Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Wednesday business (and Rosetta) thoughts

  Midweek: lots done, lots still to do.  Nothing organized for today, ‘just a few reflections on business and life.

Eindhoven shoesI took the train up to Eindhoven yesterday to meet with a business coach provided by my ex-company’s outplacement service.  He was prepared for people uncertain of what to do next (maybe start a business?): I wanted help with a marketing plan, contact information for a website designer, and links to grant agencies.

They were very nice folks, but there was a bit of an impedance mismatch.  Still, they may offer some useful resources and seminars once we have a working relationship going, and I feel like I need an objective review of my business structure and materials.

More generally, I’m finding that there’s a lack of resources for people ready to move beyond the basics of incorporating and writing their first business plan.  Everything seems geared towards getting people into the boat and pushed off the dock: there’s not much about paddling in the current once you are out there.

On the bright side, it was a nice day to wander the city, noting local oddities like a string of tennis shoes above the road, reminiscent of “Wag the Dog”.


River My social media experiment (taking Seth Godin’s advice to create a niche affinity group on a social networking site) continues to thrive.  I’ve been getting about four requests to join each day, and it’s become a cottage industry for me an hour each morning, approving members, updating news, and posting a few thoughts as a discussion.  The people joining are mostly new to me, yet sometimes reaching out to make contact and offer ideas.  It seems remarkably self-organizing and self-perpetuating.

I’m starting to see where the Commitment part of Seth’s charter comes in: these do require time to keep the content fresh and the discussions interesting.  Fun to build, but it could easily consume the bulk of each day.

It also seems somewhat hit-and-miss: a second group, focused on expat networks in the Netherlands, sits silently empty.


If the business seems to be growing organically, finding it’s own path to the sun, what is the value of writing a business plan?  My business has to have a purpose, a scope, and a way to make money, otherwise it becomes an “Anything for a buck!” business.  The statements of principal need to be explicit and adhered to.  But the product plan, market plan, investor plan, all seem much more fluid and opportunistic, any business plan will be out of date in weeks.

I remember similar discussions about research project planning: there is a process for feeling your way and a goal to that you know when you are done, but the plan is less explicit.  Essentially, early-stage business planning is similar: I find myself taking ideas into small experiments, then pushing resources behind the ones that work.  I give some thought to the ones that didn’t, but don’t “push on the the rope” just because it was in the plan.


Rosettabmp Like every expat, I subscribed to Rosetta Stone when I first arrived to help me learn a bit of Dutch at home, self-paced.  I was not too excited by it: there was a lot of pedantic matching text to pictures and, while this helped with vocabulary, it didn’t help me to be an independent speaker.

Last summer, I subscribed to their re-launched online service and I really like the new format better.

There is a greater emphasis on audio learning, and the say and repeat format is much improved.  There is a rudimentary voice recognition that checks pronunciation, and segments where you type sentences rather than matching them.  It’s really forcing my articulation to improve (I can tell because my mouth hurts after a lesson).

There is still a lot of emphasis on intuitive learning rather than explicit help and it sometimes gets confusing (e.g.: when do you spell the adjective for “yellow” as gele, and when as geel?  The exercises feel random until I looked it up in a grammar book.)

(Note: I paid for my own subscription, and receive no compensation from Rosetta for this note)

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