Thursday, February 1, 2018

Why Can't Google Speak English?

By Wyn Lydecker

If you own or run a website, have you gotten the notification from Google about their new, beta, Google Search Console? I just took a look at mine. I cannot figure out much of what it is saying to me. In some cases, I see errors, or problems with indexing. But another item says there are 0 errors.

When I click on explanations, I get tech gobbledygook: Carousels, breadcrumbs, hierarchy... What does the following mean, for example?

"Only elements containing at least one non-query-refinement link count as a position; elements that have no links, or have only query refinement links, do not occupy a position. For example, a carousel of van Gogh paintings (which point to new Google searches) are not counted as position placeholders, and their presence does not affect the position value of elements below them on the page. If a non-positional carousel had appeared in the example above above the AMP page carousel (at position 2), it would not affect the position values anywhere on the page."

It seems that you have to understand HTML and the many nuances of coding to have a viable website that Google can index and show in its search results. The old idea of mere mortals using "plug and play" website templates seems to have gone the way of the horse and buggy. 

I guess we need the new sophistication because there are so many websites. The good news is that more coders will get jobs. For now, I'll just sit tight with what I've got.

What do you think? 

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

How to Avoid Startup Failure: Step #1 – Use Your Distinctive Competence

By Wyn Lydecker

Here is the ugly truth: Most startups fail.

In fact, the startup failure rate ranges from 75 to 90 percent.

Why is that?

CB Insights conducted post mortems of failure startups and published the results. They found that the top three reasons are:
  •         No Market Need
  •         Ran Out of Cash
  •         Not the Right Team

When my co-author, Ed McLaughlin, and I wrote our book, The Purpose Is Profit: The Truth about Starting and Building Your Own Business, one of our goals was to disrupt the startup failure rate. In the process, we included one chapter that distilled the business concepts and lessons revealed in the book and called it “The Ten Commandments of Startup Profit.” We published the chapter as a separate manifesto at

Four of those commandments can help you avoid the top three reasons startups fail.
  •         Base your business on your distinctive competence
  •          Don’t startup until you have a proven business model
  •         Take charge of the money and control it
  •         Recognize and hire lightning in a bottle

Today, I’m going to tackle the first commandment.

Distinctive Competence

When you have distinctive competence, you have a unique skill, talent or experience that gives you the special knowledge and insight into the market that enables you to create and develop an innovative business. Use your distinctive competence to find a real need in the marketplace and then fill it better than others can.

With Distinctive Competence, you will have insight into:
  •         the needs of the market
  •         business models that work
  •         how customers think
  •         pricing
  •         competition

Let me give you some examples:


Ed started two businesses. One was a great success. The other a dismal failure. The success was United Systems Integrators - USI – a real estate services outsourcing business. Ed left his corporate job and bootstrapped USI after he realized that real estate services outsourcing was where he had distinctive competence.  He knew the business model. He had an amazing track record of success. He had the knowledge. In the long-run Ed’s distinctive competence helped him build his business into an Inc. 500 company, which he eventually sold to a Fortune 100 company.


Nine months after starting USI, Ed started Sigma communications – to publish a commercial real estate journal that featured a corporate property exchange. It would bring buyers and sellers of commercial real estate together. This was a pure passion project. Ed had wanted to start a publishing company for years. But he lacked distinctive competence in publishing! His passion and lack of distinctive competence blinded him to the realities of the market and after three years of hemorrhaging cash, he had to shut Sigma down.

With the lack of distinctive competence, Ed failed to line up a lot of the things that made USI successful.

How Distinctive Competence Applies

I can’t promise you that you’ll be as successful as Ed was, but if you base your business on your distinctive competence, you’ll have a much better shot at avoiding the top three reasons for startup failure.
  •        You will already understand the market and its needs.
  •        You’ll have a grasp of business models that work – enabling you to use cash wisely, generate revenue, and ultimately make a profit and produce free cash flow.
  •         You will be a founder with industry knowledge, business acumen, or technical talent – a cornerstone of a potentially great management team.

