One step at a time...

Where do ideas come from?

I often hear people ask 'How does someone come up with ideas'?  

Well, it's a way of thinking. A way of viewing the world. A way of questioning. You need to look at the world with a childlike curiosity, all senses 'on' and both your eyes and your mind wide open. A child wanders about and tries everything out, plays with things, experiments, explores, questions and attempts to figure out the world around them. You need to pretend you're a curious little ankle biter. Once you're in the childlike 'open state' you absolutely must learn to ask key questions. The simple 'Why is it like this?', 'What if it did that' type questions really get you pondering. 

Too often in our day to day life we are awake physically but asleep mentally. We aren't fully alert or attuned to what we are doing and how we are doing it. As a result of us simply not being in-tune with our surroundings and interactions, we don't notice things hidden in plain sight and we get no ideas. Life just happens around us, we think our surroundings are the way they are because 'that's just the way they are'. We don't for a second think that we ourselves can make change somehow. To remedy the status quo and the 'I don't have ideas state' you've got to learn to see, learn to be curious, learn to question things, learn that everything is changeable. Once you learn the above then ideas start to 'waterfall' and 'flow'.

The critical things you need to do in the ideas game, is to constantly observe the way yourself and other folks interact and behave with things. For example, one day I was sitting in my room in Sweden's natural deep freezer (Umeå) and I noticed that whenever I unplugged my laptop the charger cable fell onto the floor. I didn't just think of it as an unavoidable annoyance. I asked myself the question 'Why can't I make something that keeps the cable on the desk?' I decided to act on the problem I faced and create something to solve it. The cable fondler was born.

Good observations result in good ideas. In 1941 a chap called George de Mestral went on a hunting trip with his dog in the Alps. He returned home, sat by the fireplace and was plucking out some burdock burrs (seeds) that had attached themselves to his clothes and his dog's fur. He then got curious and decided to have a look at them under a microscope. He saw a bunch of "hooks" that caught on anything with a loop, such as clothing, animal fur, or hair. Velcro was born. What a 'sticky' idea ;) James Dyson was vacuuming when realised that his vacuum cleaner lost suction as the bag filled up and his vacuum totally sucked as a product. He didn't just sit there and think 'oh what a shame, these vacuum cleaners don't actually work very well'. He took a stand and said, "this vacuum cleaner is rubbish, I will make a better one", and he did! The Dyson was the worlds first 'bag-less' vacuum cleaner and sucks a golfball through 8ft of garden hose, almost.

You can also look to other countries and other industries and borrow/improve/combine on some ideas you might see there. Sushi was once only served in Japan. Groupon was one of the first discount sites, but since them there were a bunch of others in almost ever country from Australia to Estonia.

“Ideas are like rabbits. You get a couple and learn how to handle them, and pretty soon you have a dozen.” – John Steinbeck 

Once you have found an idea in the form of a problem to solve or an improvement to something, keep going. An idea is just an idea, a vague combination of thoughts, until you move to the next step and start making it real. Don't just sit there and talk about it, get real with it. Ideas don't just pop from your head as readymade products, you have to channel them out and create them in the real world. Get making! If it's a physical thing, grab the cardboard, sticky tape and x-acto knife. If it's a web application, get sketching, get illustrating. Get the idea as real as you can. The more tangible your idea becomes the more you start to notice ways you can improve it and the more you progress. 

During the whole idea generation process share your ideas. Share them with your friends, family or whoever, kick the idea around as much as possible. Ideas starved of daylight, action and people, die. Share your ideas freely, an idea in the minds of many makes magic.

Progress procreates progress. Once you have an idea and are working on it there will always be times when you struggle to gain motivation. Keep buggering on as Churchill said. Spend some time each day working on it. Kept at it, see it through. James Dyson was almost broke when he came upon the 5127th prototype of his first vacuum cleaner. Actually, he is now 'Sir James Dyson', he kept at it and one day the Queen tapped him on the shoulder with a sword. The more you get into it the more your progress inspires you to keep going. Ideas pay off when they are seen through. 

One last thing I have to add here, is that you won't simply find any ideas just sitting still, watching 'reality' TV. George de Mestral didn't invent velcro whilst sitting, he was out walking in the Alps, Sir James Dyson was vacuuming. You need to keep moving, participate in activities, build things, travel, meet new people, surf the interweb, read, watch, dream, discover. A mind starved of inputs remains stagnant and sterile. So go on, get out there, grab your gear, open your mind, suck in some fresh oxygen and enjoy the new world around you. Observe this world with fresh eyes, question, think, get an idea and start creating something useful!

