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Mary Schmidt Business Builder & Renovator

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Idea Pool

“It’s Almost Painful.”

Mary Schmidt

Nov 29, 2016

Recently, I was talking to a young, scary smart CEO friend about what’s truly important and the ubiquitous tyranny being “busy!” He’s been doing a lot of thinking about all this and “It’s almost painful.” 

I don’t know if this should count as wisdom (even given that I’m of a - ahem - certain age), so let’s call it one of my lessons learned. 

“Painful” is a good sign. It means we are working outside our comfort zone.

If we’re always comfortable, we’re not going to change much, for

In Brain Food, Start-Up Sanity Checks

Biz Lessons From The 2016 Election

Mary Schmidt

Nov 17, 2016

No, these are decidedly “not normal” times and this was not a “politics as usual” election. However, some basic, unchanging truths about biz planning and marketing strategies were well illustrated. Rather you’re an entrepreneur or in an established company, keep the following in mind:

1. Assume all your assumptions are wrong. Then do another scenario, and another.

2. Things that look great on paper go awry in the real world (People aren’t line items on spreadsheets and they will use your

In Brain Food, Start-Up Sanity Checks, Marketing Troubleshooting

The Founder of I.B.M. Didn’t Have an Exit Strategy

Mary Schmidt

Sep 13, 2016

IBM imageOf course, that was way back in 1911 when the company was incorporated as Computing- Tabulating- Recording Company (C-T-R).  (International Business Machines was later.  And the NYT, bless its grey heart, still puts in the periods.)  Thomas J. Watson, Sr., often called the Foundering Father of IBM didn’t become General Manager of CTR until 1914.)

Of course,  back in in the good ol’ days, entrepreneurs didn’t run up and down the world pitching Powerpoint to investors.  Lots of bootstrapping.

In Start-Up Sanity Checks

Hope or Homework?

Mary Schmidt

Aug 16, 2016

hope The other day, a local entrepreneur and I were discussing just what makes for success. (He’s had both failure and success, and notes that he learned some of his best lessons from his worst mistakes.)  Of course, there is no simple, magical, one-size-fits-all answer (regardless of what about a 150,000 consultants and a million books may promise.) 

However, we agreed that one thing is absolutely required...and that’s homework.  Market research (and not just the numbers.  Look at trends, etc.) 

In Start-Up Sanity Checks

Glass Half-Full or Half-Empty?

Mary Schmidt

Jul 21, 2016

HALF+FULL+GLASS1Me?  I see a glass of what appears to be water. As for the positive or negative view - that depends on level of thirst, and how far you are from other water.

It’s as much a mistake to always cheerily see the glass as half-full as it is to always whine it’s half-empty.

If you’re always optimistic, you’ll miss warning signals.  If you’re always negative, you’ll miss opportunities (and people will soon knock over chairs to get out of the room when you enter.)

Perspective, folks, perspective.

In Start-Up Sanity Checks

Hitting a Moving Target.

Mary Schmidt

Jun 08, 2016

“The short road to ruin is to emulate the methods of your adversary.” - Winston Churchill.

Benchmarking.  Best Practices.  “Competitive Intelligence.”  (often an oxymoron anyway) “Competitive Analysis.”  All this will tell you where people have been and are - not where they’re going or what the next BIG thing is/will be.  Plus, “industry standard” may in fact be thoroughly mediocre, not a good thing to emulate.  Your customers can’t tell you the revolutionary BIG thing either - but they

In Marketing Troubleshooting

Markets: Creating or Evolving? Disruptive or Incremental?

Mary Schmidt

May 03, 2016

Recently I was talking to a young entrepreneur (or trying to…the man’s ability to not take a breath was truly amazing). I did manage to get in one or two basic questions about his market research and product viability. He then proceeded to give me a lovely 101 lecture on creating markets, using Steve Jobs and Apple as the example of creating a market and a demand.  If they could do it, so could he! And, certainly, Apple is a fascinating story, but “they” didn’t do it overnight (and Jobs had a

In Start-Up Sanity Checks, Marketing Troubleshooting

Start-Up Sanity Check for B2B Tech Ventures

Got a great idea? Are people telling you it’s crazy? Good! You’ve got to be a little insane to take that start-up leap – rather it’s out of your garage, the lab or a day job. I'll help you decide where and when to leap (and what to do when you land).

Investment: $500.00 (Why do I call it an investment? Two reasons: 1. If you’re willing to pay, that tells me you’re serious. 2. When you pay for advice, you’re more likely to value and use it.)

Drop me a line and we’ll see if we’re a good fit. If I can't help you, I’ll tell you (and if possible, tell you who can.)

Got funding? I work with one to three start-ups a year, on retainer (minimum of three months, maximum one year).

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Social Media Isn't Free, Easy or Magic.

If one of the self-anointed experts contacts you, pitching magical thinking, ask:

1. What results can I expect if I work with you? (Note: Twitter followers aren't necessarily customers.)

2. What kind of time will I have to invest? (Social media, properly done, is all about personal relationships. You with your customers...and a good relationship takes time.)

3. How do I integrate social media tools with my current operations? (Your salespeople need to know what you're saying on Facebook. Your customer service process and policies should be consistent across the board, from phone to Twitter.)

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