10 secrets of success for news executives trying to create mobile presence


Nothing in digital is easy!” These were the succinct words of a colleague who sensed my frustration recently at struggling to get all pieces together of a sports app I was developing commercially for The Telegraph. In a nutshell he summed up how sometimes, in this brave new world in which we operate, it can be difficult to achieve all we want to or need to.

But a few encouraging and focused points can help us battle our way through the mobile maze.

So, I set about listing the 10 things I reckon are the most important things we need to focus on when driving our mobile presence. Not all on the list are mobile-specific. They don’t need to be. What is important here is having a general success path, a checklist to ensure we give ourselves the best possible chance of achieving our goals.

I have littered the list with comments from successful business people, which seem to back up the 10 points. See if you agree.

1. Fill your brain with information.

Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen said that by doing this you will eventually “come up with an idea for something.” Just make the information relevant to all things mobile and tablets in this case.

2. Get in touch with other people in the same field as you and share experiences.

This means mobile service providers, mobile operators, other industries, sometimes even competitors. We’re in this together, shaping the new digital world. No panacea exists to fit all, so we can share successes and failures with like-minded people who may at least help steer your efforts and eliminate much wasted energy. Get out there and network and present at relevant seminars. All these things help your understanding for you and your company and expand your knowledge base, too.

3. Get a reputation for being a problem solver.

Bosses and colleagues love a person who can deal with a problem and provide one or more solutions to fix it. You become the fountain of all knowledge someone people want to have in their team. The mobile and tablet world has many learning experiences, almost daily. Learn from your highs and lows and then put what you’ve learned into practice.

4. Be a true team player.

Recognise and applaud the help, contributions and endeavours of the people around you. It’s likely they will know more than you do. Respect that and show them your respect vocally and in writing. Respect breeds success!

5. “Listen to your gut!”

These are the words of one of American billionaire entrepreneur Donald Trump. He reasons that this should always be your acid test. No matter how good something looks on paper, sometimes you just know something is right or wrong.

6. Don’t think that being first is always best.

At the Telegraph, sometimes it has been tempting to rush in and be seen as pioneers in certain new fields. Sometimes that is the right thing to do — sometimes not. Good industry knowledge, gut feel, research and other priorities may well dictate that being second is sometimes good. Someone once said that the first plumber’s van on the road in the morning will probably be driven by the guy who has forgotten to throw his tools in the back. While keen is good, keen and well organised will get you better success.

7. Network

At every opportunity, network. It’s the fabric of your business, especially in a forming digital/mobile landscape. Learn from others and share your own experiences. (Check out a great little app in the Apple store from U.K. entrepreneur James Caan called Business Secrets.)

8. Never quit!

Heavyweight boxing champion Mike Tyson once said “no matter what, winners never quit and quitters never win.” Good advice. Yes, it can be frustrating. It can be a steep learning curve, but if you fall off your horse, get back in the saddle as soon as you can and carry on.

9. Research your market thoroughly.

U.K. entrepreneur Lord Alan Sugar says you should make sure that there isn’t something out there in your market that is the same as your product already. “Why would anyone want to buy from you if the same thing is already available?” he says. So, what is it that sets our app apart? What is it that “floating readers” will want in our tablet subscription and not our competitors? What new developments, trends and devices are in the market today or are coming soon that give us the edge? Have you done your homework? How do our existing readers interact with us already in this space? What lessons can be derived?

10. And last — but not least — don’t try and sell your idea to others around you if you can’t even sell it to yourself.

Keep true to yourself and others. Is it really a good idea? Can you commercialise it? Will your audience like it? Dan Sullivan, founder of Strategic Coach, an entrepreneurial coaching programme, sums it up perfectly, “adopt a no bullshit approach always!”


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