Monday, November 29, 2010

What You Practice

37slogo-transI saw a very interesting blog at 37 Signals on this quote

“The things you do more often are the things you’re going to get good at. So if you get really good at spending money, you’re going to be really good at spending money. If you have to work on making money from day one, you’re going to get really damn good at making money. And that’s what you need to be as an entrepreneur…

The problem I have is when companies’ business model is free only. And then they say, “We’ll figure out how to make money later.” As if there’s going to be this magic switch they can flip…If you’re not practicing making money, you’re not going to be able to flip that switch and just know how to do it really well. You need to have some time. You need to have some experience at making money.”

It’s by Jason Fried from an interview on the new workplace for the new normal.

In all of my businesses, we’ve had an idea on how to make money from day one. We haven’t always been successful at it, but we knew in a few of them that we were going to depend on advertising. In another we knew that paying students were important.

I think that often someone is looking at another business and think they they will duplicate the revenue model at some point, even if they don’t state it or even consciously realize it. For many companies on the Internet, advertising seems to be the default model, or maybe fallback model, if nothing else works.

There are a few companies that have grown very large without an overt revenue model (Google, Twitter), but that’s the exception. Counting on being an outlier is a good way to fail.

Friday, November 19, 2010


I think there’s a lot of timing that comes into success in business. More and more as I learn more about companies and see management in action, I think that luck and timing plays a part in success more than people care to admit.

I think it’s far more likely that bad management can ruin a company than good management can save it. Good management has some influence, but mostly I think it’s taking advantage of opportunity and making investments when you can.

I saw this post about timing, and it makes a lot of sense to me. Your ability to succeed can come down to some amount of timing. I used auction sites, search engines, and video sites that existed before the current market leaders (Ebay, Google, and YouTube), but for some reason those died and didn’t succeed. I don’t think it was technology, or even management, though some of that might be true. I think it’s more that the timing was better for market leaders.

So what does that mean for you? First it means you can’t predict or count on a blockbuster, so don’t try. Second, it means build a sustainable business so you’ll be around if the opportunity for you to grow comes around.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Embracing Fair Trade

Most small businesses don’t have global supply chains, but they do consume products, and they are under pressures to compete effectively. As they grow up, some of them continue to grow with that same fire and competitiveness, forgetting that social responsibility is still important, and can exist alongside profits.

I saw the video above at TED, and it was amazing to me. There are human rights abuses all over the world, and it’s nothing new to many of us. Large companies have used sweatshops for years. What is amazing, is that President Clinton convened a summit with many large multi-national corporations when he was in office. They managed to get many companies to agree to write a code of conduct into their contracts with suppliers.

This results in many of these suppliers actually being able to enforce better human rights issues in the workplace than the local governments can. Private enterprise helps to enforce global rights; that's amazing to me. You can check on companies at

I think this is something you should consider when you purchase products, and run your business. Embrace some social responsibility alongside your profit motive.

Friday, November 12, 2010

How I like to work

This is a great sign. I see if every time I go to Brother’s BBQ in Denver and it never fails to make me smile.


I snapped a quick picture last week, and in case you can’t see it because of the sun, the sign says:




Those are great hours, especially for restaurant. A little flexibility is good, especially if business is good. Why knock off if things are going well, but why commit to longer hours if there’s no business.

These could be great hours for your business as well. Give employees a little flexibility. Let them think they are deciding when them come into work. I know some businesses that have “core hours” that are something like 10-2 and allow employees to flex around those hours.

Just don’t say your core hours are 9-5. That’s not fun, or fair. In essence you’re not allowing any flexibility and expecting employees to work more.

It’s also fun, and fun should be a little more part of our lives.