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Have confidence in one's self

I wrote most of this blog post, while I was working for a large, industrial type corporation, a beast of a company born in the golden era of the industrial age. 

It’s beneficial to the truthfulness and honesty of this post that I wrote it whilst working at this particular job because my detachment to this employment and this life wasn’t a reflection on a past memory, it was here, fresh in my mind and pressing me to make a change. I wielded my axe in this battlefield for the best part of a decade and I was never really content. It took ten years but in the end I realised I had to back myself.

This generation we’ve grow up in, is the period at the back end of the industrial age. Those before us had dined in the abundance of the industrial glory years, demolished the feasts with gusto and smashed the booze with Churchill vigour and now we were experiencing the hangover. We are products of this environment which is well past its heyday and is fast becoming outdated and redundant. This environment is based on an old school system that’s a long as it is boring and one which rewards the ability to memorise facts and information told without question and in general doesn’t hold any great value in creativity. It's a system which creates cog turners and treadmill walkers, a corporate man born and taught to work in a hierarchy based organisation for one fatcat at the top. So naturally that’s what we became . Like Dylan said ‘twenty years of schooling and they put you on the day shift.’

It is interesting to note that a lot of the world’s more remarkable individuals often didn’t finish school or go to university and that’s precisely why they are who they are and we are who we are. Because they were the outliers, they were cast from a different mould, they didn’t follow the masses, they broke the rules, they were like a one off prototype, but over and above they chose themselves. Think:

Bill Gates - Sergey Brin - Shaun White - Beyonce Knowles - Richard Branson - Elon Musk (finished uni, was going to start a PhD but resisted and started his early tech ventures.) - Tony Hawk - Vivienne Westwood - David Karp - Frank Lloyd Wright

I could go on, the list really is endless.

Talking with many of my mates and observing social media commentaries over the last few years it’s pretty easy to come to the conclusion that many of us are unhappy with our current life set up. This is because most of us dislike our work situation. We are not content or fulfilled because we aren’t making a difference or achieving anything substantial or working on things we love or are passionate about. We are just living life how we have been programmed, we got fed through the system and spat out there other end.

So, here we are, working jobs we don't like verging on the point of almost losing the plot, tearing our hair out and realising that we’d rather walk through hell in a petrol suit than spend another day commuting to our uninspiring job. But, why do we find it so hard to escape this situation?

This is best explained via an example from a great book by Seth Godin called ‘The Icarus Deception’.

If you build an enclosure in a forest and lay some bait to trap a fox, the fox will be much too cunning to walk into this trap. However if, over a period of time you build the enclosure wall by wall, whilst continuously leaving bait, the fox will soon be roaming contently within the ‘safe’ confines of the enclosure, all we have to do is close the gate and we have trapped our fox! This is what has happened to us, the corporate and industrial age has built their trap over the course of many years and we have become trapped within its confines. We have become so comfortable and accustomed to this life but now the gate is now wide open, however we struggle to walk out.

It is so easy to live life from within this cage, to effectively go with the tide. The reason most people find it hard to leave the ‘enclosure’ is because it feels safe and this is true, it does 'feel' safe but it definitely isn't safe. If someone else has control over your employment and how much you get paid the safety net may be there for a time, however it can easily be pulled away if it suits the person responsible for its placement. Then if this safety net is pulled away, you can be exposed to a great fall. So from this perspective one can see that working a job in 'the system' purely because it feels safe and satisfies the survival instinct can be foolish.  It is also likely that as time passes you’ll have an increasingly greater chance of being expended to make way for younger, more talented and more enthusiastic employees (or perhaps by a machine). Then at this stage of your life finding a new job may be extremely tough and you may still have large debts looming over your head. So then, would it not be more wise to work towards investing in yourself by developing great talent in something you love and have a strong passion for? This way you will be an expert and very valuable in your field and be much harder replace.

So, ok, I can hear you say, this is all well and good but how do we really walk free from the enclosure, how do we gain control?

First we must believe in our potential. Steve Jobs said it well 'what you must realise is that the world was made up of people no smarter than you'. You can achieve whatever you set your mind to, just start by taking the first step and you'll be surprised how far you get. A massive part comes down to effort and attitude, we need to be constantly switched onto unlearning the habits drummed into us over our adolescent years and re-educate and reprogram ourselves, then go about getting what we are after.   

