The hardest part of a project

At some point in your academic life, someone of a higher authority who had the ability to make your life at home a living hell had forced you to do a dreaded pro-longed version of homework. It was called *drum roll* a project! And while being in 7th grade and having accumulated a rainbow of swearwords to associate with your teacher’s name, what you didn’t realize is that school projects actually do you more good than bad.

Okay that may seem obvious. But the reality is that school projects teach you a very important lesson about life and that is how to follow through a plan an execute.

There is nothing harder in any project than getting the actual shit done. Graduate students have performed prolific studies on team dynamics and project management to address why humans have such difficulty getting things done. This disease, affectionately named the hope creep, does not discriminate. It gets the best of us and all a successful entrepreneur is someone who managed to beat the hope creep in one aspect of their life (I say that because chances are that entrepreneurs have a vast list of things they wish they could tackle, but hope creep ends up eating that list). The only way to be good at executing and following through is to do what everyone does if they want to be good at something – practice.

Practice by engaging in small projects with your community. Practice at school by taking arbitrary research papers to real scientific-method research (okay this may be only for the business students who have to write ‘white papers’ that are purely based on anecdotal research and hold no real statistical value in terms of generalization and conclusion). Practice at home by turning an old piece of furniture to one of your artistic masterpieces. The important thing is that you practice. You’ll become better at making things happen and those around you will notice.

Waiting is for Waiters

Clichés are to the world of business as red underpants are to Superman, they’re inseparable. I don’t want to throw anyone under the bus here but if you go to any corporate office, entrepreneurial networking event or business class and you’ll see pant suits touching base, giving 110% and thinking outside the box for an action plan to pick low hanging fruit in order to add value and create win – win situations.  I could go on forever with business clichés but it’s a slippery slope. So for the sake of time, I will move forward and get to my story.

One particular cliché caught my attention and got me thinking about the truth behind it as it applies to business and life, in general: “All Good Things Come to Those Who Wait”…

…I call Bullshit.

This particular string of worldly advice only rings true for life’s teeniest pleasures. like having to wait the extra 90 seconds for your Microwave Pizza Pop or when the bartender has to change the keg on your favourite draught brew.  Otherwise, on the larger scale, the “all good things come to those who wait” saying is a huge load of bologna.

I realize that the sayings focus is patience, so take this with a grain of salt and realize that waiting and being patient are two very different things.  When it comes to life, waiting will get you nowhere.  Life is all about experiences and it’s experiences that drive stories of success.  Here is an example:  there is a certain popular television sitcom where the premise is a dad telling his kids a sequence of stories leading up to how he met the children’s mom.  Each episode is fill with hilarity and clever Canadian content.  But imagine the show quality if each episode were simply about him waiting? Ratings would plummet. Total Fail.

Same goes for the business world.  The entrepreneurial spirit in all of us drive us to continually take action to make whatever we are doing a success.  If you find yourself waiting for success, it will probably never come.  You have to take action, garner experience and create the success you are looking for.  If you’re trying to build up your portfolio of clients – get out there and network.  If you’re trying to bring your new product to market – showcase it at a tradeshow.  If you’re looking to crowdfund to raise money – let the world know what you’re doing and ask them to chip in a couple bucks.

At the end of the day, if you want to achieve a goal (whether it’s a goal for your business, school or life in general) – don’t wait. Take action and make things happen.  If you wait, opportunity may pass you by.

In a nutshell, it’s time to get your feet wet.  Although Rome wasn’t built in a day, don’t get stuck between a rock and a hard place.   The ball is in your court so step up to the plate, be proactive, strike while the iron is hot, swing for the fences and knock it out of the park.

But don’t take my word for it.  Ask anyone who has tried, failed, tried again and succeeded.

Angry Ninja

Next to honesty, simplicity is the best policy…

So we’ve launched, well as least “soft launched” and soon, with the roll out of the full site functionality, users will be able to begin funding their projects using Springboard.  So I thought now would be the perfect time to impart some lessons learned about creating your video pitches for your Springboard projects.

