Because that’s the way we have always done it …
If you ever really want to get me mad, just bring up this phrase or something comparable in a business conversation. “That’s the way we have always done it.” Could there ever be a worse reason for doing something.
Do it because it’s the right thing. Do it because it’s the only thing. Do it because it’s all you know how to do or because it’s all you can afford. But please, don’t do it because its the way you have always done it.
Im a whiner. I guess I finally have to admit it. I took a look back at the way I have lived my life, and I cant come to any other conclusion.
Im sure there have been many other things I have whined about in the past, and many more that I will whine about in the future. What I dont understand is why so many people think whining has a negative connotation. I dont.
Whining is the first step towards change. Its the moment when you realize something is very wrong and that you have to take the initiative todo something about it. Sure, criticism usually comes along with the territory. Who cares ?
People who dont whine are punching bags. They just go about their days, their jobs, their lives, knowing there is nothing they can do to change a darn thing, so why say a word ?They see no reason to whine because they know they are incapable of affecting change.
Call me a whiner any day.
Rules of Success. #1: Sweat Equity is the best equity!
I came to realize that there are “Rules of Success” that I saw in companies that
excelled. Where companies failed to follow those rules, inevitably, they failed. I found myself checking with “My
Rules” before I made decisions. When I traded stocks or considered investments in companies, I applied The Rules to
their business before I made a decision.
The Rules are not infallible. They have their limits.
where they will help you is to know how little guys coming out of nowhere are going to disrupt your business.
Where The Rules will help you is if you are considering starting, or currently run your own business. There are
always exceptions to any rules, but I can assure you that those exceptions will be rare. Entrepreneurs that don’t
follow the rules are far more likely to fail. There is no doubt about it.
Rule #1: Sweat Equity is the best start up capital.
The best businesses in recent entrepreneurial history are those that have been started with little or no money.
Dell Computer, MicroSoft, Apple, HP and tens of thousands of others started in dorm rooms, tiny offices or garages.
There weren’t 100 page long business plans. In all of my businesses, I started by putting together spreadsheets of my
expenses, which allowed me to calculate how much revenue I needed to break even and keep the lights on in my
office and my apartment. I wrote overviews of what I was selling, why I thought the business made sense, an overview
of my competition and why my product and/or service would be important to my customers, and why they should buy or
use it. All of it on a piece of yellow paper or in a word processing file, and none of it cost me more than the diet
soda I was drinking while I was writing it up.
I hear it all the time from people. “I’m passionate about it.” “I’m not going to quit, It’s my passion”. Or I hear it as advice to students and others “Follow your passion”.
What a bunch of BS. “Follow Your Passion” is easily the worst advice you could ever give or get.
Why ? Because everyone is passionate about something. Usually more than 1 thing. We are born with it. There are always going to be things we love to do. That we dream about doing. That we really really want to do with our lives. Those passions aren’t worth a nickel.
Think about all the things you have been passionate about in your life. Think about all those passions that you considered making a career out of or building a company around. How many were/are there ? Why did you bounce from one to another ? Why were you not able to make a career or business out of any of those passions ? Or if you have been able to have some success, what was the key to the success.? Was it the passion or the effort you put in to your job or company ?
If you really want to know where you destiny lies, look at where you apply your time.
Time is the most valuable asset you don’t own. You may or may not realize it yet, but how you use or don’t use your time is going to be the best indication of where your future is going to take you .
Let me make this as clear as possible
1. When you work hard at something you become good at it.
2. When you become good at doing something, you will enjoy it more.
3. When you enjoy doing something, there is a very good chance you will become passionate or more passionate about it
4. When you are good at something, passionate and work even harder to excel and be the best at it, good things happen.
Don’t follow your passions, follow your effort. It will lead you to your passions and to success, however you define it.
A Couple of My Rules for Startups
1. Don’t start a company unless its an obsession and something you love.
2. If you have an exit strategy, its not an obsession.
3. Hire people who you think will love working there.
4. Sales Cures All. Know how your company will make money and how you will actually make sales.
5. Know your core competencies and focus on being great at them. Pay up for people in your core competencies. Get the best. Outside the core competencies, hire people that fit your culture but are cheap
6. An expresso machine ? Are you kidding me ? Shoot yourself before you spend money on an expresso machine. Coffee is for closers. Sodas are free. Lunch is a chance to get out of the office and talk. There are 24 hours in a day, and if people like their jobs, they will find ways to use as much of it as possible to do their jobs.
7. No offices. Open offices keeps everyone in tune with what is going on and keeps the energy up. If an employee is about privacy, show them how to use the lock on the john. There is nothing private in a start up. This is also a good way to keep from hiring execs who can not operate successfully in a startup. My biggest fear was always hiring someone who wanted to build an empire. If the person demands to fly first class or to bring over their secretary, run away. If an exec wont go on salescalls, run away. They are empire builders and will pollute your company.
8. As far as technology, go with what you know. That is always the cheapest way. If you know Apple, use it. If you know Vista… ask yourself why, then use it. Its a startup, there are just a few employees. Let people use what they know.
