Ad Rants 1.

Ford’s Unlearn Everything

The majority of times I encounter new adverts it’s in the cinema and I have to start by saying this new Ford image video is absolutely gorgeously shot. It piggybacks beautifully on the idea of unlearning behaviours, looking at the world with fresh eyes and an open mind – a sentiment that’s very much en vogue within society so much so that we have even invented unschooling for the sake of bringing this adventurous spirit of exploration and curiosity into education.

However, and it is a humungous however for anyone who believes branding is not so much about telling but showing, you simply can’t tell your (past and future) customers to just forgot what they’ve thought about you so far and start having a brand new association to your logo and cars just like that. You especially can’t do that if you are such a household name and millions of people have been bombarded with the previous positioning through countless years.

Can it be effective? Sure, operating with an already familiar concept and encouraging people to “let go of their limiting beliefs” creates and emotional connection, making the transition easier. I’d even say it makes some sense, looking at the new power range of models Ford has launched recently and their efforts to become a force to reckon with digitally. To step into a new era where digital services are as important as the car itself, a brand certainly needs to revive itself. But as I said, telling is never as strong as showing and this is what I miss here: we are told to unlearn but doesn’t get a clear image of what we should learn instead. We are told to replace our old concepts but not given a reason to believe other than “hey, we are much cooler than you thought and anyways, unlearning is just such a rad concept”. While I get the whole message is around opening our minds to possibilities, without a few tangible guiding breadcrumbs this re-branding for me falls punctured tyre flat.

How would I approach it? Part of their Unlearn video manifesto, they say:

“Unlearn is not about forgetting the past; it’s about re-imagining possibilities to make progress in all aspects of our lives.

But Unlearn doesn’t stop with vehicles. By looking into the future with mobility at the top of our agenda, we’re building a more connected and sustainable transport future.
Why not see what happens when you let go of what you know?”

If I may dissect it, the main point they are making is that they constantly innovate and build better products, backed up by a century of know-how.* Strategically, demonstrating this innovation and truly surprising the customers would be the way to go really. Start with a huge PR stunt, like building functional Transformers robots out of oldtimers and letting them fight it out somewhere central with a huge audience. Create a space for your customers to actually explore technology and the fascinating things the future may hold for mobility. New power range? Run your very own race with all the bells and whistles and celebrities. Invite customers (or even better, stunt drivers) to tweak and race themselves. And then use all the fantastic footage from all these fun spectaculars as you TV and print campaign elements. But you know what, really, do anything, but simply tell people to forget your previous branding and get on board with the next.

But you know what, really, do anything, but simply tell people to forget your previous branding and get on board with the next.

*I’m not sure this is a super groundbreaking claim, because a) how else would you innovate, b) every other company claims the same *sigh*

The Magnificent Geese – idea ping-pong between startups and giant organisations

Very-very rarely, but it does happen that I want to watch something so bad that even 4 advertising block per hour can’t stop me from it. Thanks to my Drag Race addiction and its seventh season not being available on Netflix, I did watch a few ads endlessly.* (On a sidenote, whatever is happening with more sophisticated targeting online? I highly doubt that showing the same ad half a dozen times over 30 minutes gets positive responses.)

Two of these got me thinking. The Magnificent Geese ad by Verizon I have to admit made me smile every time. In my conscientious brain, I’m aware that wildlife does suffer from what we do with the environment. Moreover, after a quick dive into Google you’ll find that their fees seem to be one of the highest on the US market and would you actually want to stream whole movies, you’d end up practically broke. So two black points for lack of reality check.

And two red points as well. The first, building the campaign around one strong claim: “our mobile net is the fastest”. In my now decade of experience this is the hardest to get clients to be comfortable and happy with. There is always one more thing, which is understandable on the human level as well as looking at declining or really small marketing budgets. However, in communication more is almost never better. You can create powerful images and metaphors for one message but will immediately start to crumble and lose attention if you try to cram everything in there. (Or you end up with disasters of taglines like Cheerios’ “what really matters most, the goodness of oats and the people we love”. I mean, really? It’s not only grammatically incorrect, but inevitable to raise eyebrows with suggesting we should love our daily cereal as much as our family members.)

The second red point is deserved for showing that with basically no budget you can get your point across and entertain as well. The ad consists of some stock imagery of geese, clever voice-over and a few great tunes. Nothing that a startup can’t accomplish with a bit of hard work and if they are aware of the one thing they really want to get across to the target audience.