This may sound somewhat daunting but the good news is, it has never been easier to get informed and or to start something. We are seeing the beginning of a new era often referred to as the connection economy. We have the world at our fingertips. We have access to a wealth of knowledge (from both independent and commercial sources) and the ability to acquire services which have never before been so easily accessible and abundant. If you make a tune, you can record it through your computer, upload it and it can be heard by the masses that very moment. If you design a product, you can draft it on auto cad, send the file to be 3D printed and have it online for sale within a week. If you have an idea for an app you could find coders in every corner of the world, just one email away. If you want to build a simple website you don't even need a developer, online software like 'wix' and 'voog' make it so easy you can do it yourself.  If you want to learn how to be a good online marketer, an SEO expert, a great designer, or if you want to learn about how consciousness affects classic theories on quantum physics, well guess what, you can do it all on the internet. It's truly remarkable, when you take a second to ponder it.  

Just prior to starting Stepsie, Jono our ideas man was working in a sewerage processing factory on his 26th birthday in Haugesund Norway, waterproofing a tunnel. Fast forward a year on Jono's 27th birthday and he was in Tartu, Estonia meeting our web developers kicking off the creation of Stepsie. Jono had an idea, he put it into action, he chose himself and he had go.

The key here, is to unlock your true potential, find your bliss and follow your passion. I am not saying everyone is going to be out there starting their own business, the world probably wouldn’t turn if that was the case but at least make sure you are doing something you have a passion for and care about. If you are a part of an organisation make sure it’s one that’s adapts with the times, tries new things, sets trends, trailblazers, creates positive change on the world and gets the best out of you and values you because we all are talented individuals full of potential. If you are in a job you don’t particularly like, work on a side project outside of work hours, it may very well lead you somewhere more exciting.  Educate yourself, start something, make your own assumptions, question things, back yourself and start doing what you believe. 

In closing, I'd like to leave you with this poem from Dr Suess:-

"You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose. You're on your own, and you know what you know. And you are the guy who'll decide where to go."

If you liked this blog, please be a legend and share it! 

Cheers Mates!

Resources:

Building a website?

Try www.wix.com or www.voog.com

Setting up and Ecommerce store?

www.tictail.com

Searching and buying a domain?

www.panabee.com www.godaddy.com

Need developers, coders or designers?

www.odesk.com 
www.freelancer.com 
www.fiverr.com 
www.dribbble.com

Google search is also good here! ;)

Laser Cutting and 3D printing

www.shapeways.com www.ponoko.com

Managing your projects and ideas?

www.stepsie.com ! ;)

Books

‘The Icarus Deception’ by Seth Godin

‘Choose Yourself’ by James Altucher

‘Makers' - The New Industrial Revolution’ by Chris Anderson

‘Think and Grow Rich’ by Napoleon Hill  

Clips

Sir Ken Robinson: Do schools kill creativity?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iG9CE55wbtY

Choose Yourself: What James Altucher can teach you about starting about starting a business

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CsuCFL-SQLg



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Introduction

One and a half years ago we embarked on an adventure.  We left the comforts of a former life, one we knew well, one that was seemingly safe and took a step in another direction towards a goal of launching our first startup, a project management and collaboration tool.  We chose to no longer walk autopilot through the zone of comforts where each day is the same, where each day is almost guaranteed to replicate the previous. Instead we decided to wade through the discomforts and into unknown zones to see what awaits on the other side, for it's in risks & adventure that life becomes real and interesting.

What we hope to achieve through this series is to inspire and inform the reader.  The Stepsie crew is comprised primarily of four, late twenties blokes, with no previous start-up experience and not much IT know how.  All we had was an idea and the determination to have a crack. We believe great ideas bring great change, so we wanted to create a tool that inspired everyday people to take action on their ideas. In this blog series we would like to share with you the reader, the lessons we have learnt so far, tips on how to launch ventures, pitfalls to avoid, struggles & successes we’ve had (and continue to have), things to strive for as well as a bit of philosophical wisdom garnered from where we have been to where we are now.

We hope you get something good out of it!
Cheers,
Damon & The Stepsie crew

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Stepsie chats: Johannes Puro

Today we are talking with Johannes Puro who runs Ite wiki.

Can you give us some background as to how you arrived to where you are now within the startup and online business world? I understand you went from consultant at the global IT giant CGI to implementing a new startup business.

Well, I concentrated on marketing and sales process of IT-services at CGI. At the same time ite wiki's co-founder Eeva Melama worked as consultant in IT-acquisition and -project management at different IT buyer companies. Together we started to innovate how we could help both IT buyers and IT service providers with an open marketplace that collects all the IT-market information as one service.   

 What drew you from your position at CGI towards startups and creating an own web service?

I have always been seeking for new ideas and also testing them out straightforward. This was one of those ideas that just had to be done. And the project has been amazingly interesting. We have got to develop a new kind of wiki software and a network with all the IT-gurus and stakeholders at the digital business in Finland. Also building your own business model and writing your own story is really rewarding. 

