Category Archives: Current in Entrepreneurship

Entrepreneurial Women.

Jaclyn Johnson is the CEO and powerhouse behind beloved conference and site for millennial working women, Create & Cultivate. Having worked in the digital marketing space for the past 12 years, Jaclyn launched her first company at the age of 23 a creatively- driven marketing, influencer and events agency. Launched in 2010, established itself one of the go-to marketing, influencer and events agencies in Los Angeles servicing clients such as Simon Malls, Westfield, L’Oreal Paris, Microsoft, Nasty Gal, Levi’s, Sprint, Baxter of California, Urban Decay and more. (No Subject) was acquired by Small Girls PR in August 2016. In 2011, she introduce the online platform and offline conference series, Create & Cultivate. Johnson wanted to create a 365 day conversation around entrepreneurship and being a woman in the modern digital world. The conference gathers hundreds of thousands of the next generation of curious creatives, entrepreneurs and bad ass women to spark conversation around the topics they are passionate about from influencer marketing and brand building to raising money. Jaclyn also angel invests in female owned businesses such as AWAY luggage and is an advisor to several start ups.

FCC’s Repeal of Net Neutrality Is an Assault on Entrepreneurship

Starting an internet company is easy. An idea, some code, a whimsically spelled name, and you’re there, right?

While that is a bit of an oversimplification, all of us owe a debt to the pioneers of the internet who created a global network of interconnected machines. It paved the way for information exchanges and innovations that have made overwhelming impacts on the way we go about our daily lives, making it possible for many well-known companies to find rapid success.

On December 14th, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted on a measure to repeal the landmark net neutrality rule it passed just two years ago. This has major implications for the millions of little-known companies that rely on the internet to run their business. Don’t think about Netflix and its struggles with “throttling” prior to the 2015 rule being enacted. Think about the impact of the FCC’s potential actions on the 28 million small businesses that call the U.S. home.

The promise of the internet isn’t about the companies that have been created. It’s about fostering an environment where businesses that aren’t flush with cash today, but have an idea and an entrepreneurial drive to grow that idea into something bigger, can compete and thrive.

What repealing net neutrality means for internet entrepreneurs.

To understand the impact of this upcoming decision, we need to start with the actual proposed plan and what it’s replacing. That story begins in 2015 when President Obama took an earlier fight over net neutrality in a better direction for entrepreneurs. At his urging, the FCC approved a net neutrality rule to broadly regulate Comcast, AT&T and other internet service providers (ISP’s) as a utility or “common carrier.” That rule, which is what the FCC will vote to repeal, prevents ISPs from selling “fast lanes” to the highest bidders and expressly bans throttling, blocking and paid prioritization.

The net neutrality rule guarantees speed of access is equal regardless if a prospective customer is visiting your ecommerce site or Amazon. The rule took how the internet has always worked and made it the law of the land, harkening back to the way Americans think about other utilities like water and sewer, landline phones, natural gas and electricity. You and the bigger business next door with more cash receive identical electric service.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai’s plan includes a substantial rollback of the regulations that impacted ISP’s in 2015. Specifically, it would not hold ISPs to the same “common carrier” standard, allowing them to throttle access to certain content and media, and create multiple tiers of service. It would basically allow for the creation of slow and “fast lanes” on the internet for specific content.

Pai calls this “light touch” regulation and claims it will result in more competition that benefits the consumer. However, given the spotty broadband access in the US now, it’s unlikely the free market will trigger price wars outside of urban areas. Consumers and businesses outside of major markets are likely to be exactly where they are today, without real alternatives when choosing their ISP.

Simply put: access to fast, reliable broadband internet is synonymous with opportunity in today’s economy. The bootstrapping entrepreneur hustling to build his or her business has too many challenges to overcome already. Adding how to afford “pay-to-play” access for reasonable bandwidth to the list is unfair and maybe fatal for many businesses. It actively limits innovation by raising the barriers to access the most powerful business resource around.

While ISPs might offer “reasonable access,” that access won’t hold a lot of promise for the average entrepreneur who already struggles to convert traffic to leads and eventually to sales. Imagine how much harder that’s going to be when pages take forever to load. According to HubSpot, nearly 80 percent of customers who wait longer than three seconds for a company’s webpage to load won’t shop there again. A satisfactory time is roughly two seconds per page and by three seconds, most prospective customers are gone. That kind of margin doesn’t leave a lot of room for growing businesses now, and it certainly won’t improve under throttling or “slow lane” internet access.