9. Keep the organization flat. If you have managers reporting to managers in a startup, you will fail. Once you get beyond startup, if you have managers reporting to managers, you will create politics.
10. NEVER EVER EVER buy swag. A sure sign of failure for a startup is when someone sends me logo polo shirts. If your people are at shows and in public, its ok to buy for your own folks, but if you really think someone is going to wear your Yobaby.com polo you sent them in public, you are mistaken and have no idea how to spend your money
11. NEVER EVER EVER hire a PR firm. A PR firm will call or email people in the publications, shows and websites you already watch, listen to and read. Those people publish their emails. Whenever you consume any information related to your field, get the email of the person publishing it and send them an email introducing yourself and the company. Their job is to find new stuff. They will welcome hearing from the founder instead of some PR flack. Once you establish communications with that person, make yourself available to answer their questions about the industry and be a source for them. If you are smart, they will use you.
12. Make the job fun for employees. Keep a pulse on the stress levels and accomplishments of your people and reward them. My first company, MicroSolutions, when we had a record sales month, or someone did something special, I would walk around handing out 100 dollar bills to salespeople. At Broadcast.com and MicroSolutions, we had a company shot. Kamikaze. We would take people to a bar every now and then and buy one or 10 for everyone. At MicroSolutions, more often than not we had vendors cover the tab. Vendors always love a good party :0
The One Thing in Life You Can Control: Effort
27 years old. Zero in the bank. Messed up in the head because of the breakup. The good news was that I had my business. The one thing that I could always focus on to the exclusion of everything else. A trait that would serve me well in business, but had more than a little bit to do with my breakup.
MicroSolutions was growing. But it could be doing better. The PC industry had gone through a major slump and pullback and the local area networking industry had yet to take off. If we were going to grow, it was going to take working hard and working smart.
It was right around then I heard something that I would hear a lot once I bought the Mavs.
In sports, the only thing a player or coach can truly control is effort. The same applies to business. The only thing any entrepreneur, salesperson or anyone in any position can control is their effort.
I had to kick myself in the ass and recommit to getting up early, staying up late and consuming everything I possibly could to get an edge. I had to commit to making the effort to be as productive as I possibly could. It meant making sure that every hour of the day that I could contact a customer was selling time and when customers were sleeping, I was doing things that prepared me to make more sales and to make my company better.
And finally, I had to make sure I wasn’t lying to myself about how hard I was working. It would have been easy to judge effort by how many hours a day passed by while I was at work. That’s the worst way to measure effort. Effort is measured by setting goals and getting results. What did i need to do to close this account. What did I need to do to win this segment of business. What did i need to do to understand this technology or that business better than anyone. What did I need to do to find an edge. Where does that edge come from and how was I going to get there.
The one thing in our business lives is effort. Either you make the commitment to get results or your don’t.
There are no shortcuts in business. In order to be successful there are some things that you must know. These are not all of them by a long shot, but IMHO they are 6 of the most important
1. Know how to sell.
Selling means being able to convey why your product or service, which may be you if you are looking for a job, will make things better. Selling is never about convincing. It is always about helping.
2. Put yourself in the shoes of your customer
If you know how to put the person you are dealing with in a position to succeed, you can be successful. In order to do this, you must be able to quickly understand the needs and demands of that person and those of the company(s) they work for or with. Every person and industry is different. This is something that comes from investing incredible amounts of time to understand different industries , businesses, roles, and what has made them work and not work.
It is a never ending process of learning about what companies need. What people in those companies need and how they work. If you don’t understand what it takes to make the people and companies you work with better, you don’t understand how to be successful
3. Know as much as you can about technology
The beautiful thing about technology is that it changes every day. Look at any tech you can see today or have ever seen. Any tech you have read about. It was invented by someone(s). They know the product better than everyone. On the day that it is released, you are as knowledgeable about that technology as anyone else in the world. From there its just about effort to keep learning.
If you are one of the few people that know the new technologies, you are in a unique position to put yourself in the shoes of your customer(s) and determine if the new technology can be of benefit. New technologies enable change and where there is change there is opportunity. Its up to you to figure out what that opportunity is.
4. Always ask how you would design a solution if no current solution existed.
99.99pct of the things we do in business are being done the way they have always been done. No one has re imagined how things should be done. That is what successful people do. Every situation they are in they take their knowledge of the business or situation they are visiting, whether its buying a deck of playing cards, eating at a restaurant or trying to solve a problem and think about how to re invent it. They dont ask people what they would want. They envision a complete reapplication . Then they decide what to do with what they just recreated.
5. Is it the path of least resistance to something better.
Lots of people come up with ways of doing things that they think are great/amazing. What they fail to ask is whether it will make anyone else’s life better or easier. The simple test of any imagineering of a process or situation is simple. Is this the path of resistance to a better place for the user ? Yes or No.
6. Be nice.
People hate dealing with people who are jerks. It’s always easier to be nice than to be a jerk . Don’t be a jerk