Ite wiki collects Finnish digital businesses in a web based marketplace and also has meetups at the company’s terrace at the Helsinki city center 

Can you tell us a little bit more about Ite wiki, how did you come up with the idea & what's the problem it aims to solve.

The IT buyers didn't have a clear information source to list the potential partners when needing a digital service. Mapping the possible partners is very time consuming process and we realized the need for this market information. The b2b IT companies are also struggling with the usage of the social media channels like facebook, twitter and LinkedIn. The content created for instance about ERPs or accounting softwares is quite hard to spread and deliver for buying customers through these channels. This type of content needed an own media to reach the right audience and to bring value for marketing efforts of the IT companies.

The most difficult part in any of these things is going from the initial idea and taking the leap of faith which turns the idea into an actual product. What challenges did you face from going from idea to product?

The defining process was the most time consuming part of it. The amount of information about IT companies is huge and the service needs to be easy to use. So we needed to define only the most relevant information for the buyer and deliver it via usable and visually attractive GUI. Maybe the most difficult part of it in the end is the marketing strategy and collecting all the companies behind the service as one network. Key in this is the open model of the service and the capability to create networks, often at the personal level. 

Ite wiki’s search results example

What advice can you give to other startups in the digital business?

First of all, don’t just put something cool to the web and wait for the miracle. Design your sales process well.  For second, test your ideas with as many gurus as possible, they are always interested in participating the innovating process. And for third, learn from the advice, but stick to your own plan. After all these so called “gurus” don’t know how you will succeed, only you do.   

 At what point did you decide that this is what you wanted to do, that you wanted to create your own path and control your own destiny?

From day one. This was one of those plans that just had to be executed to be able to show that it really works. 

What advice would you give to people who are at a fork in the road, where one path leads to life on the 9-5 treadmill and the other is a path untrodden and full of uncertainty but aims towards the goal of self-employment?

I think typically in startups everyone is enthusiastic at the beginning, but the reality hits you when you realize the amount of work that the development requires. So first of all, the 9-5 treadmill suits better for most of the people and that’s just fine. But usually the ones who decide to write their own story are enthusiastic in what they do. So self-employment usually requires ability to bear risk and will to work hard, but it also means that you get to do what you love.

Ite wiki’s co-founders Johannes Puro and Eeva Melama are specialized in IT marketing and -acquisition

What will your approach be to driving sales with Itewiki? Face to face? Social media? 

It’s actually the combo of these two. We often meet the customers face to face and also create value for them in social channels and our own platform. Personal contact and efforts to benefit the companies create a great setting for success in sales.  

With this combination we have gained hundreds of it-companies as users and over thousand publications to our platform in just six months.

You have a lot on your plate, how did you stay on top of productivity?

Hahaa, that’s a good one! First of all we don’t spend any time in vain for instance on a road. We live and have everything we need at the Helsinki city center.  We are also really fast in absorbing new models if something seems to work. 

I think the key in productivity is minimal bureaucracy and maximal enthusiasm in what you do.  

How do you think Finland is positioned within the startup world? What are some unique defining characteristics that make Finland a great place to run an internet business?

Finland still is an amazing welfare state. For instance our son is at a daycare that is run by truly amazing professionals with relatively cheap cost for us. Also in a case of health issues our medical system works really well. You never know what happens in life and living in Finland is a great insurance. We also have an active startup and digital SME-company scene that helps and supports each other.  

Do you have any key influencers or stories that you can relate to and or find inspirational from?

I actually find a lot of inspiration from my Football and futsal career. I have had a chance to play in great teams and with great players. I think it works the same in football and business: You need to surround yourself with the right players who are engaged. You also need to have an understanding of your capabilities and the right strategy to operate. With the right team and strategy doing can be really fun and you can overthrow teams with much bigger budgets.  

What’s in store for Ite wiki this year and do you plan on expanding outside of Finland? 

We are expanding on content streams of it-companies, delivering public IT tenders and we are also starting to write a more Wikipedia type of information source for IT buyers in co-operation with the Finnish it-companies. We are also involved in many different networking processes at the digital business in Finland. 

In addition we are designing two consulting packages that help in understanding the possibilities of it services: We start to facilitate meetings between it-service providers and buyers and we are also developing a workshop that helps to model the field of digital services for our customers. 

It would be interesting to expand outside Finland and also to help Finnish it-companies in going international. We have plans in this field but nothing concrete yet!  

Anything else you would like to add?

