Blog Archives: Entrepreneurship

Keep your secrets safe, if you want to fail

I encounter entrepreneurs pretty much every day, and almost all of them are protective of their ideas.

Unfortunately, this is the very first barrier they must overcome on their entrepreneurial journey.

The first and most important reason is that you can’t communicate your idea, what you need, and anything of value or use if you are holding your cards to yourself.

The second thing you need to understand is that your idea is worth $ZERO. I mean that! You are not the only person in the world with that idea. You are not the only person in the world doing something about it. And, in the end an idea is useless if you do nothing with it.

The third thing you must realise is that I DON’T CARE about your idea. I have a million ideas myself – all of them better for me than your idea. I am working on my own idea(s) right now, to this day, all day, every day. I don’t have time to think about your idea. I don’t have time to pursue your dream. I have time only for myself.

But, I want to help you! I want to see you pursue your idea. I want to see you succeed. I want to remove barriers for you. I want to make the journey easier for you.

Every seasoned entrepreneur I have ever known understands these points. They empathise with you and they feel the same way I do about helping you. Think about all the knowledge, experience, skills and perspectives you will never hear from these great people if you keep your idea to yourself.

There is a lot to gain from sharing your idea and your story with other entrepreneurs. They can add value. They can add perspective. They can add meaning. They can make your idea more mature. They can teach you everything you will ever need to take your idea to the world.

But, the question remains…Will you share your idea with us?

How can I help you succeed?

Pursuit of Perfection Prolongs our Pain

I am one of those people who really hates advertisements on TV. And, I am sure I am not part of a minority.

I, for example, will deliberately record TV programs and watch them at a later date, fast-forwarding through the ad breaks and enjoying the TV show in ad-free comfort. (Btw, who else does this?)

After yesterdays blog post about a World of Perfectionists, I had a thought: How do we hear about “new” products?
1. Through word-of-mouth.
2. Through advertising (in some form).

Almost all of the products I hear about from friends or through WOM are completely new, solve a problem and INNOVATIVE. In fact, the better something is at solving my problem through simplicity, the sooner I hear about it (it’s just more viral).

All the products I find out about through advertisements are either modifications of existing products or the same old (un-modified) product as always. These are products that I have come across, know about and don’t need more information about. I just don’t want to hear about them any more.

I wonder…if the world is full of perfectionists wanting ever more perfect products at every expense, and these products are the ones filling our advertisements, who can we blame for our misfortunes?

Perhaps, it is our own selves we have to look at in the mirror? After all, if we demand perfection and we hear about these improvements through advertising, we can only expect to have more advertising, the more we demand…

But, I hate advertising…and – I bet – so do you!

So, let’s stop demanding perfection at our own expense. And, maybe we will see less crap advertised on television.

You never know;  in a perfect world perhaps there will no longer be advertising where we don’t want it; we will hear everything we need to know through word-of-mouth.

Maybe, just maybe, we might be so lucky.

A Great Mentor: Dan Khan (@leancto)

One of my great mentors is Dan Khan.

Dan is a serial entrepreneur and seriously amazing software engineer. As a lean startup practitioner he knows what it takes to make any vision succeed.

Dan as a Mentor

Dan has taught me something every single time we have met – including, most notably, our first coffee meeting*.

As an experienced entrepreneur and engineer, Dan has a wealth of experience from which to draw from. This has been invaluable to me in so many ways. From “what is the next step” to “what should I read” to “I have this problem, what now”. Being able to tap into an extra 15 years of entrepreneurial experience is killer!

If you think experience is important, wait until you get to know Dan as Lean Startup Guru. He has taught me everything I know about Lean Startup Methodology and he breathes lean startup advice! He has a the framework and plan to take any idea to commercialisation!

To me though, Dan is more than a mentor, he is a best friend. Dan and I have been through deep conversations, secret meetings, family dilemmas and startups.

Deep conversations

Dan and I get along incredibly well for such different people. The one strength we have in a relationship is our ability to disagree and understand one another.

For over a year, we have been having conversations and discussions about helping people network and build valuable trust circles.

During 2011, Dan started a company called Connectable with a friend of ours. Connectable sought to solve some problems in the space of professional networking. This exploit did not continue for long, but the idea and thoughts stuck in Dan’s head.

Dan and I had many deep conversations on the topics that Connectable had sought to solve, and eventually this idea began to take a very different shape. Thus, Refurly was borne out of these discussions.