From Leonardo da Vinci to Steve Jobs: The Benefits of Being a Misfit.

Walter Isaacson is a gifted storyteller. A career journalist who has steered both Time magazine and CNN, Isaacson has written biographies of Benjamin Franklin, Henry Kissinger, Steve Jobs and Albert Einstein. His latest biography, published last year, looks at the life of Leonardo da Vinci. Isaacson, now a history professor at Tulane University, recently visited Wharton to be interviewed by his friend and management professor Adam Grant as part of the Authors@Wharton speakers series. Grant has also written several bestsellers, including Give and Take and Option B, which he co-authored with Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg.

Grant and Isaacson shared a lively discussion on topics ranging from the genius of Jobs and da Vinci, the qualities of a curious mind and what it takes to be a great leader. The following is an edited transcript of the conversation:

Adam Grant: Walter, it’s such a treat to have you back here.

Walter Isaacson: It’s great to be back at Penn and back with you. We’ve had a lot of good times together.

Grant: I want to talk about so many fascinating people you’ve written about, but also a little bit about your own life. You’ve run the Aspen Institute (a nonpartisan educational and policy studies think tank), had leadership roles at CNN, and were the editor at Time. You’ve also been the biographer of some of the greatest innovators in human history. Your new book is Leonardo da Vinci. How do you write a biography of someone who lived half a millennium ago?

Isaacson: The good thing about Leonardo da Vinci is he left 7,200 pages of notebooks. We can look every day at this mind dancing across nature.

We all keep notes digitally these days. When I tried to do Steve Jobs’ period in the 1990s — when he was in the wilderness between his stints at Apple, he worked at NeXT Computer — we went back to try to get all the emails and memos. He couldn’t get them out of his machine. The operating system couldn’t retrieve them anymore. But paper is a really good technology for the storage of information.

I asked Simon & Schuster, the publisher who did Leonardo da Vinci, to “do it all on art paper and not one of these things where you put the things in the center.” I want it throughout to be that heavy quality, coated, color images because I wanted to show that paper is actually sometimes good for transmitting information.

Grant: You’ve picked a lot of original thinkers throughout history. Why da Vinci?

Isaacson: You’ve written a lot about innovation and creative leadership, and you’ve seen the patterns. It takes me a while to see the patterns. I started with Ben Franklin, then Einstein, then Steve Jobs. The pattern after a while wasn’t that they were smart, because if you’re at Penn, you’ve met lots of smart people, and they don’t usually amount to much. They’re a dime a dozen. But what’s interesting is when they’re innovative or creative, as in your books, the pattern is people like that tend to be curious across disciplines.

“The biggest takeaway from this book is just stay curious about everything.”

Penn is a university that pioneered crossing disciplines, as opposed to other Ivy League schools that really do have departments and disciplines that are much more siloed. Ben Franklin did that. He goes up and down the coast, looking at how swirls of air resemble the swirls of the northeastern storms. Then he discovers the Gulf Stream. Same with Leonardo. He sees patterns across nature.

When I was writing about Steve Jobs, he would end his product presentations always with the intersection of the arts and technology. He said, “At that intersection is where creativity happens.” He said to me, “Leonardo is the ultimate of that.” Leonardo had that ability not just to connect art and science but to make no distinction between the beauty of art and science. That’s why he was the final mountain to climb in this series of books.

Grant: I think your point about pattern recognition is really important. To me, studies of creative people are about looking at lots of people’s experiences at once, as opposed to doing one person’s experience in a lot of depth. I think there’s a ton we can learn from da Vinci. I also think it seems like it’s unfair. I want to live in da Vinci’s era because no one knew anything. You be an architect and a scientist and a great painter, and you could get to excellence much quicker in each of those fields than you can today. Is it too late for a Renaissance man or woman today?


The Scholarship of Teaching and Learning Entrepreneurship

USASBE is the national organization for practitioners and scholars of entrepreneurship.  They held their annual conference in Los Angeles January 10-14th, and a wonderful paper was produced after an entrepreneurship education and pedagogy panel.  What is so interesting is that the very best  teachers in the field have refined entrepreneurship education (EE) as developing the mindset, skill set, and practice necessary for starting new ventures.  With EE “at a tipping point”, exploding in growth over the last 30 years, and “making glorious waves”, it has outpaced our understanding of what should be taught by educators and how outcomes should be assessed.