I just want to say that if you have a vision, go for it! Doing your own thing can be really rewarding and you learn always the best by testing out your ideas. 

Thanks for your time Johannes!

More information:

www.itewiki.fi

http://www.itewiki.fi/blog/ 

Find  Johannes Puro on Twitter  comment

Stepsie chats: Mark Patchett


Today we are talking with Mark Patchett who runs Mighty Little Startups & World Survival Gear.

G'day Mark! Can you give us some background as to how you arrived to where you are now within the startup and online business world?

From as young an age as I can remember I’ve loved conjuring up business ideas, from selling Guatemalan coffee beans at local markets to a fireworks business whereby I created a local high school distribution network- a venture that was quite quickly shut down!

At 16 or so I then turned to the Internet as I realised I could access millions of people without even having to jump out of my pyjamas. I was hooked. I grabbed all the “Dummies how to” books on HTML/CSS and anything else I could find. I loved that on the Internet it was a more level playing field. I couldn’t afford to spend $1,000,000 setting up a big retail store, but I could afford $500 to setup an awesome E-commerce site - so i’ve never looked back!  

What drew you towards startups and e-commerce?

There’s something so exciting about starting a business. You get to transform an idea into something tangible and then expose the world to it. And I love E-commerce specifically based on all the numbers and strategy; from what products generate the most interest, through to which attract the highest profit margins even down to what items are most enticing and profitable as a last minute up sell on the cart - much like the chocolate bars displayed at the supermarket counter. With all that data you spend hours analysing to then find some actionable tactics, you then implement them and then your bank balance gets healthier - and it’s all yours. Unlike typical jobs where you’re paid for your time, with your own startup you’re paid for your strategy and execution.

Can you tell us a little bit about Mighty Little Startups, how did they idea come about?

Mighty Little Startups is a resource for those looking to start their own business. It’s basically the byproduct of all my learnings and mistakes. When I first started it took me hours and hours to learn often the smallest things, and I knew I could transfer my learnings to others so it would take them 10 minutes. I’ve just released a start to finish course named The Rapid Startup Sequence, it takes people all the way from registering a domain through to driving traffic, so if you’re thinking of getting started it would be well worth checking out!

MLS is chock full of quality and informative content tailored towards providing an easy to follow platform for new comers in pursuit of the startup dream. It’s also a handy tool for those who already have some skin in the game but want to further develop and fine tune some key areas to make their startups and online businesses a real success.  How long did it take you to gather this knowledge? Was there a particular point or moment where this all began to click?

Gathering the content and answers in MLS has literally been the culmination of learning from every time I’ve been on a computer for the last decade! There’s something to be learned on every website you visit, if you’re looking for it, e.g. how are they making money, how are they making you engage with more content, how is the navigational structure setup etc.

The success of a startup comes down to the culmination of many elements coming together but what do you think is perhaps the most crucial?

Execution. A guy fired up at me the other day on Twitter disagreeing, saying that capital is the most important. I agree that capital is so essential and can make or break a startup, but if the founders don’t know how to use that money, they’re just digging themselves deeper. No amount of money will help profitably sell 6 fingered gloves. I highly recommend those starting out to read “The Lean Startup” which talks all about how to get your business model right before trying to scale.

What is the most common mistake you see people make when it comes to startups?

They invest way too much money and time into an idea before they’ve actually tested whether there’s demand. I’ve been just as guilty of this, as it’s so easy to get excited by an idea and launch into full force. And also people bailing out too fast. It’s often not the idea that is failing it’s the communication of that idea. Instead of giving up, start talking to your target market and asking them what their frustrations are, then try and target your products around that.

At what point did you decide that this is what you wanted to do, that you wanted to create your own path and control your own destiny?

I think it was when I sold my first jumping jack firework set. I paid $5 for it and I sold it for $15. A tidy $10 profit. Around that time I was working at good old McDonalds at $5.15 an hour, so it was a no brainer!

What advice would you give to people who are at a fork in the road, where one path leads to life on the 9-5 treadmill and the other is a path untrodden and full of uncertainty but aims towards the goal of self-employment?

The good thing about online business is that you don’t need to choose just one path. I made the mistake of quitting a great 9-5 job to start an online business when I really didn’t need to. We built the business so it could be run from an iPhone, and I had ample time at night and before work to get things started. We thought we were awesome entrepreneurs for quitting yet ended up playing golf and going out to lunch rather than working - we learnt a very important and costly lesson quite quickly!