The other advertising that picked my interest is the US Postal Service. They are similarly focused on one goal, getting people trust the post again versus getting clients to sign back into the folds. However instead of drawing lessons that startups may use to their advantage, the interesting aspect of the ad is how startup spirit seemed to have inspired its approach.

“Watch us deliver” is a clever choice of slogan and one that is deeply rooted in the shift around communication, fuelled by the transparency and connectedness that comes with the internet. Delivering on your promises is the most powerful thing to do really, more effective than million dollar advertising budgets or brainstorming clever catchphrases. This is why the first few hundred customers to a startup are so important and why their early adopters and evangelists became paramount to success. A whole generation of entrepreneurs growing up with lean, UX and customer development shifts the culture of entire economies. To me, when the postal service, a major player of nationwide infrastructure adopts a strategy of show and tell and invites its customers to only belive what they see, is a sign of this shift.

*Disclaimer: I am from, live and work in Europe and therefore I am judging from a very different cultural context, had no personal experience with either brand and looking at the ads with an objective eye, analysing goals, messaging and delivery. 

Branding workshop with Stemettes’ Outbox incubator

I’m about to leave for South London, to engage with a classroom full of female STEM students, from age 11 to 22. Now, aside from the fact that I feel a little bit like a fossil – some of these girls already have a startup, how amazing is that? – it is an interesting challenge to design a workshop that gives them a compact picture of the value of branding, especially meaningful marketing and is relatable to all project stages and ages as well.

Since you don’t want to cram too much stuff into 2 hours – keeping in mind general human attention cycles and that the idea is to teach and have fun, not just to push as much knowledge in their heads as possible – I decided to focus on how values can and should lend the base building blocks of a brand.

Three exercises help them to understand how branding works and evolves in the 21st century, thanks to the Internet, information availability and the rise of a conscientious, value driven consumer:

  • starting with the icebreaker, figuring out brand names based on the logo colours only,
  • an exercise to help unearth personal values
  • and the last one helping them to apply the personal values onto the business as well as understanding how they might get into their customer’s head to understand what aspects of the product/service will matter to them.

And of course, examples, examples, examples. From established names to smaller startups, we are going to have a look at how functional values, personal benefits and collective benefits a brand brings create coherent platforms to communicate from. I must say, I’m looking forward to a lot!

The Barista is Naked!

A couple of days ago when I first came across the new Nestlé Bliss creamer campaign my first reaction was giggles and delight. I mean sex is still part of advertising’s holy trinity and it’s unlikely you will ever fail to grab some attention with a few perfectly shaped boobs and butts. Plus points for employing both male and female actors, too. (and no, we are not discussing sexism today)

Then I started to think. It is one thing that the idea is not exactly new, Carr’s got naked butlers to hand out free crackers with nothing but an apron in 2010 and a Dallas restaurant is about to launch the male version of Hooters just now. Channeling Bliss’ only natural ingredients certainly makes more sense from conceptual point of view, than merely trying to grab attention with well toned backsides.

My issues start with the need of putting sugar and natural flavour into an au naturel creamer. Sure, both ingredients are found in the nature but there are countless non-healthy, however natural ingredients one might pick. (You probably don’t want to add flavour – and cholesterol – with lard or poisonous mushrooms to get a little more extreme.)

So first of all, can we stop fooling customers with overusing the word natural and try to find something more meaningful, or heaven forbid focus on producing healthy food instead?

Secondly, campaigning to show just how natural Nestlé products are might very well backfire in the light of all the activities they don’t exactly approach in mother nature’s best interest. In reality, the #NoNestlé hashtag is still alive throughout Twitter and activist will be fast to recite the list that gets them angry.

Focusing on the value peaceful co-existence between humans and nature, several stands out.
In the 1970’s huge waves arose around their mother’s milk substitute and the aftermath is still ongoing. Marketing their product as a natural start in one of the fuels for modern day boycotters. The palm oil scandal, a bitter fight between GreenPeace and Nestlé on their use of the ingredient whose production is the primary cause for deforestation was the loudest in 20120. Nestlé has committed to using only “certified sustainable palm oil” by 2015 and while they deserve the benefit of the doubt – and I haven’t done a lot of research to find out what is the state of their supply chain today – there is no thorough, third party monitoring in place to determine whether they’ve succeeded. The most current negative PR Nestlé received is the consequence of the California draught. Refusing to stop producing bottled water that they pump from already dry and endangered areas, not to mention getting around regulations by draining springs in reservation areas, that are not obligated to supply any statistics of the actual amount of water being processed.

