Category: Entrepreneurship


A year has passed since my last post – and I feel sorry for it. Back then, I was running a few blogs. But work has been busy. I also got married in the year that has passed to Gyte (website).

I still work at DONGenergy, the biggest energy company in Denmark, in the exploration and production. We do the oil and gas stuff.

It is hard to go from an entreprenour and then to a normal “slave for salary”. I cannot let go, not having an eye on new ideas or innovation possibilities. To satisfy the hunger a bit I took an inspiration lecture on making business plans for this competition. It was mildly satisfying – and yet also tempting. Many of my friends have finished university the passed year and I have talked to them about going solo. But many of them seek the safe life. I do understand, some of them have already children and bought a house and stuff like that. They need the steady income.

In the autumn it got too much and I believed I could start something positioned as an investor – and I think it has been pretty good. One of the graphical designers (Olgerd) from my former company took up the challange and we have started the glorious IC Enterprises. The name is a mix of Icommerce Enterprises, and the playing of sound in I See Enterprises. Pretty smart I thought.

Well, the concept is simple. We built a big range of webshops selling niche products. Our first launch has been Coolskins.dk . We have been in the air for a good week now. We sell skins for laptops, Iphones and Ipods – well practically anything you can put a skin on.

The system is based on Magento  and I am very pleased with that.

We have started making marketing initiatives – especially advertisment on Facebook and made a Facebook fanpage. Now time has comed for some search engine workout and further down the line we need some cool bloggers to write about our products on coolskins.

 The next goal will be making a webshop for bags with all kind of cool patterns and stuff. Looking forward to it.

So, if you need a skin for your laptop, netbook, iphone or Ipod – you need to go to Coolskins.dk :-)

The start of the year also brought in a lot of other new things than just a 9 instead of a 8.

Ignoring the more personal things, I started in my new job at DONG Energy. DONG Energy is the biggest energy producer in Denmark and is a company in rapid growth.

I am placed as project coordinator in the Exploration & Production division. More accurate, I am placed in Project Support under Technology & Operation Services.

I have been here a short time and have quickly gained insight in the complexity of big scale project management. One of my key responsibilities is to develop and implement a new project model for the organisation – a job I initially thought as easy.

But I must admit it is a complex size. Not because the work as such is difficult, for start I assist one of our skilled consultants, but I see the complex of organizational and stakeholder politics and interests. Gaining broad ownership for such a big project and key project is very difficult. Making so many people work in the sam direction would not be possible without top management backing and outstading diplomatic skills.

You should choose you battles with great concern and focus on compromises.

People might ask, what about imaginess, my own company?

Well, we have set a path to sell it on to new owners that will further explore the potential. We hope to make the official transfer during next month. But that also comes with a range of difficulties. Transfering clients is not a problem, but the extensive knowledge that comes with the business is more difficult. You can write pages after pages about the details of the market, technology and so on – but you will never get it all.

So, our only option is to do it as good as possible and stay by as board members to give advice and guidance.

Lastly, I would like to wish you all a happy and fortunate New Year.

I would like to dedicate a serie of posts about the famous Peter Drucker. Known to many as the “Father of modern management” and to me as a great philosopher.

Peter Drucker has over the past 50-60 years been leading on thoughts on business, entreprenourship, innovation and management. Born in 1909 he had closely followed the change from industrialization and into our known knowledge society. He wrote a ton of exciting books and articles until his death in 2005.

From Wikipedia I have gathered some of his key points:

Several ideas run through most of Drucker’s writings:

  • Decentralization and simplification. Drucker discounted the command and control model and asserted that companies work best when they are decentralized. According to Drucker, corporations tend to produce too many products, hire employees they don’t need (when a better solution would be outsourcing), and expand into economic sectors that they should avoid.
  • A profound skepticism of macroeconomic theory. Drucker contended that economists of all schools fail to explain significant aspects of modern economies.
  • Respect of the worker. Drucker believed that employees are assets and not liabilities. He taught that knowledge workers are the essential ingredients of the modern economy.
  • A belief in what he called “the sickness of government.” Drucker made nonpartisan claims that government is often unable or unwilling to provide new services that people need or want, though he believed that this condition is not inherent to democracy.
  • The need for “planned abandonment.” Businesses and governments have a natural human tendency to cling to “yesterday’s successes” rather than seeing when they are no longer useful.
  • A belief that taking action without thinking is the cause of every failure.[18]
  • The need for community. Early in his career, Drucker predicted the “end of economic man” and advocated the creation of a “plant community” where individuals’ social needs could be met. He later acknowledged that the plant community never materialized, and by the 1980s, suggested that volunteering in the non-profit sector was the key to fostering a healthy society where people found a sense of belonging and civic pride.
  • The need to manage business by balancing a variety of needs and goals, rather than subordinating an institution to a single value.[19][20] This concept of management by objectives forms the keynote of his 1954 landmark “The Practice of Management”.[21]
  • A company’s primary responsibility is to serve its customers. Profit is not the primary goal, but rather an essential condition for the company’s continued existence.[22]
  • Organization should have a proper way of executing all its business processes

Many of these points inspire me as a manager and as a person. His views are often deeply philosophical and challanging the perception of normal business.

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I better continue the personal posts – they are surely easiest to write. I want to talk a bit about what I do, and why I do it.

On a daily basis I try to run a company. I am co-owner together with 2 partners. It is the company Imaginess design & dtp.

We have been doing this for a year now and I would say we have a steady growth. Our core concept is to outsource graphical design for Danish companies to our Lithuanian company. We started out outsourcing directly to Lithuanian freelancers – but have realized that we need a steady base of work. Meaning full time designers. We have now some nice office spaces in the artsy quarter of Vilnius.

Challenges

The challenges are many and I can divide them on a internal and external level.

1. Communications: First of all, I and one of my partners live here in Copenhagen. It makes communication internally very difficult. We try through Skype and mail – but hard it is.

2. Competences, ressources and capabilities: Our business strategy is highly based on minimizing risks. This means that we have not invested any money in the company. It also means that growth through economical ressources is going slow. We would do miracles with 10 million Euros.

It also comes to the personal competences. A small company is depending on that everyone has a drive and very broad competences. Designers should be business managers and business managers should be designers. And everyone should be skilled in project management.

So when it comes to big organizational capabilities, it is difficult. I see myself as a good strategist, but it is hard to think strategy in a small company where financing is low and most of the time goes with doing daily stuff.

3. External comes when we face costumers – or potential ones. It is hard work to do B2B – mass marketing does not work. And it makes it even harder when there is a high mistrust to your product from the decision makers.

Outsourcing can be dangerous and many concerns arrise with the client. We try to do what we can to reduce these uncertainties, but it is difficult. Therefor we are preparing to hire an external sales consultant to work for us. We realize that as entreprenours we are not professional sales persons. Our sales corner is not working as effective as it should.

So we hope from 2009 that we can have a highly effective outsources sales corner.

Additionally I have also a few other concepts “in the lake” – but let’s take them another day…

I have up to recently been living in Vilnius, Lithuania, and developing my company Imaginess. That was of course not the sole reason for me being there – it was of course because of my Lithuanian fiancée.

We just moved to Copenhagen and continue running the company.

As I was in Lithuania, which is a “emerging market”, I was looking around and considered many business concepts and models that had great success in Denmark and considered if the same success could be gained in this market.

I believe many entrepreneurs and companies have used this tactic – but not always with equal success. It is surely not given, what works in one country also works in another.

There are a few fits that needs to be considered. Some are:

- Culture

- Technology

- Need

- Competitors/substitutions

- Size

An example of a “business transition trap” is the huge market for web shops in Denmark. Everybody buys all kind of stuff online. In Lithuania only a very small percentage have a credit card that can be used to paying online. Often people borrow credit cards to be used.

Many people walk around with debit cards which cannot always be used as payment online. This is a significant risk and challenge for any online business in Lithuania.

Seeing at Lithuania, the biggest general challenge for many West European business models is the size and purchase strength of the businesses and consumers in the country. Only a very limited amount of the 3.5 million people have the money to buy things more than basic needs.

So from this can be learned. Going to an emerging market can be tough. Sometimes the business will have a tough start as the technology and growth (purchase power) emerges. But first mover advantage is always a big strength toward coming competitors. With a long enough horizont, this is mean the difference between failure and succes.

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