When Dan decided to commit to the idea of Refurly he asked me to join him as co-founder. And, what an honour. Dan and I had been looking for something to work on together for months!

I accepted the opportunity and began working closely with Dan to understand the problems, customers, potential solution, UVP and everything we needed to know for Refurly.

Unfortunately, after a month since committing to work on Refurly, a new idea crossed my path called Copono. And, I have recently decided to commit to this.

Refurly is going to do some seriously amazing things, I have no doubt about this. Expect to see Refurly’s acquisition gracing your news feed a few years’ time.

Family Dilemmas

One of the reasons I am so close to Dan, is because he supported me in a time of my life when I hit the bottom.

When I got kicked out of my parents’ house with $0 savings and no paying job, Dan gave me a place to stay for 6 weeks.

It was during this time we had a lot of our deep conversations and decided we needed to work together.

I am ever grateful for this kindness, Dan. You are an amazing person!

Secret Meetings

One of my more subtle passions is helping other entrepreneurs. And, following Auckland Startup Weekend, Dan brought together 10 influential people in the startup space in NZ.

From here ensued over seven months of secret meetings, discussing what needed to be done to get the entrepreneurial space and entrepreneurs REALLY going in NZ.

Out of this group, I have gained many good mentors, but I am especially glad for the amazing friendships I have solidified with Dan Khan, Alan Froggatt and Rowan Yeoman.

As you can clearly see, Dan is a great man, an amazing mentor, and more importantly (to me) the best friend in the world.

If you want an introduction to Dan, please email me at justin[at]

A World of Perfectionists

There are two types of forward progress:

1. Incremental progress (one-step-at-a-time)
2. Innovative progress (one-giant-leap forward)

In the world we live in today there are also two types of people.
- Those that work towards efficiency and “sucking” the last inch of profits out of a well. They are specialists at incremental change. These people are Incrementalists.
- Those that look for a breakthrough way forward, solve an inherent problem, and look for ways to remove tasks. These people are Innovators.

Innovators are ever more powerful, ever more efficient and that much smarter than Incrementalists.

…think of the 80/20 rule…

An Innovator knows that it takes only 20% energy to create 80% of something. They are smart enough to realise that this is the part that people notice. Then, they toss it off to the Incrementalists who try ever so hard to take the 80% to 100%, with all the hard work and effort.

I like to think of Innovators as “breathing the life into something”. Whilst, Incrementalists are merely “survivalists” keeping the breath going.

The question remains…Who do you want to be?

A recent toothbrush advertisement brought this thought to the forefront of my mind. I find it odd that in 2012 we are still “innovating” with toothbrushes. Don’t you?

There are adverts every day about new modifications of products. Modifications that had millions – if not hundreds of millions – of dollars sunk into them. Modifications that “improve” a product so minutely it makes NO SENSE to have spent all that money on R&D. And yet, out come the advertisements promoting this “NEW GREAT PRODUCT”.

Are we becoming a world of perfectionists? Are we insanely pursuing the perfect product at all expense (monetarily, and environmentally)? Are we clinically OCD; so much so that we demand and expect that our products are perfect?

I think we are a world of perfectionists.

Is this perhaps the reason for the lack of real growth in the world? We sink all of our money into products that already exist (problem has already been solved) in order to perfect the solution. And yet, we spend little attention and money on real problems and real solutions…Real INNOVATION.

Perhaps if we stop being perfectionists and consider becoming Innovators we will achieve real growth and prosperity.

Just a thought that crossed my mind. Please share your feedback and opinions in the comments below.

My passion for storytelling

I love people. I think you are interesting. But, for some reason, you are terrible at telling your story! Why is that?

My interactions with kiwis (New Zealanders) has shown me that they aren’t very good at selling themselves. Is it that you are too humble? Is it that you lack in self-confidence? Or is it a systemic problem in the country that we sell ourselves short, for fear that we will be shot down by the Tall-Poppyists? It’s a problem that I have no trouble with and want to help kiwis be better at.

You are wonderful, interesting, unique and valuable people. Believe in yourself!

Telling your story allows people to know who you are, how you tick, what gets your blood curdling and what makes you go crazy enough to take action. It doesn’t mean you have to brag, manufacture stories to look better. It just means being genuine, being true to yourself, showing yourself to others.

I’m really good at telling my story. As a result, lots of people know me for my passions. They know me well. They like me. I also have amazing business partners, friends, mentors and fellow world-changers all around me.

None of this could have happened if I didn’t tell my story.

So, I have seen storytelling in action, working.