From the moment we decided to launch Springboard, we knew we wanted to Crowd-fund some of the site development costs.  Of course this meant, among other things, we needed to spend some time creating a video for our project.  After weeks of going back and forth with concepts and ideas, 4 or 5 script revisions and delays due to the prototypical crummy fall weather in Vancouver, we were able to film our crowd-funding video. So what did we learn from the process?

Firstly, not being professionals videographers in any sense of the term is far from a disadvantage.  Armed with only a Sony NEX-3 with a Compact Stereo Mic attachment and some creative ideas, we were able to film what we feel is a high-quality video that clearly communicates the point of both Springboard and our crowd-funding project simultaneously.

Also, we found, by having a clear understanding of who our audience is (ahem, you guys), the concept of the video really took on a life of its own (thus the script became more of an outline).  Prior to filming we had plenty of ideas of how to “get the point across,” but when we got out there, we realized keeping it simple was the best policy (I guess Apple is on to something with that one…).

Look at that, a great segue that leads me into my third point, leave out all the gimmicks (minus the necessary ones of course). If the gimmick doesn’t in some way enhance your message, then it isn’t necessary.

Another great lesson is that it doesn’t have to be perfect. In fact, the end result is better if it isn’t. No one is perfect and perfection really doesn’t make for a solid connection, because perfection is a performance, not honesty.  We spent a lot of time doing retakes trying to get things “right,” but what I found when I began editing the video was that the best, most natural, most honest takes were the ones where we screwed something up.  It is that honesty that you (and we) need to portray in order to connect with our potential sponsors.

Finally, and this ties into another post from earlier this year, if you can do it for free, do it for free.  I once told you guys to “always think like a start-up” and what is exactly how we approached creating our video.  Yes this sometimes means you may have to sacrifice on the “add-ons” or the “nice to haves”, but if you keep it simple, you’ll never have to sacrifice on the quality.

Peace. Love. And Springboard.

 

It’s Almost Launch Time!

ticking clockAt the start of this year, one of our co-founders introduced us to this idea of developing a crowdfunding website.  Crowdfunding was a relatively new concept to me, so I personally had to do a little research on it first before taking the project on full throttle.   It’s safe to say that now, after months of research, planning, and promotion under our belts, the team wholeheartedly believes that Springboard will be a benefit to others in helping them get some of their amazing project ideas off the ground.  This alone is a huge motivating factor for us, and we’re dedicated to successfully launching this site so others can use it to launch projects that they’re so passionate about!
Despite some minor setbacks a few months ago, we’ve hammered out our whole site design, written most of the copy and development is now moving along quite rapidly.  We’ve even been able to troubleshoot parts of the site and can now feel the same excitement that any entrepreneur feels when their baby is slowly starting to take shape.  Our target is to release a full beta version in just a few weeks and we can’t wait to start getting feedback from real users!
While development’s been underway, it’s also been an opportune time for us to attend a variety of networking events around town. From artists, to designers, to foodies, and even to a barber who’s ready to put a whole new twist on how people are serviced for haircuts, we’re pleased to know that there’s no shortage of passion amongst the several budding entrepreneurs that we’ve met.  It’s been a blast getting our name out there, and at the same time getting to know people and learn what makes them so passionate about what they do.
So with the clock ticking and with our launch date just around the corner, it’s only a matter of weeks before our vision, becomes our venture and Springboard is born.  Our next step is to film a video that will be incorporated into our project page.  Yes, ironically we ourselves are trying to crowdfund a portion of our business, and Springboard will be the first project posted on our own website!  We hope to successfully crowdfund our own project so that in turn we can help others get their amazing ideas off the ground.  Stay tuned as we approach our launch date!