A 9-5 job provides a very nice monthly cushion which gives you enough time and capital to get started. It’s so unlikely that your startup will bring in hoards of cash from the get go. And if you need your startup to bring in enough money so you can even pay rent, you’re not going to be able to reinvest profits into the business so you can grow - your business will become stagnant. I think you should only quit if you’ve been consistently making enough money so that you can reinvest for growth and take out enough to live. If you’re growth is also bound by your time, e.g. making sales calls, consider trying to go part time, then slowly take off more time.

The success of a startup firstly stems from a quality idea, aside from that what do you think would give startup companies the biggest edge?

Speed of execution. The most exciting strategic advantage small startups have is their ability to implement their ideas. People are often scared of big corporates stealing their ideas. I’ve worked with lots of these big corporates and it can take them 4 weeks just to add a tracking code to their site, let alone implement an idea. The fundamental aspect of speed is to not aim for perfection, because you’re idea of perfection is often wrong, which you discover after testing. Just get live as fast as you can, get feedback and optimise around that.

You are also working on an e-commerce business called World Survival Kits, can you tell us a bit about that?

World Survival Kits (recently renamed World Survival Gear) is a co-venture with one of my closest mates who lives in Montreal. We wanted to launch a dropshipped based company, whereby we take the orders then get a company to mailout the products on our behalf. It’s such a cool concept as you get the benefit of running a huge warehouse with hundreds of products without having to front up the capital. We started the business as we love working together and wanted a low maintenance project that we could ideally flip in 3 or so years for a nice little profit and to then use the model as a template for dropshipping other products.

What will your approach be to driving sales with WSK?

Promoting dropshipped products is often tricky as many competitors have access to the exact same products. We’ll be focusing on Product Listing Ads with Google AdWords, social media via Facebook and Twitter and also Comparison Shopping Sites like Shopping.com - these networks are brilliant for product based businesses as you get low cost and highly targeted clicks.

Can you tell us how keyword research and SEO plays a vital role in making an e-commerce site like WSK successful?

Keyword research is the backbone of all SEO strategies. It plays such an important role that you’ll often rename products based on what keywords drive the most traffic. For example, our supplier calls some of our products “Survival Kits” but we found a higher search volume for “Bug Out Bugs” - which is just another name for what we have. We’re not actually going to be running SEO, so we didn’t end up changing the name, but we would. Because the results of SEO can take anywhere from 6 months to 12 months, I prefer to run paid traffic campaigns first to determine what works, then consider commencing a campaign from there.

You have a lot on your plate, how did you stay on top of productivity?

I have you guys to thank for part of this! Earlier I mentioned that execution is the most important component when starting out - with time management being one the biggest aspects of execution. You wear so many hats when starting out, so mapping out what you need to do is crucial. Prior to using Stepsie I was using Asana to manage all my projects, but that turned into a pile of fat lists, so now i’m happily using Stepsie to run my projects. Whenever I start a new project I break everything down into Steps and allocate the work load to myself, partners, freelancers etc. I then set rough time frames for doing tasks. I don’t bother setting them all, as if one tasks blows out I don’t want to have to update everything else, so only for the next week or so. I’ve found the most important thing is to stick to your deadlines. If I haven’t finished what I said I would I don’t kick back to watch Game of Thrones, or head to the pub until it’s done.

How do you think Australia is positioned within the startup world? Do you think we can expect much from us Aussies in the future?

I think Aussies have a brilliant competitive attitude that wants to prove themselves to the world. The investment capital attitude here is still really behind here in contrast to the USA, which is why so many startups flock over there. However, with all the recent inspiring acquisitions like Whatsapp I feel Aussie investors are starting to see just how big the potential is. So I expect things to really heat up soon!

Ok, time to put your oracle hat on, do you have any predictions on future global economies and where will the internet be in all of this?

I see the next few years becoming on all about multi device tracking. A challenge for marketers is that people may first find out about your product from a paid ad on Facebook while browsing on their phone on the way to work, yet when they get home they jump on their laptop and head directly to your website and signup for a trial. Your data may tell you that your Facebook campaigns are no good, yet they were really responsible for driving that lead. The Google AdWords team is currently developing a way to track people that click on an online ad yet then buy from a physical retail store. That sort of data attribution will be a game changer. If you feel you have this problem, consider assign different coupon codes to each traffic source, e.g. “FB-SAVE50” for Facebook, so you know the source regardless of what device they end up signing up with.

Do you have any key influencers or stories that you can relate to and or find inspirational from?

I have so many key influencers! I love constantly learning about new and old tactics more than anything, so I sometimes end up spending more time reading then executing!

Lastly, I have been reading a lot of comments and articles lately where people are saying that everyone wants to create a startup in this era and it’s similar to everyone wanting to start a band in the 70’s. What are your thoughts on this? What band or artist do you think you would be?