The paper, portions published here, should be read in its entirety at:


Students experience and learn entrepreneurial skills only through engagement and practicing the various aspects of new venture creation.  The lessons of new venture creation can be used to become better at creativity, team building, resource acquisition, or alleviating problems around the globe. These learned skills and many others provide the opportunity for contribution back to psychology, organizational behavior or leadership, finance or accounting, and sociology, respectively.  Those seeking to operate at the middle or right of the entrepreneurship educator continuum should play a coaching role that guides and inspires students to practice and take action. The coaching role encourages shared ownership, whereas the facilitator role really allows the student to completely own their learning and even develop their learning process.

Here are the panel’s finding for the role of entrepreneurship educators:

This expert panel was chosen via the Delphi Method, comprised of 17 entrepreneurship educators. Among the panelists, were 13 men and 4 women as well as a geographic mix of educators (United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Sweden, and France).  Authors Heidi M. Neck is the Jeffry A. Timmons professor of Entrepreneurial Studies and professor of Entrepreneurship at Babson College;  Andrew C. Corbett is a Babson Research Scholar and professor of Entrepreneurship at Babson College. Formerly, he was the general editor of the Journal of Management Studies.  For more email:


National Entrepreneurship Week Feb. 20-24th

Activities abound – = Webinars, workshops, Microsoft in-stores, business model canvas workshop, open houses, productivity-cloud-social media marketing information, productivity help, success road map, innovation ideas, legal tips for small business,cyber security, and women entrepreneurship among some.  

The 11th Annual National Entrepreneurship Week is going to be Epic!  With the launch of Entre-Ed’s America’s Entrepreneurial Schools Initiative and so many schools and colleges gearing up to create entrepreneurial experiences for Every Student, Every Year, we are on our way.

Resources Supporters offer inspiration and advice through articles to help you launch, grow and succeed in your business.

Dun & Bradstreet: Resource center

Business credit can play a critical role in helping aspirational business owners grow their ideas into successful companies. We want to arm entrepreneurs with information that can help them grow and get what they need for their business. We have a range of resources, including a Business Credit Guide, a B2B Podcast, a B2B Insights Blog and a growing B2B Expert Community to help out.

What I Wish I Knew  inspirational stories from the Inc. 5000 list of America’s fastest-growing  companies.

American Dreamers: Spotlight on Entrepreneurs Did you know that 1 in 4 entrepreneurs worked in a family business before opening their own? See stats, and learn from fellow entrepreneurs.

Millennial Founders – How They are Changing the Game  Here at Dell, we’ve talked a lot about the millennial worker and how they – and technology advancements – are forever changing the way we work. They are changing the face of entrepreneurship as well.
8 Ways to Prevent Cyber and Ransomware Attacks It is the major, high profile cyber-attacks that make the news but the fact is 81% of all breaches happen to small and medium sized businesses. 1 in 5 small businesses will suffer a breach this year but the good news is 97% of breaches could have been prevented. Whether you have been in business for a day or more than a decade, you do not want to risk losing your investment, so get the free report and keep your data and the life of your business secure.
BroadMic podcast  BroadMic spotlights accomplished female entrepreneurs, investors and industry leaders in hosted interviews. Founded by Sara Weinheimer, BroadMic gives the next generation of leaders the “picks and shovels” needed to innovate, emboldening them to think big and unleash new market opportunities.
It’s a revolutionary time in brand building Six Factors Accelerating the Growth of Brands in the Digital Revolution
7 Easy Steps to Establish Business Credit Building a strong business credit profile is key to getting the best financing and net payment terms from your suppliers. Learn how in 7 steps.
“Good” is the Enemy of “Best” – The Growing Gap Between “Good” & “Best” In the nuanced, ever-changing world we live in, “good” is no longer enough…
The DIY Guide to Bing Ads: Valentine’s Day 2017 Did you know that annual consumer spending on Valentine’s Day totaled 19.7 billion in 2016? People are buying gifts not just for romantic partners, but also for pets, family and friends. As a small business trying to increase your sales, you can’t afford to miss out on the first major spending holiday of 2017!

Ultimate Guide to Financing your Business in 2017 Over 44 business financing options exist. This guide breaks down your choices in plain english.