How to be Resourceful

Starting a business will do funny things to your wallet. Notable symptoms include empty bill slots and an increase of credit cards (maybe even a few that you roll over occasionally). In fact starting a business will change your perspective on how you spend money. All of a sudden $5.00 Starbucks coffees seem like a luxury and hair cuts seem like something you can continue to put off… you know at least till you turn over your first dollar. For me, its attempting to avoid the dentist for as long as my personal hygiene monitor can take…which isn’t for much longer.

Being creative and stretching your dollar is one of the pillars of being a good entrepreneur. Its easy to spend all the money in the world to start a business, but it’s proof of poor management of resources. If you can get creative and hustle, chances are your efforts will take you a long way. Injecting more money into marketing does not equate to acquiring new customers; some of the more effective marketing tools have come in the form of social media, which is completely free. Figuring out the ropes does not require an MBA; instead you can get a wealth of knowledge from the right mentors at the price of a few coffees. We are lucky to live in a generation where not every business requires large investment capital to begin, and technology has made it even easier for individuals with passion and a flare for execution to jump the hurdle of finance.

So while I cannot crowd fund my dental cleaning…I’m sure I can convince my dentist that with my customer loyalty (over 20 years!!) he can let one cleaning slide : ]

#TheBuzzEvent at Canvas Lounge

                                                                                               

I checked out my second Buzz Entrepreneur Event at Canvas Lounge in Gastown a few nights ago with another partner of springboard.  It took place the evening after Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals when thugs ruined Vancouver’s beautiful downtown core.  Since the overwhelming majority of us Vancouverites were sick to our stomachs as a result of this idiocy, I honestly wasn’t expecting the greatest turnout this evening.  But not to my dismay, the venue was already packed before the event even started.  This goes to show how dedicated entrepreneurs are when it comes to meeting one of their own, even in light of a disastrous aftermath like the one that occurred just 24 hours prior.

Like many entrepreneurs and startups, my team and I view minglers like the Buzz Entrepreneur Event as one of the single most important marketing tools for our business.  The opportunity to build a connection with another individual, and possibly one day bust a prosperous business idea wide open is invaluable.  George Moen, president and founder of Blenz Coffee, and one of the many influential guest speakers of the evening, mentioned these encounters during his speech.  He called them “loose connections” and said that it’s within one of these relationships where some of the greatest business opportunities can flourish.  He goes on to describe how entrepreneurs cannot succumb to relying on just social media, text messaging, and emails as the main forms of communication with one another, because they can never replace the trust created by face-to-face relationships.

After hearing George’s speech, I took a look around the room and wondered what valuable loose connections might possibly be born as a result of an encounter at this mixer.  There were designers present, like Gabriel of Blue Lotus Creative who does graphic, or Ken of Dream Designs who specializes in residential and commercial.  Or there’s Darren of Degredient, a truffle distributor, and even Bryson Chow, a Kitsalano chiropractor who was rocking a bow tie!  Is it possible that one of these individuals pledge forward together on a new initiative? Maybe.… maybe not.  But an opportunity would certainly never arise if none of them made the effort to come out to this event.

You can never really tell what potential relationships might come to fruition as a result of events like The Buzz Entrepreneur Event.  But what I do know is that my team at springboard will continue to take advantage of these opportunities, and look forward to every chance to connect with a fellow entrepreneur or even better, a potential business partner.  After all, this is our community and it’s up to us to keep it buzzing!

Passion is the True Difference Maker

“Belief fuels enthusiasm, and enthusiasm explodes into passion.” I’ve never been big into famous quotes, but I came across this quote the other day from the great football coach Vince Lombardi, and this one made an impact on me.  It’s partially because I’m a big sports fan, but it’s definitely more because of how relevant it is for Springboard’s success.

Crowdfunding as a concept would never be successful if people didn’t believe in the projects they’re supporting. You see, first and foremost people actually need to buy into ideas.  For example, if a songwriter didn’t believe their lyrics, people would never feel their song.  And if a coach didn’t believe his pep talk, his team would never get fired up.  Similarly, a project would never raise funds if sponsors didn’t actually believe in the project owner and their  passion to succeed.

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