Permanent Beta (or pBeta)- The New Color of Your Parachute

My site pBeta.Us is in development to provide entrepreneurs, founders, businesses, and really anyone tools, resources, guidance, and a forum to discuss the development of their own permanent beta.  P-Beta is a state of being fluid and constantly changing and adapting to your environment, the market, and your personal or business needs.

Reid Hoffman, co-founder of LinkedIn, in his recent book “The Start-Up of You“  describes how running a start-up can be compared to how individuals should approach their career progression.  He uses the term permanent beta to describe the process of what start-ups use and people can learn from.  Beta has several definitions, but the core has to do with measuring existing change or whether change needs to occur.  In finance, beta often has to do with volatility of pricing, so measuring how much change is involved.  In the tech world, beta is often the label applied to so-called “beta tests” where a computer product or software is launched in its current state to see if there are any problems with the software that need to be fixed and to get a reaction from the market to measure other aspects related to marketing as well.  It comes down to being willing to and measuring change based upon current conditions and the marketplace.

Mr. Hoffman uses “permanent beta” to explain how start-ups and individuals should always be watching for changes that need to occur and being flexible to adapt in order to succeed and survive.  So in one’s career, one may need to adapt their thinking to react to market needs to stay competitive.  This willingness to change and adapt I believe is like a fluid motion where you are always aware of your environment.  To me, using the word “permanent” with beta tends to sound like a final point; however, I would argue that you should think of it as a “perpetual” beta.  The meaning attached is really the same, but to me, perpetual gives more of the meaning of the fluidity to constantly adapt to survive.  Continuously changing has helped me during some difficult times in my career.  When the type of work you want to do has slowed down due to the economy (the marketplace), you often have to find something else you may know how to do to survive.  I love helping start-ups and entrepreneurs; however, in 2008 and 2009, funding for small business and start-ups became much more difficult to come by.  I decided to refocus my law practice to an area of law that had become very needed with high demand which I already knew how to do, bankruptcy and foreclosure/real estate litigation.

Perpetual beta is the state of being always willing to adapt to the changing marketplace and moving in a fluid motion testing where you can be successful and making the necessary changes along the way.  Like a start-up, you may test certain things out and not be successful in many of them; however, you learn from each “failure” (although I don’t consider them a failure when you are trying and learning).

The purpose of this site is to constantly provide advice, guidance, resources, and some real like stories of people or company’s changes made to stay in perpetual beta.  Part of this site and my other main site SiliconValleyStartupAttorney.com is to tear down the veil of secrecy behind things that people want to or should know, such as the law, fund raising, finance, and venture capital.  Just as Jim Cramer has done on his TV show, books, and website Mad Money®.  He wants to educate the consumer and states “That’s why we try to help you understand the rules of their game.”  He is a former big banker making tons of money on Wall Street, but saw that people couldn’t make the changes they needed without the right info.  This is the information age and there is no reason to keep secrets behind the doors of lawyers, doctors, hedge fund managers, or investment bankers.  Cramer goes on to state, “You can’t make money in the market if you don’t understand it. It’s like playing Monopoly without knowing what Pennsylvania’s worth, or how much it costs to put a hotel up on Boardwalk. My job is to make sure you have not just the facts, but also the rules – and those rules are always changing.”

As the rules and market change, you or your business need to be able to change and learn.  I plan to do a century ride sometime before I die.  A century ride is a bike ride for 100 miles.  My bike skills have been in perpetual beta since I was 4 years old.  I went from a tri-cycle to training wheels to dirt bike and now I’m learning to ride long distances on a lightweight high-tech road bike (with wheels as wide as a toothpick which can be tough).  Keep your life in pBeta and teach others how to pBeta.Us.  Bring your comments or requests for info here and I would highly suggest Reid’s book “The Start-Up of You” which you can find online or at your local bookstore.

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