Momentum Momentum Momentum Why momentum matters…

Plan Your Business Website in 3 Easy Steps 50 percent of small businesses do not have a website according to a recent blog post by Learn the 3 steps to plan your business website.

No Matter What Happens to the Economy, Your Business Needs to Focus on These 5 Things Focus on these basics and spend less time on guesswork

Why It’s Never Too Early to Start Thinking About an Exit  You’re probably late if you aren’t thinking about an exit 6 to 12 months prior to the event.

Boost your buiness with new technology eGuide This eGuide will demonstrate how investing in current technology is important for gaining an advantage over your competitors, connecting with employees and increasing your bottom line.

The Eco-Challenge A Millennials (Brief) View on How much it Matters (to us, to brands and consumers, and ultimately our legacy)

6 Reasons to Think Twice Before Starting a Business There are plenty of misconceptions about becoming an entrepreneur, and even reasons against it that you may not have thought about.
Build Your Personal Website and Score that Internship 56% of all hiring managers are more impressed by a candidate’s personal website than any other personal branding tool. However, only 7% of job seekers actually have a personal website. This article shows how you can build your personal brand through a website.
Meet business challenges with modern IT Conquer your business challenges by using technology.
5 Reasons You Need to Work in Corporate America Before Starting a Business More than ever, graduates are forgoing top-tier companies to take the entrepreneurial plunge, but is it the right call? Here are 5 lessons we learned from our first job at Goldman Sachs.
Bar Associations – Opinions on Storing Privileged Data in the Cloud Learn the latest research and option for leveraging the cloud.
Global Entrepreneurship Week is the world’s largest celebration of the innovators and job creators who launch startups that bring ideas to life, drive economic growth and expand human welfare. During one week each November, GEW inspires people in more than 170 countries through local, national and global activities designed to help them explore their potential as self-starters and innovators. Thousands of activities, from large-scale competitions and events to intimate networking gatherings, connect participants to potential collaborators, mentors and even investors—introducing them to new possibilities and exciting opportunities. Global Entrepreneurship Week began in 2008 and is an annual campaign led by the Global Entrepreneurship Network.
Every year, the Global Entrepreneurship Congress gathers together thousands of entrepreneurs, investors, researchers, policymakers and other startup champions from more than 170 countries to identify new ways of helping founders start and scale new ventures around the world. At the weeklong GEC, delegates make connections, gain insights, learn about new research, and leave ready to renew their programs, policy ideas or firm founder skills.

GEC 2018 takes place in Istanbul, Turkey — a thriving startup hub that is both an economic and cultural cornerstone of Europe and Asia.

Da Vinci’s Faire Opportunity, Bradenton FL, Feb. 10th

Wonderful entrepreneurship experience coming to Bradenton, FL on Saturday, February 10th at the Manatee Technical College, the 2018 version of BarCamp, now called Da Vinci’s Faire promises to be the best yet.  If you are anywhere in the area, have a look at davincis-faire-stem-manatee-barcamp-tickets-34813240339 and and sign-up for this fantastic event.  Doors open at 8:15 AM and inside you will share, learn, and grow!  It is a community of passionate learners, entrepreneurs, creatives and brilliant disruptors.  We’re all  living in a new renaissance, one which combines science and technology, art, community and passion.

Special display opportunities are available for makers, inventors, robotic enthusiasts and cool science & engineering projects. There is no cost for student robotics or drone teams. The event will include the following:

Manatee STEM Competition

  • Displays of today’s coolest technologies, shared ideas, open conversations
  • Hands on creative opportunities for all ages – bring your stuff to share

Every attendee – no matter how old or young – has a story to tell and an expertise to share. Come prepared to learn and teach as we all grow together. Register to attend today…and you can meet this blog’s editor, Clint Day, who will have a table and be offering his entrepreneurship quick study guides, the books Set Your Own Salary and Understanding Lean Startup, and as much talk as you can stand.

Manatee Technical College is located 6305 on State Road 70 West of I-75, Bradenton, just South of Tampa FL. Join us to experience science, technology, art, community, passion and most of all… tech entrepreneurship.

The Start Is More Important Than the Success.

