for, and its name has become synonymous with search.

How did Sergey Brin and Larry Page create the tech titan? Not all of their strategies are straight forward. Read more »

Why Selling B2B is Harder than Selling B2C


From BNET, by Geoffrey James, on February 2, 2011

Many executives wrongly believe that selling to businesses is the same as selling to consumers.  As a result, they employ strategies that have worked in consumer-oriented businesses, like brand marketing, advertising, value pricing, and so forth.

This concept turns up in comments whenever I write about the uselessness of branding in B2B markets.  Inevitably, somebody writes “what about Coke?” as if that had some relevance to the discussion.  I suspect that the belief that “selling is selling” comes from MBA programs that love consumer marketing case studies.

The truth is that B2B selling is not only different from B2C selling, it’s massively more difficult, for the following eight reasons:

  • REASON #1: The B2B buyer is vastly more sophisticated. For instance, because the Internet makes comparative pricing information publicly available, it is not at all unusual for a buyer in a B2B transaction to know more about the product category and the competition than the sales professionals who are trying to sell that type of product.
  • REASON #2: The stakes are much higher. B2B buyers and decision-maker are being paid – often quite high salaries — to understand what they’re buying and how it will be used. They can lose career points and get fired if they make a wrong decision, something that never happens when a consumer purchases a consumer product.
  • REASON #3: B2B selling requires more knowledge. It’s not enough just to understand a product and be able to present it coherently. B2B selling generally involves diagnosing a customer’s challenges and then coming up with a customized solution that may very well involve a long-term business partnership.
  • REASON #4: B2B selling demands better people skills. When consumers buy a product, typically there’s only one or two decision-makers involved (like a husband and wife). Corporate buying decisions can involve dozens of decision-maker, influences, stakeholders, and nay-sayers.
  • REASON #5: B2B selling involves more patience. While even “big-ticket” consumer sales (like homes and cars) can be completed in a day or a week (at most), many B2B deals involve weeks and months of intermittent activity, meetings, phone calls, back-and-forth documents, along with all the politics and persuasion that characterizes large bureaucracies.
  • REASON #6: B2B selling is more sensitive to the economy.One of the first things that happens in an economic crisis is that firms lock down their purchasing, add more layers of decision-making, and demand concessions from their vendors even for deals that have already been signed. Such tactics devastate even the best designed sales campaign.
  • REASON #7: B2B selling involves very large sums of money.In consumer sales, million dollar deals are unusual and limited primarily to luxury home sales. In B2B selling, by contrast, deals that involve millions of dollars are so commonplace as to be almost unremarkable. Even billion dollar deals are struck from time to time.
  • REASON #8: B2B selling is burdened with bad marketing. The problem is that many marketing professionals can’t get their heads around the previous seven reasons and insist that they can use techniques from Mad Men.  I can’t tell you how many complaints I’ve heard from sales professionals who are carrying useless marketing teams on their back.

None of this would be a problem if it weren’t for the fact that executive who don’t “get it” make it more difficult for sales professionals to get their job done.  Selling B2B is vastly more sophisticated than anything that goes on the world of B2C.  As such, it needs more support, more training, and more of the RIGHT kind of marketing, specifically lead generation.



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