It's one thing to learn about a powerful strategy or management technique that works and it's another thing entirely to actually implement it. One of the best books I've read in years is The Only Sustainable Edge. It suggests that trying to do everything inhouse won't work anymore. That to be competitive you not only need to outsource everything that isn't your primary focus, but you also need to outsource to the firms whose capacities are increasing faster than others, and to partner with firms on the edge of your business.
If you run a business with an internet strategy, hopefully you've started thinking about a mobile strategy as well. You need to skate where the puck is going and not where it has been. IDC estimates that 24 million US mobile phone users will pay for some kind of TV/Video content or services by 2010, up from 7 million this year. That is a sizeable market share. And it will only get bigger.
A recent MarketingSherpa report shows that more than half of online sales at high-growth e-commerce sites come from search engine marketing (that includes PPC and SEO). Here's a quote:
According to MarketingSherpa 2006 study data, high-growth ecommerce sites get 19% of their overall traffic from search engine optimization (SEO) and 32% from paid search ads. That's 51% of ecommerce site traffic driven by a handful of search engines.
So in the past 7 months, Provo Labs has started or invested in 11 companies. It's been a bit wild. So for the next 6 months at least, we are going to stop investing and incubating new ideas and focus 100% of our energies on helping our current portfolio with revenue growth, with the goal of getting each company to cash flow positive without any additional investment from Provo Labs.
Carolynn Duncan used an ingenious approach to convince me and Phil that she was the right person for our latest position at Provo Labs. After finding out about the opening from her friend Adam (who works at our online video company 10Speed Media), she started a blog called "Why Provo Labs Wants to Hire Carolyn Duncan" at blogspot.
Today my World Vital Records team let me see a sneak peek of what they have been working on for the last few weeks. We've been talking with genealogists around the world, attending conferences, and trying to create our company strategy. We have been acquiring large and small databases. There are so many wonderful companies and individuals in the genealogy industry that we are excited to partner with. We have been telling everyone that we are going to build the #2 genealogy company in the world. I guess we'll see if we can pull that off with the help of good partners and customers.
Phil Burns, whom I have described in the past as a Web 2.0 native that makes me feel like an old, slow, immigrant, is now heading up one of the most exciting things we are doing at Provo Labs. He describes in a recent blog our new Provo Labs Consulting services and how we will are utilizing our employees, our portfolio companies, and their extended networks to provide excellent technology and business solutions for its customers. Phil is on fire with this concept.
I recently wrote an article for Connect Magazine about business incubators and Provo Labs in particular. It explains what we are trying to do at Provo Labs and why we think it will work. One thing we have learned already since December is that our internal team needs to focus on one major project at a time and get it to completion, rather than having 5-10 simultaneous projects that are "on the brink" of completion but aren't generating any value for customers.