Since the advent of evidenced-based (aka lean startup) entrepreneurship, the brightest minds in entrepreneurship have told us to “just start”.  Phil Knight built an athletic giant using the words “just do it”, and Babson College, the holy grail for academic entrepreneurship, teaches “CreAction”.  CreAction is starting a new business as you adjust along the way.  James Clear, national blogger, expands the concept into life in general, a reaffirmation for the best way to start a new venture.  Let the user, the ultimate adopter tell you how to solve their problem, what they need to fill their demands, and ways to improve their daily life.

No entrepreneur built businesses more prolifically using the “Just Start” than Sir Richard Branson.  Inc. Magazine wrote his approach to Just Do It at

Here is Clear’s article worth a read:

In 1991, Lindsay Davenport played in her first professional tennis match. She was 15 years old.  Over the next 20 years, Davenport would go on to have one of the greatest tennis careers in recent history. She won three different Grand Slam titles. She won the 1996 Olympic Gold Medal. She was ranked the Number 1 female tennis player in the world eight different times. In total, Davenport earned over $22 million in prize money throughout her career.

I had the chance to meet Davenport at the 2012 US Open. Later that night, she fielded some questions from our group and I asked her this…

“Lindsay, sports can teach people a lot of lessons. What lessons did you learn during your time as a professional tennis player that you didn’t learn as an amateur?” Full disclosure: I had a personal motive with this question. I played baseball in college, but not professionally. So I wanted to know, “What did I miss?”

Davenport’s first response was to talk about how she had to grow up fast. She mentioned the power of the media and learning to live her life in front of a crowd. But then she shifted gears and talked about improving at her craft and the lessons of competition, hard work, and perseverance. Those things, she said, were learned long before she became a professional.

In other words, to learn about what it’s like to live as a professional athlete, you need to be a professional athlete. But to learn the lessons of playing sports, you just need to play your sport.

Excellence Isn’t Required for Growth

Our world is becoming more and more obsessed with comparison and validation. The style of thinking that is becoming dangerously common is “If you can’t be number one or number two, then you might as well not play at all.” (This belief was actually celebrated in my MBA program, which may or may not surprise you.)

But according to Davenport, you don’t need to be a professional to learn the most important lessons in sports. You just need to bust your butt as an athlete, regardless of the level you’re playing at. I’d say it’s that way in the rest of life as well. Mastering your craft isn’t nearly as important as pushing yourself.

To put it another way, you’ll learn more from the process of pursuing excellence than from the products of achieving it.

It’s More Important to Start, Than to Succeed

I think a lot of what people call intelligence just boils down to curiosity. —Aaron Swartz

What if the choice to be curious was all that was required to become smarter, stronger, and more skilled? What if the willingness to try something new, even if it felt uncomfortable, was all that it took to start the slow march towards greatness?

  • Are you curious enough to get in the gym and try it, even if you’ll look stupid?
  • Are you willing to be vulnerable and put your skin in the game to start your own business?
  • Are you eager enough to improve your work that you’ll battle through the frustration of producing something mediocre?

It all boils down to this: Whether you’ll end up being the best or the worst, are you willing to start? The more I look at things this way, the more I believe that the willingness to start is the littlest thing in life that makes the biggest difference.

Step onto the field. Stand up in the meeting. Raise your hand in class. Get under the bar. Walk up to the podium. Ask the first question.

Take a risk, get started, and contribute something. To your team, to your family, to your job, to your community. Whether or not you end up being number one in the world is irrelevant. Most of the time, the value you provide isn’t nearly as important as pushing yourself to provide it. This is especially true at first.

Having the courage to start is more important than succeeding because the people who consistently get started are the only ones who can end up finishing anything.

Get Started: Life Isn’t a Dress Rehearsal

I often write about what it means to live a healthy life. I can’t think of any skill more critical to the active pursuit of a healthy life than the willingness to start. Everything that signifies a happy, healthy and fulfilled existence — strong relationships, vibrant creativity, valuable work, a physical lifestyle, etc. — it all requires a willingness to get started over and over again.

Take note: being the best isn’t required to be happy or fulfilled, but being in the game is necessary. Life isn’t a dress rehearsal. Only one person lives in the spotlight, but everyone benefits from stepping on stage.

Which stage will you step onto? What game will you play? How will you get started?

More by James Clear at

Self-Employment and the Attributes of the Dream Job.

