Podcast #146 – Marc interviews Jon Warner, author and startup expert for those over 50
Jon works with startup business founders and early-stage company CEOs and management teams to help them set clear, growth-oriented goals and get the best possible outcomes. He serves on several advisory boards and speaks regularly about the role of technology and innovation in healthcare; he helps entrepreneurs who are 50-plus. He is the author of SLAM: Build your startup idea or early-stage business with the Startup Launch Assistance Map.
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[1:40] Marc welcomes you to Episode 146 of the Repurpose Your Career podcast.
[1:54] If you are enjoying this podcast, please share it with other like-minded souls. Subscribe on CareerPivot.com, iTunes, or any of the other apps that supply podcasts. Share it on social media or just tell your neighbors and colleagues. The more people Marc reaches, the more people he can help.
[2:13] Marc’s expenses to put this podcast on are about $400.00 a month. After nearly 150 episodes, Marc is grateful for his growing audience. It’s clear that the stories from experts and people like yourself on this podcast have had an impact. Marc needs help continuing to provide entertaining content, mindful of your time.
[2:50] Marc is asking for direct listener support. Marc asks you for a donation of $5.00 a month but you can contribute as much or as little as you like. Every penny counts.
[3:05] If the Repurpose Your Career podcast is a part of your week and you love what Marc is doing, please support the podcast today. Go to Glow.fm/repurposeyourcareer/ to give. This link will be at the top of the show notes at CareerPivot.com/episode-146.
[3:31] Repurpose Your Career, Third Edition, is now available! The book tour has launched. Marc will likely be in Austin when you hear this episode, the week of September 22nd. Marc will be in New Jersey, the week of September 29th and D.C., the following week. Marc would love to meet his readers and listeners.
[3:50] Marc has two events planned for Austin, four for New Jersey and a meet-and-greet in D.C. Please go to CareerPivot.com/launch to find out more.
[4:03] Next week, Marc will interview Paul Vogelsang, a career pivoter who, after being laid off by one of the big tech giants in his late 50s, is now a successful podcaster. He has The Not Old — Better Show, which Marc has been a guest on, twice.
Now on to the podcast…
[4:22] This week, Marc interviews Jon Warner, author of SLAM: Build your startup idea or early-stage business with the Startup Launch Assistance Map. Marc shares Jon’s bio and welcomes Jon to the Repurpose Your Career podcast.
[5:20] Jon shares his purpose for writing SLAM. Jon had been using the Lean Business Model Canvas. He found it to be transformational for startups, but he started noticing a few issues people struggled within using it. Jon started annotating and making up ways of compensating for those issues.
[5:56] Jon started keeping notes for himself about the issues and developing adjunct materials of his own. He saw he was re-engineering the process and wrote an article a couple of years ago about it. The article seemed to resonate. It became the idea for the SLAM model book.
[6:29] The SLAM model gives startups an exploratory grid to help them navigate the typical risks that happen in startup life.
[6:51] Jon answers how the SLAM model can apply to those over 50. The challenge in entrepreneurship is to ‘de-risk’ what you are doing, as much as possible. The risk is greater for those who are in the second half of life. Jon focuses on the healthcare realm. He is very interested in innovation and technology for older adults.
[8:31] Marc refers to the podcast Episode 136 with Diane Mulcahy, author of The Gig Economy: The Complete Guide to Getting Better Work, Taking More Time Off, and Financing the Life You Want. Diane has a section in her book on how to de-risk.
[9:00] Jon uses a real case study of 50-plus food truck owners to illustrate the SLAM model in his book. Jon teaches two models. The first is a validation process consisting of an eight-step pathway to think about scaling a startup or a side hustle. Validation is the most important process to see if you have the potential to execute your startup.
[10:38] The second model is the execution template. Jon has an acronym for it: GRAND, starting with Goals. Putting the two models together gives you the GRAND SLAM and the success you want.
[11:08] Both models are designed as exploration templates, giving people a framework to ask questions to which answers need to be discovered, ideally, in the eyes of the customer you are most focused on serving.
[11:32] The SLAM process has eight steps. Step 1: Drill into the unmet need of the customer tribe, which Jon calls the ‘hair on fire tribe.’ Step one can take months or years to gather enough data to validate the need. Step 2: Identify the key team you need to solve the problem for that tribe of customers.
[13:07] Step 3: Develop the Value Proposition to solve that problem for that tribe. These three steps are the ‘Product-Market Fit.’ Step 4: Corroborate that the hypotheses around the product and the market fit are accurate in the eyes of customers. Step 5: Determine that the market is large enough for you to achieve what you want to achieve.
[13:57] Step 6: Develop a go-to-market strategy. Where does the tribe hang out and how do you reach them? Identify the channels carefully. Step 7: Monetization. What does the business model look like? What is the tribe willing to pay to solve that particular problem or pain point?
[14:16] Step 8: Map the Business Ecosystem. Jon explains what this involves.