Haha I love that comparison! I agree, it’s become very much a buzz, but as with the bands, I feel there are people that may do it as a fun project, then there are those that have it in their blood.

And what band, tricky question! Perhaps the Buena Vista Social Club. Their music makes me feel positive and happy and that’s why I’m in the game.

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Free Plan Love

Date written: 9th May 2014   
Location: Reval cafe - Tallinn, Estonia 
Condition: Tops!
Our pricing plans were lame and complicated. We kinda followed what other SaaS set ups were doing. We realised it wasn't really great for you, so it's not great for us! So today we have changed them :)

Simple x Good + Free = Stepsie.  
 
We realised that whilst having a time based free trial is ok, 30 days is not enough for people to really test it out. People need time to get creative & start using Stepsie, so from now on we are offering everyone (and those already aboard) a Free Plan. This plan contains 2 projects, has unlimited timeframe and members, 150MB data all for the price of a breath of fresh air (free). So breathe in, sit back, then stand up and start creating! 

We want to look out for the student community. So Stepsie will remain free for students (you just need a student email to activate the account). So students, you'll have more money to spend on beer and by using Stepsie you'll now have more time to drink it, you beauty!
 
Our paid plans have been simplified to make it easy for you to decide which one fits. Those of you that have been around for a while might notice that we have changed the structure of our plans from users to projects. This means you can collaborate with as many people per project as you like at no extra cost. 
 
So here are the new offerings we bring forth to the webs:-



If you need anything more than the above simply get in touch and we can create a custom paid plan for you :) 

Please spread the free plan love and have a great week! 
 
Jono & The Stepsie Crew

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Hello from Helsinki

Date written: 4th April 2014   
Location: John & Nyström cafe - Helsinki, Finland 
Condition: Caffeinated & top notch 

G’day Stepsie users! 

Hope all is well in your world. It has been a little while since the last update so I wanted to touch base and let you know what has been happening. I’m just back from Tokyo where Nick and I met to work on the forward Stepsie roadmap. We actually hadn’t met in person since January 2013 so it was great to meet up! Obviously most of our communication is done over Stepsie, but for somethings you simply can’t beat good old fashioned face to face communication. This morning I wandered around Helsinki and was lured by the apt ‘Imagination is more important than knowledge’ quote in front of this cafe where I’m currently treating the last bit of jet lag with black coffee :)

Right now we have small but dedicated team working hard at making Stepsie the best collaboration and management platform out there for innovative and forward thinking companies and anyone who is passionate about making cool ideas happen!  We will strive to excel and are always looking to improve in all aspects of Stepsie from basic UI to additional features and customer support.   At present we have dedicated a lot of focus and time in testing and re-testing every facet of the platform in a bid to find every last bug that has hidden from us up to this point. We want Stepsie users to have an application that runs a smooth as possible. Getting the product completely free of bugs has been a very time consuming process but a necessary one.

Moving forward we want to shift focus on how we can improve on the application and we will look to introduce a couple of key features in the not too distant future. With this in mind however we do not intend on making Stepsie a feature heavy application, we love simplicity as much as we love effectiveness so we will always seek to strike the perfect balance.    

We will shortly begin creating a series of demo videos that can give you a better understanding of how you can use Stepsie for your projects and businesses in the most effective way. As the Step structure is more or less unique to our concept some users may feel a little misguided at this point. We however guarantee that once this becomes clear you will really love collaborating and managing projects with Stepsie. 

In the meantime if you have any questions at all or need a bit of guidance please drop me a line personally via: jono@stepsie.com and I'd love to help you out.

All the best of luck with your ventures!

Cheers,

The Stepsie Crew

Spotify 'Hello from Helsinki' playlist


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Seven days in

Date written: 4th March 2014  
Location: Tallinn bedroom HQ
Condition: Slightly tired but comforted by a pot of white tea 

Happy Tuesday! 

Well what a week it has been! In the last 7 days since going live on the world of the interwebs things have been going quite nicely for us here at Stepsie HQ! We are truly elated with the response we have had and are very grateful to all those who have helped spread the Stepsie word both on and off the web. It’s amazing to see us being mentioned on sites like the Arctic Startup,  EntrepreWired, PMI.it, GigaOm Research & The Next Web! A massive 'THANK YOU' to these brilliant bloggers for taking the time to write about us on their influential websites, it has help us cast our net afar. In the short time we have been up and running Stepsie has been used by people in 48 different countries, 17 different time zones and on 5 different continents. People from Stockholm all the way down under to Sydney have logged in, which is spectacular! We made the little graphic above to illustrate the coverage of Stepsie to date. The internet is truly an amazing & wondrous place :D 

When we started this project we were inspired to create, to start something which would allow us to move away from this tiring and partly destructive work model this globe have been operating under for the last century.  Stepsie is here to help encourage and spur people to start their own projects, kickstart their ideas,  to make a change, to invest in themselves and be a part of the connection economy.  We want to make project collaboration and management exciting and free flowing, so you remain enthused and motivated to see something through.  There is magic in taking that first step and starting something, but once you complete something and pop out the other end a new world opens up.  