Gallup’s The Dream Job covers the key attributes employees look for in a job. These are:

  1. the ability to do what they do best
  2. greater work-life balance and better personal well-being
  3. greater stability and job security
  4. a significant increase in income
  5. the opportunity to work for a company with a great brand or reputation

This list nicely illustrates the trade-offs people make when they become self-employed.

The top reasons people cite for becoming self-employed are (data from theMBO Partners State of Independence study):

  1. The ability to control their own schedule
  2. Increased flexibility
  3. Like being my own boss
  4. Do what I love
  5. Work on projects and tasks I like
  6. Earn more money

These two lists almost completely overlap, with the obvious exception being “greater stability and job security”.

Given these lists, it’s not surprising that the self-employed consistently tell us in interviews they are trading job security in exchange for greater work autonomy, control and flexibility.

Most self-employed see this trade-off as being well worth it.

The image comes from the website Broke-Ass Stuart, which has the tagline “you are young, broke and beautiful”.


Current Corporate Innovation: How to Find the Next Big Thing

Newswise — I’ve had the pleasure of discussing and in some cases collaborating on the innovation programs at a number of corporations. Clearly, on the whole, changing an established corporation into an innovation powerhouse isn’t what any reasonable person would call easy. If it was, we’d see more of it.

That said, certain things are easy. If you’re like most managers, you want to get going on the hard things while scoring some quick and easy wins to build momentum and morale.

In this piece and its sequel, I’ll offer you some ideas on how to do this across three major aspects of running a corporate innovation program — Finding the Next Big Thing, Funding the Next Big Thing and Forming Innovation Teams. I’ll start with some observations on what I’ve found is typically hard vs. easy for the corporation and close with ideas on how to create wins.

First things first: new ideas.

Finding the Next Big Thing

How do you identify disruptive new ideas that will drive organic growth and renew the corporation?

The Hard Thing: The hard thing is that your solution is already awesome. The corporation that’s so big it’s hard to change has gotten big by doing something well. The catch is that while Blockbuster Video was great at stocking video cassettes, Netflix disrupted them by fundamentally rethinking how they could deliver value to the customer, rather than by outdoing Blockbuster at what they did well. BMW has wonderfully efficient gas engines, and they’re great at making them even better. Where do you think they should focus now?

Concerning their industry-leading laundry detergent, Tide, former Procter & Gamble CEO A.G. Lafley tells the story of how they had to go out and watch consumers wash clothes to realize their next big innovation might come from packaging innovations like better containers and capsules, as opposed to making their already excellent formula even better.

Finding the next big thing likely won’t come from doing what you already do even better — but it isn’t as hard as you might think.

On that note, let’s move on to The Easy Thing.

The Easy Thing: The easy thing is that all you need to do is look at your existing customers a little differently. Finding the next big thing comes from diligent curiosity. In my experience, cultivating that curiosity is relatively easy, it just takes a little instruction and practice. We can substantially initiate that instruction over the next ~60 seconds.

The basic idea is to explore what fundamentally matters to the customer or user, independent of your particular solution you’re already offering. I’ll use the term “problem scenario” to describe this fundamental need, job or desire that exists independent of your particular offer.  In the P&G detergent example, some example “problem scenarios” might be:

Cleaning Clothing

Selecting the Right Soap and Cleaning Process

Dispensing and Measuring the Soap

Correctly Adding the Soap to the Washing Equipment

Periodically, it’s critical to look at your target problem scenarios objectively and fundamentally by not only asking your customers open-ended questions, but also observing them engaged in your target problem scenarios.

For example, when A.G. Lafley tells the story of P&G’s investigation about Tide, they had previously asked customers about Tide’s current packaging and the customers generally said it was good. It was only when the P&G teams went out to watch their customers do laundry that they realized many of them were keeping a flathead screwdriver on hand to open the package (not great!).

This is where alternatives come into play: Make sure you understand the most prevalent, most preferred alternatives to all your relevant problem scenarios. If your customer’s current alternative for dispensing your (or a competitor’s) soap is a flathead screwdriver, then you may be on to your next big thing, or at least a valuable thing. I do this kind of work all the time, and please believe me when I say there are lots of flathead screwdrivers out there.

Now we come to the exciting part: value propositions. With an understanding of the relevant problem scenarios and alternatives, you have a highly testable basis for evaluating innovative new value propositions. You just need to ask yourself “Is this particular idea of ours [the value proposition] better enough than [the current alternative] at delivering on [some important problem scenario] that the customer would [buy it, use it, pay a premium, etc.]?” Let’s call a potential answer to this question a “value hypothesis.” The next step is to test the value hypothesis.