Is the new Bliss campaign fun? Sure, it did make me smile. Is promoting how natural a product is, when natural doesn’t necessarily mean healthier (sugar, heavy cream, etc., etc…) uncool? Undoubtedly, even if it’s hardly an unusual thing as of today. Should you build a campaign around being 100% natural when the company’s actions are everything but pro-nature? With a bit of integrity, absolutely not. Human beings as consumers are becoming smarter and more responsible. Even if we are still not the utopian world where everyone only buys products they have zero ethical problem with, it is approaching fast. Build a brand where you make even grand statements and own values with a crystal clear conscience. That, or get used to the thought of perishing slowly.


How to Build a Startup Brand from Scratch

On the 9th of October I was giving a talk at itnig, the hacker accelerator of Barcelona. The first talk after a couple of workshops on the same topic, it was exciting and frightening in the same time to see so many people interested. Of course teaching requires a lot of practice and learning, just like everything, but I am happy to have been given positive feedback on this first occasion already.

Already thinking about how to make it better, more relevant for a startup and useful for small organisations, I am very happy to get more feedback. The slides are on SlideShare, so if you happen to give them a look and have any constructive criticism, feel free to comment! Thanks in advance!

Branding for Startups – Can trust become competitive advantage against big brands?

When I wrote about the advantages of building your startup with a brand focus from the beginning I got the question: isn’t a brand something that requires years and a long-term approach to build? It does, to stay alive and relevant for a long time. But we shouldn’t give into the belief that a brand, an image is a constant, an unshakable quality that will never evolve. 

It can be downright challenging for big brands to stay relevant and recognize the time to let go of a heritage that is meaningful no longer. Though some luxury and heritage brands will always stay on demand – as Burberry became chic again only after they cut off the franchises, returned to domestic production and focused on the traditional product line and quality – others will thrive to disrupt themselves to stay exciting and fresh for younger customers.

if brands would disappear

And only exciting is not enough. A maturer, more demanding kind of consumer generation is growing up, already requiring to be able to trust the brands they buy from. They look at businesses as responsible members of the society and decisions are increasingly made based on the transparency of said businesses. 

Not to mention it is easier to maintain trust then gaining it back again. Do you trust big corporations? Is it easy to believe that they are up to no mischief? In our era privacy finally becomes a real concern for the average customer – and is definitely already super important for your early adopter – so as sustainable solutions, local products and the actions and beliefs of CEOs. 

Thanks to almost unlimited information we are quick to boycott Firefox – otherwise a big favorite for their development principals and privacy policy – because of a comment denouncing gay marriage. In effect similarly, Abercombie&Fitch suffered 17% drop in sales since they declared how they are only for the cool AND slim kids out there.

This perceived access to all information works in favour of startups. First, conscientiously building on transparency to communicate our genuine good intentions is also easier when you are just starting out. Patagonia’s Footprint Chronicles is a good example: I salute their aim to eliminate the use of down plucked from geese still alive or force-fed for foie gras. However, if you are building a clothing company right now, you can choose your supplier with this requirement in mind and look better from the start.

You also don’t need to turn around a whole organisation and convince a board of directors either. Imagine how much work it was for Auchan to make their complete sustainability report available for every customer!

consumer trust

Secondly, many projects would never be able to spring to life without this trust. Running a successful Kickstarter campaign based on a promise wouldn’t be possible without people willing to try out new things and early adopters couldn’t inspire mainstream usage either.

In terms of communication, the biggest challenge for established brands comes exactly from this: clean slate brands, startups often embody contemporary customer values better. The values our users seek are our owns and communicating them honestly trumps any clever strategy. It’s easier to be sustainable, ethical and accessible from the beginning, than changing already existing perceptions and building up a new image. 

Yes, if you want to build a strong brand, you are in for the long haul. But whatever you do, will contribute to how consumers perceive you as a company and as a brand, even if marketing is nowhere on your mind. Better to be mindful about it, and use all the advantage you happen to got. 

The Maffia Myth – part III.