Thanks again everyone for the support so far, the feedback and response has been unreal.  
 
If you are interested please subscribe to our blog by entering your email down below. In the very near future we will start up a blog series titled ‘The Adventures of a Thong*-strapped Startup’ which will aim to be a funny, insightful and inspiring story of the Stepsie journey.  
 
Cheers,
 
The Stepsie Crew
 
*A 'thong' is the Australian term for what the rest of the world refers to as a ‘Flip-Flop’ ;)


Infographic thanks to infogr.am
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Stepsie lift off!

Date written: 25th February 2014, 13:30pm 
Location: Chill-out Cafe, Bergen, Norway
Condition: It's launch day, so pretty bloody jolly!



G’day Stepsie Trendsetters!

It's here finally. After over a year of relentless work, late night sessions, international Skype calls, international flights, boozy brainstorming conversations and the crushing of fears and doubts ten times over, Stepsie is done and complete ready to serve those inspired to create! Today is lift off, the first major step in the Stepsie journey.  

Those who have been with us in the earlier days would know this really is our second go of the application launch. We had an initial false start, when we went live back in October 2013. At the time we weren't entirely happy with what we had produced, so we revisited and revised the site, now what we have is something we are truly proud of.  

At first we viewed this false start as a disappointing moment, a bit of a set back but now that we have had time to reflect on the turn of events we realised it actually turned out to be quite advantageous. It gave us an opportunity to work closer with our earlier adopters and refine the many small details, iron out all the bugs and get this machine running efficiently. Now Stepsie is ready for the world of the interweb, ready for the outliers, the trendsetters, for those daring folk who are keen to start something, to have a go and blaze a new trail in this world and spread new ideas.

This of course, will be our next challenge, the spreading of our idea. As with nearly all ideas, businesses, products, bands, religions, cults, and whatever else, you are entering a market that will have some, or often a lot of established players with similar offerings. Completely new ‘never been done before’ ideas are about as rare as rocking horse shit and don’t come around too often. Sometimes you may think you have a corker, ‘never been done before’ idea that comes to you in the midst of a weekend ‘trip’ down at Byron Bay. A real lightbulb moment. But in most cases, by the time you’re back at your desk come Monday morning, apathetically peering at your inbox through weary eyes under the operation of a somewhat scatty brain your ‘corker’ idea is to often downgraded to outright ridiculous, stupid or most commonly ‘damn, it’s been done before’. In nearly all cases, the real difference comes in your innovation of what came previously and how your new product is going to be more beneficial and useful for the user.

Myspace was on the scene prior to Facebook; Instagram is just Facebook minus bulk text and Twitter is just bulk text reduced. Each can perform basically all the same functions as one another, but each is individually better on certain unique features. I guess a similar trail was cut during the development of Stepsie. We improved and hacked on systems that were previously available as Project Collaboration and Management tools. We also implemented key Project Management principals we learnt and used over the years and applied them into our tailor made application. We built Stepsie because what was currently available as collaboration and management tools didn't suit or particularly impress us.

The result, well it’s like a Hendrix lovechild, a machine focused on getting it done! Stepsie is driven by the clever ‘step concept’ which allows a project to be approached with structure and logic, all the while maintaining the right level simplicity with a super intuitive UI…. It can also play a Stratocaster with its teeth!

So helps us spread the word because the world needs inspiration, the world needs those with great ideas to act on those ideas and make them happen. You have the ideas, Stepsie is your Catalyst. Get started, go create!

Cheers
The Stepsie Crew!

Spotify Launch Playlist

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Private launch

Well here we go, this is the first time we offer Stepsie to a select group of users! The idea has progressed from a sketch to a working functional web app after a lot of hard work from the web developers and ourselves. Things are now at a stage where we can proudly say they are ready for a private launch! We hope it will be a pleasure to use, it might need some tweaks and changes but one thing is for sure, unless we let it go into the wild we will never know, so here we go! If you are interested in testing it out, please enter your email at www.stepsie.com or send us an email at gday@stepsie.com.  

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