[14:50] Marc emphasizes the importance of Step 1. Don’t make stuff up. Marc shares from his experiences developing curriculum in 40 countries. No matter who he thinks the audience is, he’s always wrong!
[15:18] Jon Quotes Steve Blank that “No plan survives first contact with a customer.” You can’t just build it and expect that they will come. A small sample is a problem. The pain points of a few friends do not give enough credentials to start a business. Get valid feedback from real customers to see if you can scale a solution for them.
[16:25] The SLAM model doesn’t distinguish between product or service businesses, or business size. It is going to be more useful at an earlier stage of a business. By the time a business has institutional capital, it is usually beyond this process.
[17:16] The SLAM model is aimed at people who are ideating about a business idea, or have a side hustle going they want to scale, or have taken the first steps and are a few months into their business startup and have bootstrapped it.
[17:58] Jon talks about the steps where he sees people make the biggest mistakes: assuming they know the unmet need they are solving, and getting into ‘product build’ too quickly. People like to start with the minimal viable product right out of the gate before they know if it solves the market pain points.
[18:56] These mistakes may require either re-engineering the product, or throwing it away at a waste of time and money.
[19:16] Marc asks about service-based businesses. Jon points out that service businesses can be very different from product businesses, and the intended scale is very important. The process of validating the business potential is the same, requiring answers to the same questions.
[20:19] Jon specifies that customer discovery is a very separate activity from product research. Discovery is finding out from customers what keeps them up at night and what they are doing about it right now as a temporary solution, and listening hard to them.
[21:11] Marc talks about a member of the online community building a service-based business helping small construction companies, and a bad assumption that he had.
[21:43] Jon says a lot of books will give broad ideas for business you could start. Jon mentions businesses jumping onto Shopify as an ecommerce solution. Don’t look at general ideas. Dig in and find the tribe, pain point, and a unique solution you can provide.
[22:55] An older entrepreneur will learn from the book SLAM that there is a pathway they can follow. They have a lot of world experience, but Jon notes that what they have done in the past doesn’t necessarily apply to what they want to do next. The book helps them deconstruct their bad assumptions and mental traps to avoid.
[23:44] SLAM will encourage the older entrepreneur to test everything and assume nothing. Assumptions are the enemy of a successful startup if they’re not corroborated at scale. The book is an exploration grid. It helps individuals to tip their thinking upside-down.
[24:25] Jon’s advice for the older entrepreneur: Spend as little money as possible from the beginning and engage deeply in research about the sector they’re thinking about. Avoid building a product. Go and talk to customers. It’s scary at first, but hugely valuable to talk to 25 or 30 members of the tribe you want to serve. Look for patterns.
[25:40] Another tip is that the smaller you make your beachhead markets, the more likely you are to be successful. When you tailor your offering to a particular need, your chances of getting traction are better and you can dominate that sector quickly. Then look at adjunct sectors a step at a time, and scale slowly.
[28:00] Marc shares a big mistake he sees. People either want to have a traditional business with employees or they want to do it all themselves. They forget about virtual assistants that you pay with 1099s. Marc talks about his background with IBM and Lucent Technologies. Those are not the models to follow.
[29:03] Jon refers back to Step 2, the Key Team. This can be made of a co-founder or two and several virtual assistants, consultants, and advisors. Digitalization has helped us get a team that can be dispersed internationally.
[31:04] Marc’s co-author is in Portugal and his book designer is in Ghana, while Marc is in Mexico. They talk to each other on Facebook.
[31:28] Marc thanks Jon for being in this episode of the Repurpose Your Career podcast. Marc hopes you enjoyed the episode. Marc brought Jon into the Career Pivot Membership Community group to discuss the entrepreneurial mindset. Marc may use that fascinating discussion in an upcoming episode.
[31:50] The Career Pivot Membership Community is a platform to provide both inspiration and practical help in creating changes in our lives and careers. It continues to help the approximately 50 members who are participating in the Beta phase of this project.
[32:00] This is a community where everyone is there to help everyone else. They have been hovering at about 50 members for a while. Members are experiencing successes like going back to work, starting new businesses — even someone buying a franchise. Some leave the community when they’ve found success, while others stay.
[32:23] Their legacy stays with the community as they have built an extensive library of forum entries and discussions. Marc will be publishing shortly testimonials of what they got from being part of this community. There are successes in just about every week. It’s all about perseverance and mutual help.
[32:44] Marc is recruiting members for the next cohort. If you are interested in the endeavor and would like to be put on the waiting list, please go to CareerPivot.com/Community. The members of the initial cohorts help set the direction of the endeavor.
[33:06] This is a paid membership community with group coaching, mastermind groups, and special content. More importantly, it’s a community where you can seek help. Please go to CareerPivot.com/Community to learn more.
[33:24] Marc invites you to connect with him on LinkedIn.com/in/mrmiller. Just include in the connection request that you listen to this podcast. You can look for Career Pivot on Facebook, LinkedIn, or @CareerPivot on Twitter.
[33:42] Please come back next week, when Marc will interview podcaster Paul Vogelsang.
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