This is the third part of a short essay, read the  first part here, the second one here.

what others think

One of my favourite stories mentors ever told me was from Gil Penchina. Paraphrasing it super shortly, when I told him about how I’m unsure if hunting investors is the best way to go for Drungli, because I really don’t like being told what to do, he told me what happens when your whole board of directors agree about something you really don’t see is necessary. Apparently, nothing. Provided things are lookin’ up and mainly go into a positive direction, you can say no. (Or say yes and just don’t do it, which I’m not sure will work unless you are the vice president and general manager of eBay or have a real genuine who gives a flying fuck attitude, but you know, worth a shot.)

In a more general sense, being too concerned about what others think about you, your business and your decisions is something far too common in the eastern half of Europe and it will hurt you in several ways.

Being afraid of judgement, especially from established industry players and the media will hold you back from experimentation. In the worst case, from doing anything at all. It will stop you from initiating conversations, ask for advice and gain better knowledge for the important battles you will have to fight.
Without trust in your own abilities and values that guide your decisions it is impossible to make real use of mentoring sessions and the huge amount of advice you get. We all have our own angle and priorities and not all great advice will work in your own case.
And, if your worst nightmare is people judging you and laughing into your face when you fail, you’ll be held back from action.

I heard another interesting thing from Gil: you can’t be a good CEO without loving the stage. And you can’t go into the arena being vulnerable by empowering everyone with judgement. You need to make a shortlist, know who’s opinion matters, and stick to that.

handle failure better

Our fear of judgement is probably directly connected to our obsession with perfection and total lack of acceptance for failure. Educational systems that are geared towards punishment instead of development, teaching lexical facts instead of consequences and connections do a lot of damage. So as of course periods of recent history where one stray step can alter your life significantly in a very bad way. Less dramatically, a traditionally respected career path, where one works for the same company for 30+ years until he retires can be easily held back or ruined by one mistake.

It is interesting to see how a widening of opportunities contribute to a higher tolerance for mistakes and bad decisions. In a flexible environment, where changes happen in a dizzying pace and having multiple careers is natural, you have no other choice than learn by trial and error.

I don’t buy into the popular there is no failure narrative. Denying real failure and the heart wrenching feelings it causes doesn’t help you to learn or close down a zombie business. It is one step too far to the other direction.
What I’d like to achieve is acceptance failure without the familiar warm wash of shame. To built on it, and not being dragged down by.

What I’m suggesting is not being pessimistic or wielding these issues as excuses. I believe learning through entrepreneurship is a great way to understand how opportunities come up and changes can be your aid. Consequently, it is also possible to pick upon guidelines, understand the basic principles and come up with novel creative and ethical solutions, melded to a shape that is most comfortable for our personal or wider, regional personalities.

Success in this sense  is knowing what do we have in our hands and working that to our advantage.

The Maffia Myth – part II.

This is a three part little essay on cultural patterns that CEE startups have to leave behind to succeed.

I’m a Hungarian entrepreneur/freelancer, who have lived and/or worked in the UK, Italy and Spain. I’m not interested in finding excuses or brood over the past. My goal is to observe, understand and ultimately find solutions that bring us forward. You can read the first part here.

there is nothing in my hand

In order to be able to maintain balanced conversations we also need a more realistic view on our achievements and assets. Probably because of unrealistic expectations and WhatsApp-like stories we seriously undervalue achievements. We are not happy with a quarter million searches per month or 200 000 paying customers who actually turn in profit, because we want global coverage and constant growth, only the sky is the limit. These are not bad goals, obviously. But they can make the strengths and advantages we already have under our belts look little.[1]

And adequate understanding of our achievement is necessary to be able to see our opportunities and make good decisions. Without correct measurement, you might not be able to react to feedback and changes in the environment properly or won’t pursue projects that realistically seen are promising.

Then again, applied to communication, when you are aware of the value of your experience, you have a way to turn meetings with potential mentors and partners into an exchange of knowledge, honouring both their time and your relationship.

rich people are evil

If you grew up in countries under 4 decades of oppression from a political ideology that in theory idealize sharing and equal shares of work as well as income, and in reality enforces sharing for most but keeps the booty for a chosen few, you can’t help but have a higher than average suspicion towards well to do or downright rich folks. Add in massive, visible corruption and typically unfair taxation systems resulting in the national championship of utilizing loopholes and the result is a very awkward attitude.