Wyn Lydecker is coauthor of "The Purpose Is Profit: The Truth about Starting and Building Your Own Business", along with Ed “Skip” McLaughlin and Paul McLaughlin. "The Purpose Is Profit" (Greenleaf Book Group) is available at your local bookstore or on Amazon.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Startup Fever on College Campuses: 3 Questions

By Ed McLaughlin and Wyn Lydecker

The startup ambitions of MBA students and college undergrads have spawned discussions about whether aspiring young entrepreneurs should launch new business ventures while still in school. Students, graduates, professors and investors have varying opinions on whether startup fever should be a pursuit that is encouraged or discouraged while students strive to fulfill their academic requirements.

Here are three points of view:

1. Is Starting Up a Distraction?

Wall Street Journal writer, Lindsay Gellman, reported that Stanford Business School is encouraging its MBA students to avoid the distractions of a startup and to instead focus on their courses, campus life, and getting their degrees.

Educators argue that students need time to test their ideas and “embed desirability into the products, services, and experiences they create.” Instead of taking on the obligations of planning a new business and the pressures that come with meeting investors’ requirements, educators want students to spend their time on campus in preparation – not execution of their new businesses.
This runs in stark contrast to the lure of the Mark Zuckerberg startup experience with Facebook, which began with the collaboration of students in a Harvard dormitory and catapulted Zuckerberg to billionaire status by the time he was 23. But isn’t Zuckerberg the rare exception, the unicorn, not the rule?

2.  Can Students Afford to Put Funding on Hold?

It’s tough to put startup ambitions on hold when one is convinced of an idea that’s ripe and time-sensitive to attracting investor interest. In Rolfe Winkler’s article, Secretive, Sprawling Network of ‘Scouts’ Spreads Money Through Silicon Valley, he describes how venture firm Sequoia Capital funnels millions of dollars “to scores of well-connected entrepreneurs and academics” through scouts who looked for aspiring young entrepreneurs and their promising ideas.

Students argue that it’s hard and even foolish to swim upstream against the undercurrent of investors’ dollars that are available today and may or may not be there for the taking upon graduation.
First and foremost, startup fever and the desire to take hold of available funds must be weighed against whether or not the timing is right. Capital raised too early could lead to giving away too large a portion of equity and control. On the other hand, entrepreneurs who wait too long could endure a cash crunch as they attempt to scale.

As I wrote in When Is the Right Time to Fund Your Startup? – I recommend that founders complete these three steps before seeking outside funding:
  1. Make sure your business is positioned for consistent user growth
  2. Make sure your business offers the promise of future profits
  3. Make sure to develop a strategic plan that enables you to scale your business

3.  Can Campuses Offer Real-World Preparation?

MBA and undergraduate courses on entrepreneurship are on the rise to meet the swelling interests of a generation inspired by a combination of Silicon Valley’s billion-dollar success stories and the glamorization of entrepreneurship through programs like Shark Tank. Most college students are not looking to graduate with a one-size-fits-all skillset that will slot them into long-term commitment at a single company. Besides, as proven out by prior generations, students are wise to the fact that big companies can no longer offer the benefit of long-term career security anyway. So many ask, “Why not take control and start my own business?”

Colleges and universities want to be prepared for an incoming generation of problem-solvers with the drive to find solutions and the ambition to turn their ideas into new business ventures. Today’s students are wired to make a social impact and are willing to take the business risk to make a difference. They want to know how to pitch to investors, build a successful small business, and even take a shot at becoming the next Unicorn.

The Real Question

Rather than trying to turn back the dial on startup fever and asking if students can receive real world preparation on campuses, the real question is this: “How will college campuses help budding entrepreneurs identify where they are in their startup journey, meet them at that point, and provide them with the resources and mentorship programs to set them up for success?”

Embracing Startup Fever

Since entrepreneurship does offer independence and the fulfillment of dreams, we can hardly be surprised that it is becoming an important component of the curriculum on college and university campuses around the world.

This article was originally published on LinkedIn by Ed McLaughlin. Ed McLaughlin is author of "The Purpose Is Profit: The Truth about Starting and Building Your Own Business", along with co-authors Wyn Lydecker and Paul McLaughlin. "The Purpose Is Profit" (Greenleaf Book Group) is available at your local bookstore or on Amazon.