Is changing a whole corporation over to thinking this way easy? No. However, getting a few curious, energetic managers doing it and scoring early wins is relatively easy and infinitely doable, and it will pave the way for strong work on organic growth and innovation.

That’s where I recommend you start when you’re Finding the Next Big Thing. For the next steps — Funding the Next Big Thing and Forming Innovation Teams — tune in the first week of January.

I hope you’ve found some things you can use here. I love hearing from other practitioners — please get in touch anytime at

by Alex Cowan  Cowan is an expert in digital innovation, agile and lean methodologies, and entrepreneurship. He teaches multiple courses in  the Univ. of Virginia’s Darden School of Business, Technology and Operations Management.


Why Are Food Franchises So Popular?

I’d like you to grab a pen and paper and quickly write down the first three franchises that come to mind.  When you’re done, look below to see if any of these iconic franchise brands are on your list:

  • Subway®
  • McDonald’s®
  • Dunkin Donuts®
  • Pizza Hut®
  • Burger King®

If any of them are on your list, you just helped answer one of the reasons why food franchises are so popular. If none of them are on your list, I’m surprised. That’s because those franchises have incredible brand recognition, which is one of the reasons food franchises are so popular. Now, let’s see if the next reason makes sense.

People Need to Eat

It’s true—people do need to eat. That’s another reason why food franchise opportunities are so popular. People figure they can’t lose if they buy a food franchise.

But in this case, it’s where they eat along with how they eat that matters. Both of those things have a lot to do with the revenue you’ll be bringing in if you own a food franchise.

For example, sometimes consumers need a fast meal. Many food franchises can capitalize on that type of consumer. As a matter of fact, there’s an entire segment that targets busy consumers who need a quick meal: QSR, or Quick Service Restaurants. To see just how dominant food franchises are in this segment, check out the Top 50 Quick Service Restaurants.

However, not all consumers need to eat fast. These consumers tend to go with healthier choices when they aren’t eating at home. But there are plenty of food franchises that cater to people who are trying to eat better.

Now that you know that brand recognition and market need are two reasons why food franchises are popular, let’s see if a food franchise could be in your future.

Owning and Operating a Food Franchise

Food franchise ownership is not for the meek.  Reasons include:

  • Extremely long hours
  • High employee turnover
  • Expensive real estate
  • Fluctuating food costs
  • Extremely long hours*

*That’s not a misprint. I wrote it twice as a way of emphasizing the fact that you’ll be at your business a lot. And how do I know? Because I worked in food-service for 15 years.

There’s something to be said about working a 14-hour day, sleeping for 5-6 hours, and then coming back the next day to do it all over again. Six days a week.

But on a positive note, when it’s your business, you’re probably not going to mind the long hours as much.

Employee Turnover

As the owner of a food franchise, there’s going to come a time when you’ll ask yourself this question:

Why does it seem that whenever I get a good, hard-working employee, they end up leaving?

Unfortunately, I don’t have an answer for you. And believe me, it’s a question that’s been asked hundreds of thousands of times over the years.

The bottom line is this: The food-service business has extremely high turnover. If you choose to become a part of the industry, it’s something you’ll always have to deal with.

But, here’s the good news: If your franchise business is thriving, the high-turnover rate will be a little easier to swallow.

Your Location

The importance of having a great location for your food franchise can’t be overstated. It will have to be in a high-traffic area. And it will also have to be located in a spot that’s visible from the street.

You’ll also need to have ample parking for your customers, and enough space where they won’t feel closed in. As a result, the space you rent will cost a pretty penny in most cases.

Having said that, the law of supply and demand—combined with your specific geographical area—will end up determining the price you pay. Generally speaking, a retail space in a Boston-area shopping center is going to cost more than one in Midland, Texas.

Owning a food franchise means you’ll work really hard, you’ll go through a lot of employees, and your operating costs could be high.

But, if you’re prepared for some of things you’ll have to deal with in food service, the rewards can be high. This is especially true if you’re able to secure more than one location.

About the Author:

The Franchise King®, Joel Libava, is the author of Become a Franchise Owner! and recently launched Franchise Business University.