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Product Management Library of Knowledge


Marketing Courage - Having What It Reality Takes

by Brian Lawley

Sure you have a great product idea and the guts to build it, but do you really have a realistic picture of what it is going to take to bring it to market? Since we work with many startups (and also with larger companies that are trying to get breakthrough products off the ground) we'll oftentimes get to be in the thick of things when the tough go-to-market decisions get made. This article sums up a phenomenon that we see far too often.

Napoleon's advice to entrepreneurs, Part I:

Napoleon's advice to entrepreneurs, Part I: starting the enterprise

©John Kuraoka

Of all the management experts in the world, few can claim to have conquered and ruled a significant part of it. Napoleon Bonaparte did - with audacity, speed, and skillful planning. That’s why Napoleon’s military maxims are relevant to today’s entrepreneur and intrapreneur. For if, as poet John Dryden said, “war is the trade of kings,” then trade is the “warfare” of us businesspeople as we maneuver for increased revenues on the battlefield of commerce.

Napoleon said: “The first principle of a general-in-chief is to calculate what he must do, to see if he has the means to surmount the obstacles with which the enemy can oppose him and, when he has made his decision, to do everything to overcome them.”

This is a concise breakdown of what it takes to launch an enterprise, be it a business or a project. First, plan: set goals and calculate what you must do to achieve them. Then, research: find out all you can about the obstacles to achieving your goals and figure out ways around or through them. Finally, execute: put your plan into action and follow through with 100% commitment to making it work.

Napoleon's advice to entrepreneurs, Part II:

Napoleon’s advice to entrepreneurs, Part II: the entrepreneurial character

John Kuraoka

Napoleon was the very embodiment of entrepreneurship. He started small, so to speak, and built an empire. We businesspeople can learn from such a person. In Part I, we explored Napoleon’s military maxims as they relate to planning, researching, and executing business ventures. Here, we’ll examine his maxims as they relate to entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs themselves.

Napoleon said: "The first qualification of a general-in-chief is to possess a cool head, so that things may appear to him in their true proportions and as they really are.”

The route to business success is unmarked, with many distractions along the way. Some are important; most are not. That’s why it’s crucial to understand how your enterprise fits into the big picture - local, national, and even international issues and relationships. This broader understanding helps you see and evaluate “things” objectively. You can distinguish events that will affect your business from events that will not. You can prepare for cyclical forces, like the economy. And, you can separate the opportunities from the pitfalls.

Napoleon's advice to entrepreneurs, Part III:

Napoleon's advice to entrepreneurs, Part III: growing the enterprise

©John Kuraoka

More than 200 years ago, Napoleon came to power and built an empire. Most entrepreneurs desire similar results. However, they often lose the magic touch once their small businesses turn into big ones. Here, we’ll look at Napoleon’s military maxims as they relate to management. After all, he ran an army and an empire; he was well-qualified to run a business.

Napoleon said: "Nothing is more important in war than unity in command. When, therefore, you are carrying on hostilities against a single power only, you should have but one army acting on one line and led by one commander.”

When a business enterprise is small, there is typically only one mission. It is easy for one person to exercise leadership over everything. As an enterprise grows, however, issues get bigger and intermediate goals multiply. That’s when it becomes important to delegate some goals to people you trust to achieve them. It is equally important to let those people achieve their goals in their own way, without interfering. Responsibility and authority must go together, otherwise you are wasting your people’s talents.

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