How many times do you hear a startup joking about how they’d rather play with the money of investors than their own? I have the impression that we rely too much on seed-angel-VC funding jumps when planning businesses, simply because this is how everyone else seems to be doing it and because somehow we feel we deserve it. This makes us pitch in fundamentally wrong ways and obsess about persuasion and selling the idea, instead of backing it up with a solid foundation of data and results.

In reality, your relationship with your investor is a long term one. It ideally helps you along the way with money as well as connections and knowledge. And, as people who have actually raised funds and then bankrupted companies will tell you, the responsibility of losing somebody else’s money and the trust they’ve put in you is nowhere near as easy as it looks at first glance.

As in all matters of business open eyes and attention to details are all super important when closing funds. After all, there is data showing how having unfair advantage in money can make anyone a meaner person, and your future can depend on that term sheet in front of you. Makes it even more important to look for partners and supporters, not opponents to constantly fight. 

Next up: what others think matter and failure is well, failure.

[1] The other, equally harmful side of the coin is when we get just way too cocky. Poor estimation of assets and environment, a fairly typical “I will know it much better” attitude are all springing from the same root. We need to learn how to approach with a realistic – not to dark but also not to bright – attitude.

The Maffia Myth – part I.

Cultural patterns that CEE startups have to leave behind to succeed

When you have the good luck of living in different countries and frequently interact with people from widely different cultural backgrounds, you are prone to happen on interesting cultural differences – sometimes by embarrassing yourself ridiculously. Learning to navigate these cultural gaps and adapt models that work for other nations effectively is also a key factor for the development of CEE region startup communities.

As with all development, the first step is of course understanding ourselves, which does include assessing unique advantages as well as weaknesses. Being a die-hard realist, I thought about cultural and historical heritage that is hurting startups and entrepreneurs in Central and Eastern Europe, regardless of having global or local ambitions.

I’m Hungarian, born and bread and therefore my observations are based on the culture I know best. However, work and conversations with Polish, Bulgarian, Ukrainian and Slovakian entrepreneurs shows that we are struggling with very similar baggages.

CEE startup patterns

The Y generation is still painfully familiar with the twisted entrepreneurial image of the wardrobe sized mean bald guy, accessorized with thick gold chains and a black stolen Mercedes.[1] This picture  luckily is waning  slowly but surely with the strengthening startup scene and more and more public successes. It may still very well be a retaining power if family and friends – the circle who is supposed to give support to aspiring entrepreneurs – didn’t manage to step over it yet.

But a more interesting effect has been pointed out to me by Eze Vidra, Head of Google for Entrepreneurs Europe. During a talk he gave in Kiev he was encouraging young entrepreneurs to reach out to anyone they know, tap into the social circles of family and friends and use these ties to get customer interviews and market knowledge. The suggestion has been followed by awkward silence and then the remark: but we already have that, it’s called the maffia here.

When you come from cultures where for long decades your opportunity of emergence has been depending so heavily on who you know and how your family’s influence can help you, a natural reaction is trying to break free of these ties and achieve things all by yourself. I can actually recall feeling accomplished for getting my first real jobs without back-stair influence. Whereas in western cultures it is taken for granted that if you are just starting out, you need assistance. It is not a shameful act to ask for intros and borrow connections from family and friends.

For the sake of efficient customer development and advancing in sales, we have to cut ourselves some slack and find a comfortable middle ground. Being realistic about our options and exchanging in open and straightforward communication is key.

CEE startup communication patterns

A few years ago on an early morning I was walking over the urban railway bridge to our office with a colleague. The following few sentences for some reason has stuck to my mind:

me: Good morning, how are you today?

him: Sorry, I don’t do small talk.

me: …

I was flabbergasted back then but it only really got me thinking when I started to learn about the rules of small talk, the new etiquette of approaching people through the internet and actually leading interesting conversations with them. What I realized is that we are interestingly shy about small talk and conversation for the sake of entertainment. We tend to deem it a toy for the superficial socialites and salesmen from an intellectual high horse. It is probably partly a linguistic issue, rooted in how other languages adapted and exaggerated the expression small talk. At least in Hungarian, it definitely acquired a slight pejorative sense.

In reality purposeless conversation has important purposes: it helps to establish mutual goodwill, it acts as a bonding ritual and a conversation starter. Good conversation is based on interest and fair exchange. Consequently what we should be learning is not conserve phrases, even though they are very useful for first experiences or when you really don’t have the energy to be engaging just like that. What we need is an understanding why those expressions are used [2] as small talk base and find ways to construct new elements, more comfortable to use in our contexts and cultures.