I hope to hear your story in the future coming from you, or someone you have told. If you have trouble telling your story, please let me know. I want to help.

But, the first step is to tell me something about you in the comments below. 

Opportunism to the #entrepreneur

It’s been a wee while since I last made an appearance on this blog. My apologies, but life has hit me like a 50 tonne train carrying a tonne of bricks. Having read Ben Young’s recent blog post about opportunity and having one of those epic days, I thought I would write about a trait I think every entrepreneur naturally has – or can develop: Opportunism.

Opportunities present themselves at the most inappropriate moments, but they do it often. One thing I think every entrepreneur does well is spot these seemingly inconsequential events (opportunities) and grab them by the horns. Great entrepreneurs are, as Ben says, always prepared for those opportunities. But most importantly, they have an open mind which really helps them see them. I have the perfect example from today…

On my way to a meeting with a potential mentor/advisor/investor I got into the lift, and someone joined me. He was going to the 5th floor, I was heading to the 3rd. I asked “What’s on level 5?” And he told me that he worked for Company X.

Company X rang a bell, I remember hearing about it from the Stephen Tindall talk I recently attended. I asked if I could come find out more after my meeting. And off I went…

Immediately after my meeting I visited Company X and was introduced to the Sales Exec and all three of us went and had a coffee. What an awesome conversation we had. We had an interesting discussion about what their business was and what it was doing, it’s customers and a whole lot more. I learned a lot. But then it was my turn to chat myself up (as you do, right?). After my spiel, they asked what I would do with their online strategy and then how much I would cost. Of course I said “Let me have a more detailed look at your company and what I could do, but can I get in touch.”

Cards exchanged, hands shaken, smiles transferred and what an awesome day.

End result: social media consulting client “sold”

Where did this all come from? One question “what’s on level 5?” An opportunity arose, I grabbed it, I followed up and now I have something exciting to work on. Are you being opportunistic in everything you encounter?

What amazing opportunity arose recently that you grabbed by the horns? Let’s discuss this in the comments below.

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Entrepreneurial success – Networking is vital

I have been working on my business with a great business partner for over a year now. I think I know a few things about starting and running a business by now – let’s discuss in the comments.

Starting a business is a hell of a task, time-consuming, financially-draining but really awesome and fun. One of the things I am glad I have been doing from the beginning, and something many starting entrepreneurs don’t realise, is building a support network.

You have to get out there! You have to get people to support you (and your ideas)! You have to do it now!

When you are out networking, there are some important ways to go about it. I suggest you approach it as follows:

  1. Go to all the events you can. Meet new people in the areas of your life you are passionate about, and in the areas of your business you need help with. My passions include starting businesses, social media, technology, hockey, rugby and reading. My company needs help with marketing. I attend business networks, entrepreneur meetups, investor meetups, media tweet ups, and marketing events. This has helped me build a professional network of over 800 people (350 on LinkedIn) in the past 9 months.
  2. Have conversations! So many people go out to network, just to “network” and collect business cards. This does not work in the long run. You need to have conversations with the people you meet; find out “who” they are, what they are passionate about, what drives them etc. This helps you identify who the valuable contacts are and those that you enjoy the company of.
  3. Talk about your passions. If questions are directed your way, guide them towards your passions. When you talk about what you know, what interests you and what you are passionate about, people listen and remember. This is because when you talk about these things, your face lights up, you smile, you can hear the enthusiasm and love in your voice. This makes the people around you do the same. Blow them away with your energy!
  4. Get business cards or contact details. Make sure you get everyone’s contact details. Don’t just give yours out, most people are not reliable and you should take the initiative to get in touch anyway. Get their contact details!
  5. Follow up. It surprises me how many people don’t follow up and get further meetings with the people they meet. You have to meet with someone at least three times before you have a meaningful relationship with them. I have been caught out on this before, and it has really hit me hard. I have missed out some key relationships and had to work hard as a result. When you get home after an event, or the next day do these two things: (1) send an email to the person you met – say “it was great to meet you” and set up a meeting – and (2) save all their details in your “people-management” system (THIS IS VITAL). I use to manage all my contacts – it’s quick to add new people, their details and it integrates with everything – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, email etc – and its available online or as an app.

Once you take these steps and have a couple of meetings you will grow some great relationships. These people will be the people that take you places, introduce you to people who will help you bootstrap your business. They are part of your community, treat them well because they all know each other. Good Luck with your community-building.

What have you done to build your community and support network?