Blog

Monthly shots of practical advice.

Hi, I’m Diane. I help entrepreneurs like you distill their ideas into growing businesses, one step at a time.

How do I do that? By helping make “the hard parts” easy for you, and making it simple to figure out what you should be focusing on NOW.

For 20+ years I’ve been helping all kinds of clients in all kinds of industries — and I’d love to help you, too :-)

How to Interview Customers to Get the Critical Market Data You Need

How to Interview Customers to Get the Critical Market Data You Need

  Figuring out who your target customers are can be hard — that’s why I like creating customer personas that accurately reflect what your target customers want, need, struggle with and hope for. With a good set of personas in hand, your startup’s odds of success...

Customer Personas: What They Are (and Why They’re Indispensable)

Customer Personas: What They Are (and Why They’re Indispensable)

  Need help finding customers? Not sure who they are or where they hang out? Your first step is to focus on identifying your target customers, and part of that process involves creating something called a customer persona. If you’ve never heard of it, not to...

5 Steps to Finding Your Target Customers

5 Steps to Finding Your Target Customers

  There are a lot of people telling me to blast ads all over Facebook and Instagram, but that doesn’t resonate with me. How do I find where my target audience lives without blasting ads all over the internet?When I heard Max’s question, I immediately thought, “It...

The Secret to Getting It Right the First Time

The Secret to Getting It Right the First Time

  So you’ve decided to launch a new business. You’re super excited and rarin’ to go — damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead! One of the most basic human urges is to rush in and get things going without stopping to think, evaluate and consider all the “details.”...

Launching a Business? Don’t Skip This One Thing

Launching a Business? Don’t Skip This One Thing

  When you’re launching a new business, talking to people is an essential part of putting together your business plan. If you write your plan in a vacuum, you’ll make critical errors that could sink your business just as it’s getting started — something...

3 Things That Can Sabotage Your Startup

3 Things That Can Sabotage Your Startup

  Take a look at the survival statistics of new businesses and you’ll see that more of them fail than succeed. But the statistics don’t tell the whole story. Startups can fail for a lot of reasons. Sure, sometimes those reasons are external — the market suddenly...

Are Business Plans a Waste of Time?

Are Business Plans a Waste of Time?

  There’s a common misconception that business plans are rigid documents that lock you into a roadmap you can’t deviate from. It’s not surprising that people who believe that resist writing one. Isn’t a startup supposed to be open and responsive to market forces...

The Sources & Uses of Funds Spreadsheet: What You Need to Know

The Sources & Uses of Funds Spreadsheet: What You Need to Know

  If you’re not a numbers person, I recommend reading or listening to Financial Projections Explained (Even If You’re Not a Numbers Person) and The Difference Between P&L and Cash Flow Projections before reading this article.When entrepreneurs look at getting...

Why Cash is King… NOT Profit

Why Cash is King… NOT Profit

  Believe it or not, even the most profitable companies can fail — and when they do, they’re always caught by surprise. One month, they’re saying, “Profits are up! The numbers have never been better!” but the next month, they’re announcing that they’re closing...

Your Business Needs an Annual Review

Your Business Needs an Annual Review

  Imagine it’s been a year since you launched your startup — or another year has flown by since you did. Before opening your doors you had time to think about the big picture — which products and services to offer, the kind of company culture you want to develop,...

The Virtue of Limited Resources

The Virtue of Limited Resources

  Over the years, I’ve noticed an interesting connection between resources (i.e., money) and innovation. The more constrained or limited a startup’s budget, the more innovative they tend to be. In other words, necessity is the mother of invention. Some of the...

7 Business Plan Blunders You Need to Avoid

7 Business Plan Blunders You Need to Avoid

  Most entrepreneurs write business plans because they have to — either to raise money from investors or to obtain a bank loan. But to successfully secure outside funding, your business plan has to be strong. Very strong. Because a business plan is a bit of a...

Stop Worrying About the Other Guy

Stop Worrying About the Other Guy

  Way back when, I was walking down Chicago’s super-hip stretch of Milwaukee Avenue in Wicker Park, and my friend pointed out some recent changes that were happening to the menu at Red Mango. For those of you who aren’t familiar, Red Mango is a national frozen...

What If I Don’t Want To “Scale” My Business?

What If I Don’t Want To “Scale” My Business?

  Everyone wants to grow their business over time, but not everyone necessarily wants to scale their business. “Scaling” is a buzzword you hear all the time in startup circles (and the media). They talk about it as if it’s the ultimate goal — the thing you should...

Why Now is the Perfect Time to Start a Business

Why Now is the Perfect Time to Start a Business

  When we think of starting a business, we often envision economic boom times. Bull markets, investors handing out money like cheap beer at a frat party... it’s easy to think of taking the leap when times are good.  When times aren’t so good, our instinct is to...

Advice I’m Giving Right Now: Breaking Down Big Goals Into Baby Steps

Advice I’m Giving Right Now: Breaking Down Big Goals Into Baby Steps

  “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” ­— Lao Tzu “You can break that big plan into small steps and take the first step right away.” — Indira GandhiAdvice I’m Giving Right Now is a series where I share with you the real advice I’m giving...