I first met Borja Obeso when he entered the Pitney Bowes Smallbiz Mentorship Contest. He put together a compelling case for wanting a mentor to help him with his fledgling business. As a result of his efforts, Borja was selected to participate in a three-month mentorship program with me back in September.
Borja is a classic millennial entrepreneur. He has several companies that work together to help other entrepreneurs run better businesses. The product we decided to work on is called Cerebro, an audience segmentation software program for WordPress users. It allows bloggers to show different versions of their web sites to different audiences based on their interests.
Cerebro is a new product for Borja. With a new product or service come many unanswered questions. Borja had a sense of where he wanted the product to be in three years, but his roadmap, from here to there, was filled with many gray and ambiguous areas.
In our monthly Skype calls, we took a hard look under the hood at the business he recently built. With each conversation, I learned more about Borja’s business by asking questions that often challenged him, forcing him to revisit areas that weren’t fully vetted. At the end of each call, I gave Borja suggestions intended to strengthen those areas and better position him for success. Borja was very comfortable re-evaluating every aspect of his plan. He wanted to get it right. To do so, he was willing to go back and do some due diligence to set his new business up to succeed.
Build a Proper GPS Plan
Over the course of our mentorship program, Borja and I focused on four things tied to drawing up his roadmap:
1) Competitive Analysis – research all companies that sell a product or service that serves the needs of your potential customer. In doing so, Borja uncovered competitors he had not considered, including products that looked very different than his own. This exercise enables Borja to better position his product to appeal to his potential customer base.
1) Proving the Concept—find the first paying customer to show us that Cerebro was a viable product. Borja proved the concept last month and is now onto the second stage.
2) Creating Sustainability—generate enough revenue so that Borja no longer needed outside investments to run his business. This is an important stage for Borja; one that he thinks will happen by the end of 2015. There is strong interest from bloggers wanting to know more about how their readers can receive segmented content based on their interests. Creating a sustainable business is a difficult task for many company owners.
3) Growth Strategies—once we meet the first two goals, where would Borja want to take the company? This area still remains somewhat ambiguous—Borja has a good sense of his ultimate goal, but realizes there may be several paths that can get him to his final destination with Cerebro.
Harnessing Borja’s Energy
Borja did an excellent job in creating Cerebro and making it relevant to a fast-growing audience of potential customers. He has tremendous energy and passion which is vital to getting his startup business off the ground. The challenge was to harness his energy into a focused approach which will help get him past some of the larger obstacles in his way. Creating a roadmap of the first two stages of his GPS plan succeeded in giving Borja the visual that he needed for harnessing his energy. He now has intermediate goals in the areas of marketing, social media, sales and customer service to help him build a sustainable business. He is excited about the possibilities in the New Year and is ready to execute the plan we created together during our mentorship program.
Working with Borja helped me reaffirm many of the principles I use in my own business. It’s imperative to know who is my target audience and how well do I know them. I must also refer to my own roadmap on a regular basis and treat it as a living, breathing document. Lastly, I should make sure my mentors are connected with me and my business so that they can be an extra set of eyes and ears for me. Sometimes, as we work in the weeds of our businesses, it’s easy to lose sight of the big picture.
For more updates on the PBSmallBiz Mentorship Contest winners and other good advice from our mentors, Marsha Collier and Brian Moran, follow us on Twitter @pbsmallbusiness. For the latest insights from our Pitney Bowes Small Business Chat, please click here for the full Storify.