Saturday, 28 May 2011

Mid-life crisis

As I prepare for my mid-life crisis, I have been doing some research to try to understand what goes on with men of my age so that I know where to direct my energies.

After all if I have to buy a sports car and drive around with my top off winking at ladies I am going to need to develop my abs (whatever they are) and shine the top of my head. Also I need to choose a car.

I don't know whether a mid-life crisis is compulsory or optional. I have been assuming that it is compulsory and the only optionality is timing. Which is just as well as I am very busy at the moment and would struggle to fit typical mid-life crisis activities in to my busy schedule.

In any case, what are these mid-life crisis activities? I understand that sports cars are an important ingredient, but I don't really know much about cars and I hate wasting money so do I really have to buy one, or perhaps I can rent one?

Also what about the girlfriends? That is not an area of expertise for me. In my experience (admittedly limited to my teenage years) they tend to giggle at your long neck, glasses and bow legs and are best avoided.

I suppose I could do something dangerous. Wrestle with an alligator? Swim with sharks? Throw myself out or a plane? I'm scared of heights. To be honest I'm a bit of a scaredy cat and wouldn't these things be a bit, well...dangerous?

Run a marathon? Too much effort. 400km bike ride? Might fall off and hurt myself. Learn a new language? I tried that once. Japanese. Spent ages and only learnt how to say "toothpaste" and "ministry of education".

To be honest, I think the whole thing is just too much effort. I don't think I'll bother with one of these mid-life crisis things that makes you take on all sorts of impossible challenges just to prove that your life isn't over and done with and you've still got something to offer the world before you are consigned to the wastebin. I will stick to launching major new companies, creating multimillion pound schools and founding pan-African educational charities. Oh...

Saturday, 21 May 2011

Preparing for take off

I love launching new companies. It's exciting and scary at the same time.

And now I am weeks away from launching another major new venture. It's got to the stage when everyone's heart starts to beat a bit faster and your palms becomes a bit clammy as you realise that the months of effort and planning are about to be exposed to the world.

We have been working on this new venture for nearly nine months.

We started by reviewing the market and conducting extensive consumer research. We made no assumptions about what direction the venture would take. We wanted to be driven by what consumers were telling us and the opportunities in the marketplace.

A proposition started to emerge and we kept testing it with consumers, in small, qualitative research groups. We tuned the proposition, focusing on what we were being told and we started to narrow down our target market.

We decided we needed a new consumer brand and went through a fun process of creating the brand. Three great brands emerged. We tested them with our target market and were left with two options. It was a tough decision but we made our choice and have ended up with a brand that will stand out in our market.

Meanwhile, we were going through cycle after cycle of business planning, presenting to the money men, refining the model, cutting out cost, reducing risk until we felt we had a model that works.

We put together a small, expert development team alongside one of the best user experience designers in London and they worked flat out to bring the proposition to life.

Now we are nearly ready. There is still a ton of stuff to be done .We have To Do Lists as long as your arm. But we've picked our date and we will be ready to go.

We will work and work and work and then it will go quiet. The calm before the storm.

And then we'll launch.