Watching someone working the room with a somewhat cold efficiency is a weird experience, and can explain very well why we think so begrudgingly of small talk. But we can use available blueprints for guidelines and remember that the real context here is paying forward someone’s time and goodwill by caring about them. Then we can end up in functional conversations and find ways to advance together.


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Part II: I have nothing in my hands and rich people are evil.

Part III: What others think matter and I have nothing on my hands

[1] For the sake of not Eastern-European readers, this image is mainly due to the fact that socialism and communism wasn’t exactly glorifying entrepreneurial spirit. Entrepreneurship became the synonym to a wide array of negative attitudes, from being greedy, manipulative, maneuvering all the way to the downright criminal and the mob member.

[2] One of my favourite videos on the topic is from Ramit Sethi.

Anything You Want – why understanding how branding works matters for startups

Why do you run your own business? My not so risky assumption is that because you want to shape things your own way. Understanding the processes behind forming strong longterm marketing strategies will enable you to do just this: shape your business into anything you imagine it to be.

When I talk to people about my new projects and working on methods to make branding accessible for startups, the reaction is almost always along the lines of great, we have just started to think about it, the product is out there, we have some funding, now it’s time to work on our brand. This is of course lovely news for me, but also highlights how we tend to regard marketing and branding only as a package, a neatly painted picture to sell and not the real thing.

While this thinking is not necessarily harmful it’s definitely oldschool. It’s common knowledge how interesting things are happening in the world today. Tools and trends are changing so fast, that you can pretty easily catch up with people having decades of experience in advertising and have a working knowledge that you can use to your advantage from the very beginning of your business. There are functioning channels to gather information right from the source, sidestepping edited news and PR, so internet users are less and less willing to be fooled by glossy images and press conferences. Why would they, since they can talk to companies directly any time they wish, right? Consequently, they are constructing their opinion based on their own experiences and what you actually do, instead of what you say.

All this means that we can’t regard branding and marketing only as the wrapping on our product or services. It’s not enough to get your colours right, the headline catchy, the design flat. (or whatever the next visual trend is going to be) You have to look for consistency  all through your organisation, every element of your toolbox have to transmit the same feel and message. This is not a super revolutionary idea, after all you’d hear about the 4 or 7 Ps of marketing during the first class of Introduction to Marketing 1.0.1. Somehow our model of marketing is still narrowed down to promotion – all activity we consider as marketing communication – which is only a single one of all those Ps.

Now, why does this matter? Well, for one, it will definitely improve your pitch if you never again include the statement and we are not even doing any marketing yet. (common reactions being why the hell not? and what does that even mean?)  You also have to realise that every little product decision, the way you prioritize features, talk to customers or ship the product counts. As soon as you understand this and learn to regard little pieces as part of the bigger picture your brand  is going to look like, you will be able to use the available tools to colour that picture however you want.

At first, this probably sounds overwhelming rather then a reassuring. So many elements to pay attention to, so many decisions to make. Good news is that being able to think in context, you will also have clear next steps and a logical order to follow. If you are able to set a goal* and then reverse-engineer it, the majority of the decisions become clearer and easier. Do you know who your exact target group is? You know how to find them and which feedback worth listening to while others need to be ignored. What expertise and credibility do you want to built? If you have the answer, you have the topics for your content marketing ready. Did you find that one unique selling point, one important message? Great, design briefings are going to be way more effective and easy.
On the other hand, if you are not aware of what is that you actually want to express, the possible choices seem endless, priorities are blurred and you end up doing and saying way too many unrelated things. You are unable to differentiate yourself which is a pretty reliable way to kill your business.

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Ideally your startup does something you care for**. Good branding is first of all about articulating this goal and making other people care about it too. But it also serves as a compass for your true north,  a way to apply conscientiousness in your business decisions. Do yourself a favour and spend some time on thinking about yours.


*Nothing too rigid mind you, the goals are there to help you keep an eye on the horizon, not to limit or aggravate you.

**Don’t cheat! If you are in your business because, well, it is a good way to make money, don’t start inventing a baroque justification. Rather, find something within your company you are really, truly enthusiastic for and build on it. It can be the great tech or passion to serve your customers well. Also, quite often the best insights come from your first users. Start a conversion with them and find out why do they care. Positive feedback helps you to feel good about your product and find the angle you need to become it’s biggest advocate.